Amsterdam is a vibrant city full of amazing sights and activities, making it the perfect destination for travelers looking for a unique experience. From its iconic canals to its famous museums, Amsterdam has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a romantic stroll through the city’s beautiful parks or a night out at the lively pubs and clubs, Amsterdam has it all.
You can explore the city’s many attractions on foot or take a canal cruise to get an up-close view of the city’s many wonders. From its art galleries and historical sites to its scenic waterfronts and traditional markets, Amsterdam is a must-see destination. With so much to do and see, the city will surely leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
From the captivating Van Gogh Museum to the Anne Frank House, here are some of the best sights and things to do in Amsterdam.
In this guide:
The Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, a highly visited spot and a chief art gallery, was established in 1798 to store the country’s plentiful collection of rare art and antiquities. The museum has a million cultural items going back to the thirteenth century and more than 8,000 remarkable paintings in its 250 chambers. Besides its paintings, the Rijksmuseum has a library of 35,000 books and manuscripts, as well as many intriguing displays on the history of art and culture in the Netherlands. It also has collections of traditional handicrafts, medieval sculptures, and modern art styles.
English-language guided tours with various themes are available. Tourists can also take part in a fun art history canal cruise that will show them the sites depicted in the Rijksmuseum’s collections, or book a table at the museum’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House, located on the Prinsengracht, is a memorial to the brief life of the famous Holocaust victim. It is the very same building in which Anne’s family hid during World War II, and where Anne wrote the diary that became an international bestseller after the war and was published shortly after her death at age 15.
The Franks were Jewish exiles from Frankfurt, Germany, and much of the home has been left as it was during Anne’s time. It is a powerful symbol of a dark time in history. Kindly note that tickets can be sold out up to two months in advance, so it is recommended to buy the tickets online in advance.
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam.
Van Gogh Museum
Art aficionados and historians should definitely visit the Van Gogh Museum, a primary Amsterdam attraction since it opened up in 1972. It is a modern Gerrit Rietveld design, built to show tribute and honor the life and art of one of the Netherlands’ most renowned painters. The museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of Van Gogh paraphernalia, most of which was donated by his brother, Theo, and other relatives.
This includes over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and etchings, and 700 letters exchanged with relatives and friends. The collection is separated into particular periods of the artist’s life: realistic works from 1880 to 1887, including the famous The Potato Eaters, and his Impressionist stage from 1887 to 1890, in which he made his most famous work, Vase with Sunflowers.
A must-see for visitors is the “Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience,” a captivating multimedia presentation about the painter’s life.
Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ, Amsterdam.
De 9 Straatjes
In the middle of the ring of canals, Amsterdam’s Unesco World Heritage Site, lie 4 canals and 9 streets with a beautiful overview of 17th century Amsterdam. Right there you will find the best shopping area in the Netherlands: The 9 Streets.
For more than 4 centuries it has been bustling with crafts, entertainment and creativity. Only since the 1990s, on the initiative of entrepreneurs, was it renamed De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets). From specialty stores to art shops and from vintage to modern design, museum, café and architecture, you will find it all in De 9 Straatjes. The stores are open every Sunday, as are the restaurants, lunchrooms, museums and galleries.
Address: Wolvenstraat 9, 1016 EM Amsterdam.
Jordaan is the most celebrated neighborhood in Amsterdam, renowned for its diverse collection of residential areas with enclosures, energetic bazaars, and classy shops and eateries. Additionally, there are many fun activities to partake in, ranging from taking a tranquil walk on the lovely roads to exploring the renowned tourist destinations in the area.
Besides containing the popular Anne Frank House, the district also contains lesser-known gems such as the Woonboot Museum, a museum on floating houses, and the intriguing Amsterdam Cheese Museum.
On Saturdays, Lindengracht changes into a massive open-air bazaar, where you can find locally-made crafts, produce, flowers, and food items ideal for a picnic hamper.
Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park, is a 120-acre wonderland of fun activities. It features peaceful ponds, lush grassy areas, a rose garden with more than 70 species of flowers, sculptures and statues, playgrounds, and other recreational amenities such as rollerblade rentals.
The Vondelpark Open Air Theater is open from May to September, providing a stage for music and theatrical performances. If you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of cafes on-site to enjoy a meal or a snack.
One of Amsterdam’s most tourist-trafficked zones is Dam Square, and rightfully so. Its main feature is the 17th-century Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis), which used to be the residence of Dutch royalty and now serves as an event space for royal events.
The Square has a number of popular tourist spots such as the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk); Madame Tussauds wax museum; and the National Memorial Statue, commemorating Dutch soldiers who died in WW II.
This big public square is surrounded by a range of eateries, shops, and cafés, and is usually occupied by vendors selling snacks and souvenirs. Tourists can also find a Ferris wheel, ideal for getting a different view of the area, as well as a lot of entertainment, ranging from buskers and street performers to first-class music festivals.
Amsterdam’s West Church (Westerkerk), which can be found right beside the Anne Frank Museum, is a must-see attraction in the city. Constructed in 1630, the spectacular Renaissance-style building has a few Gothic characteristics both internally and externally.
Its 85-meter tower, often referred to as “Langer Jan” (tall John), is the highest in Amsterdam and at the peak of the spire is a copy of the Emperor’s crown, which was put there to commemorate Emperor Maximilian of Austria. Additionally, the tower is equipped with a carillon that chimes the hour.
Other noteworthy features include the 1622 organ and the 1906 marble column that was established in memory of Rembrandt. The renowned artist was initially buried outside the church then moved inside later. A souvenir store can also be found on the premises.
Address: Prinsengracht 279, 1016 GW Amsterdam.
Established in 1895, the Stedelijk Museum, or Municipal Museum Amsterdam, has one of the best modern art collections in all of Europe. Primarily displaying 19th and 20th-century Dutch and French paintings, the museum is a repository for a range of renowned art movements, such as De Stijl.
The facility is home to an array of works by Van Doesburg, Mondrian and Rietveld; Pop Art, featuring pieces by Rosenquist and Warhol; and painters like Chagall, Dubuffet, De Kooning and Matisse. The sculpture garden also contains sculptures crafted by Rodin, Moore, Renoir and Visser.
The museum offers English-language guided tours and fun family workshops. There is also a shop and restaurant on the premises.
Address: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam.
1867 was a remarkable year for beer production, as it was the year Gerard Adriaan Heineken constructed a brewery in the core of Amsterdam. Visitors can take a 1.5-hour self-guided tour and explore the history of the company, the steps of beer-making, Heineken’s advancements, and what is needed to provide a globally known beer. An English-language presentation is held onsite.
During the tour, folks can find out the 4 natural components that make this beer and learn about the brand’s sponsorship of Formula 1, the UEFA Champions League, and the Rugby World Cup. After the tour, attendees can clink glasses with their new acquaintances.
Address: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam.
And obviously, you have to do a canal cruise to discover the unique atmosphere of Amsterdam.
Top 10 things to see & do in Amsterdam
Let’s summarize this guide. These are the must-visit sights and best things to do in Amsterdam:
- Anne Frank House
- Van Gogh Museum
- De 9 Straatjes
- Dam Square
- Stedelijk Museum
- Heineken Experience
Day trips and tours from Amsterdam
There is no shortage of day trips from Amsterdam. The beauty of this vibrant city is that it has something for everyone. From the charming canals to the lively nightlife, Amsterdam has something for everyone. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, there are plenty of day trips from Amsterdam to choose from.
Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam & Marken
Spend a day out of Amsterdam and join a guided bus tour to the famous Zaanse Schans windmills, Edam, Volendam, and Marken. At Zaanse Schans, admire the traditional 17th-century houses and the collection of preserved industrial windmills. Sample some delicious Edam and Gouda cheese and take in a demonstration of clog-making.
Then, visit Volendam and Marken, home to narrow streets, colorful houses, and harbors full of fishing boats. All of this will be seen passing through the many authentic polders that were reclaimed from the sea.
This 5.5-hour excursion departs from Amsterdam’s Central Station to Holland’s vibrant Keukenhof Park. It takes you on a ride through a region of endless tulip fields, which are some of the country’s most iconic and documented vistas.
If you take the option with a guide, you will be joined by a knowledgeable live guide on the bus, plus a GPS audio guide in multiple languages. Delve further into the experience and gain knowledge on the flowers, the park, the Netherlands, Dutch culture, and the Bulb region.
At Keukenhof, you will have the convenience of skipping the line and entering one of the planet’s biggest flower parks. The park has more than 7 million flower bulbs, such as tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils, with gardeners working for months to get it ready. Each year, different themes are used for the planting of the bulbs.
After arriving, you will have around 3 hours to explore the park on your own, before beginning the return journey to Amsterdam.
No matter what kind of experience you are looking for, there are plenty of day trips from Amsterdam to choose from. Whether you are looking for a relaxing day of sightseeing or an adventure-filled excursion, there is something for everyone.
More Amsterdam tips
Next, read our other guides about Amsterdam: