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Things to do in Amsterdam

Things to do in  Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam

The Netherlands brims with beauty and adventure, from its picturesque windmills and wondrous fields of tulips to its hip, art-centric capital city of Amsterdam. The most populated region of the Netherlands, historic Amsterdam is renowned for its quaint streets and scenic canals. Take in Amsterdam’s rich tradition of art by touring iconic museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum; tours offer skip-the-line access to these popular sights. The Anne Frank House is another must-see, attracting visitors from around the globe. A walking tour—or if you want to be like the Dutch, a bike tour—is a great way to get into the culture. For a little romance, enjoy a candlelit cruise at night with Dutch wine and cheese, and watch the city sparkle. Make time to tour the happening Red Light District’s bars and coffeeshops, and sample bitterballen (fried meatballs) and classic pickled herring, along with some of the country’s famed beers. Take a day trip or two to the Dutch countryside to admire Zaanse Schans, with its iconic windmills and clogs; or traditional villages such as Volendam and Marken. Keukenhof Gardens offers the pièce de résistance: a burst of colors from its vast array of flowers and millions of tulips. All in all, Amsterdam’s uniqueness makes it an unparalleled destination in Europe.

Top 15 attractions in Amsterdam

#1
Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

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The bestselling book “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” brought to life one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century in a compelling, personal way. In the true story, a young Jewish girl, her family, and some friends are forced into hiding in Amsterdam to escape the Nazis during World War II. The house that served as the Frank family’s hiding place for two years survived the war and is now a moving museum, with the primary site being the achterhuis (rear house), also known as the secret annex. Here the Franks sat in silence during the day and ate food that was secretly brought to them before being mysteriously betrayed and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Otto Frank, the only Frank who survived the war, published Anne’s now-famous diary in 1947.More
#2
Amstel River

Amstel River

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The Amstel is the great river that runs through Amsterdam and whose water was diverted into the city’s famous canals. The city was first built around the river, giving it the name Amstel Dam, and today the waterway is flows past modern buildings and charming houseboats before winding its way into the Dutch countryside.More
#3
Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

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Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of works by the legendary Dutch artist, is a must-see for art and art history lovers. The museum boasts a collection of Vincent van Gogh’s personal effects, plus 200 paintings and 500 drawings by the master and his contemporaries—including Gauguin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Bernard—plus Van Gogh’s famous works The Potato Eaters and Wheatfield with Crows.More
#4
Hermitage Amsterdam

Hermitage Amsterdam

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An outpost of St. Petersburg’s famous Hermitage Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam showcases revolving exhibitions of painting and historical artifacts, often with a Russian theme. The sprawling Amstelhof building dates back to the 17th century, stretches along the Amstel riverfront, and features an inner garden courtyard.More
#5
Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

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Most famous for its streetside brothels, Amsterdam's Red Light District (De Wallen) also houses scenic canals, bustling restaurants, bars, and plenty of shopping opportunities. While this controversial neighborhood may not be for everyone, its winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleys evoke Amsterdam’s rich history and laid-back culture.More
#6
Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

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The second of Amsterdam’s three major waterways, the Emperor’s Canal (Keizersgracht) is the widest in the city. Its quiet waters wind through otherwise bustling neighborhoods, and it is lined with picturesque old houses—some of which have had famous residents. A boat trip along the canal lends itself to some wonderful photo opportunities.More
#7
Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

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Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is the largest and most visited art museum in the Netherlands. Its collection, which ranks among the world’s finest, includes nearly 8,000 pieces spread over 80 galleries. Some of the Rijksmuseum’s most revered works are 15th- to 19th-century paintings by Flemish and Dutch masters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. In addition to the astounding eight centuries of Dutch art and history, the museum has extensive outdoor gardens and a Michelin-starred restaurant.More
#8
Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam Central Station

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Amsterdam Central Station (Amsterdam Centraal Station) is the largest railway station in the Netherlands, as well as the country’s most visited national heritage site. Serving up to 250,000 passengers every day, it’s the city’s most important transport hub, offering both national and international train services.More
#9
Jordaan

Jordaan

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Once a working-class neighborhood, Jordaan in central Amsterdam has become an upscale enclave favored by artists and designers. Grand 17th-century houses, art galleries, speciality shops, music venues, cafes, and restaurants line the leafy canals in this quintessential Amsterdam neighborhood, which attracts tourists and locals alike.More
#10
FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam)

FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam)

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Located in a former 16th-century warehouse, Foam (Photography Museum Amsterdam) has been displaying emerging artists alongside internationally recognized names since it opened in the early 2000s. Spend a few hours browsing the collection of contemporary and traditional artwork, or attend one of the museum’s workshops or talks.More
#11
Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

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Amsterdam’s Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) crosses the River Amstel in the city center. The wooden drawbridge features low arches and nighttime illumination. The bridge’s history reaches as far back as 1691, when the original structure was completed in a classic Dutch style that also influenced later renovations.More
#12
Westerkerk (Western Church)

Westerkerk (Western Church)

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Amsterdam’s 17th-century Westerkerk (Western Church) is as known for its architecture, including a spire that measures some 280 feet (85 meters), as it is for its history. Rembrandt was buried here, and in her diaries Anne Frank wrote about the church’s clock chime—one of the few outside-world experiences she had while hiding from the Nazis.More
#13
Dam Square

Dam Square

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Amsterdam’s main city square is one of the best-known locations in all of the Netherlands. Located in the historical center of the city, just south of Amsterdam Central Station, Dam Square is the site of many notable buildings and is frequently the site of major events, like demonstrations, and festivals like National Tulip Day.More
#14
Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

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The scenic Dutch village of Zaanse Schans is most famous for its windmills, once used to power everything from paint-making to paper production; today, it’s set up like an open-air museum, with five working windmills. Wander the village, view the preserved architecture, and watch the locals at work—in their traditional wooden shoes and Dutch garb, naturally. Green wooden houses, a historic shipyard, and a pewter factory are among the highlights.More
#15
Amsterdam Tulip Museum

Amsterdam Tulip Museum

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Run by a local bulb company, the small but informative Amsterdam Tulip Museum traces the history of the Dutch tulip obsession from the height of 17th-century tulip mania to today’s multi-million-euro bulb industry. If you’re looking for unique tulip-themed gifts or rare bulbs, the museum shop is the place to be.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

Top activities in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Open Boat Tour With Live Guide and Unlimited Drinks
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Skip-the-line Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam Private Guided Tour
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Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
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All inclusive Canal Tour by Captain Jack (Traveller's Choice Award 2021)
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Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
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The Ultimate Amsterdam Canal Cruise - 2hr - Small Group - Exclusive Boat
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Skip-the-line Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Private Guided Museum Tour
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Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans Day Tour With Electric Boat Trip
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Bike Tour of Amsterdam's Highlights and Hidden Gems!
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Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise with Bar on Board
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Things to do in Amsterdam this...

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Amsterdam

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Canal cruising in Amsterdam
Melisa_H, Jul 2022
Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
What a fun way to see Amsterdam.
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Recommend
Lora_T, Jul 2022
Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Classic River Boat With Drinks & Dutch Cheese
Canal cruise was great and a relaxing way to see the city.
star-5
We’ll worth it.
David_G, Jul 2022
All inclusive Canal Tour by Captain Jack (Traveller's Choice Award 2021)
Neat to see the view from the water.
star-4
Amsterdam canal boats
Joyce_R, Jul 2022
Amsterdam: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour with Boat Option
The canal ride is a fabulous way to see Amsterdam.
star-5
Relaxing, informative, beautiful cruise on the canal. Beautiful boat with high-end refreshments.
Paul_O, Jul 2022
The Ultimate Amsterdam Canal Cruise - 2hr - Small Group - Exclusive Boat
The small group was English-speaking but international.
star-5
Canal Boat Tour
Becky_B, Jul 2022
Amsterdam Open Boat Canal Cruise - Live Guide - from Anne Frank House
The canal tour was a great way to see the city and hear about the history of the city.
star-4
Great way to see Amsterdam
Mary_T, Jul 2022
Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise with Bar on Board
It was a pleasant ride and definitely worth it to see the city from the water.
star-4
Highly recommend
Tracy_J, Jul 2022
All inclusive Canal Tour by Captain Jack (Traveller's Choice Award 2021)
You get to see a lot of Amsterdam that you possibly wouldn’t get chance to if on foot.
star-5
Fantastic experience
C_O, Jun 2022
Volendam, Marken and Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
It was well planned and very enjoyable to see all of the attractions and sights.
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Facsinating are the words of my son
Job_F, Jun 2022
Ticket to The Ultimate 5D Flight Experience at THIS IS HOLLAND
In terms of excitement, this is most likely one of the best attractions you can do in Amsterdam!!
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The drinks and the...
Laura_H, Jun 2022
Amsterdam Open Boat Tour With Live Guide and Unlimited Drinks
Such an awesome experience and a great way to see Amsterdam!
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Highly Recommend
REBECCA_L, Jun 2022
Amsterdam Countryside Bike Tour Including Cheese Tasting and Clog Demonstration
The only way to see and learn about the beautiful Amsterdam countryside - on a bike!
star-5
Good experience
Laura_V, Jun 2022
Volendam, Edam and Zaanse Schans Windmills Guided Day Tour from Amsterdam
Nice trip out if the city of Amsterdam to see how other people in Holland had lived and still do.
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My train from Paris to...
Alexandra_L, Jun 2022
Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam & 1-Hour Canal Cruise
All attractions in Amsterdam were fully booked that day, so I was really greatful for the understanding.
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Windmills, cheese & clogs!
Burr_L, Jun 2022
Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
Took us to see Rembrants statue which was not listed as part of tour but on way back to drop off place.
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Great way to experience the city like a local!
Taylor_A, Jun 2022
Amsterdam City Bike Tour, the Best Things to See
This was a great way to see the city of Amsterdam!
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Fantastic Amsterdam Private Canal Cruise Tour
Robert_A, Jun 2022
PRIVATE and SAFE Saloon Boat Ride: Amsterdam Canal Cruise & Unlimited Drinks
A great way to see Amsterdam from a different view, get acclimated to the city and get a little education while enjoying the piece and quiet of the canals.
star-5
A must do if in Amsterdam!
Liz_R, Jun 2022
Bike Tour of Amsterdam's Highlights and Hidden Gems!
This was a great way to see parts of Amsterdam you wouldn’t necessarily go and see.
star-5
Excellent way to spend a morning and see a lot
Dawn_O, Jun 2022
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Clogs and Dutch Cheese Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
The tour guide was great, the information was excellent, and all of the different things to do: windmills, clogs, cheese and chocolate were definitely worth a morning while in Amsterdam.
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very helpful
Michael_N, Jun 2022
2.5 hours Amsterdam Pedicab Tour
this was a great tour to see the city.
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All about Amsterdam

Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)

A local’s pocket guide to Amsterdam

Christian Peeters

Christian was born in the Netherlands and lived there for over 25 years before moving to the United States. Every time he visits, he makes time to eat a “Bitterbal” and sit by one of his favorite canals on the “Herengracht.”

The first thing you should do in Amsterdam is …...

buy an OV Chipcard that lets you travel on all public transport. When the weather allows for it though, rent a bike—most places in Amsterdam can be reached quickly by bike.

A perfect Saturday in Amsterdam …...

starts with brunch at Bakers & Roasters. After that, head to VondelPark, rent a boat and have a picnic on the Amsterdam canals. For dinner, order “bitter garnituur” (fried appetizers) at one of Amsterdam’s famous brown cafés.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is …...

the Anne Frank House, situated in the heart of Amsterdam. Walking through the historic house while hearing and reading about the history will give you a new perspective on WWII.

To discover the "real" Amsterdam …...

walk through the non-touristy areas. You’ll be surprised by the small boutiques, restaurants, and bars. And try to make small talk with locals—they love to speak English.

For the best view of the city …...

go on the canals. The houses look even more majestic from the water and, if you rent a boat, definitely dock at Hanneke’s Boom, a bar and restaurant where you can grab a drink.

One thing people get wrong …...

thinking Amsterdam is just a party city when you can admire art at the Van Gogh museum or explore the “negen straatjes,” a neighborhood with boutique stores and cafés along the best canals of Amsterdam.

People Also Ask

What is Amsterdam famous for?

One of Europe’s most-visited cities, Amsterdam encompasses attractions both high-brow and risqué. Travelers are drawn here for the city’s rich history and culture as much as its infamous coffee shops and the Red Light District. It’s also the city of canals, which gives it the nickname of the “Venice of the North.”

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What should I not miss in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is home to some of the most-treasured artworks in Europe, many of them in the Rijksmuseum alone. Don’t miss Rembrandt’s The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum; Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum, and Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring in the Mauritshuis Museum.

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How can I spend 2 days in Amsterdam?

Two days in Amsterdam is enough time to take a boat tour through the canals; explore the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Musuem, visit the Anne Frank House, wander around the bohemian Jordaan neighborhood, and relax in charming Vondelpark. In the evening you can take a peek at the Red Light District (De Wallen) on a guided tour.

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How can I spend 3 days in Amsterdam?

With three days to spare in Amsterdam you can thoroughly explore the city’s canals by boat, admire some of the world’s great masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum, visit historic attractions such as the Anne Frank House, and even travel just outside the city to the riverside windmills of Zaanse Schans or tulip fields of Keukenhof.

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Is Amsterdam very expensive?

Yes, like most major western European cities, Amsterdam can be an expensive destination. Hotels are expensive and admission fees for museums and other attractions are typically on the higher side. However you can easily save money by walking or taking public transport rather than using taxis and dining away from the touristy areas.

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Is Amsterdam a dangerous place?

No. Amsterdam is no more dangerous than other major European cities. Pickpocketing is the most common crime against tourists so it pays to keep your wits about you. As for Amsterdam’s notorious side, don’t smoke outside of coffeeshops and book a guided tour if you want to explore the Red Light District after dark.

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Frequently Asked Questions