Get an overview of the 800-year history of the Dutch capital at this beautiful museum, located in a 17th-century former orphanage on the historic Kalverstraat. Covering the Middle Ages to the present day, the collection unfolds in chronological order and includes paintings (primarily from the Dutch Golden Age), architectural models, artifacts, photographs, and lots of hands-on, interactive opportunities. Hop on a stationary bike and start pedaling as black-and-white footage of early-20th-century Amsterdam street life flickers before your eyes. Or check out the replica of Café 't Mandje, a 1927 red-light-district bar where lesbians, prostitutes, and seamen all congregated. There’s also a playable carillon and a cool computer-generated map that demonstrates how Amsterdam has grown over the centuries.
Once you've had your fill of near-death experiences as a pedestrian, the Red Light District, and the Hermitage, be sure to check out the architecture. So distinctive of Dutch culture, it's an element you want to be sure not to miss.