Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands and one of the most renowned tourist destinations in the world. Popularly referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to its lovely waterways, this Dutch city should be on any traveler’s must-visit list. While the city has gained a reputation for its red-light district and liberal approach on vices, Amsterdam has so much more to offer with its collection of museums, galleries, outdoor spaces, historical architecture, and other attractions.
Amsterdam is an eclectic and diverse destination and there’s something in the city for everyone – whether you’re into art, history, nature, or even food! But with the abundance of things to do in Amsterdam, it can be quite a challenge to plan out your trip, especially if your time in the city is limited. There is an endless list of attractions in Amsterdam so we’ve whittled it down to a handful of spots you absolutely shouldn’t miss!
Tips for Exploring Amsterdam
To make the most out of your sightseeing experience in Amsterdam, here are some tips that you might find helpful:
- Save money by buying an Amsterdam City Card, which gives you access to Amsterdam’s top attractions as well as public transport, bike rentals, and a free boat cruise. The City Card comes in 24-, 48-, 72-, 96- and 120-hour options and range from €65 to €130, which you can book here.
- Most attractions, particularly the museums and galleries, prohibit guests from carrying luggage inside the facilities. To avoid any hassle, find an Amsterdam luggage storage facility where you can stow away your items.
- Most attractions are located near each other, so visit as much as you can in a certain area.
- Consider renting a bike to explore Amsterdam; the city is extremely bike-friendly!
Top 15 Must-See Attractions in Amsterdam
- Museumplein: If there’s one thing that Amsterdam is most well-known for, it’s got to be the stunning collection of museums found within the city. The Museumplein, also known as Museum Square, is Amsterdam’s cultural center and home to three of the best museums in the city – the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. Another notable attraction located in the area is the Concertgebouw.
- Vondelpark: The most popular green space in the city, Vondelpark is one of Amsterdam’s top attractions. At 45 hectares of space, the park is filled with lawns, paths, ponds, and playgrounds that make for fun outdoor activities. You can also find interesting additions within the park, such as an open-air theater and an outdoor art gallery. Make the most out of your visit to Vondelpark by starting your day early to enjoy every inch.
- Jordaan: Arguably Amsterdam’s most famous neighborhood, Jordaan is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Apart from its central location, the area is home to a few of the city’s best spots, including the Anne Frank House and the Nine Little Streets shopping district. There is also an insane amount of cafés, restaurants, and pubs in the neighborhood. The Amsterdam tourism board’s official website provides a detailed guide to visiting Jordaan.
- Dam Square: Just like any major city in the world, Amsterdam has a center point – the Dam Square. Considered the heart of the city, the iconic public square is a must-visit. You can find attractions such as the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the National Memorial Statue, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum within the area. Learn more about what you can do at Dam Square with this guide.
- De Pijp: Also known as the Latin Quarter, the De Pijp neighborhood is a multicultural area filled with impressive 19th-century architecture. Compared to Jordaan, De Pijp has a calmer and more authentic atmosphere. While here, you can visit tourist spots such as the Heineken Experience and the popular Albert Cuyp Market.
- Rembrandt House Museum: Another impressive museum located in the city is the Rembrandt House Museum. The museum once served as the residence of the acclaimed Dutch painter for 19 years and houses some of Rembrandt’s best works. The museum also occasionally hosts temporary exhibits, as well as events such as workshops and educational programs for children.
- Red Light District: The neighborhood of De Wallen, which is the oldest neighborhood in the city, is more popularly known as Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Despite its reputation, the area is well worth visiting due to the different churches, squares, monuments, and other historical landmarks.
- Canal Belt: There’s a reason why Amsterdam was dubbed the “Venice of the North”; its canal system, known locally as de Grachtengordel, is at par with the prominent Italian city. The 17th century Canal Belt, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is made up of four main canals that surround the city – namely Keizersgracht, Herengracht, Singel, and Prinsengracht. For an unforgettable and up-close experience, check out some of the canal cruises for yourself.
- EYE Film Institute: Established in 1952, the EYE Film Institute offers the ultimate experience for film buffs and is dedicated to preserving and presenting local and international films. The permanent collection has over 37,000 movie titles and comprises thousands of photos, soundtracks, images, books, and more. The EYE also has a cultural program that involves film screenings, temporary exhibits, guided tours, workshops, and educational activities for children. Visit the EYE website to learn about special events, ticket prices, and more.
- Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam: There is no shortage of nature and green spaces in the heart of Amsterdam, including the renowned Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. Established in 1638, it is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and among the most prominent tourist spots in the city. Horticulture enthusiasts can see and observe some extremely rare species of plants and trees. Highlights of the garden visit include the ancient hexagonal building that’s been around since the 18th century, the Palm House, and the 1870s Orangery. Plan your visit to the botanical garden by visiting their official website.