The Best Things to Do in Amsterdam
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
The Dutch Masters, the canals, the red light district, the nightlife, the design scene, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House: Amsterdam is packed with must-sees. The city has lots of surprises, too, beyond canal houses and cozy bars.
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam’s State Museum reopened in 2013 after a decade of renovations, and it is oh so worth a visit! Weave your way through the museum's vast assemblage of historic art (there are over 8,000 pieces!) to check out works from Dutch masters...
Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
One powerful and emotional experience in Amsterdam that shouldn’t be missed is a visit to the Anne Frank House. This home, where Anne Frank wrote in her diary while she, her family, and four others hid from the Nazis during World War II, has...
Gabriël Metsustraat 8, 1071 EA Amsterdam, Netherlands
It has been a decade since the major museums on the Museumplein—a grassy square connecting Amsterdam’s main art centers—have all been open at the same time. Here’s what to check out at the Van Gogh Museum. Sunflowers, The...
Singel, 1012 XG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Since 1862, fresh flowers and plants have arrived by barge from the Dutch countryside to Amsterdam. While this assemblage of flora still shows up daily, it comes by van, not boat, to the Bloemenmarkt, the world's only floating flower market. Here,...
Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rembrandt purchased this sizable former merchant’s house in 1639, when he was at the peak of his fame as a portraitist of the city’s elite. He lived, painted, and taught in the multistory building for nearly 20 years, and on the...
1071 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beloved by locals and popular with tourists, the Vondelpark is a 120-acre oasis of green in buzzing Amsterdam, southeast of the Leidseplein. Opened in 1865 as the Nieuwe Park, it was later renamed after 17th-century Dutch playwright Joost van den...
IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Step inside the Eye Film Institute to discover an homage to international cinema replete with interactive displays and perched like an ivory spaceship ready for launch on the northern bank of the IJ River. The striking facility, accessible via a...
Mr. Visserplein 3, 1011 RD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Built in 1675 by Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jews who fled Roman Catholic persecution during the Inquisition, this is one of the oldest continuously operating synagogues in Europe. The massive square-shaped building still has no...
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, 1012 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is known for its religious tolerance, but beginning in the 16th century, during the Protestant Reformation, Catholics were prohibited from holding Mass publicly. And so “hidden churches” began popping up in private homes...
De Wallen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The red-light district in Amsterdam is a very busy place with an odd mix of life in one small neighborhood. In a peculiar way it’s very beautiful—there’s so much happening both visually and mentally it takes a bit to process it...
Begijnhof 29, 1012 WT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Escape the bustle of the city by ducking into the quiet courtyard garden of Begijnhof. Located just a few minutes on foot from the Koningsplein and the Singel canal, this tranquil oasis dates back at least as far as the 14th century. Look among...
Tesselschadestraat 1E, 1054 ET Amsterdam, Netherlands
When in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do and rent a bike. There are half a million bikes in the city, so be sure to look both ways before crossing the street! Bike rates average 12 Euro/day or 50 Euro/week. Mike's Bike Tours...
Enge Kerksteeg 3, 1012 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ever wondered how it feels to sit behind one of those curtained windows in Amsterdam's Red Light District (RLD)? Find out from women who've been there at the Prostitute Information Center (PIC), near the statue of Belle on Oudekerksplein engraved...
Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
It has been a decade since the major museums on the Museumplein—a grassy square connecting Amsterdam’s main art centers—have all been open at the same time. Here’s what to check out at Stedelijk Museum. The modern art...
Kalverstraat 92, 1012 PH Amsterdam, Netherlands
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...
Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beyond tulips, windmills, and weed, Amsterdam's global image is entwined with water. The Canal Ring (Grachtengordel) is made up of 165 fluid channels developed during the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. In the ensuing years, the water network has...
Pazzanistraat 33, 1014 DB Amsterdam, Netherlands
This sprawling 19th-century former gasworks complex west of the Canal Ring was a polluted site for decades after its closing in the mid-1960s. It was cleaned up and reopened in 2003 as a park, and its architecturally significant red-brick...
Herengracht 573, 1017 CD Amsterdam, Netherlands
This collection of 5,000-plus bags, purses, and accessories—the largest in the world—spans more than 500 years, from a practical 16th-century goatskin money pouch to a whimsical shoe-shaped purse by contemporary Dutch footwear designer...
Ceintuurbaan 338, 1072 GN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Specializing in independent film, this historic 1920s art deco theater in De Pijp has three screens, showing movies in their original version with Dutch subtitles. But what if you’re hankering to see the latest French art-house flick and...
Leidseplein 26, 1017 PT Amsterdam, Netherlands
This imposing 1894 neo-Renaissance-style red-brick building on the famed Leidseplein is home to Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the largest theater company in the Netherlands. Both classic plays and modern dramas are staged in its two major halls. The...
Concertgebouwplein 10, 1071 LN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Everyone from Gustav Mahler and Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin and Sting has graced the stage of this gilded neoclassical concert hall, which dates from 1888. The building has three theaters, but top billing goes to the 1,974-seat Main Hall, a...
Overhoeksplein 5, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of the hippest neighborhoods in the city is Amsterdam-Noord, situated directly across the IJ River from the main train station. Here, an iconic 1970s office high-rise has been recently revamped and rebranded as A’DAM, an acronym for...
Linnaeusstraat 2, 1092 CK Amsterdam, Netherlands
The interiors of this museum and its library are really beautiful—a mosaic of polished wood and marble surfaces. And its contents are very timely, about the history of immigration and former Dutch colonies and slavery. The library is a bit...
Keizersgracht 672, 1017 ET Amsterdam, Netherlands
If Amsterdam's 17th-century canal houses could talk, they might reveal secrets of wealthy merchants who raised families in the tall, narrow properties during Holland's Golden Age. Today, the historic residences have been transformed into hotels,...
Herengracht 497, 1017 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you tire of highbrow culture, sample a lighter approach to art devoted to a single theme at one of Amsterdam's quirkiest museums: the Katten Kabinet (Cat Cabinet). While professionally curated, this homage to all things feline has a humorous...
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