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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
Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

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The bestselling book “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” brought to life one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century in a compelling, personal way. In the true story, a young Jewish girl, her family, and some friends are forced into hiding in Amsterdam to escape the Nazis during World War II. The house that served as the Frank family’s hiding place for two years survived the war and is now a moving museum, with the primary site being the achterhuis (rear house), also known as the secret annex. Here the Franks sat in silence during the day and ate food that was secretly brought to them before being mysteriously betrayed and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Otto Frank, the only Frank who survived the war, published Anne’s now-famous diary in 1947.More
#2
Amstel River

Amstel River

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The Amstel is the great river that runs through Amsterdam and whose water was diverted into the city’s famous canals. The city was first built around the river, giving it the name Amstel Dam, and today the waterway is flows past modern buildings and charming houseboats before winding its way into the Dutch countryside.More
#3
Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

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Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of works by the legendary Dutch artist, is a must-see for art and art history lovers. The museum boasts a collection of Vincent van Gogh’s personal effects, plus 200 paintings and 500 drawings by the master and his contemporaries—including Gauguin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Bernard—plus Van Gogh’s famous works The Potato Eaters and Wheatfield with Crows.More
#4
Hermitage Amsterdam

Hermitage Amsterdam

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An outpost of St. Petersburg’s famous Hermitage Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam showcases revolving exhibitions of painting and historical artifacts, often with a Russian theme. The sprawling Amstelhof building dates back to the 17th century, stretches along the Amstel riverfront, and features an inner garden courtyard.More
#5
Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

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Most famous for its streetside brothels, Amsterdam's Red Light District (De Wallen) also houses scenic canals, bustling restaurants, bars, and plenty of shopping opportunities. While this controversial neighborhood may not be for everyone, its winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleys evoke Amsterdam’s rich history and laid-back culture.More
#6
Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

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The second of Amsterdam’s three major waterways, the Emperor’s Canal (Keizersgracht) is the widest in the city. Its quiet waters wind through otherwise bustling neighborhoods, and it is lined with picturesque old houses—some of which have had famous residents. A boat trip along the canal lends itself to some wonderful photo opportunities.More
#7
Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

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Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is the largest and most visited art museum in the Netherlands. Its collection, which ranks among the world’s finest, includes nearly 8,000 pieces spread over 80 galleries. Some of the Rijksmuseum’s most revered works are 15th- to 19th-century paintings by Flemish and Dutch masters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. In addition to the astounding eight centuries of Dutch art and history, the museum has extensive outdoor gardens and a Michelin-starred restaurant.More
#8
Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam Central Station

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Amsterdam Central Station (Amsterdam Centraal Station) is the largest railway station in the Netherlands, as well as the country’s most visited national heritage site. Serving up to 250,000 passengers every day, it’s the city’s most important transport hub, offering both national and international train services.More
#9
Jordaan

Jordaan

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Once a working-class neighborhood, Jordaan in central Amsterdam has become an upscale enclave favored by artists and designers. Grand 17th-century houses, art galleries, speciality shops, music venues, cafes, and restaurants line the leafy canals in this quintessential Amsterdam neighborhood, which attracts tourists and locals alike.More
#10
Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

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Amsterdam’s Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) crosses the River Amstel in the city center. The wooden drawbridge features low arches and nighttime illumination. The bridge’s history reaches as far back as 1691, when the original structure was completed in a classic Dutch style that also influenced later renovations.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

Top activities in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Open Boat Tour With Live Guide and Unlimited Drinks
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Skip-the-line Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam Private Guided Tour
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Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
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All inclusive Canal Tour by Captain Jack (Traveller's Choice Award 2021)
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Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
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The Ultimate Amsterdam Canal Cruise - 2hr - Small Group - Exclusive Boat
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Skip-the-line Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Private Guided Museum Tour
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Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise with Bar on Board
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Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise Plus Snacks and Drinks
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Things to do in Amsterdam this...

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Recent reviews from experiences in Amsterdam

star-5
Fantastic Amsterdam Private Canal Cruise Tour
Robert_A, Jun 2022
PRIVATE and SAFE Saloon Boat Ride: Amsterdam Canal Cruise & Unlimited Drinks
A great way to see Amsterdam from a different view, get acclimated to the city and get a little education while enjoying the piece and quiet of the canals.
star-5
Fun way to see Amsterdam!
Christian_S, Jun 2022
Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
The boat tour was a lot of fun and a great way to see Amsterdam!
star-5
A must do if in Amsterdam!
Liz_R, Jun 2022
Bike Tour of Amsterdam's Highlights and Hidden Gems!
This was a great way to see parts of Amsterdam you wouldn’t necessarily go and see.
star-5
Fun ride
julie_t, Jun 2022
Buddha Lounge Boat Amsterdam, Smoke and Cruise in Style 70 min tour
Great boat ride on the canals to see Amsterdam and nice time to interact with other tourists to drink and mingle with.
star-5
Excellent way to spend a morning and see a lot
Dawn_O, Jun 2022
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Clogs and Dutch Cheese Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
The tour guide was great, the information was excellent, and all of the different things to do: windmills, clogs, cheese and chocolate were definitely worth a morning while in Amsterdam.
star-5
Fantastic tour with a local guide
Marcel_B, Jun 2022
Amsterdam Red Light District Tour (TOP RATED)
We decided to book this tour because the red light district is such an iconic part of Amsterdam so of course we wanted to visit and see with our own eyes.
star-5
Great experience
Liz_R, Jun 2022
Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
It was a fun way to see Amsterdam via the canals!
star-5
very helpful
Michael_N, Jun 2022
2.5 hours Amsterdam Pedicab Tour
this was a great tour to see the city.
star-5
Best of Amsterdam
Guy_H, Jun 2022
The Ultimate Amsterdam Canal Cruise - 2hr - Small Group - Exclusive Boat
All in all an excellent choice to see Amsterdam.
star-5
Tour guides were...
Lynette_H, Jun 2022
Bruges Day Trip from Amsterdam
It is without doubt a beautiful place to visit.
star-5
Great tour
Nick_B, Jun 2022
The Ultimate Amsterdam Canal Cruise - 2hr - Small Group - Exclusive Boat
It was our introduction to the city, so we really enjoyed getting to see it all from the water.
star-5
Educational, interesting,
Sasha_S, Jun 2022
Anne Frank Guided Walking Tour through Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter
Who explained everything in detail would highly recommend as you get to visit parts of Amsterdam that aren’t touristy.
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Windmills, Cheese and Clogs
Lucas_I, Jun 2022
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Clogs and Dutch Cheese Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
An easy trip outside of Amsterdam to see some windmills, taste some cheese and see how clogs are made.
star-5
Very enjoyable
Shankar_G, Jun 2022
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
Recommended for all visitors intending to visit Amsterdam.
star-5
Excellent trip to see...
Denise_I, Jun 2022
Amsterdam 1-Hour Canal Cruise from Central Station
Excellent trip to see another side to Amsterdam , very informative and comfortable good commentary too
star-5
Excellent experience
David_T, Jun 2022
Amsterdam Open Boat Canal Cruise - Live Guide - from Anne Frank House
A great way to see Amsterdam
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A Must!
courtneyab82, Jun 2022
Giethoorn Private Day Tour With Canal Cruise and Windmills from Amsterdam
The windmills at Zaanse Schans are definitely a bit touristy and crowded in the Summer months.
star-5
Great way to learn about the city
Nan_M, Jun 2022
Dutch food and Amsterdam history tour in the Jordaan area with max 8 guests
Rudolf was our leader, tasted a variety of foods and beverages, learned a little history and fun things plus got a peak into the immersive Renoir & Van Gogh expiation old church.
star-5
Amazing Experience
Jana_M, Jun 2022
Bike Tour of Amsterdam's Highlights and Hidden Gems!
This is the best way to see different parts of the city and you feel like a local in no time.
star-5
Amazing country side tour hosted by the best.
Catalina_A, Jun 2022
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
We loved this tour because we covered all the places we wanted to visit and more.
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All about Amsterdam

Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)

A local’s pocket guide to Amsterdam

Christian Peeters

Christian was born in the Netherlands and lived there for over 25 years before moving to the United States. Every time he visits, he makes time to eat a “Bitterbal” and sit by one of his favorite canals on the “Herengracht.”

The first thing you should do in Amsterdam is …...

buy an OV Chipcard that lets you travel on all public transport. When the weather allows for it though, rent a bike—most places in Amsterdam can be reached quickly by bike.

A perfect Saturday in Amsterdam …...

starts with brunch at Bakers & Roasters. After that, head to VondelPark, rent a boat and have a picnic on the Amsterdam canals. For dinner, order “bitter garnituur” (fried appetizers) at one of Amsterdam’s famous brown cafés.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is …...

the Anne Frank House, situated in the heart of Amsterdam. Walking through the historic house while hearing and reading about the history will give you a new perspective on WWII.

To discover the "real" Amsterdam …...

walk through the non-touristy areas. You’ll be surprised by the small boutiques, restaurants, and bars. And try to make small talk with locals—they love to speak English.

For the best view of the city …...

go on the canals. The houses look even more majestic from the water and, if you rent a boat, definitely dock at Hanneke’s Boom, a bar and restaurant where you can grab a drink.

One thing people get wrong …...

thinking Amsterdam is just a party city when you can admire art at the Van Gogh museum or explore the “negen straatjes,” a neighborhood with boutique stores and cafés along the best canals of Amsterdam.

People Also Ask

What is Amsterdam famous for?

One of Europe’s most-visited cities, Amsterdam encompasses attractions both high-brow and risqué. Travelers are drawn here for the city’s rich history and culture as much as its infamous coffee shops and the Red Light District. It’s also the city of canals, which gives it the nickname of the “Venice of the North.”

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What should I not miss in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is home to some of the most-treasured artworks in Europe, many of them in the Rijksmuseum alone. Don’t miss Rembrandt’s The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum; Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum, and Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring in the Mauritshuis Museum.

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How can I spend 2 days in Amsterdam?

Two days in Amsterdam is enough time to take a boat tour through the canals; explore the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Musuem, visit the Anne Frank House, wander around the bohemian Jordaan neighborhood, and relax in charming Vondelpark. In the evening you can take a peek at the Red Light District (De Wallen) on a guided tour.

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How can I spend 3 days in Amsterdam?

With three days to spare in Amsterdam you can thoroughly explore the city’s canals by boat, admire some of the world’s great masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum, visit historic attractions such as the Anne Frank House, and even travel just outside the city to the riverside windmills of Zaanse Schans or tulip fields of Keukenhof.

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Is Amsterdam very expensive?

Yes, like most major western European cities, Amsterdam can be an expensive destination. Hotels are expensive and admission fees for museums and other attractions are typically on the higher side. However you can easily save money by walking or taking public transport rather than using taxis and dining away from the touristy areas.

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Is Amsterdam a dangerous place?

No. Amsterdam is no more dangerous than other major European cities. Pickpocketing is the most common crime against tourists so it pays to keep your wits about you. As for Amsterdam’s notorious side, don’t smoke outside of coffeeshops and book a guided tour if you want to explore the Red Light District after dark.

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Frequently Asked Questions