The extensive list of Amsterdam attractions is ever growing, to the point that not even the locals can keep up. To help you spend your time in this lovely city the best way possible, we created a list of the 18 top attractions in Amsterdam. From must-sees to less discovered and unique things to do. Never a dull moment, from winter to summer.
Art enthusiast paradise: The best Amsterdam Museums
With over 75 museums, each showcasing a wide variety in art forms and history, Amsterdam is known to be a dream for art admirers. And that’s without even taking all the different exhibitions into account. We can imagine it is hard to choose, so let’s start our list of attractions with the top museums to visit.
Old Masters at the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is probably the most visited attraction in the Netherlands. Inside this magnificent building world famous artworks like Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmade can be marveled at. Wander around the Cuybers library with its wide collection of art history texts and pay a visit to the beautiful gardens. In for some culinary masterpieces? Michelin star restaurant Rijks serves mouthwatering dishes with mostly local ingredients.
An experience you won’t forget: Anne Frank House
The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the best known and most translated books in the world. Even if you have not read to book, The Anne Frank House is worth the visit. It gives an intimate look into the last hiding place of the Jewish girl during World War II. Walk around in the same space she hid in and get to see historical documents and objects of those who were in the house with her. This will be an experience you will not soon forget
Van Gogh Museum
One of Hollands most famous painters is Vincent van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to his art, is located on Museumsquare and showcases the largest collection of his work in the world. Not only will you get to see his well-known pieces like The Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters, there are over a thousand works including his Japanese prints, drawings and letters as well. A special way to experience the museum is by visiting Vincent on Friday. During this event from 7.00 to 10.00 p.m on every last Friday of the month they organize special tours, talks and workshops. You can even get your groove on to the tunes of the DJ!
Eye Film Museum
The Eye Film museum is relatively new to the city. The impressive building can be spotted on the docks across from Central Station. Take a (free) trip by ferry crossing the river IJ to visit this modern architectural highlight. The museum showcases a different exhibition every 4-5 months and has 4 cinemas showing films in all categories. Their collection holds over 40.000 films, from classics to blockbusters and the newest releases. Their restaurant serves tasty dishes like roasted octopus risotto and ravioli with manchego. And let’s not forget about the view over the IJ Harbour, it is stunning.
Visited all of these highlights and still have time for more? Check out our Museum page for a full overview on all Amsterdam museums.
More than just sightseeing: the best experiences in Amsterdam
So much to see, so much to do. No need to panic, we are here to help you. Amsterdam is an experience by itself but if you are looking for something more than just sightseeing we have some tips for you.
A’DAM Lookout: the best view in town
For the best view in Amsterdam you should head to the A’DAM Tower on the opposite side of Central Station. The futuristic elevator takes you up to the panorama rooftop on the 20th floor within 22 seconds. Once you are on the A’DAM Lookout deck, you will have a spectacular view over the city. What might be even more breathtaking than the view is the Over the Edge: Europe’s highest swing. This swing takes its passengers (two at a time) over the edge of the A’DAM Tower. The ultimate Amsterdam attraction for any daredevil!
One of the most famous beer brands in the world has its origin in Amsterdam. We are talking about Heineken of course. In 2001 the original brewery from 1867 turned into the popular Amsterdam attraction Heineken Experience. Take a VIP tour through the immense brewery and get to know the history behind the brand while tasting different kinds of beers. Don’t forget to create a personalized beer bottle as the perfect souvenir to remember the experience by.
Artis Royal Zoo
The oldest Zoo in the Netherlands, the Artis Royal Zoo, can be found in the east part of Amsterdam. Home to over 700 animals and 200 trees and plants, Artis has enough to offer for a full day of enjoyment. Have a look inside the planetarium to discover outer space and wander around the mesmerizing butterfly garden. The immense aquarium holds over 1.3 million liters of water, housing tropical fish, coral and even sharks. No matter the weather or your age, Artis is an unmissable experience.
Red Light District
Remarkable and notorious. The Red Light District is one of the best known neighborhoods in Amsterdam and a must see during your visit. The Rosse Buurt or The Wallen, as the locals call the area, is known for its coffeeshops, adult entertainment and sex workers. But there is much more to the area than that. A variety of boutique shops, quality restaurants and hip bars are scattered all through the district, making it a favorite amongst both locals and tourists. Tip: if you truly want to get to know the neighborhood, you can have an ex-sex worker guide you around.
One of the most popular Amsterdam attractions: Canal Cruises
If there is one thing you will remember from your trip to Amsterdam, it will be its numerous canals. The 165 canals have a combined length of almost 100 kilometers (about 60 miles). Cruising them on a guided tour is the ultimate way to sightsee and get to learn more about the history of the city and its buildings. If this sounds boring to you: it really isn’t. A romantic dinner, pizza or maybe even burgers and beers? The range of different types of canal cruises is vast!
Ready for some action: the top active things to do in Amsterdam
The Netherlands is known for its sea climate. No matter the season, some rain is part of the deal. But no worries, there is enough to do even on a rainy day. With these tips you’ll be in for some excitement for sure!
Frightening fun at the Amsterdam Dungeon
Scared already? The Amsterdam Dungeon located near Dam Square will take you on a frightening walkthrough experience with live actors and special effects. Their 12 interactive shows will let you dive into the Netherlands’ deepest and darkest history. Prepare for 80 minutes of screaming, laughing and daunting moments.
Arcade galore at the Ton Ton Club
For those young at heart, the Ton Ton Club located in the Red Light District is the place to be. At this 80s styled bar you can spend your night playing iconic arcade games while enjoying drinks and food by Croque Madam. They have a selection of over 25 craft beers and amazing burgers, so what are you waiting for!
Sing your heart out at Duke of Tokyo
Does singing your heart out count as an activity? If you ask us, it does. Especially when it comes to karaoke. One of our favorite Karaoke bars in Amsterdam is Duke of Tokyo, located in the Reguliersdwarsstraat. This bar takes you right to the streets of Tokyo, with 8 private booths and a great selection of tasty street food. Boost your confidence with one of their signature drinks and release your inner Beyoncé.
An active afternoon at the Klimhal
The Klimhal in Amsterdam West is one of the largest in- and outdoor climbing venues in the Benelux. Whether you are a pro, a first timer or traveling with kids, the Klimhal is a perfect Amsterdam attraction for any rainy day. Book a course if you want to take things a little higher. With over 300 climbing routes there is no doubt you’ll be in for a fun and active afternoon.
Ecxtitement at the Sherlocked Escape Room
Traveling with a group can be challenging sometimes but we found the perfect group activity for you. In the historic Beurs van Berlage building near Dam Square you’ll find Sherlocked, offering two thrilling escape room experiences. Form a team, unravel the mysteries and work your way into Amsterdam’s most complex vault. This is said to be an adventure to remember.
The best places in Amsterdam to sit back and unwind
City trips are almost always fully planned with sightseeing, visiting highlights, an endless to do list and a lot of walking. It would do no harm to fit in a relaxing moment or two. Here’s a list of our favorite Amsterdam hangouts.
A walk in the park: Vondelpark
After a full day of sightseeing around the city, you might feel in need of some green surroundings. The Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest park and reaches from the centre of the city all the way to the South and West areas. You could call it the Central Park of Amsterdam. It is the perfect spot to wander around, strand for a picnic or to have a drink at one of the café’s. Students, millennials, kids and older generations, the Amsterdam locals are all pretty fond of the Vondelpark. Tip: try and find Picasso’s Figure découpée l’Oiseau. This original Picasso statue was placed in honor of the 100th anniversary of the park.
Drinks with a view at one of the many Rooftop Bars
What better way to enjoy a city than from up top. Amsterdam has some incredible options when it comes to rooftop bars. Not always in height but more so in atmosphere. Sit back and relax with a good glass of wine or your favorite cocktail and enjoy the view. Beergarden Hopp on top of Hotel Casa is one of the newest in town, located in the bustling east part of town. Their beer menu is extensive, with a tasty food menu for both breakfast and dinner. The bar at the W Hotel at Dam Square gives you a view on the Royal Palace and even has a pool. Perfect for any sunny day.
Enjoy a sunny day at an Amsterdam city beach
No beaches in Amsterdam? Think again! Over the years several city beaches popped up all over town. There might not be an ocean to gaze over but that doesn’t make them less fun. Two favorites are Roest and Pllek, both low-key hangouts for the hip and young. Drinks and food are served from the restaurant but feel free to bring your own. Strand Zuid near the RAI conference centre is a bit more high-end, with a good accompanying restaurant serving great cocktails and mouthwatering dishes. All of these locations have a pretty cozy inside area as well, just in case the Dutch weather decides to rain on your parade.
Get a taste of Amsterdam craft beers at Brouwerij ‘t IJ
An old original windmill in the middle of a city; it’s an idyllic sight. Since 1985 De Gooyer in Amsterdam East is home to beer brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Have a taste of one (or more) of their characteristic Amsterdam craft beers accompanied by tasty Dutch bar food like cheese and bitter balls. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday a 20-minute English tour starts at 3.30. Tickets are available at the bar on the day itself or book a private or group tour in advance.
We hope you’ll have an incredible time using our top 18 Amsterdam attractions list. Still looking for more highlights? We created a list of 15 amazing things to do in Amsterdam. From the best restaurants and the hippest neighborhoods, to trips to the Dutch countryside and how to get around town like a local.
Don’t hesitate to let us know what your favorite tip was in the comments below!
Van Gogh Museum
Albert Cuyp Market
The most famous market in the City
A vertical city offering 24-hour entertainment