What are the best things to do in Amsterdam? Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Western Europe and it is easy to see why. No other destination offers the combination of history, beauty, fun and spectacle. If you're thinking about going to Amsterdam or have already booked your flights and hotel then here are just a few of the amazing things that you can do there.

Amsterdam Public Library

Amsterdam recently opened a new public library that is located just 5 minutes walk east of Centraal Station.

Here you can use one of hundreds of internet terminals for free. You can even take your own laptop and connect it to their network for free.

As you walk in, you may notice someone playing the piano or even a free recital. Head to the rooftop bar/restaurant to take in the views. There is also a cafe on the ground floor and a bar on the first floor. I haven't even mentioned the exhibitions and the huge section filled with English language magazines.

Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Whether or not you choose to imbibe in the legal substances offered here, it is definitely worth popping into one of the many such "coffeeshops" that you will find littered throughout the centre of Amsterdam.

Even if you do not smoke, there are numerous "space cakes" on offer too.

Do not be afraid to tell the staff your experience level and ask them for advice - it is their job to advise you.

While many people think that working in a coffeeshop is a "dream job", these workers have a very stressful and difficult job. Tips and kind manners are always appreciated.

Hiring A Bike In Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the number one city in the world for bikes. Bicycle lanes have a long history and their widespread proliferation is largely due to the proximity of the canals.

Today, you can ride at a slow or fast pace all around the city and park your bike outside anywhere you like. You don't even need to fix your bike to anything fixed - don't worry, your bike will be safe so long as you use the locks advised by your hire company.

There are many bike hire companies located all over the city. There are two types of bike to choose from: those with regular hand brakes and those with a back-pedal brake. Be sure to check before you take your bike away.

Some people say that you should find a hire bike that looks "in-cognito" and like all the other bikes, rather than one emblazoned with the insignia and logos of the hire company. Frankly, if you go for the latter then all the bikes are the same and you are more likely to get a well-maintained bike. Plus, you will be given more latitude in the same way that learner drivers with "L-plates" are. So, don't be afraid to get a popular "Yellow Bike" or "Mac Bike". These are two companies that together lend hundreds of bikes each and every day.

Day Trip Outside Amsterdam

Public transportation in Amsterdam is excellent. If you are staying for at least four or five days then it is well worth your time to check out at least one other Dutch city nearby Amsterdam because you'll see that they can be quite different.

Within easy distance of Amsterdam Centraal Station (the main train station) are Haarlem, Zandvoort and Alkmaar.

Haarlem is much quieter than Amsterdam and has a beautiful central square with a church you must check out.

Zandvoort is located on the coast and is barely 5 minutes away from Haarlem. Here you can see the famous sandy dunes of The Netherlands. There is also an old motor racing circuit that used to host the Formula One series.

Alkmaar is a small but beautiful town. A central square with bars overlooking hosts a once-weekly traditional cheese market (more of a demo for tourists but still great to watch). There are also many small boutique stores to check out too.

Best Pancakes In Amsterdam

If you're in Amsterdam then you must check out their pancakes. The Dutch eat their pannekoeken throughout the year but especially during the winter when you can even obtain them from stalls on the street.

Not only are regular pancakes available but you can also get poffertjes which are a type of tiny, bite-size pancake, as well as olliebollen which are deep fried dough balls that taste similar to doughnuts.

If you are looking to eat a real pancake then I recommend you avoid the tourist traps and head for The Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht. Located in the beautiful Jordaan area (where everybody dreams of living), here you can get an authentic and also very affordable pancake. In Amsterdam, not all Pancakes are sweet - you can just as easily get yourself a savoury one that is a blank pancake covered in toppings (just like a pizza, but better).