It is time to explore the charming Amsterdam, know where to go, the best things to do, where to eat, and most importantly where to take the best pictures.
Holland’s lovely city of canals and tulips is like a chameleon. To some, it’s a place of class, art, and culture, while to others, it is a haven for sin and sinners.
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” These are famous words of author John Green about the city. It is enigmatic, intriguing, and historical.
Where to Go in Amsterdam
The National Museum is one of the leading destinations in the city. It is Amsterdam’s most important art repository with over 8,000 important paintings in 250 different rooms as well as 35,000 books and manuscripts, traditional handicrafts, medieval sculptures, and modern art styles.
Rijksmuseum goes back all the way to 1798, boasting an impressive collection of cultural artifacts dating from the 13th century to the modern-day. The most popular masterpieces here are Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”, Avercamp’s “Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters”, and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and “The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild”.
The Rijksmuseum receives about 2.5 million visitors each year.
2. Van Gogh Museum
The stunning Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein has been one of Amsterdam’s top tourism draws since it opened in 1972. It houses 200 paintings, including “The Potato Eaters”, and his Impressionist pieces from 1887-1890, which includes the ultra-popular “Vase with Sunflowers”. It is also home to 500 etchings and drawings, and 700 letters written to (and by) friends and family,
3. Ann Frank House
The Anne Frank House is easily one of the most important and moving places to visit when exploring Amsterdam. It is found in the Jordaan neighborhood on Prinsengracht. The home-turned-museum has been wonderfully maintained so visitors could relive the dreadful days of World War 2. It is so popular that tourists need to buy tickets about two or more months in advance online.
4. Dam Square
Dam Square is a huge and charming public city landmark. Come here to experience an atmosphere of kings, queens, and royalties. Dam Square regularly attracts thousands of people eager to see the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), the popular Madame Tussauds wax museum, and the National Memorial Statue.
When exploring the city, come here to check out its numerous shops, cafés, and restaurants. Also, within the square, you can see street performers, buskers, and first-rate music festivals, plus a Ferris wheel that provides a fantastic view over the city.
5. Oude Kerk
The Oude Kerk or Old Church is the oldest standing and functioning structure in Amsterdam. It was built in 1306 and has remained unchanged since Rembrandt’s time.
Inside Oude Kerk are several objects that date back from before the Reformation, including three magnificent old windows from 1555 and finely-carved wooden choir stalls.
Outside the church is one of Amsterdam’s oldest streets. The 15th-century house at No. 1 is thought to be the oldest surviving building in the city.
6. Nieuwe Kerk
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) has served as the coronation church of Dutch monarchs since 1814. It stands side by side with the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace) in Dam Square.
Inside Nieuwe Kerk are religious relics, including an organ from 1670, a choir screencast in bronze, choir stalls, and the magnificent pulpit from 1649, a marvel of Baroque wood carving decorated with the four evangelists and figures symbolizing Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, and Prudence.
New Church is also popular for housing the tombs of famous historical Dutch figures.
7. Royal Palace of Amsterdam
When in Dam Square, you shouldn’t miss the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, formerly the Town Hall, the King’s residence when he visits the city. It is a magnificent building that was based on the architecture of ancient Rome.
Inside this classical and stunning structure are reliefs, marble sculptures, friezes, ceiling paintings by pupils of Rembrandt, and some of the finest furniture collections in the world. You can also see the City Treasurer’s room with a marble fireplace, the Hall of the Aldermen with its beautiful paintings, and the Council Hall, which is considered one of the most beautiful staterooms in Europe.
What to do in Amsterdam
1. Cruise along Amsterdam’s romantic canals
Amsterdam’s world-famous waterways were created in the 17th century to keep the sea at bay. The city’s canals are the quintessential postcard-perfect vision of the capital.
A lovely and leisurely boat ride along the canals with your loved one is what Amsterdam is all about. Cruise along picturesque house canals on the Gouden Bocht (Golden Curve) and the section of Herengracht between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat.
Also, watch out for the bridge on the corner of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht and 15 other lovely bridges, especially the well-known The Magere Brug or “skinny bridge”. You should return to the skinny bridge in the evening as it is beautifully lit at night.
2. Go ride a bike
In Amsterdam, two-wheeling is a part of life. You shouldn’t live in the city without renting a bicycle and pedaling the lovely networks of cycling paths. Amsterdam’s streets are filled with over 800,000 bicycles. Many city attractions and even best-kept secrets are discovered from the comfort of your saddle.
3. Stroll or cycle along Jordaan and De 9 Straatjes
Jordaan neighborhood is Amsterdam’s prettiest and most charming neighborhood. Come here to see quaint buildings, art galleries, antique shops, and courtyard gardens.
Pedal a little further to reach De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets). Here you can see more picturesque streets, cute stores, fashion boutiques, and antique and souvenir shops.
4. Picnic, read a book, and watch time pass by in Vondelpark
Vondelpark is one of the most popular parks in the Netherlands. About 10 million people come here to relax and take in the beauty of Amsterdam each year.
Park your bike, relax on the grass, chill by the pond, meet new friends, or catch one of the open-air concerts or festivals. This is the best place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon when exploring Amsterdam.
5. See what the Red Lights are all about
Perhaps the most popular night destination in Amsterdam is the Red Light District. See and experience the spectacle that helped Amsterdam earn the moniker ‘Sin City. The world knows about this place, particularly for the weed, women behind the windows, and neon-light parties.
Where to eat in Amsterdam
1. De Silveren Spiegel
De Silveren Spiegel (The Silver Mirror) is popular for its perfect wine pairing and authentic Amsterdam cuisine. The restaurant is as elegant as the restaurants in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age.
2. Graham’s Kitchen
Graham’s Kitchen is well-loved by locals and international guests, primarily for Chef Graham Mee himself. He has worked in the UK and Holland in various Michelin-starred restaurants. His creative flair is evident with every dish he prepares and serves.
3. Ta Toru
Come to Ta Toru for moderately priced, healthy authentic Asian and Indonesian dishes. It also serves vegetarian and vegan options.
4. Esther’s Cookery
Serving Middle Eastern, international, and Mediterranean cuisine, Esther’s Cookery offers a special twist to dining – you will engage in a cooking workshop and eat your own culinary masterpiece. This is Amsterdam’s only vegetarian cooking studio.
5. Oriental City
Oriental City is a multi-floor restaurant that serves savory Chinese dishes, including chicken chop suey, beef chow mein, and seafood options.
6. Thrill Grill
When on a budget, eat at Thrill Grill, serving the best charcoal-grilled gourmet burger in Amsterdam
Where to take the best pictures in Amsterdam
Walk along the Prince’s Canal (Prinsengracht) to take the best photos of the city’s network of waterways. Start your photo-walk from where Prince’s Canal begins, all the way down the stream. The area is simply stunning.
When strolling along Amsterdam’s canals, you can easily spot lovely gardens, restaurants, art galleries, breweries, flower stalls, old monasteries, historical homes, and boutiques.
2. Red Light District at Dusk
A picture of yourself here would tell everyone you’ve been in one of the unique city districts in Europe. Evenings in the Red Light District are so lively with flickering neon lights. When the area lights up at dusk and the lights begin bouncing off the canals, it is so easy to get gorgeous pictures.
Keep in mind not to take photos of the women behind the windows. It’s illegal.
3. Floating Flower Market Bloemenmarkt
The Bloemenmarkt or Amsterdam’s Floating Flower Market is very popular for its many colors and aromas. This is one of the most frequented spots in the city. Get on a boat on the Singel canal to see and shoot tulips, roses, lilies, and other blooms. The vibrant displays of flowers within their mini-greenhouses are simply picture-perfect.
This is one of the most photogenic spots in Amsterdam. It is an impressive little street with seven amazing houses representing different architectural styles from seven nations, including Spain, France, and Russia.
Zevenlandenhuizen is near famous city landmarks in the center of Amsterdam. This hip street is just next to Vondelpark and close to the Rijksmuseum.
5. Narrow Houses Of Damrak
Those who have been to Amsterdam will tell you not to miss taking a picture in front of these famed narrow gable houses. This row of narrow houses is on everyone’s photo bucket list when exploring Amsterdam.
The narrow houses are standing on a simple strip that connects Centraal Station to Dam Square. Old Amsterdam houses are this narrow because people were charged taxes based on the size of the building’s exterior back in the day. This meant the smaller the facade, the cheaper!
Exploring Amsterdam will definitely be an unforgettable experience. This is one of the most beautiful and most intriguing European cities to visit, offering a variety of attractions for everyone. Come in spring when the flowers are in full bloom and to avoid peak season. Amsterdam can be very crowded with local and international tourists from June to October.
Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.