Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is one of the most cosmopolitan, international and youthful cities in the country, and in all of Europe. With its research institutes, universities and academies in addition to more than 40 museums, entertainment venues and numerous theatres, Amsterdam is the leading cultural centre of the country.
The city is also famous for its historic homes, laid out in the shape of a fan. All said, some 6,750 buildings dating from the 16th to 18th centuries are crowded into an area of 2,000 acres and dissected by around 160 canals, with many of them having their own houseboats. Several photogenic bridges link the city's 90 islands, including the Mager Bridge, which is one of the most-clicked destinations in the city.
The city’s diverse influences, both local and global, mean that is has plenty of interesting attractions and activities for tourists, from those that provide deep insight into the country’s history to experiences that are a reflection of the modern city. With so much to see and limited time on your holiday, deciding on the key places to visit in Amsterdam can be an overwhelming task – that’s why we’ve taken the liberty to give you the roundup of the key places to visit in Amsterdam.
Step into Van Gogh's world and explore the world’s largest collection of work by the prolific painter at the art museum in Amsterdam. The collection boasts over 500 drawings, 200 paintings and 750 written documents. Together they give a wonderful overview of his life and work. Open round the year, those below the age of 18 get free entry.
The Anne Frank House is a biographical museum dedicated to the famous Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. It features a permanent exhibition on how she and her family hid from the Nazis. This place is a must visit for those want to peek into our war-torn history.
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam and has a staggering 8,000 objects of art and history on display including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals. The museum is a treat for art lovers or simply those who want to gape in awe at the artistic splendour.
With 10 million visitors per year, the Vondelpark is the city’s largest and most famous municipal park. The lush 45-hectare site includes a famous open-air theatre, several cafés and restaurants, and numerous children’s playgrounds, making it a thriving hub of activity round-the-year. It is loved by visitors and locals alike.
Dam Square is the beating heart of Amsterdam. It is an extremely peaceful place and home to scores of street performers and pigeons. Head here to admire the Royal Palace, National Monument and New Church.
The Jordaan is the most famous neighbourhood in the Netherlands. Once a hangout place for the working class, the scenic streets of this area are now dotted with restaurants, galleries and shops. This area occupies a place in the must-see list of every tourist.
Love beer? Want to know how it is prepared? Get set for the Heineken experience. Visit this brewery in the heart of Amsterdam, where experts describe the crafting process of their world-famous brand. Each visitor gets 2 complimentary drinks.
Not far from the Chinese quarter of Amsterdam is the house in which famous Dutch painter Rembrandt lived, between 1639 and 1659. A modern annex was built next to the house in 1998. Together, these two buildings are today a museum of Rembrandt’s life and work. They show the unknown aspects of the famous painter’s life and his artistry.
The Royal Palace is located on the Dam Square and is one of the three palaces still used by the Royal Family. The palace is open most of the time to the public and they can admire the marble floors, delicate sculptures, magnificent paintings, gigantic chandeliers and an annual exhibition.
Built in 1838, the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam is the oldest one in the country and home to over 900 different species of animals and 200 different types of trees. Many of the trees here are on the brink of extinction, making the trip a truly special experience. Artis also features a library, an aquarium and a museum.
Situated on Museumplein, the Stedelijk Museum is the largest Dutch museum dedicated to modern art and design. The collection comprises extraordinary pieces of art by world-renowned artists, including a great number of works by major twentieth-century Dutch artists. A visual treat for art lovers!
The Oude Kerk is the city’s oldest building and youngest art institution. It is a meeting place where architecture, word, reflection, image and rituals serve as a window to peek into the distant past. It is perfect for old-souls or those who want to walk down a memory lane.
Go on a voyage of discovery at NEMO Science Museum, where children can learn about science and technology all day long playfully. The museum is situated amidst the city’s Eastern Docklands.
Make your day brighter with a visit to Amsterdam’s famous floating Flower Market, Bloemenmarkt. No matter what the weather may be, this stretch of the Singel canal in the centre of the city serves tourists and locals alike.
The Leidseplein Square offers a wide range of options for a great night out. Cinemas, theatres and a casino are located right on the square or within easy walking distance. Feel like clubbing and having a hearty meal? This is the place to go to.
Looking for an oasis in Amsterdam? Head over to this place. Dating back to the early 14th century, this enclosed former convent is a peaceful haven, with postage-stamp gardens and tiny houses around a well-kept courtyard off Gedempte Begijnensloot.
Containing cafes, hotels, bars, nightclubs, the Rembrandtplein is a historic square between Amstel & Herengracht. It is named after the world-famous Dutch artist, Rembrandt. On a sunny day, people can be found relaxing on the pleasant green area behind the statue of Rembrandt.
Known to English speakers as the Skinny Bridge, the Magere Brug is one of the most beautiful bridges in Amsterdam. Thousands of lights romantically illuminate it at night, making it a top spot for couples and shutterbugs.
Art is a crucial part of Amsterdam’s history and modern culture, and no trip to the city is complete without visiting some of its key art galleries and museums. The Van Gogh museum, which houses some of the most iconic works of the infamous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, along with his rough sketches, notes and letters, is a must-do, as is the Rijksmuseum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Dutch art and artefacts.
Whether you have a deep interest in European art or not, these Amsterdam tourist places will give you a strong understanding of the importance and evolution of art in the Netherlands.
Though considered controversial by many, the area of De Wallen is a unique neighbourhood to experience and one-of-a-king amongst Amsterdam tourist places. But you may not want to visit if you are travelling with children. Having said that, Amsterdam’s red-light area is a testament to the liberalism, openness and tolerance that is a part of Dutch culture till this very date. It is also one of the oldest parts of the city, featuring many narrow lanes and small alleys with local bars that are favoured by the locals.
You will observe that most European cities have a major square, plaza or open-air area at their very centre, and Amsterdam is no different. Dam Square is one of the most famous places to visit in Amsterdam, for the unique architecture of its buildings. Here, there are many important Amsterdam tourist places to behold, including the Centraal Station, The Royal Palace, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and The National Monument.
Though Amsterdam is the dictionary definition of a buzzing city, it is not without its natural beauty. The city has a lot of greenery, evidenced from the large trees that line the network of canals. When you have had a busy day of sightseeing and are looking to rest your feet, take a break at one of the city’s lush green parks. Vondelpark is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Amsterdam. It is the city’s largest park, full of huge patches of greenery and interesting art sculptures. It also features an open-air theatre, which runs shows during the summertime from June until August – if you’re holidaying in Amsterdam during the season, make it a point to witness one of the shows. They range from theatre to dance to music, so take your pick and a have a wonderful, unique experience!
While Amsterdam has still maintained much of its old, historical buildings and areas, there are certain up-and-coming neighbourhoods that have become very popular in recent years. Jordaan is one of them. A trendy neighbourhood that might even be considered ‘hipster’ by some, Jordaan is a great place to enjoy a coffee while doing some people-watching, shop for unique items at the neighbourhood’s many standalone boutiques, or grab a drink at one of the trendy cocktail bars in the evening. Whether you are in Amsterdam for one night or one week, Jordaan is definitely one of the key places to visit in Amsterdam.
When it comes to places to visit in Amsterdam, the list can be endless. Crafting the perfect itinerary depends on many factors, including your travel budget, the season and the weather, and your personal preferences. At SOTC, we have been helping people make their travel dreams a reality for many years, and offer a host of packages for all budgets and durations that include Amsterdam. If you’d like to know more about the Amsterdam packages that we offer, or would like help in creating a unique itinerary of your own, give us a call or visit us at your local SOTC branch – we would love to help you out!
Like many European cities, some of the most important Amsterdam tourist places are centred around food. The food markets in Amsterdam delight all of your senses, with rich flavours and scents from exotic local and international dishes. The Albert Cuypmarkt is a must-see, and is favoured by locals and tourists alike. Here, you can sample fresh local dishes cooked my neighbourhood chefs – make sure you sample the freshly cooked stroopwafels as well as raw Dutch herring.
You can also pick up a host of knick-knacks and fresh produce. Foodhallen is another great food market. It is covered and indoors, with a more upscale atmosphere than a typical outdoors food market. Along with multiple bars and modern music, there are a host of food stalls to choose from. Visit on a Friday or Saturday evening to see Foodhallen at its buzzing, vibrant best.