10 things to do and see in Amsterdam

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Amsterdam in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Amsterdam
10 things to do and see in Amsterdam

You’ll notice the charm of Amsterdam in its atmosphere of a village, not a big and gray metropolis, despite being one of the most famous and visited cities in the world. The main shopping areas are the center of the city life , but you can just turn the corner to find yourself wandering in the quiet tree-lined avenues, discovering the charm of a past that still lives.

Versatile, as the water from which is crossed, Amsterdam has many hidden faces that you’ll discover just staying few more days and living the eclecticism and the sociability of its inhabitants. Here are some places not to be missed to experience the colors, the contradictions, the transgressions that characterizes the “Venice of the North”. In this page we suggest 10 things to do and see during a holiday or a weekend in Amsterdam.

If you are looking for a hotel in Amsterdam, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Dam Square and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

1

The Dam, called in this way by the inhabitants, was named after a dam built in 1270 on the Amstel River. Since 8 centuries the life of Amsterdam is all around this square. If today is a highly popular tourist spot, over the years it has played the role of the market, center of power, place for executions, stage for riots and demonstrations of all kinds.

Dam Square and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam
Dam Square and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

The most important architectural presence of the square is the Royal Palace, built in the seventeenth century as City Hall to show the richness of the Dutch Republic. The building was transformed in 1808 by Louis Bonaparte in the Royal Palace. To prevent attacks by insurgents, the entrance is well hidden under the porch and right, both the interior and the exterior are tangible evidence of the prestige  enjoyed by Amsterdam. Today the Royal Palace is not the official seat of the Dutch monarchy but is used by the royal family only for the solemn holidays and state visits. The presence of some major lines of public transport, the Museum Erotica and that of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Gallery De Bijenkorf, make  Dam Square the first thing you see as soon as you arrive in Amsterdam

The canals of Amsterdam

2

Known as the “Venice of the North” Amsterdam is a city built on islands on the river Amstel and Lj lake. More than 165 channels per 100 km in length around the Dutch capital in a labyrinthine path where are able to move only those who live in cities since long time.

The canals of Amsterdam
The canals of Amsterdam

The old town is surrounded by the “Canal Belt” (Grachtengordel), a large water ring separated from other channels. In the belt are located approximately 2,200 buildings of historic interest 1,550 homes, mostly built during the ‘600, the golden age of the Dutch economy. A trip by boat or bike is ideal to discover the beauty of the canals and enjoy a simply unique urban landscape. Urban masterpiece, a symbol of the history and spirit of this city, finally in 2010 the network of canals, has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

3

Among the fabulous neo-Gothic villas, there’s a building that imposes itself with its brutal simplicity: the Museum that Amsterdam has dedicated to Van Gogh. Opened in 1973, it contains an extensive collection of works by the artist.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Nowhere else in the world you’ll have the chance to visit such a rich collection of works. Drawings, paintings and letters offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the personality of this crazy genius of art. Arranged over three floors, the museum also preserves a series of paintings from which Van Gogh drew inspiration and a number of his contemporaries works of artists. Get ready to endless rows , because the Van Gogh Museum is the most visited of Amsterdam.

Information for visits to the Van Gogh Museum
Where: Paulus Potterstraat 7.
How to get there: trams No. 2, 3, 5, and 12 or with bus No. 170, 171 and 172
When-Hours: Every day from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm , Friday from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm . Never: 1st of January.
Tickets: full price € 12.50; Reduced 2,50 €.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

4

Even if the tourists use to see the works of Rembrandt and Vermeer, the Rijksmuseum offers much more: it’s the most important art museum in the Netherlands and brings together a vast amount of paintings, prints, sculptures, objects and more.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The heart of the collection is the one of Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 15th to the 19th century, with a particular attention to the works of the “Golden Age”, the ‘600 of which Rembrandt and Vermeer are the most authoritative representatives. A must see is the “Night Watch” by Rembrandt, his most famous work. You can also go directly to the “Masterpieces”, where they collected the works of the two painters already mentioned but also those of Van Gogh, by Piero di Cosimo, Fra Angelico and a selection of works by Hals, de Wit and Bol.

Information for visits to the Rijksmuseum
Where: Museumstraat
How to get there: Tram: no. 2:05 (stop Rijksmuseum); n. 12 (stop Concertgebouw) Metro: up to Weesperplein, then take tram n. 7 or 10 (stop: Spiegelgracht) Bus: n. 26, 65, 66, 170 or 172
When-Hours: Daily from 09:00 am to 5:00 pm
Tickets: Adults: € 17.50. Children under 18 years: free entrance

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

5

It’s the house where Anne Frank and her family, along with another Jewish family, took refuge, from 1942 to 1944, before being discovered by the Nazis and deported to various concentration camps.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

Through a secret passage, hidden from a library, you have access to two rooms where Anne wrote her diary. Since 1960 the building has been used as a museum that, through films, photographs, historical documents and personal items, testifies not only the events of the house but also  Holland events of those years. To avoid waiting outside to enter, you should plan your visit to the museum in the morning or late afternoon.

Information for visits to the Anne Frank House
Where: Prinsengracht 263-267, in the center.
How to get there: Tram No. 13:17 or with bus No. 170, 171 and 172 to the Westermarkt stop.
When-Hours: January 1 from 12.00 to 7.00 pm . From January 2 to March 14 every day from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm From March 15 to June 30 every day from 9.00 am  to 9.00 pm  on Saturdays until 10.00 pm .
In July and August every day from 9.00 am  to 10.00 pm . From 1 to 14 September every day from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm . from 15 September to 14 March from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm . 31 December from 12.00 to 7.00 pm . May 4 from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ; 8 June and 2 July from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm ; 21 August from 9.00 am  to 8.30 pm ; December 25 from 12.00 to 5.00 pm
Tickets: Adults € 9; reduced € 4.50; Children 0 to 9 years ,free entrance.

The Red Light District of Amsterdam

6

Here is the more tolerant and transgressive Amsterdam. The Red Light District is a major tourist attraction, named after the color of the lights of the windows where prostitutes are exposed. Prostitution, as well as soft drugs, here is perfectly legal.

The Red Light District of Amsterdam
The Red Light District of Amsterdam

Dutch people have turned human vices  into an opportunity to make money. So go ahead women in the window and coffee shop where smoking soft drugs freely. There are 3  red light districts (Singel, Pijp and De Wallen) but the latter is the most beloved and crowded by tourists. Today  tourists of all ages and from all over the world  come more for curiosity. De Wallen is also a nice neighborhood with beautiful houses overlooking the tree-lined canals and the wonderful gothic church of Oude Kerk (Old Church).

Information for visits to the District Red lights
Where: De Wallen (between Central Station and Nieuwmarkt); Singel (between Raadhuistraat and the Central Station); Pijp (nearby the Rijksmuseum)
How to get there: bus No. 22, 359, 361 and 363 at the stop CS / Nicholas.

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam

7

“Get married early so you have time for a divorce”, “Money aren’t made by your butt” and other precious pearls of wisdom are written on the wooden seats  of the Old Church in Amsterdam. That’s all that was saved from the fury Calvinist that from 1566 to 1578 destroyed much of the original furnishings of this beautiful Gothic cathedral.

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam
The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam

On the floor there are  tombs of important people of Amsterdam (certainly unknown to you), including the wife of Rembrandt (Saskia van Uylenburg) and Frans Banning Cocq, the protagonist of the painting “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt (see point 4). The Oude Kerk is famous for its acoustics, so if you stop by in Amsterdam on Sunday, don’t miss one of the many organ concerts. If you have the strength, climb up to 70 meters of the octagonal bell tower which offers a magnificent panorama of the city. Every 15 minutes the 47 bell carillon system plays a series of melodies (from 1658 !)

Information for visits to the Oude Kerk
Where: Oudekerksplein
How to get there: It is about 8 minutes walk from Central Station
When-Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Sunday: 1:00 to 5:30 pm; ever: January 1, April 27, October 28 and December 25
Tickets: Adults: € 7.50; Students: € 5; Children 0-13: Free entrance

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

8

It’s not the most famous museum in Amsterdam but it’s certainly one of the things to see during a visit to the Dutch capital.

The Stedelijk is one of the most important museums of contemporary art and contains works ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

There are paintings, sculptures, graphics, drawings, photographs, design objects, posters, videos, works of applied art and industrial design not only Dutch. Some names are indicative of the quality of the works: Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, Mondrian, Rauschenberg and many others.

Information for visits at the Stedelijk Museum
Where: Museumplein
How to get there: From Central Station Tram 2 and 5, 170 and 172. Bus stop Hobbemastraat or Museumplein.
When-Hours: daily from 10 am  to 6 pm . Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm.
Ticket: € 15. Free entrance with the Amsterdam Card.

Things to eat in Amsterdam

9

In Amsterdam the same dish can have  many variations, on the basis of the culinary influence received. Gastronomy, in fact, has the influence of the colonial past of the city: from French cuisine to Portuguese up to the Asian, and local restaurants offer multi-ethnic flavors and fragrances. Meat and fish are the main foods, usually accompanied by potatoes and vegetables with crispy bacon. Don’t forget  the crêperie, which offer endless variations of sweet and savory crepes. All enjoyed with beer or juniper brandy: Dutch typical drinks.

Where to sleep in Amsterdam

10

Hotels, B&Bs, camping, hostels, apartments and houseboats represent the several options that Amsterdam offers.

The hotels, in most cases, are well furnished and clean and  the intimate and cozy Dutch hospitality will make your stay absolutely pleasant.

Where to sleep in Amsterdam
Where to sleep in Amsterdam

Because of tourists all year round, we suggest you to book in advance and if you have the idea to stay close to the water, think double because you may find yourself fighting against mosquitoes.

If you are looking for a hotel in Amsterdam, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com