The Dutch capital Amsterdam is unique in its kind. Anyone who sees photos or film fragments of Amsterdam will immediately recognize that they were made in this city. For conservative people, the largest city in the Netherlands resembles a Sodom and Gomora, where everything seems to be allowed and possible. This image of Amsterdam therefore partly results in a very specific type of tourism. Striking, for example, is the number of British people who come to Amsterdam especially for the tolerant drug policy. Of course Amsterdam is much more than drugs, sex and destruction. The ancient city has a world-famous canal belt with beautiful authentic canal houses. The city has numerous unique museums, each of which is at the top of its genre.
According to topschoolsintheusa, Amsterdam has its own atmosphere, its own kind of humour, its own kind of people who make Mokum a city that is different from all other cities in the Netherlands. It is not for nothing that Amsterdam is also very popular among Dutch tourists as a destination for a day trip or a weekend away. You can easily spend several days in Amsterdam without being bored for a moment. As a day tourist you should do your best to visit most of the sights from the top 10 most important hotspots in Amsterdam. In the inspiring blog article ” Amsterdam in 12 hours: the highlights of Amsterdam ” you can see what a day in Amsterdam can look like by means of a clear timeline and many good photos.
Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam
#1. The canals of Amsterdam
If there’s one thing Amsterdam is known for, it’s the canals. These artificial waterways have been the face of Amsterdam’s historic city center for centuries. Water used to be the main way to transport goods. It is no coincidence that so many waterways were built in an important trade centre. These ensured that the goods could be transported to the warehouses. The canal belt of Amsterdam is an attraction in itself. These unique canals are best experienced with a tour boat, which has actually been called one of the most visited attractions in the Netherlands. The most beautiful historic buildings from the ‘Golden Age’ pass by with all their stories. Don’t forget the bridges. The four main canals of Amsterdam are Brouwersgracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.
Thousands of tourists take part in a canal cruise every day. During such a cruise, which usually lasts an hour, you will discover the canals and its history. You will hear the history of a number of historic buildings and you will discover the various typical Dutch facades.
#2. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is the place where the Jewish girl Anne Frank went into hiding when the Germans occupied the Netherlands during World War II. Here she wrote her world famous diary. Shortly after the war, the Anne Frank House was set up and the house was saved from demolition. Since 1960 it can still be visited and you can see everything with your own eyes. The way this museum is set up ensures that the sad story of Anne and her family becomes visible and tangible. It offers visitors the chance to experience how devastating war is on civilians and how this last major war had a huge impact on Jews, who had to go into hiding to survive.
Due to the enormous interest in this museum and the compact space, advance reservation is a must. This can be done via the website of the Anne Frank House.
#3. Van Gogh Museum
The next position in the top 10 sights of Amsterdam is for the Van Gogh Museum. The name says it all: this art museum is dedicated to the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. This one in the Brabant town of Zundertborn artist is best known for his post-impressionist works. Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest painters of the 19th century. Unfortunately, this was not recognized until after his death. Van Gogh spent most of his life in poverty. Unfortunately, he was never allowed to profit from the many millions of euros that his paintings are worth today. A visit to the Van Gogh Museum means a journey through the artistic life of Van Gogh. During the walk through the museum you can see his development as a painter and the impact his mental state had on his work. In addition to works by Van Gogh, you will also see pieces by his contemporaries, such as Paul Gaugin and Claude Monet.
For the Van Gogh Museum, it is recommended to book a ticket with a time slot in advance. Buying a ticket on the spot is often accompanied by a long queue.
#4. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
It has sometimes been argued that every Dutch student should visit the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam at least once during their school career. A few years ago, during a cabinet formation, it was even suggested to include this as a legal obligation in the coalition agreement. It has not come to that. It is a fact that a visit to the Rijksmuseum enhances knowledge of Dutch (art) history. Such a plan is therefore understandable.
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is one of the 16 national museums in the Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum building, designed by Pierre Cuypers, houses a true top collection of art objects such as paintings, prints and sculptures. The most famous work is “The company of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburgh is getting ready to march out”. The shorter name “The Night Watch” will probably sound more familiar to you. This painting, made by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1642, is unique and invaluable. Fortunately, it’s of such a size that you don’t just put it under your arm and walk out with it.
The Night Watch is just one example of the fantastic works of art that you can see with your own eyes in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. A tour of this enormous museum takes you past many impressive paintings, mostly from the fifteenth to the end of the nineteenth century.
#5. The pipe
If you ask an Amsterdammer which neighborhood or district is worth visiting as a tourist, you can get different answers. Because let’s be honest: Amsterdam is actually a collection of atmospheric neighborhoods that together form a large city. Every neighborhood has its own face. Most visitors are particularly charmed by De Pijp. This part of Amsterdam was built relatively quickly at the end of the nineteenth century as a solution to the great demand for housing. Now, more than a century later, De Pijp is a textbook example of how people from all walks of life can live together. This gives the neighborhood a unique atmosphere that can certainly be regarded as typically Amsterdam.
There are a number of sights to discover within De Pijp that may be briefly highlighted. You can visit the famous Albert Cuyp market here six days a week. This commodity market is a textbook example of a typical Dutch market. The Heineken Experience is well-attended. This interactive tour through the former Heineken brewery is especially fun for people aged 18 and over, who are allowed to tap their own beer.
Numerous famous Dutch people live or have lived in De Pijp. One of the most famous people who was born here is the interpreter of the Dutch life song: André Hazes. And we are not talking about his son, but about senior who died in 2004. In 2005 he was given a statue in De Pijp.
In the past, courtyards were a common phenomenon in the inner cities of the low countries. Due to the increasing land prices, quite a few courtyards have now disappeared. After all, they take up quite a lot of space. Fortunately, there are also plenty of courtyards that have escaped the demolition hammer. The Beguinage in Amsterdam is a good example of this. This is the only one that was founded within medieval Amsterdam. According to the history books, this happened between 1346 and 1389. Beguines lived in Amsterdam. These are single women who have a clear religious commitment and lifestyle, but not as strict as the sisters in the monastery.
Thanks to a major renovation at the end of the twentieth century, the Begijnhof in Amsterdam is in excellent condition. The houses show their beautiful facades, which were mainly installed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the houses are still inhabited, the last Beguine died in 1971. You can visit the Amsterdam Beguinage for free. You are asked not to make noise and to respect the privacy of the residents.
In Amsterdam you can visit the oldest still operational zoo in the Netherlands: Artis. This approximately 14 hectare zoo first opened its doors in 1838. It was then established as the zoo of the Royal Zoological Society Natura Artis Magistra. In the early years, the natural history collections were the most important element within Artis. Over the years, Artis has grown in size and the live animals are now the main draw. We prefer not to use the word ‘attraction’ when it comes to living beings. In recent decades, various innovations have taken place within Artis. An interesting fairly new part is Micropia. Here you can get acquainted with microscopic organisms.
#8. Rembrandt’s Amsterdam Experience
Rembrandt van Rijn is perhaps one of the most famous painters in the world. He lived in the bustling Amsterdam of the 17th century. Rembrandt was able to piggyback on the wealth of the city and his studio grew into a true ‘painter’s empire’. Unfortunately, his wealthy life came to an end when he went bankrupt and had to move to a small studio on the outskirts of the city. This is where the story begins that you can experience in the new Experience about Rembrandt’s life.
In Rembrandt’s Amsterdam Experiencestep back 350 years in time and visit a reconstruction of this last long-lost studio, where he made his iconic ‘last works’. Here you will meet Rembrandt, his mistress Hendrickje, son Titus and daughter Cornelia. You will be taken on a journey through the life of Amsterdam’s most famous artist. During this journey of approximately 25 minutes you will be completely immersed in 17th century Amsterdam and the life of the artist through music, video projections, smell and 5D effects.
The Vondelpark is a large elongated city park that is located southwest of the historic city center of Amsterdam. The park dates from 1865. At that time it was still called the New Park. When the Vondel Monument was unveiled two years later, the name changed to Vondelpark. This honors the Amsterdam-born poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel. Today, for some Amsterdammers, the Vondelpark is the green space where you can stay if the weather is inviting enough. For tourists, a walk through the Vondelpark mainly means getting to know this side of Amsterdam: mostly smiling people who prefer to spend their free time here in all kinds of ways during sunny weather.
#10. The Jordan
Of the Amsterdam neighborhoods, the Jordaan is certainly one that you should not miss during your visit to this lively city. The Jordaan is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Amsterdam. Once started as a working-class neighborhood and transformed into a hip neighborhood where the Jordanian roots are visible in various ways. One thing that has never disappeared is the wonderful atmosphere that prevails in the sometimes narrow streets. The contemporary Jordaan is a neighborhood full of nice restaurants and fine boutiques. A number of small-scale special museums are among the most important sights of the Jordaan. Examples are the Houseboat Museum and the Tulip Museum. This last museum shows the history of the tulip. This flower is originally from Central Asia, but partly because of the song “Tulips from Amsterdam” is forever linked to our capital. The tulips and tulip bulbs sold in Amsterdam mainly come from the nearby Bollenstreek.