Friday, September 30, 2022

Visit Amsterdam the magical city

Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths. 

Strikingly beautiful Amsterdam is spoken of highly for its concentric canals and the humpbacked bridges that cross them, and for its cyclist-friendly avenues of graceful tall trees and gabled houses.

Your guide to Amsterdam.

Welcome to Amsterdam, a capital city like no other. In contrast to the towering skylines of its European neighbours, the Netherlands’ capital cuts a distinctive shape throughout its historic centre. Winding lanes open out into photogenic canals lined with characterful, narrow houses and atmospheric bars and restaurants. Experience the city’s laidback tempo as you wander Amsterdam’s charming streets, blending Dutch heritage and tradition with contemporary touches. From beer and bitterballen (Dutch meatballs) in canal-side bars, to bicycle rides through quirky neighbourhoods and Dutch masters of art, Amsterdam offers an eclectic and culturally-rich European port of call.

call.

Exploring.

The Netherlands’ dynamic capital is a plethora of galleries, museums and historically significant sites. Take in the city’s unique architecture on a canal cruise and get close to original artworks by Rembrandt and Van Gogh in museums dedicated to these Dutch masters. Characterful streets and crisscrossing canals (A UNESCO World Heritage site) make walking or cycling an enjoyable way to explore Amsterdam’s historic centre. Visit Anne Frank House to step behind the bookcase where the Frank Family hid during World War II, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the city’s 47-acre Vondelpark, or try your pint pulling skills at Heineken Experience.

Eating and drinking.

Cosmopolitan Amsterdam is one of the world’s foremost food and drink destinations. Packed with designer cocktail bars, stylish coffee houses and intimate canal-side cafés, the city’s gastronomic experiences extend far and wide. Michelin starred restaurants and vegetarian cuisine abound in Amsterdam while vibrant food halls and markets draw a hip crowd. Lean into the relaxed tempo at one of many friendly espresso bars or stop for lunch at a trendy neighbourhood bistro. Amsterdam’s eclectic culinary offer caters for all tastes and budgets, from menus celebrating natively grown ingredients to ambient eateries introducing the flavours of the east.

Shopping.

It’s hard to escape the shops in Amsterdam. Almost every street you turn down offers something in the way of retail. Whether it’s a lively street market, designer boutique or even a souvenir shop selling Dutch cheese and native Delftware pottery, Amsterdam has you covered. In the city’s historic centre, you’ll find The Nine Streets (Negan Sraatjes), a series of narrow lanes dotted with shops and restaurants. Spiegelkwartier is best for arts and antiques, boasting around 70 vendors of this nature, while the main shopping streets of the Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat offer a blend of familiar European and Scandinavian fashion brands.

What to do in Amsterdam

Visit the Anne Frank House

Everyone knows about Anne Frank, the famous diarist who hid from the Nazis during WWII with her family in this iconic house on a canal called the Prinsengracht.

Today, the house that was Anne’s father’s workshop, where Anne and her family hid, serves as a museum that showcases the story of Anne Frank. Also known as the Secret Annex, it is a must for those who want to tour the third most visited museum in the Netherlands.

Just know that the house has been left bare, as per Anne Frank’s father’s request. You will not see the rooms dressed as they were during the war. Instead, artifacts and prints are showcased on the walls.

Bike around the city

Biking is serious business in the Netherlands, and nowhere more so than in Amsterdam! We absolutely love this, as any eco-friendly measure that takes cars off the streets, and makes people exercise, is a huge plus in our books. Not to mention, biking is a great way to get around the city!We did notice a few things that were kind of odd about the bike culture in Amsterdam though. The first is that no one, seriously not a single person, wears a helmet! How does a society that values biking so much not take bike safety seriously?!The second thing is how little of the road/sidewalk/space is dedicated to pedestrians. Since there is a very well-established infrastructure dedicated to biking in Amsterdam, much of which was taken from pedestrian sidewalks, it leaves very little room for people who want to walk around. So if you do, watch out!

Heineken Experience

After Heineken moved home to a modern facility on Amsterdam’s fringes in 1988 the monolithic 19th-century brewery building in the De Pijp district reopened as a museum to one of the world’s favourite pilsners.

Over four floors, this has evolved into the Heineken Experience, which will tell you all about the brand’s origins, when a student of Louis Pasteur worked with Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1873 to develop a special yeast.

There are brewing artefacts like vast copper vessels still in situ, as well as multimedia exhibits, a bizarre 4D ride when you’ll find out what it’s like to be brewed and bottled, and, naturally, a tasting bar.

Red Light District

HomeMust read50 Best Things to Do in AmsterdamSHARE THIS STORYMUST READ

50 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

During a 50-year project in the 17th century Amsterdam grew to four times its previous size, becoming the 3rd largest city in the world after London and Paris. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands but the Dutch parliament is seated in The Hague.

Central to that plan was the Canal Belt, a network of concentric canals that is now UNESCO listed.

Built on reclaimed land, Amsterdam is a feat of ingenuity, and still crackles with the ambition, cultural tolerance and enterprise that drove the 17th-century Golden Age when the Netherlands led the world in trade, maritime power, culture and economic might.

This is the city of Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the Red Light District, Johan Cruyff, and the Dutch East and West India Companies; there’s a world of fascinating stories, spellbinding art and architecture that has stood the test of time.

TIP: Get the I Amsterdam City Card for free attractions, discounts and free public transport. And consider this top rated Volendam, Marken & Windmill tour

1. Museumplein

Museumplein, Amsterdam
Museumplein

There’s more culture on this one square in the Museumkwartier than you’ll find in most other whole cities.

The Museumplein is in Amsterdam’s well-heeled Oud-Zuid district, noted for its plush properties, upmarket boutiques (Hoofstraat and Van Baerlestraat) and the city’s favourite park at Vondelpark.

So needless to say, we’ll keep coming back to this part of the capital on this list.

But your main goal has to be the grassy square and its cluster of world-beating museums.

The big ones all follow below, counting the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s best places to watch a classical concert.

The area took shape in the 1880s after the construction of the Rijksmuseum, and the square was re-landscaped in 1999. There are outdoor events and celebrations on the square all year, including a skating rink from November to February.

2. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum

Opened in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh in the world.

This includes 200 paintings, 500+ drawings and 750 letters, as well as pieces by contemporaries and influences like Rodin, Monet, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet and Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s work is hung chronologically, presenting five different periods: Nuenen/Antwerp (1880-86), Paris (1886-88), Arles (1888-1889), Saint-Rémy (1889-90) and Auvers-sur-Oise (1890). There’s much to savour, but Sunflowers, Almond Blossoms, Bedroom in Arles and Wheatfield with Crows are indispensible.

With more than 2.1 million visitors a year, the Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands.

The advantage of booking a ticket with GetYourGuide.com is that you can skip the queue, heading straight for the blue lane at your allotted time, and spending a few hours under the spell of one of the great painters.

3. Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum

An extraordinary showcase for Dutch art, applied art and historical artefacts, the Rijksmuseum beckons you through 800 years of Dutch history at a purpose-built neo-Gothic palace.

Some 8,000 pieces are on show at any one time, and for many people the museum’s pinnacle is the collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings.

There are masterpieces like The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, The Night Watch by Rembrandt and Portrait of a Young Couple by Frans Hals.

You can embark on adventure through Dutch culture and design, via Delftware, textiles, glass, armour, costume, sculpture and stunning 17th-century dollhouses.

Two exhibits that give a sense of the Dutch Golden Age are the Hartog Plate, the oldest known artefact of European exploration in Australia, and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles, captured in the Raid on the Medway in 1667. Like the Van Gogh Museum the Rijksmuseum is almost always busy, so pre-booking with GetYourGuide.com will let you skip the line.

4. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House

On the Prinsengracht, the Anne Frank House preserves the secret annexe where the young diarist Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution from 1942 until she was captured along with her family and four other inhabitants in 1944. The rooms are on an enclosed courtyard behind a 17th-century canal house that served as the Dutch HQs of the spice and gelling companies Frank’s father Otto worked for.

Otto was the Frank family’s sole survivor after the Holocaust, and published his daughter’s diary in 1947. You’ll see the original copy of this defining work, as well as photographs and items belonging to the Frank family and the four other inhabitants of the annexe.

The secret rooms give a visceral sense of what it was like to live in hiding, while temporary exhibitions on persecution and fascism will inspire renewed vigilance.

Related tourAmsterdam Walking Tour: The Fascinating Story of Anne Frank

5. Stedelijk Museum

Stedelijk Museum
Stedelijk Museum

Open since 1895, the third of that trio of cultural giants on the Museumplein is the Stedelijk Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, from Vincent van Gogh onwards.

All of the big art movements involving the Netherlands are represented, like Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, CoBrA and Pop art.

There’s painting, sculpture, installation art, video art prints, posters, graphic design and artists books.

You can feast your eyes on works by Piet Mondrian, Karel Appel, Willem de Kooning, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Chagall, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Gilbert & George, to name a small few.

The late-19th-century main building was given a modern extension in 2012, nicknamed “the bathtub”, serving as the main entrance and making a big statement on the Museumplein.

Book onlineAmsterdam Stedelijk Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket

6. Hire a Bike

Amsterdam Bike
Amsterdam Bike

At 800,000 there are as many bikes as people in the centre of Amsterdam, probably the most cycle-friendly city in the world for its easy terrain and well-planned infrastructure.

Most streets have separate bike lanes, so you can get to wherever you want to go safely and quickly, and will feel like an Amsterdammer when you do it.

All ferries over the IJ allow you to take your bike on board for free.

You will not have to look hard for a rental centre, and MacBike, whose fleet is easily spotted by its red paint and logos, is the most widespread.

If you don’t want to look like a tourist there are plenty of companies with bikes purposely designed to help you blend in.

One rule to keep in mind is to cross tram tracks at an angle, because it’s easy to get caught in those grooves.

Guided tour3-Hour Guided Bike Tour of Historical Amsterdam

7. Vondelpark

Vondelpark
Vondelpark

Amsterdam’s park of choice is a tranquil strip of ponds, undulating lawns and mature trees pushing west from the Museumplein.

A fun piece of trivia about the park, landscaped in 1865, is that it is constantly sinking, and needs to be renovated every generation to avoid it being completely inundated with water.

The Openluchttheater puts on a vibrant schedule of free live music, musical theatre and cabaret from June to August.

Although the performances cost nothing to watch, it may be worth booking online to reserve a place.

The rose garden in the centre of the Vondelpark was planted in 1936 and grows more than 70 types of rose, while the park has a sculpture, The Fish (1965) by Pablo Picasso.

A very respectable way to spend an hour or so is at the neo-Renaissance Vondelparkpaviljoen, built in 1874. There’s a cafe, Vertigo, in the basement, with seating on the terrace outside.

8. Herengracht

Herengracht
Herengracht

Patrician’s Canal in English, the Herengracht is the first of the four main canals in the city centre’s Canal Belt.

This waterway was completed along with its neighbours in the 17th century as part of an expansion project that is now UNESCO listed.

As the name may tell you, the Herengracht was where Amsterdam’s social elite built their grand gabled houses, and that sense of prestige has continued into the 21st century.

Take your time as there’s much to see, and almost every building is a work of art.

You’ll pass the former office of the Dutch West India Company at Herenmarkt and one of Amsterdam’s oldest residences (built in 1590) at 81. The magnificent Bartolotti house (1617) at 172, considered the finest of all of Amsterdam’s Golden Age merchant’s houses, while the Classical terrace of the Cromhouthuizen merits a photo at 364-70. The most desirable location for a self-respecting regent or mayor was the Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend) after Leidsegracht, developed after 1663 and now home to banks and insurance companies.

Related tourCity Canal Cruise

9. Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Museum Het Rembrandthuis
Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Amazingly, the house at Jodenbreestraat 4 where Rembrandt lived and worked from 1639 to 1658 has been kept as a museum to one of the masters of the Dutch Golden Age.

The house first went up in 1606 and was rebuilt around 1627. Come the early 20th century the building was in bad condition, but was restored by the eminent architect Karel de Bazel and opened as a museum in 1911. A new extension was built next door in the 90s, and this houses a huge collection of Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings, while the actual Rembrandt house reconstructs the artist’s living space and workshop.

There’s even an exhibition of broken pots found during an archaeological dig and dated to Rembrandt’s stay.

In 2010 the museum received its first painting by Rembrandt with the Tronie of an Old Man with Turban (1627-1628), followed by four panels from the series The Five Senses n 2017.

TicketRembrandt House Museum Entrance Ticket

10. Jordaan District

Jordaan District
Jordaan District

Whether it’s your first or tenth time in Amsterdam, you have to drop by this grid of little streets and filled-in canals bordered by the Singel.

Created during that great expansion in the 17th century, the Jordaan was first inhabited by Amsterdam’s working class and an international array of migrants, like Huguenots from France and Puritans from England, seeking the city’s famous religious tolerance.

Up to the 20th century the Jordaan was firmly a neighbourhood for the salt of the earth, as well as the radical left, and was gentrified in the second half of the 20th century to become a treasured shopping and nightlife district.

Explore the tight streets and sequestered courtyards, kick back at a snug little cafe, potter around the many specialty shops and galleries and visit the Noordermarkt for its organic farmers’ market on Saturdays.

De Negen Straatjes (nine little streets) are your first stop for boutiques, design shops and stylish bars.

Related tour: 4-Hour Food Tasting Tour of Jordaan

11. Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Amsterdam Canal Cruise

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is practically a cliché, but water is such an intrinsic part of the city that you have to get on board.

You’ll be granted the best views of those 17th-century merchant and patrician houses, the innumerable bridges, historic churches and cute houseboats.

Day or night, it’s an opportunity not to pass up; the only tricky part is working out which is the best cruise for you. GetYourGuide.com has an enormous choice, catering to all tastes.

Say you prefer more of a personal trip, there’s an hour-long guided cruise on a small vessel, or you can see sights like the Skinny Bridge and Golden Bend in lights on a 90-minute evening trip.

There are semi-open boat trips, in-depth cruises for people who want to see every inch of the canals, dinner cruises, unlimited drinks cruises, cocktail cruises and no end of combined experiences.

TipList of available Amsterdam Canal Cruises

12. Begijnhof

Begijnhof, Amsterdam
Begijnhof, Amsterdam

Founded sometime around the early 14th century, the Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard established as a Beguinage, a community for lay religious women (beguines). Entered down a stairway from Spuiplein, it’s an oasis of peace, with a green wooded square surrounded by fine gabled houses.

As wooden buildings were outlawed in 1521, the Begijnhof was reconstructed in brick in the 17th and 18th century.

With one exception, Het Houten Huis (1420) standing on the southwestern frontage and officially the oldest house in Amsterdam.

Another of Amsterdam’s oldest monuments, the English Reformed Church, is also on Begijnhof, with roots as a 14th-century Catholic chapel.

You can also visit a hidden church, built behind the facades of a row of houses after public Catholicism was banned in the 16th century.

The last beguine passed away as recently as 1971.

13. Keizersgracht

Keizersgracht, Amsterdam
Keizersgracht

The widest of the three main canals on the Canal Belt, Keizersgracht is between Herengracht and Prinsengracht and named for Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459-1519). If the canal freezes in winter, no boats are allowed to pass through, in order to help keep the ice intact for skaters.

As with Keizersgracht’s neighbours, it pays to be methodical as you make your way, so you don’t miss anything.

At No. 44 are the Greenland Warehouses (1620), easily identified by their three crow-stepped gables.

As many as 50,000 litres of whale blubber could be stored in the basements of these buildings, a far cry from their current role as luxury apartments! The distinguished House with the Heads (1622) at No. 123 is adorned with the heads of six Roman gods and goddesses, while Felix Meritis (1788) at No. 324 was built by the Enlightenment society of the same name and hosted performances by the likes of Mozart and Brahms.

14. Dam Square

Dam Square
Dam Square

A square for the whole nation, Dam Square is traced by the Royal Palace, the National Monument (a remembrance obelisk from 1956) and the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk.

Dam Square is at the point where the Amstel River was dammed in the 13th century, and was the scene of Amsterdam’s central market in Medieval times.

This space has a storied history, and not all of it is savoury.

Whenever there has been civil unrest, whether it was Anabaptists in the 16th century or students protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, Dam Square is the place where things have boiled over.

The last outbreak of violence was at the Coronation of Queen Beatrix in 1980, while there was a massacre on the square at the end of the Second World War.

On the lighter side, there’s a funfair on Dam Square for national occasions like Kings Day (27 April) and in the build-up to Christmas.

15. Prinsengracht

Prinsengracht in Winter
Prinsengracht in Winter

The third and outermost of Amsterdam’s three main canals is also the longest, and named for William, Prince of Orange, famed for his revolt against the Spanish.

Unlike the other waterways curling around the old centre, the Prinsengracht has traditionally been quite poor, in keeping with its location beside the Jordaan.

But there’s no lack of stunning Golden Age canal houses, joined by small workshops and dwellings, as well as rows of sweet houseboats on the water.

We’ve already mentioned the Anne Frank Museum, but there are also splendid 17th-century churches like the Noorderkerk and the soaring Westerkerk.

At No. 7 stands another of Amsterdam’s 14 hidden Catholic churches.

Also keep a lookout for the exceptionally narrow house at No. 245, just 1.4 metres wide (17th-century property tax was paid according to the width of a building). Every August the classical Prinsengrachtconcert is performed from a pontoon on the canal in front of the Hotel Pulitzer.

16. Singel

Singel, Amsterdam
Singel, Amsterdam

Unlike its neighbours the Herengracht and Keizersgracht, the innermost Singel is a canal that opens onto the IJ in the north.

In Medieval times this was Amsterdam’s outer moat, and was only used for shipping goods.

But in the 16th and 17th centuries the canal was widened and developed, and there are plenty of holdovers from the Golden Age on its refined banks.

It’s hardly surprising that Singel is one of the poshest parts of the city, with continuous rows of gabled canal houses.

Look for De Dolphijn at 140-142, built in 1600 and once home to Frans Banninck Cocq, the central figure in Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch.

The Munttoren on the Muntplein, looming over the Bloemenmarkt, once belonged to one of the main gates in Amsterdam’s city wall.

17. Red Light District

Red Light District, Amsterdam
Red Light District, Amsterdam

At Oudezijds Achterburgwal, amid a historic cityscape boasting the Gothic Oude Kerk and the chaotic Nieuwmarkt square, is the world’s most famous Red Light District.

A product of the Dutch tradition of tolerance, the Red Light District is a difficult place to describe.

Because on the one hand brothels, peep shows, sex shops and theatres cater for most urges, but on the other, everything is strictly regulated, video surveillance pervades the area, there’s a rigid code (no photos whatsoever) and sex workers even have their own union.

In all senses, it’s a remarkable place, and there’s an information centre to help you make sense of it.

The wider De Wallen area has much more to recommend it, like eccentric shops, galleries, international restaurants, rickety gabled houses and the oldest canals in the city.

Red Light Secrets is a museum where the area’s prostitutes tell their own funny, moving and human stories.

Dam Square

A square for the whole nation, Dam Square is traced by the Royal Palace, the National Monument (a remembrance obelisk from 1956) and the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk.

Dam Square is at the point where the Amstel River was dammed in the 13th century, and was the scene of Amsterdam’s central market in Medieval times.

This space has a storied history, and not all of it is savoury.

Whenever there has been civil unrest, whether it was Anabaptists in the 16th century or students protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, Dam Square is the place where things have boiled over.

The last outbreak of violence was at the Coronation of Queen Beatrix in 1980, while there was a massacre on the square at the end of the Second World War.

On the lighter side, there’s a funfair on Dam Square for national occasions like Kings Day (27 April) and in the build-up to Christmas.

Keizersgracht

The widest of the three main canals on the Canal Belt, Keizersgracht is between Herengracht and Prinsengracht and named for Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459-1519). If the canal freezes in winter, no boats are allowed to pass through, in order to help keep the ice intact for skaters.

As with Keizersgracht’s neighbours, it pays to be methodical as you make your way, so you don’t miss anything.

At No. 44 are the Greenland Warehouses (1620), easily identified by their three crow-stepped gables.

As many as 50,000 litres of whale blubber could be stored in the basements of these buildings, a far cry from their current role as luxury apartments! The distinguished House with the Heads (1622) at No. 123 is adorned with the heads of six Roman gods and goddesses, while Felix Meritis (1788) at No. 324 was built by the Enlightenment society of the same name and hosted performances by the likes of Mozart and Brahms.

 Canal Cruise

HomeMust read50 Best Things to Do in AmsterdamSHARE THIS STORYMUST READ

50 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

During a 50-year project in the 17th century Amsterdam grew to four times its previous size, becoming the 3rd largest city in the world after London and Paris. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands but the Dutch parliament is seated in The Hague.

Central to that plan was the Canal Belt, a network of concentric canals that is now UNESCO listed.

Built on reclaimed land, Amsterdam is a feat of ingenuity, and still crackles with the ambition, cultural tolerance and enterprise that drove the 17th-century Golden Age when the Netherlands led the world in trade, maritime power, culture and economic might.

This is the city of Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the Red Light District, Johan Cruyff, and the Dutch East and West India Companies; there’s a world of fascinating stories, spellbinding art and architecture that has stood the test of time.

TIP: Get the I Amsterdam City Card for free attractions, discounts and free public transport. And consider this top rated Volendam, Marken & Windmill tour

1. Museumplein

Museumplein, Amsterdam
Museumplein

There’s more culture on this one square in the Museumkwartier than you’ll find in most other whole cities.

The Museumplein is in Amsterdam’s well-heeled Oud-Zuid district, noted for its plush properties, upmarket boutiques (Hoofstraat and Van Baerlestraat) and the city’s favourite park at Vondelpark.

So needless to say, we’ll keep coming back to this part of the capital on this list.

But your main goal has to be the grassy square and its cluster of world-beating museums.

The big ones all follow below, counting the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s best places to watch a classical concert.

The area took shape in the 1880s after the construction of the Rijksmuseum, and the square was re-landscaped in 1999. There are outdoor events and celebrations on the square all year, including a skating rink from November to February.

2. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum

Opened in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh in the world.

This includes 200 paintings, 500+ drawings and 750 letters, as well as pieces by contemporaries and influences like Rodin, Monet, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet and Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s work is hung chronologically, presenting five different periods: Nuenen/Antwerp (1880-86), Paris (1886-88), Arles (1888-1889), Saint-Rémy (1889-90) and Auvers-sur-Oise (1890). There’s much to savour, but Sunflowers, Almond Blossoms, Bedroom in Arles and Wheatfield with Crows are indispensible.

With more than 2.1 million visitors a year, the Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands.

The advantage of booking a ticket with GetYourGuide.com is that you can skip the queue, heading straight for the blue lane at your allotted time, and spending a few hours under the spell of one of the great painters.

3. Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum

An extraordinary showcase for Dutch art, applied art and historical artefacts, the Rijksmuseum beckons you through 800 years of Dutch history at a purpose-built neo-Gothic palace.

Some 8,000 pieces are on show at any one time, and for many people the museum’s pinnacle is the collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings.

There are masterpieces like The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, The Night Watch by Rembrandt and Portrait of a Young Couple by Frans Hals.

You can embark on adventure through Dutch culture and design, via Delftware, textiles, glass, armour, costume, sculpture and stunning 17th-century dollhouses.

Two exhibits that give a sense of the Dutch Golden Age are the Hartog Plate, the oldest known artefact of European exploration in Australia, and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles, captured in the Raid on the Medway in 1667. Like the Van Gogh Museum the Rijksmuseum is almost always busy, so pre-booking with GetYourGuide.com will let you skip the line.

4. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House

On the Prinsengracht, the Anne Frank House preserves the secret annexe where the young diarist Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution from 1942 until she was captured along with her family and four other inhabitants in 1944. The rooms are on an enclosed courtyard behind a 17th-century canal house that served as the Dutch HQs of the spice and gelling companies Frank’s father Otto worked for.

Otto was the Frank family’s sole survivor after the Holocaust, and published his daughter’s diary in 1947. You’ll see the original copy of this defining work, as well as photographs and items belonging to the Frank family and the four other inhabitants of the annexe.

The secret rooms give a visceral sense of what it was like to live in hiding, while temporary exhibitions on persecution and fascism will inspire renewed vigilance.

Related tourAmsterdam Walking Tour: The Fascinating Story of Anne Frank

5. Stedelijk Museum

Stedelijk Museum
Stedelijk Museum

Open since 1895, the third of that trio of cultural giants on the Museumplein is the Stedelijk Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, from Vincent van Gogh onwards.

All of the big art movements involving the Netherlands are represented, like Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, CoBrA and Pop art.

There’s painting, sculpture, installation art, video art prints, posters, graphic design and artists books.

You can feast your eyes on works by Piet Mondrian, Karel Appel, Willem de Kooning, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Chagall, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Gilbert & George, to name a small few.

The late-19th-century main building was given a modern extension in 2012, nicknamed “the bathtub”, serving as the main entrance and making a big statement on the Museumplein.

Book onlineAmsterdam Stedelijk Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket

6. Hire a Bike

Amsterdam Bike
Amsterdam Bike

At 800,000 there are as many bikes as people in the centre of Amsterdam, probably the most cycle-friendly city in the world for its easy terrain and well-planned infrastructure.

Most streets have separate bike lanes, so you can get to wherever you want to go safely and quickly, and will feel like an Amsterdammer when you do it.

All ferries over the IJ allow you to take your bike on board for free.

You will not have to look hard for a rental centre, and MacBike, whose fleet is easily spotted by its red paint and logos, is the most widespread.

If you don’t want to look like a tourist there are plenty of companies with bikes purposely designed to help you blend in.

One rule to keep in mind is to cross tram tracks at an angle, because it’s easy to get caught in those grooves.

Guided tour3-Hour Guided Bike Tour of Historical Amsterdam

7. Vondelpark

Vondelpark
Vondelpark

Amsterdam’s park of choice is a tranquil strip of ponds, undulating lawns and mature trees pushing west from the Museumplein.

A fun piece of trivia about the park, landscaped in 1865, is that it is constantly sinking, and needs to be renovated every generation to avoid it being completely inundated with water.

The Openluchttheater puts on a vibrant schedule of free live music, musical theatre and cabaret from June to August.

Although the performances cost nothing to watch, it may be worth booking online to reserve a place.

The rose garden in the centre of the Vondelpark was planted in 1936 and grows more than 70 types of rose, while the park has a sculpture, The Fish (1965) by Pablo Picasso.

A very respectable way to spend an hour or so is at the neo-Renaissance Vondelparkpaviljoen, built in 1874. There’s a cafe, Vertigo, in the basement, with seating on the terrace outside.

8. Herengracht

Herengracht
Herengracht

Patrician’s Canal in English, the Herengracht is the first of the four main canals in the city centre’s Canal Belt.

This waterway was completed along with its neighbours in the 17th century as part of an expansion project that is now UNESCO listed.

As the name may tell you, the Herengracht was where Amsterdam’s social elite built their grand gabled houses, and that sense of prestige has continued into the 21st century.

Take your time as there’s much to see, and almost every building is a work of art.

You’ll pass the former office of the Dutch West India Company at Herenmarkt and one of Amsterdam’s oldest residences (built in 1590) at 81. The magnificent Bartolotti house (1617) at 172, considered the finest of all of Amsterdam’s Golden Age merchant’s houses, while the Classical terrace of the Cromhouthuizen merits a photo at 364-70. The most desirable location for a self-respecting regent or mayor was the Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend) after Leidsegracht, developed after 1663 and now home to banks and insurance companies.

Related tourCity Canal Cruise

9. Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Museum Het Rembrandthuis
Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Amazingly, the house at Jodenbreestraat 4 where Rembrandt lived and worked from 1639 to 1658 has been kept as a museum to one of the masters of the Dutch Golden Age.

The house first went up in 1606 and was rebuilt around 1627. Come the early 20th century the building was in bad condition, but was restored by the eminent architect Karel de Bazel and opened as a museum in 1911. A new extension was built next door in the 90s, and this houses a huge collection of Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings, while the actual Rembrandt house reconstructs the artist’s living space and workshop.

There’s even an exhibition of broken pots found during an archaeological dig and dated to Rembrandt’s stay.

In 2010 the museum received its first painting by Rembrandt with the Tronie of an Old Man with Turban (1627-1628), followed by four panels from the series The Five Senses n 2017.

TicketRembrandt House Museum Entrance Ticket

10. Jordaan District

Jordaan District
Jordaan District

Whether it’s your first or tenth time in Amsterdam, you have to drop by this grid of little streets and filled-in canals bordered by the Singel.

Created during that great expansion in the 17th century, the Jordaan was first inhabited by Amsterdam’s working class and an international array of migrants, like Huguenots from France and Puritans from England, seeking the city’s famous religious tolerance.

Up to the 20th century the Jordaan was firmly a neighbourhood for the salt of the earth, as well as the radical left, and was gentrified in the second half of the 20th century to become a treasured shopping and nightlife district.

Explore the tight streets and sequestered courtyards, kick back at a snug little cafe, potter around the many specialty shops and galleries and visit the Noordermarkt for its organic farmers’ market on Saturdays.

De Negen Straatjes (nine little streets) are your first stop for boutiques, design shops and stylish bars.

Related tour: 4-Hour Food Tasting Tour of Jordaan

11. Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Amsterdam Canal Cruise

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is practically a cliché, but water is such an intrinsic part of the city that you have to get on board.

You’ll be granted the best views of those 17th-century merchant and patrician houses, the innumerable bridges, historic churches and cute houseboats.

Day or night, it’s an opportunity not to pass up; the only tricky part is working out which is the best cruise for you. GetYourGuide.com has an enormous choice, catering to all tastes.

Say you prefer more of a personal trip, there’s an hour-long guided cruise on a small vessel, or you can see sights like the Skinny Bridge and Golden Bend in lights on a 90-minute evening trip.

There are semi-open boat trips, in-depth cruises for people who want to see every inch of the canals, dinner cruises, unlimited drinks cruises, cocktail cruises and no end of combined experiences.

Jordaan District

HomeMust read50 Best Things to Do in AmsterdamSHARE THIS STORYMUST READ

50 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

During a 50-year project in the 17th century Amsterdam grew to four times its previous size, becoming the 3rd largest city in the world after London and Paris. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands but the Dutch parliament is seated in The Hague.

Central to that plan was the Canal Belt, a network of concentric canals that is now UNESCO listed.

Built on reclaimed land, Amsterdam is a feat of ingenuity, and still crackles with the ambition, cultural tolerance and enterprise that drove the 17th-century Golden Age when the Netherlands led the world in trade, maritime power, culture and economic might.

This is the city of Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the Red Light District, Johan Cruyff, and the Dutch East and West India Companies; there’s a world of fascinating stories, spellbinding art and architecture that has stood the test of time.

TIP: Get the I Amsterdam City Card for free attractions, discounts and free public transport. And consider this top rated Volendam, Marken & Windmill tour

1. Museumplein

Museumplein, Amsterdam
Museumplein

There’s more culture on this one square in the Museumkwartier than you’ll find in most other whole cities.

The Museumplein is in Amsterdam’s well-heeled Oud-Zuid district, noted for its plush properties, upmarket boutiques (Hoofstraat and Van Baerlestraat) and the city’s favourite park at Vondelpark.

So needless to say, we’ll keep coming back to this part of the capital on this list.

But your main goal has to be the grassy square and its cluster of world-beating museums.

The big ones all follow below, counting the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s best places to watch a classical concert.

The area took shape in the 1880s after the construction of the Rijksmuseum, and the square was re-landscaped in 1999. There are outdoor events and celebrations on the square all year, including a skating rink from November to February.

2. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum

Opened in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh in the world.

This includes 200 paintings, 500+ drawings and 750 letters, as well as pieces by contemporaries and influences like Rodin, Monet, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet and Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s work is hung chronologically, presenting five different periods: Nuenen/Antwerp (1880-86), Paris (1886-88), Arles (1888-1889), Saint-Rémy (1889-90) and Auvers-sur-Oise (1890). There’s much to savour, but Sunflowers, Almond Blossoms, Bedroom in Arles and Wheatfield with Crows are indispensible.

With more than 2.1 million visitors a year, the Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands.

The advantage of booking a ticket with GetYourGuide.com is that you can skip the queue, heading straight for the blue lane at your allotted time, and spending a few hours under the spell of one of the great painters.

3. Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum

An extraordinary showcase for Dutch art, applied art and historical artefacts, the Rijksmuseum beckons you through 800 years of Dutch history at a purpose-built neo-Gothic palace.

Some 8,000 pieces are on show at any one time, and for many people the museum’s pinnacle is the collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings.

There are masterpieces like The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, The Night Watch by Rembrandt and Portrait of a Young Couple by Frans Hals.

You can embark on adventure through Dutch culture and design, via Delftware, textiles, glass, armour, costume, sculpture and stunning 17th-century dollhouses.

Two exhibits that give a sense of the Dutch Golden Age are the Hartog Plate, the oldest known artefact of European exploration in Australia, and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles, captured in the Raid on the Medway in 1667. Like the Van Gogh Museum the Rijksmuseum is almost always busy, so pre-booking with GetYourGuide.com will let you skip the line.

4. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House

On the Prinsengracht, the Anne Frank House preserves the secret annexe where the young diarist Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution from 1942 until she was captured along with her family and four other inhabitants in 1944. The rooms are on an enclosed courtyard behind a 17th-century canal house that served as the Dutch HQs of the spice and gelling companies Frank’s father Otto worked for.

Otto was the Frank family’s sole survivor after the Holocaust, and published his daughter’s diary in 1947. You’ll see the original copy of this defining work, as well as photographs and items belonging to the Frank family and the four other inhabitants of the annexe.

The secret rooms give a visceral sense of what it was like to live in hiding, while temporary exhibitions on persecution and fascism will inspire renewed vigilance.

Related tourAmsterdam Walking Tour: The Fascinating Story of Anne Frank

5. Stedelijk Museum

Stedelijk Museum
Stedelijk Museum

Open since 1895, the third of that trio of cultural giants on the Museumplein is the Stedelijk Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, from Vincent van Gogh onwards.

All of the big art movements involving the Netherlands are represented, like Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, CoBrA and Pop art.

There’s painting, sculpture, installation art, video art prints, posters, graphic design and artists books.

You can feast your eyes on works by Piet Mondrian, Karel Appel, Willem de Kooning, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Chagall, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Gilbert & George, to name a small few.

The late-19th-century main building was given a modern extension in 2012, nicknamed “the bathtub”, serving as the main entrance and making a big statement on the Museumplein.

Book onlineAmsterdam Stedelijk Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket

6. Hire a Bike

Amsterdam Bike
Amsterdam Bike

At 800,000 there are as many bikes as people in the centre of Amsterdam, probably the most cycle-friendly city in the world for its easy terrain and well-planned infrastructure.

Most streets have separate bike lanes, so you can get to wherever you want to go safely and quickly, and will feel like an Amsterdammer when you do it.

All ferries over the IJ allow you to take your bike on board for free.

You will not have to look hard for a rental centre, and MacBike, whose fleet is easily spotted by its red paint and logos, is the most widespread.

If you don’t want to look like a tourist there are plenty of companies with bikes purposely designed to help you blend in.

One rule to keep in mind is to cross tram tracks at an angle, because it’s easy to get caught in those grooves.

Guided tour3-Hour Guided Bike Tour of Historical Amsterdam

7. Vondelpark

Vondelpark
Vondelpark

Amsterdam’s park of choice is a tranquil strip of ponds, undulating lawns and mature trees pushing west from the Museumplein.

A fun piece of trivia about the park, landscaped in 1865, is that it is constantly sinking, and needs to be renovated every generation to avoid it being completely inundated with water.

The Openluchttheater puts on a vibrant schedule of free live music, musical theatre and cabaret from June to August.

Although the performances cost nothing to watch, it may be worth booking online to reserve a place.

The rose garden in the centre of the Vondelpark was planted in 1936 and grows more than 70 types of rose, while the park has a sculpture, The Fish (1965) by Pablo Picasso.

A very respectable way to spend an hour or so is at the neo-Renaissance Vondelparkpaviljoen, built in 1874. There’s a cafe, Vertigo, in the basement, with seating on the terrace outside.

8. Herengracht

Herengracht
Herengracht

Patrician’s Canal in English, the Herengracht is the first of the four main canals in the city centre’s Canal Belt.

This waterway was completed along with its neighbours in the 17th century as part of an expansion project that is now UNESCO listed.

As the name may tell you, the Herengracht was where Amsterdam’s social elite built their grand gabled houses, and that sense of prestige has continued into the 21st century.

Take your time as there’s much to see, and almost every building is a work of art.

You’ll pass the former office of the Dutch West India Company at Herenmarkt and one of Amsterdam’s oldest residences (built in 1590) at 81. The magnificent Bartolotti house (1617) at 172, considered the finest of all of Amsterdam’s Golden Age merchant’s houses, while the Classical terrace of the Cromhouthuizen merits a photo at 364-70. The most desirable location for a self-respecting regent or mayor was the Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend) after Leidsegracht, developed after 1663 and now home to banks and insurance companies.

Related tourCity Canal Cruise

9. Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Museum Het Rembrandthuis
Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Amazingly, the house at Jodenbreestraat 4 where Rembrandt lived and worked from 1639 to 1658 has been kept as a museum to one of the masters of the Dutch Golden Age.

The house first went up in 1606 and was rebuilt around 1627. Come the early 20th century the building was in bad condition, but was restored by the eminent architect Karel de Bazel and opened as a museum in 1911. A new extension was built next door in the 90s, and this houses a huge collection of Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings, while the actual Rembrandt house reconstructs the artist’s living space and workshop.

There’s even an exhibition of broken pots found during an archaeological dig and dated to Rembrandt’s stay.

In 2010 the museum received its first painting by Rembrandt with the Tronie of an Old Man with Turban (1627-1628), followed by four panels from the series The Five Senses n 2017.

TicketRembrandt House Museum Entrance Ticket

10. Jordaan District

Jordaan District
Jordaan District

Whether it’s your first or tenth time in Amsterdam, you have to drop by this grid of little streets and filled-in canals bordered by the Singel.

Created during that great expansion in the 17th century, the Jordaan was first inhabited by Amsterdam’s working class and an international array of migrants, like Huguenots from France and Puritans from England, seeking the city’s famous religious tolerance.

Up to the 20th century the Jordaan was firmly a neighbourhood for the salt of the earth, as well as the radical left, and was gentrified in the second half of the 20th century to become a treasured shopping and nightlife district.

Explore the tight streets and sequestered courtyards, kick back at a snug little cafe, potter around the many specialty shops and galleries and visit the Noordermarkt for its organic farmers’ market on Saturdays.

De Negen Straatjes (nine little streets) are your first stop for boutiques, design shops and stylish bars.

Vondelpark

Amsterdam’s park of choice is a tranquil strip of ponds, undulating lawns and mature trees pushing west from the Museumplein.

A fun piece of trivia about the park, landscaped in 1865, is that it is constantly sinking, and needs to be renovated every generation to avoid it being completely inundated with water.

The Openluchttheater puts on a vibrant schedule of free live music, musical theatre and cabaret from June to August.

Although the performances cost nothing to watch, it may be worth booking online to reserve a place.

The rose garden in the centre of the Vondelpark was planted in 1936 and grows more than 70 types of rose, while the park has a sculpture, The Fish (1965) by Pablo Picasso.

A very respectable way to spend an hour or so is at the neo-Renaissance Vondelparkpaviljoen, built in 1874. There’s a cafe, Vertigo, in the basement, with seating on the terrace outside.

Stedelijk Museum

Open since 1895, the third of that trio of cultural giants on the Museumplein is the Stedelijk Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, from Vincent van Gogh onwards.

All of the big art movements involving the Netherlands are represented, like Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, CoBrA and Pop art.

There’s painting, sculpture, installation art, video art prints, posters, graphic design and artists books.

You can feast your eyes on works by Piet Mondrian, Karel Appel, Willem de Kooning, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Chagall, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Gilbert & George, to name a small few.

The late-19th-century main building was given a modern extension in 2012, nicknamed “the bathtub”, serving as the main entrance and making a big statement on the Museumplein.

Museumplein

HomeMust read50 Best Things to Do in AmsterdamSHARE THIS STORYMUST READ

50 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

During a 50-year project in the 17th century Amsterdam grew to four times its previous size, becoming the 3rd largest city in the world after London and Paris. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands but the Dutch parliament is seated in The Hague.

Central to that plan was the Canal Belt, a network of concentric canals that is now UNESCO listed.

Built on reclaimed land, Amsterdam is a feat of ingenuity, and still crackles with the ambition, cultural tolerance and enterprise that drove the 17th-century Golden Age when the Netherlands led the world in trade, maritime power, culture and economic might.

This is the city of Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the Red Light District, Johan Cruyff, and the Dutch East and West India Companies; there’s a world of fascinating stories, spellbinding art and architecture that has stood the test of time.

TIP: Get the I Amsterdam City Card for free attractions, discounts and free public transport. And consider this top rated Volendam, Marken & Windmill tour

1. Museumplein

Museumplein, Amsterdam
Museumplein

There’s more culture on this one square in the Museumkwartier than you’ll find in most other whole cities.

The Museumplein is in Amsterdam’s well-heeled Oud-Zuid district, noted for its plush properties, upmarket boutiques (Hoofstraat and Van Baerlestraat) and the city’s favourite park at Vondelpark.

So needless to say, we’ll keep coming back to this part of the capital on this list.

But your main goal has to be the grassy square and its cluster of world-beating museums.

The big ones all follow below, counting the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s best places to watch a classical concert.

The area took shape in the 1880s after the construction of the Rijksmuseum, and the square was re-landscaped in 1999. There are outdoor events and celebrations on the square all year, including a skating rink from November to February.

Van Gogh Museum

HomeMust read50 Best Things to Do in AmsterdamSHARE THIS STORYMUST READ

50 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

During a 50-year project in the 17th century Amsterdam grew to four times its previous size, becoming the 3rd largest city in the world after London and Paris. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands but the Dutch parliament is seated in The Hague.

Central to that plan was the Canal Belt, a network of concentric canals that is now UNESCO listed.

Built on reclaimed land, Amsterdam is a feat of ingenuity, and still crackles with the ambition, cultural tolerance and enterprise that drove the 17th-century Golden Age when the Netherlands led the world in trade, maritime power, culture and economic might.

This is the city of Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the Red Light District, Johan Cruyff, and the Dutch East and West India Companies; there’s a world of fascinating stories, spellbinding art and architecture that has stood the test of time.

TIP: Get the I Amsterdam City Card for free attractions, discounts and free public transport. And consider this top rated Volendam, Marken & Windmill tour

1. Museumplein

Museumplein, Amsterdam
Museumplein

There’s more culture on this one square in the Museumkwartier than you’ll find in most other whole cities.

The Museumplein is in Amsterdam’s well-heeled Oud-Zuid district, noted for its plush properties, upmarket boutiques (Hoofstraat and Van Baerlestraat) and the city’s favourite park at Vondelpark.

So needless to say, we’ll keep coming back to this part of the capital on this list.

But your main goal has to be the grassy square and its cluster of world-beating museums.

The big ones all follow below, counting the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s best places to watch a classical concert.

The area took shape in the 1880s after the construction of the Rijksmuseum, and the square was re-landscaped in 1999. There are outdoor events and celebrations on the square all year, including a skating rink from November to February.

2. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum

Opened in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh in the world.

This includes 200 paintings, 500+ drawings and 750 letters, as well as pieces by contemporaries and influences like Rodin, Monet, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet and Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s work is hung chronologically, presenting five different periods: Nuenen/Antwerp (1880-86), Paris (1886-88), Arles (1888-1889), Saint-Rémy (1889-90) and Auvers-sur-Oise (1890). There’s much to savour, but Sunflowers, Almond Blossoms, Bedroom in Arles and Wheatfield with Crows are indispensible.

With more than 2.1 million visitors a year, the Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands.

The advantage of booking a ticket with GetYourGuide.com is that you can skip the queue, heading straight for the blue lane at your allotted time, and spending a few hours under the spell of one of the great painters.

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