Amsterdam is one of the most exciting and progressive cities in Europe, but it also retains elements of a culture reaching back over a thousand years. Businesspeople, backpacking students, families, and tourists will all find enough activities and sights to keep them busy every day of their trip. Whether you're Avante Garde or old school, Amsterdam has plenty to offer. The following list is just a sample of the fascinating things to do in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has been voted the most bicycle-friendly city in the world! Bike lanes, bike racks, and bike rentals dominate the transportation culture in this eco-friendly city. You can rent a bike from any of the dozens of bike shops and then navigate the safe and extensive bike paths through historic districts, parks, and artistic neighborhoods. The slower pace lets you really see the city and get a feel for this exciting place.
You don't have to be a big soccer fan to enjoy an Ajax Amsterdam game - because the game isn't really the main attraction! The real fun comes in watching the crowds cheer for their favorite teams! Think of a U.S. or Canadian hockey game with points given for the most creative insults hurled at the opposing team's fans, set in the midst of one of the fastest-paced games on the planet. Audience participation is the name of the game, and there's never a dull moment!
We get that for some people, the words are fascinating, and museums don't belong in the same article together. But the Rijksmuseum is different. It was one of the best museums in the world already, but then they closed it down for ten years to renovate it, and now it's more amazing than ever. The Rijksmuseum houses some of the most important classical pieces and some of the most exciting modern works in the world. Whatever your taste in art, the Rijksmuseum has something for you.
Save on admission with the GoCity Amsterdam Pass.
The NEMO Science Museum is a must for anyone traveling to Amsterdam with their family. Kids of all ages and anyone with any curiosity at all will find hours of amusement and fascination at NEMO, experimenting, creating, and learning. One major selling point of a day at the NEMO is the rooftop cafe, which offers a spectacular view of the city. Even if you don't go into the museum, it's worth the price of a cup of coffee to sit up on the roof and enjoy the view.
"Werf" means "Wharf," and the NDSM Werf used to be one. It was a wharf in the industrial shipping district that fell out of use, then was revamped and revitalized into the cultural powerhouse it is today. You can find anything you're looking for at the wharf, including one of Europe's largest flea markets, live music, art museums, cafes and bookshops, and harbor-side yoga. The NDSM Werf is a fascinating place for Amsterdam's free spirits to come and create and for the rest of us to reap the benefits.
This enormous open-air market is located in the Albert Cuyp neighborhood and bills itself as the largest market in Europe. With over 260 booths, tourists and locals alike can shop for food, fashion, crafts, and beverages while listening to the jazz ensembles that play on every corner. The neighborhood is one of the most diverse in Amsterdam, so ethnic restaurants and booths stand side by side with traditional Dutch offerings, bringing an international feel to your Amsterdam experience.
Everyone should take advantage of the chance to visit the house that hid 13-year-old Anne Frank and her family during WWII. People don't realize how small it truly was. And how difficult it would have been for eight people to live in silence day after day. Everyone is familiar with the story of young Anne from her writings in her diary, but spending time in the space where it was written makes her tragedy truly real.
Part of Amsterdam's well-known progressivism is the legal status of prostitution. But you don't have to be a potential customer to be fascinated by the Red Light District. People-watching alone would be worth the time, but the District also boasts high-end restaurants, boutiques, and cafes. It's even home to the oldest church in the Netherlands, built in the 1300s. For a fascinating look at a significant cultural difference between Amsterdam and the rest of the world, an evening in the Red Light District is a must.
Amsterdam has dozens of world-class museums, but few can be considered as unique as the Kattenkabinet or Cat Cabinet Cat Museum. Founded by a billionaire grieving the loss of his BFF (best feline friend), the Kattenkabinet features artworks with cats in them. This includes paintings, sculptures, carvings, weavings, and even books. The Kattenkabinet is expertly curated and takes itself very seriously as an art museum. Fantastically enough, five rare-breed cats live on the premises.
Amsterdam stands around a series of canals that function like streets throughout the city. One of the best ways to get to know the city is to take a tour of the canals and let your guide tell you about your destination as you float through it. It's one of the best ways to relax, learn, and have fun all at once, and it gives you a spectacular view of Amsterdam you can't get any other way. Amsterdam's canals are one of the biggest draws to the city, and people travel from around the world to see them.
Save on admission with the GoCity Amsterdam Pass.
The Westerkerk, nestled in the heart of Amsterdam, is an iconic representation of the city's rich history and architecture. This Renaissance church is not just a place of worship; it also serves as the final resting place of the famed artist Rembrandt. Every half hour and hour, its bells ring, adding to the charming atmosphere. A statue of Anne Frank can be found outside the church. Inside, the Westerkerk's serene interior provides a peaceful retreat from the bustling city life. The church is open six days a week, excluding Sundays.
The Oude Kerk, Amsterdam's oldest building, has stood the test of time since its establishment in 1213. With its ancient stone walls, ornate stained glass windows, and majestic organ, the Oude Kerk creates a mystical ambiance that transports visitors back in time. Not only does it continue to hold regular services and organ recitals, but it also hosts contemporary art exhibitions, seamlessly blending old and new art and history.
The Nieuwe Kerk, located next to the Royal Palace, merges Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. This church, consecrated in 1409, dates back to the Middle Ages and is renowned for its ornate design and high-profile exhibitions. Its rich history and role in royal ceremonies make it a standout landmark. Visitors will appreciate the grand brass choir screen and the stunning stained glass windows. Additionally, the church regularly hosts organ concerts.
The bustling Port of Amsterdam showcases the city's maritime legacy. As one of the busiest ports in Europe, it serves as a gateway to a variety of commercial and recreational activities. Visitors can explore the harbor through boat tours, learn about maritime history at nearby museums, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the docks. The port is also dedicated to sustainability, operating its vessels on cleaner fuels.
The Royal Palace, situated in Dam Square, epitomizes classical architecture and royal grandeur. Originally built as a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age, it now serves as the official residence for state visits and other royal functions. The palace's majestic halls and rooms are open to the public for most of the year, except during royal events. Its fine art and furniture collection provides a glimpse into the regal lifestyle and the Netherlands' monarchical history.
Step into the world of one of the most celebrated artists of the Dutch Golden Age at the Rembrandt House Museum. Once the home of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, the museum showcases a remarkable collection of his etchings, drawings, and artifacts. Among its highlights is Rembrandt's most famous painting, the Night Watch, which depicts militia men preparing for battle. The museum's meticulously restored interiors offer a glimpse into Rembrandt's life and Amsterdam during the 17th century. Items such as Rembrandt's old tobacco pipes and a crib that represent the three children he had during his residency add to the experience. It is a must-visit for art lovers and history enthusiasts alike.
Delve into the fascinating narrative of Amsterdam through the ages at the Amsterdam Museum. With its vast collection of artifacts, paintings, and interactive exhibits, the museum unveils the city's journey from a small medieval settlement to a bustling metropolis. One of its unique displays allows visitors to listen to Amsterdam carillons. The museum is a treasure trove for exploring Amsterdam's cultural, social, and economic evolution.
The Jewish Historical Museum preserves the rich heritage of Jewish culture, religion, and history. Consisting of four former synagogues, the museum houses an extensive collection of art, artifacts, and multimedia presentations, offering centuries of insight into the Jewish community. One remarkable item is the Rintel Menorah, the world's most expensive menorah. The museum also has a dedicated section for children.
Explore global cultures and traditions at the Tropenmuseum. Its collection of artifacts, multimedia installations, and interactive exhibits provides a window into the daily lives, beliefs, and art of people worldwide. From Southeast Asia to Latin America, there's art and music everywhere. For example, the museum offers dance performances with a focus on the African diaspora. Its engaging displays and educational programs offer a deeper understanding and appreciation of global cultures.
Celebrate the Netherlands' illustrious maritime history at Het Scheepvaartmuseum. The museum boasts an impressive collection of naval artifacts, maps, paintings, and ship models. These exhibits tell tales of Dutch explorations, naval battles, and the golden age of trade. One highlight is the full-size replica of the 1738 ship The Amsterdam. Visitors can climb aboard and experience the life of sailors from a bygone era.
It's no surprise that Amsterdam is a favorite among tourists due to its multiple historical attractions combined with a cosmopolitan setting. From palaces to maritime museums, visitors will be captivated by the richness of Amsterdam's culture and history.