The Netherlands’ capital city, Amsterdam, is one of the most visited places in Europe. Amsterdam is the nation’s preeminent cultural hub, home to several theatres, research institutes, universities, academies, and museums, in addition to over 40 museums. The city is renowned for its numerous well-preserved old homes as well. These carefully conserved historic structures, arranged in a fan-like configuration, are supported by piles driven through an upper layer of mud and onto a solid, sandy bottom up to eighteen metres below. Approximately 6,750 structures from the 16th to the 18th centuries are crammed onto 2,000 acres that are crisscrossed by 160 canals, which are home to a large number of houseboats.
With so many charming bridges connecting the 90 islands that make up the city, it should come as no surprise that Amsterdam is a fantastic place to explore on foot. In actuality, eight of these are historic wooden bascule bridges, one of which is the city’s most often photographed, the Magere Brug (Mager Bridge). With our list of the best attractions and entertaining things to do in Amsterdam, you can find the best spots to visit in this vibrant city.
1. Art Collections, Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum (National Museum), one of Amsterdam’s most well-known attractions and unquestionably the city’s most significant art repository, was established in 1798 to store the vast collection of unique artwork and artefacts in the nation. A million cultural artefacts from the 13th century to the present day are part of the museum’s outstanding collection, which spans 250 rooms and contains over 8,000 significant paintings.
The Rijksmuseum is known for its paintings, but it also has a well-stocked library with more than 35,000 books and manuscripts, as well as a number of enlightening exhibits that trace the evolution of Dutch art and culture. Its collections of modern art forms, mediaeval sculpture, and traditional handicrafts are especially noteworthy.There are numerous themed guided English language tour options. Try the entertaining art history canal tour, which visits many of the locations featured in the Rijksmuseum’s collections, or reserve a seat at the Michelin-starred restaurant within the museum for a unique experience. There are guided tours offered in English. Since about 2.5 million people visit each year, lines are likely to form, so get tour tickets online in advance.
2. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis) is located on the Prinsengracht. This house, which is dedicated to the much-too-brief life of one of the most well-known Holocaust victims worldwide, is where Anne’s family spent the majority of WWII hiding. The Franks were Jewish exiles from Frankfurt, Germany, and it was in this city that Anne began the journal that, following the war, became a worldwide best-seller. It was released not too long after her fifteen-year-old death, precisely two months before the war’s conclusion. The house is mostly preserved in its original state and is a moving memorial to a dark chapter in history. Please be advised that tickets can sell out for up to two months.
3. Van Gogh Museum
Since its opening in 1972, the magnificent Van Gogh Museum has been a major draw for tourists and art enthusiasts alike. The world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and artefacts, mostly donated by his brother Theo and other family members, is housed in this contemporary Gerrit Rietveld-designed structure, which is dedicated to the extraordinary artistry and often turbulent life of one of the nation’s most renowned painters. The collection, which spans two significant eras in the artist’s life, is divided into two main categories: his realistic works (1880 to 1887), which include the well-known The Potato Eaters, and his Impressionist period (1887 to 1890), which produced perhaps his most well-known piece, Vase with Sunflowers. The collection also includes 700 letters written to and by friends and family.
The remarkable “Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience,” an engrossing multimedia display of the painter’s life and times via vibrant digital reproductions of his works, is a visit’s high point.
4. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The King’s home when he visits the city is the Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam), once the Town Hall. When work on it began in 1648, it was an enormous undertaking that needed 13,659 piles to be sunk in order to sustain the enormous building. The outside, which is based on the architecture of classical Rome, is purely classical, but the interior is exquisitely furnished, with its chambers adorned with numerous friezes, marble statues, and reliefs. Admire the amazing ceiling paintings created by Rembrandt’s students, Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck.
Some highlights are the City Treasurer’s room with its marble fireplace and ceiling paintings by Cornelis Holsteyn and one of the best furniture collections in the world. Bol and Flinck’s paintings can also be seen in the Hall of the Aldermen. They offer English-spoken guided tours and, on top of that, useful audio guides with admission.
5. World’s Oldest Botanical Gardens
In the centre of the city, Amsterdam provides a startling amount of natural surroundings. The city’s botanical garden, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, is among the oldest in the world and ought to be on your touring schedule. This popular destination was first established in 1638 as a modest herb garden for physicians and apothecaries. These days, it has exotic flowers, uncommon plants and trees, and a sizable hothouse that encompasses several tropical zones. The 1870s Orangery and the charming ancient pavilion, a hexagonal building from the late 17th century, are worth seeing on a visit. Notable is the Palm House as well, especially considering its Amsterdam School-inspired architecture. A vast range of uncommon plant and tree species may be found in the gardens, so plant fans are also in for a treat.
6. Amsterdam Royal Zoo
The botanical gardens are less than a five-minute walk from Artis, Amsterdam’s first-rate “royal zoo.” One of the oldest zoos in Europe, this top attraction opened its doors in 1838. It features a wide range of animals from throughout the world in a shaded garden setting with several old buildings scattered about. For instance, the aquarium was built in 1882 and has displays like a coral reef system and an intriguing look below an Amsterdam canal. The nocturnal animal house, zoological museum, insectarium, butterfly pavilion, and planetarium are among the other highlights. Additionally, there is a library with a sizable collection of antiquarian books, prints, and artwork.
7. Shopping at Kalverstraat and Vlooienmarkt
Every vacation has its moments when you need a little retail therapy. Whether you’re looking for fun souvenirs, locally made crafts, or upscale luxury goods, Amsterdam has plenty of excellent places to buy. The busiest and most well-known is the Kalverstraat, which features numerous chic stores, galleries, perfumeries, cafés, and eateries. Even though it can be a little scary due to the crowds of people (especially on a Saturday), it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Visit the Vlooienmarkt, the well-known flea market in Amsterdam that has been going since 1886, for an entirely different kind of shopping experience. There is a plethora of goods available, ranging from food and antiques to new and used clothing.
8. Canal Cruises
Many different boat tours of Amsterdam’s canals are available. They include romantic dinner tours, canal cruises, private boat tours, and day trips. During your journey to Amsterdam, you have to take a boat ride on the canals. Amsterdam’s canal houses are quite beautiful when viewed from the water. A boat tour can be reserved for as little as 16 euros (booking and additional information). Another option is canal cruises with a specific theme, like a dinner cruise or a romantic candlelight boat. You can even hire a personal boat.
9. Red Light District
You’ve not heard about the wonders of Amsterdam and have not heard stories from the Red Light District, notorious for its many red lights and adult themes. With over 300 spots to visit, it has become a well-sought-after area for tourists. Even if you aren’t looking for any particular service or product, thousands of people come just to see if the rumours are true. If you come at night, the place comes to life, and while this may not be for you, there are spots all over with nice bars for you to stroll to and enjoy a premixed cocktail after seeing this well-known area of Amsterdam.
10. Heineken Experience
The more than a-century-old Heineken brewery is home to The Heineken Experience. The brewery in the heart of Amsterdam was shut down and transformed into the Heineken Experience in 1988. This interactive 1.5-hour Heineken Experience explains the background, the brewing method, and the marketing of this popular beer brand from the Netherlands. You finish the tour by receiving two bottles of Heineken afterwards. It is one of the most visited attractions in Amsterdam, with 900,000 visitors annually. Thus, stay out of the queue and reserve your tickets and time lock online.
11. The Jordaan
In the western section of the heart of Amsterdam lies a typical working-class neighbourhood called the Jordaan. The district, which dates back to the 17th century, is well-known for its Dutch music and has a lot of eateries, stores, and lovely canal houses. A popular retail location is ‘Nine Small Streets’. When you take a city trip in Amsterdam, Netherlands, you should check out the Jordaan district on your own.
A courtyard from mediaeval times originally, these were the houses of the unmarried and devout Beguines. Most of the facades are from the 17th and 18th centuries. The beautiful courtyard is like an oasis of tranquillity in the city centre, and access to part of the little square is free. The other part is not open to the public and is for residents only.
13. National Maritime Museum
Explore the National Amsterdam Maritime Museum and immerse yourself in the thrill, bravery, and adventure of sailors throughout the past 500 years. Observe how commerce routes, violent sea battles, and reclaiming territory from the water all served as historical turning points. Also, be sure not to miss the brand-new VR experience that transports you to the Golden Age! See how and why Europeans travelled to far-off lands, board a replica sailing ship, and peruse amazing antique atlases and maps—you could leave feeling inspired to travel again!
The museum’s virtual reality exhibit, Dare to Discover, transports visitors to the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. See the building of warships and the construction of the Zeemagazijn, which is now a museum, while standing atop the Transom return ship Amsterdam! In this hands-on display, venture out to sea, prevail in maritime conflicts, and retrieve the finest merchandise. You don’t even need to get wet for this day at sea!
The largest city park in Amsterdam is called the Vondelpark. The expansive park’s public entrance is free. It has fountains, ponds, rose gardens, tea houses, and statues. The Vondelpark hosts outdoor theatre productions and concerts on a regular basis.
15. Rembrandt House Museum
This was Rembrandt van Rijn’s previous residence and place of employment from 1639 to 1658. It will seem as though you have travelled back in time to the 17th century when you see this exquisite and majestic museum filled with ancient furniture, artwork, and artefacts. Rembrandt’s living quarters and office are likewise recreated in the real residence.
The Rembrandt residence also features demonstrations of various painting and etching methods. Additionally, it features a nearly full collection of all of Rembrandt’s engravings. When you visit this museum, you’ll feel as though you’re meeting the master.
The liveliest square in Amsterdam is the Leidseplein. Numerous cafes, restaurants, theatres, and music venues can be found all around the area. Leidseplein is where most of the nightlife for tourists is concentrated. Do you want to enjoy Amsterdam’s nightlife to the fullest? See some pub crawls
The Keukenhof is the most visited attraction in the months of March, April, and May. A gorgeous park brimming with tulips and other flowers is called Keukenhof. Organising a day excursion from Amsterdam is simple. You can choose to take scheduled tours or use public transport to get to the Keukenhof on your own.
18. Zaanse Schans
Windmills, traditional wooden houses, and Dutch shops make this one of Holland’s best attractions. You can take guided tours that will give you the full experience. Embark on a comfortable bus ride for a day to explore the scenic Dutch countryside. Discover the renowned windmills and traditional Dutch crafts. While travelling, make use of the free WiFi aboard the bus. Learn about the distinctive village of Zaanse Schans. Take your time strolling about and taking in the beautifully restored antique homes and windmills. Discover the fishing hamlet of Volendam, stop by a cheese shop that continues to make cheese the old-fashioned way, and take in a cheese-making demonstration.
After paying for lunch at a classic fish restaurant, continue your exploration of Volendam. For additional activities like a boat ride to Marken, a visit to a working windmill, and a demonstration of how to make clogs, opt for the all-inclusive tour option.
19. Dam Square
With good reason, Dam Square is one of Amsterdam’s busiest tourist destinations. The main attraction of the area is the 17th-century Royal Palace, also known as Koninklijk Palace, which served as the Dutch royal family’s residence and is currently the site of royal events. Top tourist destinations, including the Madame Tussauds wax museum, the National Memorial Statue honouring Dutch troops who died in World War II, and the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), are all located in Dam Square.
Naturally, there are a lot of cafés, restaurants, and shops lining this wide public square, and it is frequently crowded with sellers offering food and trinkets. There is also a Ferris wheel, allowing visitors to enjoy a different viewpoint, and there is no shortage of entertainment for visitors, from top-notch music festivals to street entertainers and buskers.
20. West Church (Westerkerk)
One of the most well-liked churches in the city is Amsterdam’s West Church (Westerkerk), which is situated right next to the Anne Frank Museum. Undoubtedly, it’s among the most picturesque. This lovely Renaissance church, completed in 1630, is unique because of its numerous Gothic exterior and interior details. The tallest tower in the city, nicknamed “Langer Jan” (tall John) for its 85 metres, is located there. In honour of Emperor Maximilian of Austria, a huge replica of the emperor’s crown is perched atop the summit of the spire.
A noteworthy organ from 1622 and an intriguing marble column erected here in 1906 in honour of Rembrandt are two other features. The renowned artist was later placed inside the chapel after being buried outside at first. There is a gift shop on the premises.