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Things to do in Amsterdam

Things to do in  Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam

The Netherlands brims with beauty and adventure, from its picturesque windmills and wondrous fields of tulips to its hip, art-centric capital city of Amsterdam. The most populated region of the Netherlands, historic Amsterdam is renowned for its quaint streets and scenic canals. Take in Amsterdam’s rich tradition of art by touring iconic museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum; tours offer skip-the-line access to these popular sights. The Anne Frank House is another must-see, attracting visitors from around the globe. A walking tour—or if you want to be like the Dutch, a bike tour—is a great way to get into the culture. For a little romance, enjoy a candlelit cruise at night with Dutch wine and cheese, and watch the city sparkle. Make time to tour the happening Red Light District’s bars and coffeeshops, and sample bitterballen (fried meatballs) and classic pickled herring, along with some of the country’s famed beers. Take a day trip or two to the Dutch countryside to admire Zaanse Schans, with its iconic windmills and clogs; or traditional villages such as Volendam and Marken. Keukenhof Gardens offers the pièce de résistance: a burst of colors from its vast array of flowers and millions of tulips. All in all, Amsterdam’s uniqueness makes it an unparalleled destination in Europe.

Top 10 attractions in Amsterdam

#1

Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

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Amsterdam’s Red Light District (aka De Wallen) has been a familiar haunt for pleasure seekers since the 14th century. Though certainly not an area for everyone, the Red Light District has more to offer than just sex and liquor. For underneath its promiscuous façade, the area contains some of Amsterdam's prettiest canals, excellent bars and restaurants, and shops of all kinds. It also consists of windows with sexy girls, dressed in eye-popping underwear. The best places for window-watching are along Oudezijds Achterburgwal and in the alleys around the Oude Kerk (Old Church), particularly to the south. The atmosphere throughout is much more laid-back than in other red-light districts. Families, lawyers, young couples, senior citizens - all types of locals live and socialize here, in stride with the surrounding commerce. You’ll probably find yourself on Warmoesstraat and Zeedijk at some point, both commercial thoroughfares chock-a-block with shops and restaurants.More
#2

Rijksmuseum

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The Rijksmuseum, or National Museum, is the premier art museum of the Netherlands, and no self-respecting visitor to Amsterdam can afford to miss it. Though most of the building is closed for renovations until 2013, key paintings from the museum’s permanent collection can be viewed in the Philips Wing. The collection includes some 5,000 paintings, most importantly those by Dutch and Flemish masters from the 15th to 19th centuries. The emphasis, naturally, is on the Golden Age. Pride of place is taken by Rembrandt's Nightwatch (1650), showing the militia led by Frans Banning Cocq. Other 17th century Dutch masters include Jan Vermeer (The Milkmaid, and Woman in Blue Reading a Letter), Frans Hals (The Merry Drinker) and Jan Steen (The Merry Family). Other sections include Sculpture and Applied Art (delftware, dolls' houses, porcelain, furniture), Dutch History and Asiatic Art, including the famous 12th century Dancing Shiva.More
#3

Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

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It is one of the 20th century's most compelling stories: a young Jewish girl forced into hiding with her family and their friends to escape deportation by the Nazis. The house Otto Frank used as a hideaway for his family kept them safe until close to the end of World War II. The focus of the Anne Frank House museum is the achterhuis, also known as the secret annex. It was in this dark, airless space that the Franks observed complete silence during the day, before being mysteriously betrayed and sent to their deaths. The Anne Frank House is pretty much intact, so as you walk through the building, it's easy to imagine Anne’s experience growing up here as she wrote her famous diary describing how restrictions were gradually imposed on Dutch Jews.More
#4

Amstel River

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Amsterdam might be most famous for its winding canals and pretty locks, but it’s the Amstel River that the city was first built around, even deriving its name from its early settlement at the ‘Amstel Dam’. Today the river runs through the center of the city, lined with landmark buildings, stately mansions and colorful houseboats. A walk along the riverside pathway takes in a number of key sights: the regal Carré theatre, still a popular performance house; the post-modernist Stopera city hall and opera house, with its contemporary glass facade; and the neo-baroque domes of the St Nicolas church, all face the river front. A number of landmark bridges also cross the river, the most famous of which is the Magere Brug, or the ‘Skinny Bridge’, a white painted bascule bridge, rebuilt in the early 1900s. Don’t miss out on renowned tourist attractions like the Hermitage Museum, the Amsterdam Museum and Waterlooplein, either – all lie along the shores of the Amstel.More
#5

Van Gogh Museum

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Art lovers and van Gogh fans must reward themselves with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, one of Amsterdam's must-sees. The museum consists of about 200 paintings and 500 drawings by Vincent and his friends and contemporaries (Gauguin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Bernard), as well as many of the artist's personal effects. Famous works on display include The Potato Eaters (1885), The Yellow House in Arles (1888) and The Bedroom (1888). One of his last paintings, Wheatfield with Crows (1890), is an ominous work finished shortly before his suicide. Of special note is the wall on the second floor, which displays 18 paintings produced during a two year period in the south of France, generally considered to be his artistic high point. A new wing,set partly underground, showcases temporary exhibits by van Gogh and other artists.More
#6

Jordaan

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Conveniently located right in central Amsterdam, Jordaan is one of the city's most important, and most interesting districts. Never short of things to do, it is the location of the famous Anne Frank house, where renowned holocaust victim Anne Frank hid from the Nazis during WWII. Currently, the district is bustling with life, with tons of opportunities to visit one of its many specialty shops, soak in Dutch culture at an art gallery, or try some of the local delicacies at its street markets. Prideful of its early 20th-century music culture, this central district also features wonderful music festivals and has scattered statues throughout, commemorating the likes of local hero and Dutch patriot Johnny Jordaan. Not dead, you can go check out Jordaan's lively modern music scene at many of its bars and club venues, these days mainly featuring alternative, punk and grunge music.More
#7

Micropia

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Micropia is a unique museum in Amsterdam dedicated to microbes and microorganisms. These microscopic organisms make up two thirds of all living matter. As soon as you enter the museum, you'll start to learn about the invisible organisms living all around us. An animation in the first elevator tells you about the mites that live on your eyelashes and the bacteria and viruses that live on those mites. Other exhibits include a body scanner that tells you what type of microbes live on your body and a Kiss-o-meter that counts the number of microbes transferred during a kiss. There are Petri dishes with bacteria in them that show you what lives on everyday household objects. Another exhibit shows a collection of animal feces and a preserved human digestive system. There are also films showing different animals decomposing. In a real-life working laboratory, visitors can view technicians preparing the exhibits through a window.More
#8

Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

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Magere Brug is a bridge in Amsterdam that crosses the Amstel River. Its name translates as “skinny bridge” and comes from the original bridge that was so skinny, it was difficult for two people to pass each other while walking across it at the same time. Legend also has it that the bridge was built by the Mager sisters to make it easier to visit each other since they lived on opposite sides of the river. Though it is still called the Skinny Bridge, today it is no longer so skinny. The bridge was replaced with a wider one in 1871, and now pedestrians and bicycles can cross with greater ease. The bridge is a wooden drawbridge that is raised frequently throughout the day to allow boats to pass through. At night it is lit up by over 1,000 light bulbs. Day or night, the Skinny Bridge is a charming place to visit and enjoy views of the river and the city.More
#9

Venustempel Sex Museum

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The Venustempel Sex Museum in Amsterdam is the world’s first sex museum. Housed in a 17-th­century building in the very heart of the city, it features an extensive collection of erotic paintings, statues, recordings, photographs, and other items relating to sex and eroticism. All of the exhibits were personally curated by the owners and remain on permanent display. The main theme is the evolution of human sexuality throughout the ages. Venustempel began in 1985 with just a small display of erotic artifacts from the 19th century. Due to its huge popularity with the general public, its collection was later expanded upon, and the museum now sees more than 500,000 visitors through its doors each and every year.More
#10

Dam Square

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Dam Square is the main city square in Amsterdam and is one of the most well-known locations in all of the Netherlands. Located in the historical center of the city and just 750 meters south of Amsterdam Centraal Station, Dam Square is home to an array of notable buildings and frequently hosts events of national importance. The square sits over the original location of the dam in the Amstel River and has been surrounded by land on all sides since the mouth of the river was filled in the 19th century. On the west end of the square you will see the Royal Palace, which was the city hall from 1655 until its conversion to a royal residence in 1808. Next to the palace are the Gothic Nieuwe Kirk (New Church) and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. On the east end of the square is the National Monument, a stone pillar erected in 1956 to memorialize the Dutch victims of World War II.More

Trip ideas

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Amsterdam

How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Amsterdam

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

Top Parks and Gardens in Amsterdam

Top Parks and Gardens in Amsterdam

Top activities in Amsterdam

Recent reviews from experiences in Amsterdam

star-5
Great day
Jack_Lewis, Sep 2020
Volendam, Marken and Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
Great day out recommend to anyone who goes to Amsterdam the city is great of course but its definitely nice to see the surrounding country and learn about it all the locations they took us were great and the 2 tour guides and the driver were really n
star-5
Magical
ALFIE_F, Aug 2020
2-Hour Semi Private All-Inclusive Cruise on our Boutique Style boats
Best experience of a lifetime, Beautiful boat, super friendly captain, Quiet and peaceful way to to see the beauty of Amsterdam canals
star-5
Greatest tour ever
Zachary_S, Aug 2020
Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise Plus Snacks and Drinks
Highly recommend for a couple or group with older kids who want to see another side of amsterdam from the canals!
star-5
Great tour!
Ginette_L, Jul 2020
Absolutely Amsterdam: Tip-Based Walking Tour With Super Local Guide (2,5 Hours)
Sebastian knows his city along with it’s history and attractions.
star-5
Recommend
W_D, Jul 2020
Blue Boat Company Amsterdam City Canal Cruise
Nice cruise trip, definitely worth to see Amsterdam this way.
star-5
Highly recommended!!
Alex, Jul 2020
Half day private tour: Amsterdam introduction in one day
We were only in Amsterdam in one day and wanted to see as much as possible.
star-5
Great start to our trip
Jo_F, Mar 2020
Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
Fantastic way to see Amsterdam, really informative, fun and relaxed.
star-5
Great trip
Kathy, Mar 2020
Volendam, Edam and Windmills Guided Day Tour
This is an excellent trip to see outside Amsterdam and the pretty villages.
star-5
Highly recommend this tour
Katie_F, Mar 2020
Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter Small-Group Walking Tour
We got to see different parts of Amsterdam that we would not of found on our on about the tour.
star-5
Amazing ride
Juliana_M, Mar 2020
Amsterdam: Bike Rental
I’m really afraid of cycling (bad fall when I was young), but renting with MacBike actually helped me with that fear, although Amsterdam is a crazy cycling city.
star-5
The best tour
Syafiq, Mar 2020
Day trip to Giethoorn from Amsterdam
Easy to communicate and highly recommended for whoever want to visit Giethoor and Amsterdam
star-5
Great boat trip
James_B, Mar 2020
Open boat tour - All drinks included - 60 Minutes - Live guide
A great way to see Amsterdam and have some drinks.
star-5
A must do!
Paul_D, Feb 2020
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
Fabulous trip with well informed and friendly guide, from the Windmills, cheese and clog making to the fishing island of Marken this trip is a must do on your bucket list of places to visit when in Amsterdam, you get a hell of a lot packed it on the
star-5
Great experience
Jellevanpetten, Feb 2020
Brew Bus Amsterdam, Number 1 Craft Beer Tour
When you are in Amsterdam the brew bus is one of the things to do certainly.
star-4
Volendam
davidkuans, Jan 2020
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
End of tour, the bus dropped us in north Amsterdam which I think it was good so you get to see the other side of Amsterdam also and it's free free trip.
star-5
Enjoyable tour
matt s, Nov 2019
Zaanse Schans Small-Group Half-Day Tour from Amsterdam
We loved going inside the windmill to see how it worked.
star-5
Great trip if you are pressed for time
kbbrsb, Nov 2019
Zaanse Schans Small-Group Half-Day Tour from Amsterdam
Our guide was on time, kind, and spoke English.
star-5
Amsterdam city bike tour
Tina C, Oct 2019
Mini City Bike Tour, Highlights of Amsterdam (2 hours)
This was a great way to see Amsterdam despite the cold and rain - we were equipped with heavy duty rainwear which was very beneficial.
star-5
Beautiful different way to see Amsterdam
JamesD276, Oct 2019
Blue Boat Amsterdam Evening Canal Cruise
It is a very interesting way to see and learn about Amsterdam.
star-5
Private tour from Amsterdam
kathyheitman, Oct 2019
Amsterdam customizable private tour with Hotel or Airport Pick-Up
Knowledgeable, fun and took us to visit all of the best spots in Amsterdam.

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