A melting pot of cultures, activities, attractions, and cuisine, you can never go wrong with planning a trip to the lively city of Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost.
Although the city is primarily associated with its iconic neighborhood of de Bijlmer, there’s so much that the area has to offer – so make sure you take time to explore the surrounding area.
You’ll find yourself exploring picturesque parks, fascinating museums, and attending an event at the largest entertainment venue in the Netherlands.
Check out this list of 18 best things to do in Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost and let the adventures begin.
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1. Gaasperplas Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of city streets without having to go very far at Amsterdam-Zuidoost’s Gaasperplas Park.
At the heart of this green wonderland is the park’s namesake, a man-made lake, where you’ll spot a variety of water-based activities taking place. If the calm waters are calling to you, consider renting a canoe, a sailboat, or windsurfing gear from one of the nearby shacks for a relaxing day.
There’s even a beach where you can go swimming – but make sure you don’t swim out too far, as the water can get as deep as 115 feet.
For the more daring souls, a nude beach is located along the northern edge of the park and welcomes nudists who are looking to get that perfect tan from head to toe.
The park stretches over 159 acres and is home to a fine selection of recreational activities, with the most popular being hiking along its many walking trails and venturing through the various gardens. Walk beneath the shade of trees, over picturesque little bridges, and along running streams that make their way through the park.
Check out the park’s website to see the latest events or enjoy the excitement of a surprise when the people around you suddenly start dancing to music that appears to be coming from the trees.
Gaasperplas Park is small in comparison to some of the other parks in Amsterdam, so it doesn’t see much traffic – which means you can enjoy this tranquil place all to yourself.
2. Vrolik Museum
Known as one of the oddest museums in the country, the Vrolik Museum has been turning heads with its massive collection of specimens with strange anatomies. The collection was put together by a father-son duo, Gerardus and Willem Vrolik, and was first just a personal hobby before the city purchased it in 1869 to put on display.
Located within the University of Amsterdam, the founders were professors of anatomy with a focus on deformities caused by a variety of diseases, such as the famous conjoined twins.
Although there have been additions to the museum’s collection over the years, much of the 2,000+ specimens were the result of the findings of both Willem and Getadus.
The museum can have a creepy feel to it as you walk through rooms of human skeletons, with certain sections dedicated to animal remains as well.
The specimens you’ll find throughout the museum date as far back as the 1700s, and make their way through hundreds of years of anatomical finds, up to the 1950s.
Keep in mind that the museum is only open Monday-Friday, and there are guided tours available for those looking for a more personalized experience.
3. Pathé Arena
Known for housing the largest cinema in the country, you can’t go wrong with spending a movie night in the spacious Pathé Arena with friends, family, or both.
Fourteen different screens are running some of the latest movies, and there are enough seats in the joint to hold over 3,000 people. However, as large as this place may be, it attracts nearly a million visitors a year – so it’s always a good idea to book your tickets in advance to guarantee you get a good spot.
Grab yourself a buttery batch of popcorn and a large fountain drink before heading in to see your movie on one of the super-comfy reclining chairs waiting for you inside.
The cinema is located in the heart of Amsterdam-Zuidoost’s downtown, so there’s plenty to do before or after the show to keep the good times rolling.
Catch a matinee as early as ten in the morning for a discounted ticket or stop in for a late-night movie and spend the afternoon exploring the many tourist attractions in the city.
4. De Proefzaak
Make some new friends while you sip beer and munch on some of Amsterdam’s most classic dishes at De Proefzaak, a brewery and a monastery all in one.
Established in 2015, De Proefzaak was put together by a small religious community known as the Clay Monastery, who make it their mission to provide a safe place for people to eat, drink, mingle, and pray in peace.
In efforts to be more sustainable and live a life off the land, the monks brew their beer with the use of the Bijlmer, which makes their brews, unlike any others you’ll find in the country.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how light and refreshing the beer is, and the monks are more than happy to go into detail about their fine collection of tastes to help you make a decision.
They’ve also put together a food menu to perfectly complement each and every one of their beers – so make sure to ask for recommendations on how to pair your food and drink. Many visitors opt for the cheese platters, classic french fries, and fried sausages as their choice of snack food.
There’s also a massive Biergarten – so you can take in the day and the world around you as sip and eat to your heart’s content.
5. Ziggo Dome
Since the Ziggo Dome opened its doors in 2012, it was clear that it would become the hottest entertainment venue in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, but no one knew just how fast it would take off.
The masterminds behind the dome’s creation had dreams of creating a location where locals and tourists alike could come together through the presence of music. They spent years perfecting the dome’s introduction to the world, and carefully picked a variety of restaurants and bars for guests to enjoy every second of their time.
The venue can hold up to 17,000 people and has already seen a variety of famous faces, like Lady Gaga, One Direction, The Eagles, and so many more.
This large building is impossible to miss come nightfall, as it lights up with over one hundred thousand LED lights – making every side of its exterior look like a movie screen. Even if you can’t score a ticket to one of the latest events, you should still drive by the dome and get a sneak peek of what’s happening inside as it’s portrayed on the LED walls.
6. Daily Markets
If you enjoy rummaging through unique finds and supporting local businesses, checking out some of the daily markets that are scattered throughout the area is a must – and it just so happens that the most iconic market in the country, the Albert Cuyp Market, is located right here in Amsterdam-Zuidoost.
Established in 1905, the Albert Cuyp Market has been pleasing visitors for over one hundred years and all kinds of shoppers will find something to take home. Tourists and locals alike can be seen filling the streets lined with over 260 vendors and leaving with large bags filled with goodies of all kinds.
Throughout the market, you’ll find things like freshly-prepared hot snacks, unique clothing pieces, hand-crafted items, fresh produce, and so much more.
Unlike many markets that only open once a week, the Albert Cuyp Market is open Monday-Saturday – so you can enjoy its fine selections at just about any day of the week.
After a busy day of exploring what the market has to offer, venture off to check out the many trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes that call this area home.
Another market, the Dapprermarkt, has recently gotten a name for itself for its unique offerings and affordable prices. Try a selection of foreign dishes, produce, clothing, and more that you normally wouldn’t be able to find in this European city.
Walk amongst its 250 or so vendors and enjoy the sounds of live music that occasionally fill the air every Monday-Saturday.
7. Kwaku Festival
Hosting lively events every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night from July-August, the Kwaku Festival is an affordable way to spend an exciting night out in the city, come summertime.
Located in Nelson Mandela Park, tickets to the festival can cost as little as five euros to gain entry and offer a variety of entertainment options:
- Dance the night away to live music
- Cheer on your favorite team at a sports event
- Enjoy the tastes of cuisine from around the globe for a night you’ll never forget.
The festival stemmed from a popular football event back in the late 1900s that quickly turned into a full-blown festival, celebrating the melting-pot of cultures that call this area home.
It’s now considered to be one of the most diverse events in the country – and invites nearly half a million visitors each year to partake in its unique festivities.
A completely new lineup of events is set into motion each year, making this festival something new and interesting to enjoy every single time – and that’s not to mention the 100+ food vendors that line the perimeter, offering a vibrant selection of snacks and small dishes to try with each passing day.
While there aren’t an overflowing amount of restaurants to choose from in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, the establishments that have laid their roots here are some of the best you’ll find around.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite at one of Amsterdam’s original fast-food chains or a classy sit-down dinner, you will find something to enjoy right in town.
One of the most popular places for grab-and-go food is Febo Boulevard, because of its style of hot snack vending machines that supply guests with food almost instantly.
You can’t go wrong with lunch at Oma Letje, with its cozy cafe setting filled with cappuccinos, hot paninis, seasonal soups, and so much more.
If you can’t make up your mind on dinner, just head right over to the World of Food Market – where you can enjoy worldwide cuisine from over 30 street food vendors all under one roof.
Just make sure you save room for dessert; everyone raves about IJscuypje Bijlmerplein, a restaurant dedicated solely to ice cream sundaes and offering up flavors that’ll make your mouth water.
9. Stadsboerderij Holywood
Bring the whole family for a fun day at Stadsboerderij Holywood, where you can spend hours exploring the park’s large variety of attractions.
Translating to “Holy City Park”, Stadsboerderij Holywood has all the walking trails you can need, leading you to some of its highlighted areas including the charming pond and family-friendly farm.
Mostly a local secret up until recently, the city park houses a petting zoo called Bijlmerweide (“Critter Lane”), hidden away within the woods. The cost to enter the petting zoo is little to none – and you can spend as much time as you like petting and feeding animals like goats, chickens, and pigs to your heart’s content.
Aside from the usual farm animals, you’ll also come across family pet favorites, like bunnies and ferrets, as well as more exotic creatures like reptiles and baby kangaroos.
You can even buy fresh produce grown on-site and freshly-produced animal products like milk, eggs, and even some selections of meat.
Also known as the Centre for Visual Arts Southeast, CBK is one of the best places for art enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the local culture of Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost. The artwork here follows a more contemporary style while also portraying the customs of the area in a very sleek and interesting way.
Within its walls, you’ll find over 2,00 unique pieces of art in all different forms, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more. Through the course of the year, the venue rotates its selection of art to fit the theme of 12 different exhibitions – so there’s always something new to admire.
The CBK also funds the many outdoor murals and sculptures scattered throughout Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost, so always be on the lookout. Aside from the many forms of art, the center hosts a variety of other events to bring art into the community like educational classes and debates.
If you want to dabble in amateur art design, you can always sign up for a beginner’s art class with one of the resident artists while you take in the artwork all around you.
Don’t forget to stop at the gift shop on your way out to buy a miniature version of your favorite piece of art while also supporting the local artists that created them.
11. Nelson Mandela Park
Previously known as “Bijlmerpark”, the development of Nelson Mandela Park is part of a larger project to better the community – and has succeeded immensely.
Stretching out over 15 acres, the park boasts a large variety of sports facilities – so you’re bound to see a friendly game of soccer or a little league baseball tournament in action.
There are eight different entrances to start your journey, and you can spend hours walking amongst the many trails that twist and bend over small hills throughout.
The park is divided into the social section, and the natural section – so after you’ve spent some time people watching around the sports games, you can head over to the southern edge for some peace and quiet. It’s here that you can walk around charming little ponds, cross bridges over natural wetlands, and admire the many butterflies that migrate to the colorful array of flowers.
Make your way over to the lookout hill for the absolute best view overlooking the park in its entirety. Grab food to go from one of the local restaurants, head over to one of lookout hill’s picnic tables, and eat dinner while you watch the sunset over the park.
12. De Hoge Dijk
Considered to be one of the best golf courses in the country, De Hoge Dijk is a fan favorite for golf pros looking to enjoy a relaxing day at the course. The golf course offers the typical 18-hole championship golf course as well as a secondary 9-hole course for the less experienced golfer to enjoy.
Open year-round, you can play a round of golf during any season – but keep in mind that the main course will definitely test your abilities. Narrow fairways, strong winds, and scattered ponds are obstacles you’ll face along the way, but you’ll come out a better golfer in the end.
As the course can be a bit intimidating, feel free to spend as much time as you need practicing beforehand at the driving range or the high quality putting green.
After a game, head over to the Brasserie to enjoy a full meal or a quick snack while sitting on the outdoor deck that overlooks the course itself.
13. Imagine Film Festival
Hosted in the beginning weeks of April, the Imagine Film Festival is one of the most interesting events that take place in Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost.
The seed to create the festival was planted in 1991 by a local theater that hosted a horror movie festival, Weekend of Terror, with a specific focus on the theatrical works of David Cronenberg. From here, it was decided that this famous film director deserved more recognition, and hence the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival was established in 1984.
However, as time went on and movie films advanced, the festival transitioned into what we know it as today – the Imagine Film Festival. Now, the films played during the event don’t follow a specific genre – but usually offer a combination of horror, fantasy, and science fiction style.
The beauty of this festival is that films are carefully selected to represent some of the best, underrated productions from countries throughout Europe and Asia.
Throughout the festival, awards are given for movies that create the best scream scenes and for film directors who have impressively made a quick name for themselves – so get ready to enjoy a night full of movies – with the possibility of a few jump-scares, but a definite wow factor.
14. Ajax Museum
Dedicated to one of the country’s most famous football clubs, the Ajax Museum is a tribute to the club’s greatest achievements and takes you through its one hundred years of history.
The museum does a wonderful job making you feel the importance of the club and the heartfelt journey that has led them to where they are today.
Prepare to get a couple of goosebumps from the carefully designed displays that are made to pull at your heartstrings as you walk through time.
Throughout the museum, you’ll encounter an endless amount of trophies, photographs, news articles, and more than tell the club’s success story.
15. Anne Frank House
Swelling with historic significance, the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam is housed in the very location where the brave girl wrote her diary during World War II.
It’s a moving yet saddening experience to be able to explore the location where she spent her days hiding from the Nazis while imagining the constant terror she faced while hidden away.
Those who have already read the famous Anne Frank Diary will be interested to know that the museum also offers segments of her story that never made it into the hard copy of the book.
After you’ve explored the annex where she had to hide, walk through a hall filled with photographs, journal entries, and more that offer additional insight into the devastating struggles of Jewish families during this grueling time.
Easily the most popular museum in the country and quite possibly one of the most popular in the entire world, the Rijksmuseum boasts nearly one million artifacts with over 8,000 constantly on display.
You’ll definitely need a few days to fully cover all that the museum has to offer – but if you’re limited on time, there are some quirky and unique exhibits you won’t want to miss.
For starters, Rijksmuseum houses the most extensive library dedicated solely to art in all of the Netherlands – and even if you aren’t an avid reader, you can admire its impressive size.
For the ultimate wow factor, check out the Great Hall – which is considered to be the most beautiful room in the museum – with its stained glass and paintings portraying Dutch history through the years.
When it comes to paintings, the strangest is definitely the Winter Landscape by Hendrick Avercamp – and the longer you look at it, the weirder it gets.
At the end of the day, you won’t be disappointed by any of the wonderful displays within this amazing place – so feel free to wander if a particular exhibit is calling your name.
Known as the largest park in all of Amsterdam, Vondelpark has claimed the title as the most popular in the Netherlands with nearly 10 million visitors every year.
Tourists and locals alike love the many activities available, including the abundance of scenic walking trails, historic statues to admire, and the small ponds to sit and enjoy a picnic.
The park originally opened in 1865 to provide a location for horseback riders, but by 1873, small concerts were being held at its center which led to an increased flow of pedestrian traffic.
Soon after, it became a popular location for all kinds of travelers to enjoy time with nature, and statues began appearing throughout the area to add to its tranquil beauty.
In the summer months, you can attend the Open Air Theatre and watch a wide variety of performances free of charge – but it’s always recommended to make reservations to score a good spot.
18. Heineken Experience
Calling all beer lovers to Amsterdam-Zuid-oost’s Heineken Experience – where you can spend an afternoon sipping beers while learning how it’s all done.
Walk through Heineken’s very first brewery and explore how the famous brand created a name for itself through over 150 years of history. You’ll learn about how the beer is brewed, the culture of the company, and even how it was decided that the red star would be their staple logo.
Keep in mind that since the brewery was the first of its kind, it quickly became too small for its continuously growing fame – so the iconic beer is not actually brewed here anymore.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a couple of cold ones along your journey from the ancient brewery’s well-stocked beer fridge.
Depending on your budget, there are a variety of tours available offering different levels of personal experiences, but every tour comes with two ice-cold beers.