10 Best Places To Visit In Amsterdam – Amsterdam is known as a party city, full of wild nights and all kinds of questionable debauchery. It’s a fun, eclectic, party-oriented destination popular with young travelers looking to relax.
I’ve visited Amsterdam more times than I can count (it’s one of my favorite cities in the world) and I’ve never been disappointed. But there’s more to the city than just a fun night out.
10 Best Places To Visit In Amsterdam
Amsterdam as we know it dates back to the 12th century and is home to all kinds of medieval and renaissance buildings, most of which date back to the Dutch Golden Age, the time from 1588-1672 when Amsterdam was the center of the world economy. Many of the canals themselves are also hundreds of years old and have UNESCO World Heritage status.
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Today, Amsterdam is a city full of more history than you know what to do with, lots of art museums, cool cafes, plenty of outdoor activities and wild nightlife. There is plenty to see and do no matter what interests you.
To help you make the most of your trip, here are 32 of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam:
Whenever I arrive in a new city, I start with a free walk. They help you orient yourself and give you an overview of the city, the culture and the main sights worth seeing. Learn some history and you can ask a local guide any questions you have, which is the best way to get insider tips.
Free Walking Tours Amsterdam and New Europe offer daily free walking tours. They last 2-3 hours and provide you with the perfect introduction to the city. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
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If you’re on a tight budget and want an in-depth alternative tour, check out Black Heritage Tours. Although their tours are not free, they are incredibly informative and eye-opening. They focus on the impact of slavery during the growth of the Dutch Empire and highlight black culture and contributions to the country. It is sobering but educational.
And for more general tours (walking tours, museum tours, food tours), check out Get Your Guide. They have tons of different tours, so there’s something for everyone!
This museum is home to many of Van Gogh’s best works. It is also the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works in the entire world. The museum does an excellent job of charting his life, chronicling his works from beginning to end so that you can better understand and appreciate his style and evolution (as well as his life outside of painting). Opened in 1973, it’s one of the most popular (read: crowded) locations in the city, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. The museum also houses paintings by other famous artists of the period, such as Monet, Manet and Matisse, as well as artists who inspired or were inspired by Van Gough.
Museumplein 6, +31 20 570 5200, vangoghmuseum.nl. Open daily from 9am to 6pm in summer with reduced hours in spring, autumn and winter. Entrance is 19 EUR.
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The Jordaan is a modern residential area. Although it has become more popular in recent years, it is still one of the most neglected parts of the city. The area is full of cozy shops and boutiques, bars and pubs, and modern restaurants. It is also the area of the city where the Dutch painter Rembrandt (1606-1669) lived during the last years of his life. It’s a quiet place to explore away from the crowds if you want to get a better feel for the city outside of its main tourist areas.
In addition to eating and drinking there, you can shop at the Westerstraat Market (Monday mornings) or the Lindengracht Market (Saturdays).
Amsterdam is a beautiful, picturesque city thanks to the colorful canals that break up the city. To see the city from a new perspective, take a tour of the canal. There are large tour boats that can take you up and down the waterways, but you can also rent your own boat for a self-guided tour (if you’re comfortable driving a boat). Self-guided charters are for small open-air boats that give you a more intimate, unique experience. They cost around 50 EUR per hour, which makes it extremely affordable if you have a few friends to join you. For a standard guided tour on a larger ship, expect around 18 EUR per person.
This is one of the most popular tourist spots in the entire city. While it’s an important and dark place to visit, it’s also incredibly crowded. You just walk around the house and never have time to taste what you see. Personally, I think the Museum of Jewish History does a better job of highlighting her life, but this is still worth seeing because it’s such an iconic and important place.
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Prinsengracht 263–267, +31 20 556 71 05, annefrank.org. Open from Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm and from Friday to Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm (shorter working hours in winter). Entrance is 14 EUR. Tickets are sold online only.
Founded in 1798, the Rijksmuseum is an art and history museum located right next to the Van Gogh Museum. The museum, recently renovated, houses an extensive Rembrandt collection including the famous painting “The Night Watch”. In addition to Rembrandt’s works, the museum also houses a robust collection of other classic Dutch painters, such as Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. There are over a million objects in the collection (it’s the largest museum in the country) with over 8,000 on display, so you could easily spend a few hours here.
If you need to escape the crowds, head to Oosterpark. It’s a relaxing green space east of the city center, perfect for lounging and enjoying a sunny day. It is much less busy than the city’s popular Vondelpark and shows you a different, more residential part of the city. There are sculptures (including the National Slavery Monument commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1863), playgrounds, ponds, and plenty of space to picnic or lounge. It was also the first large city park, dating back to the 1890s.
Heineken is one of the most famous (and most popular) beers in the world. You can take an interactive tour of this former brewery and learn how the beer was made and how the company evolved over the centuries (the beer dates back to the 1870s). Admission includes two beers, so if you’re a fan be sure to book a tour. It’s a fun way to learn a little history.
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Stadhouderskade 78, +31 020 261 1323, heinekenexperience.com. Open Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Entrance is 21 EUR.
Tucked away in an old warehouse in the Red Light District, the Erotic Museum has an exhibition on erotica in all its various forms through the ages. It contains sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs and other works of art. And, of course, there is a gift shop if you want a more unique souvenir from the city.
The Amsterdam Museum of Sex is a more serious museum and is much more informative than the Erotic Museum (but also a little less fun). It was the first sex museum in the world, opened in 1985. It highlights the history of sexual views and norms, as well as the lives of some of the most sexually famous people in the world (such as the Marquis de Sade).
Erotic Museum: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 54, +31 20 627 8954, erotic-museum.nl. Open every day from 11 am to 1 am. Entrance is 7 EUR.
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Amsterdam Sex Museum: Damrak 18, +31 20 622 8376, sexmuseumamsterdam.nl. Open every day from 11 am to 7 pm. Entrance is 9 EUR.
Not surprisingly, Amsterdam’s red light district is one of the main attractions in the city. Although much tamer than in previous years, the red light district manages to balance sex and cuteness so that it is a major international tourist attraction. While it’s worth seeing, they cut into your time here. While it is quite peaceful and quiet during the day, at night the area is bustling with drunken revelers and staring tourists who clog the sidewalks. But even if it wasn’t your scene, I would make sure you see the area with your own eyes. It is certainly unique!
This is the only Jewish history museum in the country, although it is often overlooked in favor of the Anne Frank House. Personally, I think the museum does a better job when it comes to highlighting the history and struggles of the Jewish people in the Netherlands. In particular, they have an excellent exhibit on World War II that highlights Dutch resistance, complacency, and Holocaust guilt. Founded in 1932 (and reopened in 1955, after the war), the museum houses over 11,000 objects, artefacts and works of art.
Tucked away inside a 17th century canal house, this is one of the most interesting churches I’ve ever been to. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic”) is a secret Catholic church that was secretly built during Protestant rule on the 3rd floor of an ordinary house (it was never really secret, but because it was out of sight the authorities didn’t crack down too hard with them). Built in the 1660s,
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