Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the world. From Amsterdam canals to world-famous Amsterdam museums and historical Amsterdam sights, it is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe. Canal cruises are a popular way to see the city from the perspective of its canals.
Amsterdam is also a city of tolerance and diversity. It has all the advantages of a big city: rich culture, lively Amsterdam nightlife, international restaurants, good transport - but is quiet, and largely thanks to its extensive canals, has a little road traffic. In this city your destination is never far away, but get a bike for an authentic local experience. To know more about Amsterdam you can read some basic facts and info.
Amsterdam tourist attractions and sights
There is a broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sights in Amsterdam that range from fascinating old buildings, like the Oude Kerk, to oddities such as the Hash Marihuana Museum.
The main Amsterdam tourism attractions are museums. Everyone knows the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum, but there is much, much more. The city has over fifty museums which attract many millions of visitors every year. Read more about the museums in Amsterdam. The following sites and monuments should also be of interest and are an essential part of the Amsterdam attractions experience.
Top Ten Amsterdam Attractions:
This old church with little houses clinging to its sides, remains a calm heaven at the heart of the freneric Red Light District. Its buildings, especially the Gothic-renaissance style octagonal bell tower, was used by sailors to get their bearings.
The Dam is the very centre and heart of the city, and is the center of Amsterdam attractions. Although there are arguably prettier sights in Amsterdam. As an historical site however, it is fascinating and worth taking the time to appreciate. The Dam has seen many historical dramas unfold over the years, and was for example, the reception area for Napoleon and his troops during the 1808 take-over of the city. The impressive history of the square is well documented in the Historical Museum. The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which dominates the square, was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city and its government. In contrast to its turbulent history, the square is now a peaceful place and is home to hundreds of pigeons and tourists resting their tired feet from walking among nearby Amsterdam attractions.
A narrow, vaulted passageway leads to this charming garden surrounded by old houses. Begijnhof belongs to the more poetic Amsterdam attractions. The houses in the courtyard were once occupied by devout celibate Béguine nuns and are still home to single women today. In the centre of the lawns is a medieval church and at No.34 stands the oldest house in Amsterdam. The entrance is on the Spui and is indicated by a carved sign. Entry is free, but you must be quiet!
The number of canals have led this city to become known as “The Venice of the North”. And thus, Amsterdam tourism trip is not complete without a boat cruise on these well known attractions in Amsterdam. A canal tour can be both fascinating and relaxing by day and enchanting and romantic at night when many of the houses and bridges are illuminated. The four main city center canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel. There are also numerous smaller canals in the neighbourhood of Jordaan, of which the Brouwersgracht, the Bloemgracht and the Leliegracht are especially pleasant. If you like boats there is also a large upcoming event about historical sail ships called Amsterdam SAIL.
Skinny bridge of 1280 or so bridges in town, the Magere Brug, or “ Skinny Bridge” is the most famous of these Amsterdam attractions. It is a traditional double-leaf, Dutch draw-bridge connecting the banks of the river Amstel. Approximately every twenty minutes, the bridge opens to let boats through. The original bridge was built in 1670, but as the traffic on Amstel increased, a wider bridge was built to replace the narrow one.
Once a working class area, Jordaan has become greatly sought after. As a place to live as well as one of tourist Amsterdam attractions. The converted warehouses are especially popular, and the Jordaan is now inhabited by a colorful mixture of students, well-to-do businessmen and creative professionals. The Jordaan oozes atmosphere with its narrow streets, picturesque canals, brown cafes, art galleries and unique shops. You can easily lose yourself in a pleasant stroll in through the enchanting streets that connect the 3 main canals.
Rembrandtplein is lined with pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels and is thus a tourist magnet of attractions in Amsterdam. A popular centre for nightlife, it also includes traditional Dutch pubs which play real Dutch music. In summer, the terraces are packed with people enjoying a drink and watching the world go by. In the centre of the square is a small but pleasant park where you can relax or pay homage at the statue of Rembrandt. Around the area you’ll also find quality night clubs, gay venues, respectable diamond dealers and the inevitable tacky souvenir shops.
The Leidseplein or Leidse-square is one of the most popular centres for nightlife attractions in Amsterdam. With many restaurants, clubs, coffeeshops, cinemas and theatres in the area, the Leidseplein is vibrant and colourful. On warm summer evenings, tourists and locals alike take advantage of the pubs’ outdoor seating for a long, lazy drinks with friends. Street musicians, jugglers, fire-eaters and other performers liven up the square, often till the early hours.
Red Light District
Beer and party atmosphere, sex for sale, and limitless people-watching. The stores are full of hardcore videos, magazines and sex toys. The Red Light District is somewhat of a sexual amusement park and often not taken too seriously by the hordes of tourist who frequent it as other Amsterdam attractions. The famous red window lights are striking against the quaint, old canal houses and even the fairy lights that line the bridges at night are coloured red. Although it is generally considered to be a very safe area, care should still be taken when walking through the quieter streets of the area. There is a strict “no photography” policy.
Albert Cuyp market
The Albert Cuypmarkt is arguably the best-known and busiest outdoor market in Europe. It attracts thousands of visitors every day, and is especially popular on Saturdays as Amsterdam attractions. There are over 300 stalls and goods range from fresh produce, to clothes, to odds and ends, with prices among the cheapes. The market is lheld in the Pijp district, surrounded by many pleasant cafes and small shops. There is another number of regular street markets
AmsterdamRight in the center of the city, you can also find the oldest Zoo of Holland. It consists of four main areas: Zoo, Planetarium, Botanical Gardens and Geological and Zoological museum. In the zoo itself you will find animals from all over the world. In addition, a unique canal aquarium shows you which animals roam the canals. The planetarium offers children a trip trough the universe. In the peaceful gardens, you can find many old trees and statues of contemporary artists and aswell as an impressive, tropical rainforest greenhouse. There are more Amsterdam attractions here. Like the Geological museum shows you how the planet has evolved over the past 4 billion years.
The Vondelpark is situated in the south, just five minutes walk from the Leidseplein and in walking distance from the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. With 10 million visitors a year, the Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands and belongs to known Amsterdam attractions.
Big and attractive botanical garden called Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest in the world (est. 1632). It has more than 6000 plants and some of the plants are really unique as 2000 years old agave cactus. In the recently renovated Orangery of Hortus Botanicus, a beautiful café with a large outside terrace open to the garden welcomes the visitors. A short walking distance from the Rembrandts House, very close to Artis ZOO, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Resistance Museum, Hortus Botanicus remains a pleasurable oasis of peace and pleasurable Amsterdam attractions in the busy and crowded centre.
There are a number of beautiful, quiet parks where you can relax during the busy day. These well maintained parks provide some nature to both locals and Amsterdam tourism. The largest of them - Vondelpark is in the very centre of the city. Other parks as Beatrixpark, Frankendael, Sarphatipark, Amstelpark, Westerpark are quiet, well-maintained community parks. An artificial forest just South of the city – Amsterdamse Bos is today a big nature reserve, with many Amsterdam attractions.
Squares in Amsterdam
The city squares symbolize the whole areas of the city with their activity and the character. Big and open Dam square with the Palace of the King and the best department store has a central role in town and belongs to Amsterdam attractions. Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are entertainment and tourism centers while the Museumplein name speaks for itself. Nieuwmarkt, Westermarkt and Noordermarkt are old markets, which found today a new function, each of them different. Even a small square called het Spui has its own special character, making it a real fun to visit.
A trip to Holland just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a windmill. Believe it or not, there are 8 stunning windmills in at the heart of the city just waiting to admired. Don’t forget to take your camera. Amsterdam attractions and tourist exhibits
Millions of people visit each year (ca 11,3 million) and according to the research, 85% of them visit museums. Several Dutch commercial brands like beer producers Heineken, liquor makers Bols, producers of traditional Dutch cheese Reypenaer and famous football club AFC Ajax have opened a special exhibit on their Arena stadium, combined with attractions in Amsterdam. The idea is to promote their brands by educating visitors about the company tradition, at the same time to bring fun, and a bit of humor to your visit.
Major Amsterdam Museums
One of the largest and most interesting art museums in the world the Rijksmuseum – The State Museum has an unparalleled collection of paintings and objects of material culture, prints and classic photography. Recently rebuilt and modernized, the museum’s show is modern in its way of presentation and respectful towards its beautiful historical building. Without doubt the Rijksmuseum is today one of the best art museums in the world.
One of the world’s richest collections of contemporary art, Amsterdam Municipal Museum – The Stedelijk Museum reopened in September of 2012 after prolonged period of enlargement and modernization. Its new white building integrally connected to the 19th C. museum surprises with originality of its architecture. The Stedelijk Museum collection of 90 thousand modern paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphics, design objects and video artifacts is not to be missed.
Anne Frank House
A hidden annex of Amsterdam canal house, where two Jewish families hid from persecution by the Nazis from July 6, 1942 until their betrayal in August 4, 1944, is one of the most popular Amsterdam museums. It is here that Anne Frank, only 15 years old at the moment of her death in the German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, wrote her famous diary. You may visit the modest hiding rooms of the annex, but also see an original of the diary and an exhibition about the time of hatred brought on people by the Nazis.
Van Gogh Museum
Two buildings of interesting architecture, one by Dutch master Gerrit Rietveld, another by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, house world’s richest collection of one of the greatest painters in human history - Vincent van Gogh. Interesting temporary exhibits about the times van Gogh lived and worked, complete the show.
Categorized Amsterdam Museums
Amsterdam Art Museums
Netherlands have an unparalleled tradition of art painting with names of the highest magnitude as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh and Mondrian and hundreds of wonderful artists of lesser fame but often mysterious, fascinating talents. Amsterdam museums with art exhibits are truly unique on the world’s scale. The Rijksmuseum is the one you should not miss, even if you are in Amsterdam for only one day.
Amsterdam History Museums
Dutch people have a conscience of their history and love of their country tradition. Their Amsterdam historical museums are never dull – in a spectacular way they illustrate the intricate and rich character of the nation. The renewed Het Scheepvaartmuseum – The National Maritime Museum is real fun to visit.
Sports, Fun Museums and Exhibits in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has been always welcoming visitors. Avid sailors and traders, the Dutch have been always tolerant and open to the outside world. Today the city has a fame of being permissive, comparing even to other cities in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is open for tourists and several attractive exhibits have been prepared. Some around recognized Dutch brands as Heineken and Ajax, other on themes as sex and soft drugs.
Amsterdam ZOO and Nature Museums
Dutch love nature and the country is the world’s biggest exporter of flowers. Amsterdam ZOO called Artis, small and old fashioned is very pleasant to visit. The Botanical Garden, one of the oldest in the world, bears still its historical Latin name, Hortus Botanicus. A number of smaller institutions complete the picture of Amsterdam museums of nature.
Amsterdam Technology Museums
In Amsterdam museums of technology have been created mostly for kids, as NEMO or Electric Tram Line Museum, but there are also some smaller museums, which continue grown up private collections. Sometimes really small, set in one room as Computer Museum, they document the fascination with quickly changing technology.
Lifestyle museums, exhibits and tourist attractions
Amsterdam has a tradition of the city of joy and tolerance city. Its people like to party, to sing and dance in the public. Tulip craze may have been gone forever centuries ago, but flowers remain an important element of Amsterdam everyday decorum. Last century brought also interests in design and mode – Amsterdam has become one of the capitals of fashion in Europe. There are a number of museums in Amsterdam that exhibit specific Amsterdam way of life in all its aspects.
Entertainment, culture and Amsterdam nightlife
Amsterdam offers a diverse array of world-class entertainment, as for centuries has been one of the leading centers of culture in Europe. A variety of Amsterdam entertainment is staged in hundreds of venues throughout the city. There is also plenty of low-cost entertainment in Amsterdam like festivals or canal boat cruises. The city is well known and visited for its Amsterdam nightlife. A multitude of street performers and live bands in bars and cafes completes this rich scene of Amsterdam nightlife. Check the free press, a very good newspaper published in English - Amsterdam Weekly and an illustrated Dutch magazine, NL 20 - free, with a clear and complete Amsterdam cultural agenda. Both on stands throughout the city.
Amsterdam being an important theatre city has each evening a variety of spectacles to offer. You can also find quality, English-language theatre in Amsterdam. Most of the major theatres are centered around the Leidseplein, and at the Nes street, within an easy stroll of each other.
There are over 50 cinemas in Amsterdam, where films are shown in their original language, with Dutch subtitles. Be careful not to choose the film in some rare exotic language. The Tuschinski Theater deserves a special mention. Constructed in 1921 as exotic mixture of Art Deco and Amsterdamse school style, it features a luxurious foyer, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cinemas in Europe.
Amsterdam with one of the best symphonic orchestras in the world – the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and an Amsterdam opera with a rich tradition. It is bursting with live music, in many concert halls, clubs and jazz cafes. In summer, concerts can be enjoyed in one of the city's beautiful parks and through the year in Amsterdam nightlife clubs.
Amsterdam ballet and dance
There are two world-class ballet companies in the Netherlands. The renowned Dutch National Ballet is one of the resident groups in the Muziektheater, the repertoire encompasses both classical and modern dance. Another one, the Netherlands Dans Theater based in The Hague, regularly performs in venues throughout the city.
As the evening falls, Amsterdam starts to sparkle, especially on the nice spring and summer days. While all cinemas and theaters are busy, Amsterdam night clubs, cafes and restaurants are full of joyful, friendly crowd. Famous Red Light District, not far from the Dam square, is invaded by groups of tourists. They come here to observe working girls exhibiting their charms in the brightly lit windows. This is also an area of many nightclubs, small restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy the nightlife in Amsterdam. A big city square, Leidseplein with its theaters, cinemas, cafes, nearby casino and clubs is also a very busy place at night. Another always crowded square - Rembrandtplein, with its clubs and nearby cinemas and the old quarter of Jordaan with its cafes and restaurants are also popular Amsterdam nightlife scenes.
Amsterdam urban Art Scene
It is very much in the tradition of the Dutch, to blur the boundaries between the so called “high art” and the “low art”. The motto of an important artistic Holland Festival states openly - “the future is with impure art”. The Amsterdam art scene for the new and informal is rich in artistic street events starting from graffiti, new street fashion trends, street performers and musicians. Throughout the year, there are many events where street art scene connects to artistic festivals and shows at Amsterdam's art galleries. This all backed up by nightlife in Amsterdam.
Throughout the whole year, each day of the week many attractive fun events take place in Amsterdam. Several of them as the Holland Festival, IDFA documentary film festival or World Press Photo contest and following it exhibit, have already an established high position in the world culture. But the are many other events – film and performing arts festivals, cultural meetings, annual art fairs exhibitions, which will make your stay in Amsterdam more, complete. You may choose from the events calendar and visit many Amsterdam nightlife clubs.