Things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, and one of the most historic cities in Europe. Flat and blessed with a clear, crisp atmosphere, most of its attractions lie within easy walking distance. The city is perfectly navigable by foot or bicycle.

Visitors will find that a culture of art appreciation pervades Amsterdam. Indeed, two of the city's museums are dedicated to world-famous Dutch painters, namely the Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt House. The Rijksmuseum holds a collection of 17th-century Dutch artists, including Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer. These museums, along with the Diamond Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, are located around Museum Square (Museumplein) - which is also home to the US Consulate and the famous Concertgebouw symphonic hall.

In keeping with the city's rich history, the very home in which Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during the 1942 occupation is open to visitors. Her famous diary is preserved and on display. Other popular sites include the Hermitage Amsterdam, The Jewish Historical Museum, The Resistance Museum, and the Museum of the Tropics.

Amsterdam's reputation as a liberal party city attracts many tourists as well. Visitors tend to explore the Red Light District (De Wallen), where legalised prostitution and the sale of marijuana draw revellers from across the globe. The Amsterdam Sex Museum is not for the squeamish or easily offended.

Travellers can make the most of their time in Amsterdam by purchasing an I Amsterdam card, which will give them free access to public transport, as well as discounts on museums, attractions and restaurants. The card is available at several tourist offices in the city, at some museums and online.

Anne Frank House photo

Anne Frank House

This museum is dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank, whose famous diary describes the experiences of a Jewish teenager during World War II. The family and others hid in part of th…

Anne Frank House

This museum is dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank, whose famous diary describes the experiences of a Jewish teenager during World War II. The family and others hid in part of the house (today's museum) to escape Nazi persecution. Visitors explore the concealed attic where eight people lived, and get some sense of the cramped and fearful existence described in the diary. The original diary is on display and there's plenty of information on the lives of the people involved. With the exception of Anne Frank's father, Otto, the occupants were discovered and sent to their deaths in concentration camps. Visitors need not have read the diary to appreciate the museum.

Address Prinsengracht 267 (Westerkerk)

Website www.annefrank.nl

Admission

€14 (adults), €7 (children aged 10 to 17)

Van Gogh Museum photo

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is a definitive tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Situated in a modern building, the simple architecture subtly underscores the artist's colourful and extraordin…

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is a definitive tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Situated in a modern building, the simple architecture subtly underscores the artist's colourful and extraordinary work. The museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh's work in the world, comprising more than 200 paintings, 437 drawings and 31 prints. Many of his most famous and recognisable paintings are on display. The collection is organised according to three criteria. The first of these is the artist's work, which is divided into five notable periods. Then there is the display of other artists' work, including pieces from his friends and contemporaries. Finally, the third section showcases the museum's history. The written information provided is good and sufficient for many visitors, but the audio guide is definitely worth hiring for Van Gogh fanatics who want a more in-depth analysis. Photography of the art itself is not permitted, though visitors can take pictures in the main hall. Large bags will have to be left in the cloakroom facilities as they are not permitted in the museum.

Address Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Website www.vangoghmuseum.nl

Opens Daily 10am—6pm (until 10pm on Fridays). Times may change according to season

Admission

€19 (adults), children under 18 are free.

The Rijksmuseum photo

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum opened in 1885 and is best known for its collection of 17th-century Dutch Masters, such as Vermeer, Hals and Steen. The most notable of these paintings is Rembrandt…

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum opened in 1885 and is best known for its collection of 17th-century Dutch Masters, such as Vermeer, Hals and Steen. The most notable of these paintings is Rembrandt's masterpiece The Night Watch, which has pride of place. The museum contains thousands of other paintings spanning from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, spanning its Asiatic collection, Print Room, Dutch History and Applied Arts sections. There are also stunning furniture displays, jewellery and other artefacts, with a map or audio tour helping to navigate the extensive collection. They should allow at least a few hours to explore thoroughly.

Address Museumstraat 1

Website www.rijksmuseum.nl

Opens Open daily from 9am to 5pm.

Admission

€19 (adults). Under 18s are free and concessions are available.

Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art photo

Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art showcases the most impressive modern art collection in Amsterdam. Its permanent exhibition focuses on De Stijl, Cobra, Nouveau Realisme, Pop Art,…

Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art showcases the most impressive modern art collection in Amsterdam. Its permanent exhibition focuses on De Stijl, Cobra, Nouveau Realisme, Pop Art, Color Field Painting, Zero and Minimalist Art, with many pieces by masters like Cezanne, Picasso and Warhol. Temporary exhibitions on design and applied art are housed in the new wing, and there are also many workshops and book launches. There's a shop, a library and a restaurant on the premises too. Audio guides are available in six languages, and free guided tours take place weekly. They're conducted in Dutch and English and cannot be booked in advance.

Address Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Website www.stedelijk.nl/en

Opens Open daily from 10am to 6pm. Fridays 10am to 10pm.

Admission

€18.50 (adults), €10 (students)

Rembrandt House photo

Rembrandt House

The Rembrandt Museum provides insight into the life of the famous Dutch master, who lived in this house between 1639 and 1658. Rembrandt went bankrupt in 1656 and a list of his pos…

Rembrandt House

The Rembrandt Museum provides insight into the life of the famous Dutch master, who lived in this house between 1639 and 1658. Rembrandt went bankrupt in 1656 and a list of his possessions was drawn up to pay his debts, allowing historians to faithfully restore the house with exactly the kinds of furnishings the artist owned. Visitors can view a permanent collection of paintings done by Rembrandt's teacher, Pieter Lastman, as well as some pieces completed by his pupils. The painting studio holds daily demonstrations on how etchings and paintings were made in the 17th century, including an interesting demonstration on Rembrandt's use of colour.

Address Jodenbreestraat 4

Website www.rembrandthuis.nl

Opens Daily 10am—6pm.

Admission

€14 (adults), €5 (children 6-17). Concessions available.

Amsterdam Museum photo

Amsterdam Museum

Housed in a lovely 17th-century building and formerly an orphanage, the museum explores Amsterdam's development from a small medieval settlement into a thriving modern city. Its ga…

Amsterdam Museum

Housed in a lovely 17th-century building and formerly an orphanage, the museum explores Amsterdam's development from a small medieval settlement into a thriving modern city. Its galleries showcase the progress made in each century, particularly Holland's Golden Age. Visitors can enjoy a showpiece of glass, gold and silver, as well as earthenware, Dutch Masters paintings and archaeological discoveries. Seeing the large exhibition will take at least two to three hours. The entry fee also covers the glass-roofed Civic Guards Gallery, which is lined with portraits of Amsterdam's Civic Guards dating back to the 17th century.

Address Kalverstraat 92

Website www.ahm.nl

Opens Open every day from 10am to 5pm. Closed on some public holidays.

Admission

€15 (adults), free (children aged 0 to 17).

Red Light District (De Wallen) photo

Red Light District (De Wallen)

The sex workers in De Wallen are part of a legal and regulated industry, meaning compulsory health checks and taxable income. There's also attractive architecture in the Red Light …

Red Light District (De Wallen)

The sex workers in De Wallen are part of a legal and regulated industry, meaning compulsory health checks and taxable income. There's also attractive architecture in the Red Light District, dating back to the Middle Ages, while both the City Hall and Muziek Theatre are located in Waterlooplein. Nieuwmarkt Square was once home to a thriving community of mainly Portuguese Jews, having fled the Spanish Inquisition, while the culturally diverse Zeedijk Street is often referred to as Chinatown. Visitors should be respectful and recognise that photography in and around the actual brothels is frowned upon and could lead to confrontation.

The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) photo

The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum)

Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands between May 1940 and May 1945. The museum covers how the invasion affected the Dutch population's everyday lives, as well as the resistance. V…

The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum)

Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands between May 1940 and May 1945. The museum covers how the invasion affected the Dutch population's everyday lives, as well as the resistance. Visitors will learn details about the movement's extraordinary espionage activities, and view its maps, photographs, weaponry and false documents. The permanent exhibition is bilingual, catering to both Dutch and English visitors, and there are free audio guides available in English, German, French, Spanish and Dutch. Guided tours are available by appointment only and reservations must be made a few weeks in advance.

Address Plantage Kerklaan 61

Website www.verzetsmuseum.org

Opens Monday to Friday 10am—5pm; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 11am—5pm.

Admission

€11 (adults), €6 (children aged 7 to 16). Concessions available.

The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) photo

The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis)

The Royal Palace dates back to 1648, originally designed for use as Amsterdam's City Hall. Period furniture adorns its magnificent interiors, alongside rare and valuable art. The p…

The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis)

The Royal Palace dates back to 1648, originally designed for use as Amsterdam's City Hall. Period furniture adorns its magnificent interiors, alongside rare and valuable art. The palace is comparatively small by European standards and only part of it is open to visitors. That said, exploring it is still a fantastic experience, enhanced by an excellent free audio guide. Guided tours of around an hour are offered to visitors and are conducted by qualified art historians in Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish. Note they must be booked two weeks in advance.

Address Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147, Dam Square

Website www.paleisamsterdam.nl

Opens Daily 10am—5pm but closed for royal events

Admission

€10 (adults), under 18s free. Concessions available.

Maastricht photo

Maastricht

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, now a vibrant university town. Perched peacefully on the banks of the Maas River, it's among the sunnier spots on the cou…

Maastricht

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, now a vibrant university town. Perched peacefully on the banks of the Maas River, it's among the sunnier spots on the country's southernmost point. The once humble Roman settlement now boasts a high number of national heritage sites. Ancient fortifications provide pleasant walking routes, and the Bonnefantenmuseum allows visitors to trace the city's historical origins. The medieval Basilica of Saint Servatius houses a significant collection of religious artefacts, while a selection of shops in the old centre offer fine regional food and wine.

Address Maastricht is located 133 miles (215km) from Amsterdam

Website www.vvvmaastricht.nl

Peace Palace photo

Peace Palace

The deliberately named Peace Palace is a significant place for arbitration, and for the maintenance and promotion of world peace. Situated in The Hague, the building houses the Int…

Peace Palace

The deliberately named Peace Palace is a significant place for arbitration, and for the maintenance and promotion of world peace. Situated in The Hague, the building houses the International Court of Justice; the Permanent Court of Justice; and The Hague Academy of International Law. Regular guided tours reveal the palace's wonderful gardens and impressive interiors, along with a beautiful art collection donated by various countries. Tour dates appear on the official website and must be booked in advance. The Visitor's Centre (which is more of a museum) does a free audio guide and is a good option for anyone who can't go on a tour.

Address Carnegieplein 2

Website www.vredespaleis.nl

Opens Certain weekends

Admission

Tours: €7.50 to €11.

Keukenhof photo

Keukenhof

Keukenhof is one of the country's top spring-time attractions and a photographer's dream. The huge garden is home to millions of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, and is a sea of co…

Keukenhof

Keukenhof is one of the country's top spring-time attractions and a photographer's dream. The huge garden is home to millions of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, and is a sea of colour and fragrance. Visitors will also see many works of art scattered among the blooms in this creatively-designed site. They can stop for refreshments at one of the area's many cafes and restaurants, and shop at stalls selling seeds, souvenirs and gardening equipment. There are demonstrations on flower arranging and the latest trends in gardening, as well as boat and cycling tours.

Address Stationsweg 166A, 2161 Am Lisse, Netherlands

Website www.keukenhof.nl

Opens Open daily from about 20 March to mid-May annually, between 8am and 7.30pm (ticket office closes at 6pm)

Admission

€17 (adults), €8 (children aged 4 to 17), free for children under 3

National Maritime Museum photo

National Maritime Museum

Het Scheepvaartmuseum gives visitors a glimpse into the country's seafaring past. The exhibit covers four centuries of history and includes paintings, ship models, antiquarian maps…

National Maritime Museum

Het Scheepvaartmuseum gives visitors a glimpse into the country's seafaring past. The exhibit covers four centuries of history and includes paintings, ship models, antiquarian maps and navigation instruments, creating one of the world's most extensive collections of maritime memorabilia. Visitors will learn about whaling, naval combat and the maritime trade in the Netherlands, as well as its journeys to places such as modern-day India, South Africa and Indonesia. They can even explore a life-size reconstruction of a Dutch East India Company ship. The exhibition on the slave trade may not be suitable for children, though other displays are dedicated to younger age groups and include fun, interactive activities.

Address Kattenburgerplein 1

Website https://www.hetscheepvaartmuseum.nl/

Opens Daily 10am—5pm

Admission

€16.50 (adults), €8 (ages 4 to 17 and students).

Heineken Experience photo

Heineken Experience

As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands, the Heineken Experience is not to be missed. Housed in the original brewery, guests will learn about the Heineken…

Heineken Experience

As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands, the Heineken Experience is not to be missed. Housed in the original brewery, guests will learn about the Heineken Company's history and its unique process, visit cutting-edge interactive exhibits and enjoy free beer at two pit stops along the way. Visitors will also take a gift of Heineken memorabilia home with them. The site's layout is impressive and the tour unfolds in a sophisticated manner, meaning its appeal extends beyond the interest of beer lovers. Travellers can avoid queues and potentially pay reduced ticket prices by booking online.

Address Stadhouderskade 78

Website www.heinekenexperience.com

Opens Monday to Thursday 10.30am—7.30pm; Friday to Sunday 10.30am—9pm. July and August 10.30am—9pm daily.

Admission

€19.50, €14.50 (children aged 12 to 17)

Amsterdam Coffeeshops photo

Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Coffeeshops are one of Amsterdam's most iconic features, openly selling cannabis and welcoming their patrons to smoke it on the premises. 'Cafes', on the other hand, sell cakes, te…

Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Coffeeshops are one of Amsterdam's most iconic features, openly selling cannabis and welcoming their patrons to smoke it on the premises. 'Cafes', on the other hand, sell cakes, tea and coffee. Coffeeshops range from the laid-back and mellow to the loud and psychedelic. The expectation is that customers will consume a snack or beverage along with whatever they order off the hash menu. Staff can give advice on the different strains and strengths. Regarding regulations, coffeeshops can only carry controlled amounts of marijuana for sale to adults over the age of 18. The substance is also illegal in the Netherlands, with recreational use simply tolerated if it isn't socially disruptive.


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Artis Zoo photo

Artis Zoo

Locally known as the Plantage, the Artis Zoo is something of an oasis in the centre of Amsterdam, and a must for children and animal lovers. Boasting more than 700 species of anima…

Artis Zoo

Locally known as the Plantage, the Artis Zoo is something of an oasis in the centre of Amsterdam, and a must for children and animal lovers. Boasting more than 700 species of animals and 200 species of local and exotic trees (many of which are on the verge of extinction), the institution will captivate visitors of all ages. The grounds are huge and can easily keep visitors busy for hours, with the aquarium, butterfly house, planetarium and a handful of museums all featuring as part of the experience. Visitors will also find several restaurants and a shop selling souvenirs such as books, toys and postcards.

Address Plantage Kerklaan 38-40

Website www.artis.nl

Opens March through October: Open daily from 9am to 6pm; November through February: Open daily from 9am to 5pm.

Efteling photo

Efteling

Built in the 1950s and still one of Europe's leading theme parks, Efteling is a must for children of all ages. Kids are sure to relish its special attractions, which include a maze…

Efteling

Built in the 1950s and still one of Europe's leading theme parks, Efteling is a must for children of all ages. Kids are sure to relish its special attractions, which include a maze, water show and bobsleigh course, as well as a creepy ghost castle and swinging-ship ride. They will also find theme-park classics such as several roller coasters, carousels and playgrounds. Games, activities, restaurants and refreshment stands are also on offer. Queues get very long, particularly in peak tourist season so it's best to arrive early.

Address Europalaan 1, 5171 KW Kaatsheuvel

Website www.efteling.com

Opens Open daily from at least 10am to 6pm, with extended hours in summer (July through August).

Admission

Tickets range from about €38 to €42, with concessions and plenty of specials available.

Madurodam photo

Madurodam

Located around 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam and first opened in 1952, Madurodam is quite literally the smallest city in the Netherlands. The park features hundreds of miniature …

Madurodam

Located around 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam and first opened in 1952, Madurodam is quite literally the smallest city in the Netherlands. The park features hundreds of miniature houses and factories that reflect real Amsterdam architecture, exact replicas of famous Dutch landmarks and transport systems such as ships, airports and railways. Children and adults alike will enjoy the attraction, and will find many tremendous photo opportunities as they stroll around. Visitors can also activate parts of the park for a small cost, setting trucks moving down highways or getting planes to land. Otherwise, they can buy souvenirs in the park's shop and purchase refreshments at one of its restaurants.

Address George Maduroplein 1, The Hague

Website www.madurodam.nl

Opens Daily 9am—8pm, depending on season

Admission

€17.50 (Adults). Concessions are available and bookings can be made online.

Amsterdam Canal Tour photo

Amsterdam Canal Tour

Amsterdam's canal tours are an essential experience for visitors. The UNESCO-listed features were crucial to the city's transport and defensive strategies in the 17th century but a…

Amsterdam Canal Tour

Amsterdam's canal tours are an essential experience for visitors. The UNESCO-listed features were crucial to the city's transport and defensive strategies in the 17th century but are now a pleasing way to appreciate the historic and picturesque destination. Tourists who are interested in tours have two main options: the large, glass-topped canal boats accommodate hundreds of passengers and travel along predetermined routes; while the more personal and traditional tuindersvletten boats, which used to carry animals and vegetables around Amsterdam, hold 10 people per tour. Tuindersvletten boats can navigate the tiniest canals and fit under the city's lowest bridges.

Hoge Veluwe National Park photo

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Visiting the Hoge Veluwe National Park is a fantastic way to enjoy the Netherlands' slightly limited outdoor offerings. The site's topography features heathland, peat bogs, woodlan…

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Visiting the Hoge Veluwe National Park is a fantastic way to enjoy the Netherlands' slightly limited outdoor offerings. The site's topography features heathland, peat bogs, woodland and even sand dunes. Its wildlife population includes badgers, foxes, red deer, roe deer, wild boar and mouflon (a kind of wild sheep), and provides ample cycling and walking opportunities. The area also houses the beautiful St Hubertus Hunting Lodge and the Kroller-Muller Museum, containing a sculpture garden and artwork by luminaries such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Mondrian.

Website www.hogeveluwe.nl/en/14

Opens Opening hours vary from month to month, but are generally from at least 9am to 8pm

Admission

€9.95 (adults), €5 (children).

Concertgebouw photo

Concertgebouw

The Concertgebouw is one of Amsterdam's top-rated tourist attractions. Widely regarded as one of the world's finest concert halls, it's easily comparable to the Vienna Musikverein …

Concertgebouw

The Concertgebouw is one of Amsterdam's top-rated tourist attractions. Widely regarded as one of the world's finest concert halls, it's easily comparable to the Vienna Musikverein or the Moscow Conservatory. Classical music lovers in particular will enjoy the superb resident orchestra and matchless acoustics, though the venue hosts some jazz and pop concerts too. Visitors can enjoy tours of the graceful 19th-century building, and possession of an 'I Amsterdam' card means a discount of up to 25 percent on ticket prices.

Address Concertgebouwplein 10

Website www.concertgebouw.nl

Opens Box office hours: Monday to Friday from 1pm to 7pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm.

Vondelpark photo

Vondelpark

Amsterdam's Vondelpark allows visitors to experience the city as locals do. The relaxed and beautiful public space dates back to 1865 and features several notable attractions. Thes…

Vondelpark

Amsterdam's Vondelpark allows visitors to experience the city as locals do. The relaxed and beautiful public space dates back to 1865 and features several notable attractions. These include an impressive statue of Joost van den Vondel (the author for whom the park is named), a playground, a film museum, an open-air theatre, and many cafes and snack bars. Travellers can exercise in the park, which has well-kept and extensive pathways for cycling, jogging and walking. The tranquil space also hosts free concerts and performances from time to time, and is an exceedingly charming setting.

Haarlem photo

Haarlem

The quaint city of Haarlem lies 15-minutes away from Amsterdam by train, and has the distinction of boasting more museums per capita than any other city in the Netherlands. Its cos…

Haarlem

The quaint city of Haarlem lies 15-minutes away from Amsterdam by train, and has the distinction of boasting more museums per capita than any other city in the Netherlands. Its cosy, small-town feel and cheaper accommodation rates mean that many tourists are choosing to make it their base while vacationing in the Netherlands. Its mix of historic sights and youthful energy is tremendously appealing. Haarlem's list of must-see attractions includes the Grote Markt where 10 streets converge around the town's 700-year-old centre, and the Saint Bavo Church, containing an organ from 1738 once played by the great composer Handel.

Sex Museum Amsterdam photo

Sex Museum Amsterdam

Famed for legalised prostitution, Amsterdam is also home to the world's oldest sex museum. Open since 1985, the institution has grown to become one of the most popular museums in a…

Sex Museum Amsterdam

Famed for legalised prostitution, Amsterdam is also home to the world's oldest sex museum. Open since 1985, the institution has grown to become one of the most popular museums in a city full of interesting establishments. Exhibits range from bawdy to particularly graphic, with ancient and modern art, historic sex symbols, and photographs. Visitors will also find a walkthrough model of the famous Red Light District, with an extensive collection of modern paraphernalia. Displays are a mixture of art and erotica, and different aspects will appeal to varying levels of taste. Visitors must be at least 16 years old to enter.

Address Damrak 18

Website www.sexmuseumamsterdam.nl

Opens Daily 9.30am to 11.30pm.

Admission

€5

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