Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amstel 3, Centrum
Seeing an opera or a ballet in Amsterdam is—in a word—magical. Housed in the canal-side Stopera building, which is also home to Amsterdam's City Hall, the Dutch National Opera and Ballet took on its current name in early 2014 to reflect the official partnership of the Dutch National Ballet, The Amsterdam Music Theatre, and De Nederlandse Opera (also renamed to the Dutch National Opera). In 2016, the Dutch National Opera and the Dutch National Ballet will share the stage for the first time in a production of Hector Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette, directed by Sasha Waltz. The rest of the programming for 2016 and 2017 looks just as wonderful.
Electric Boat Tours
Big group boat tours are easily accessible in Amsterdam, but lest you want your view of the city’s greatest sights obstructed by the heads of 80+ fellow tourists, a private or semi-private tour might be a worthy splurge. This is where Captain Heijn and his fleet of electric boats come in. His boats are all immaculate and emission-free (i.e. quiet and no fumes), can accommodate couples and small groups, and the cruises are 100% customizable. You’re welcome to bring drinks on board and the captain will gladly arrange dinner from a local restaurant should you wish to make it a culinary cruise.
Plantage Middenlaan 2A, Plantage
This meticulously manicured oasis in a quiet neighborhood also happens to be one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Here you’ll find countless flower species, a butterfly habitat (kids love this part), tropical hothouses, and gigantic, night-flowering water lilies. The grounds are not too vast, so you can see them in their entirety in a few hours. As is the case with most of Amsterdam’s best activities, there’s a lovely café on site.
The Humble Vintage Bike Rentals
If you want to do as the locals do, rent a bicycle—it’s the easiest way to get around the city (and also the cheapest). Touristy bike rentals are on basically every corner, but the Humble Vintage will deck you out in cool, vintage-inspired single-speeds that won’t lose a chain on you at every corner. Ten-speeds are available.
This long, narrow park, which is easily accessible from most parts of the city, is one of the best places to get a feel for the city—you’ll find locals everywhere with strollers, dogs on leashes, and some drool-worthy picnics. From the gate entrance around the walking path loop and back is about 2.5 miles, so it’s also a nice option for runners.
Yellow Backie + Bike Rentals
Walking is great and all, but the undisputed best way to get around Amsterdam is by bike. What Yellow Backie does is allow visitors to essentially hitch a ride on the back of a local’s bike. While it’s clearly aimed at the adventurous types, hailing a Backie is a lot like hailing a cab: spot a yellow bike rack (volunteers are given them for free), yell out “Backie,” and hop on. For the traditionalists, Yellow Bike, which initiated this hitchhiking experiment, facilitates daily bike rentals and group bike tours, too.
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