In a city that has so much to tell about its intriguing past and exotic present, choosing exactly what to see in Amsterdam can be difficult. You can’t miss the city’s picturesque canal network and beautiful architecture as you stroll the cobblestone streets, nor can you miss the breathtaking beauty of historical landmarks like that Royal Palace of Amsterdam and Oude Kerk.
Ensure your stroll leads you to the more modern attractions that speak to the city’s vibrant, metropolis side, too: the infamous Red Light District, and the Heineken Experience, for example.
Art lovers visiting Amsterdam shouldn’t overlook the fine collection of modern art in the Stedelijk Museum, next to the Van Gogh Museum, or the Hermitage, on the Amstel River, with its rotating exhibitions from the famous museum in St Petersburg, Russia.
Anne Frank House
Located in the heart of Amsterdam is a site and story that has captured the world: the Anne Frank House. This famous yet unassuming building is distinguishable only by the queue that snakes outside. From far and wide, people journey to see where the young Anne Frank hid from the Nazis for two years during the Holocaust. A moving experience to say the least.
Red Light District
In a city reputed for its liberal nightlife antics, you’ll want to check out (if only briefly) the world-famous Red Light District. Swathed by mostly drunken tourists at night, though fairly unassuming by day, this area lies just to the east of the city centre. Its name describes the red neon lights that highlight some 300 windows of rooms where prostitutes work.
The Heineken Experience is one of history and beer, and is sure to please fans of the Dutch pilsner – or any pilsner, for that matter. The interactive tour is of the original brewery that produced its first ale in 1867. Soak in the rich history of the Heineken product and brand, and discover what brings your favourite beer to life before enjoying one yourself.
Amsterdam’s iconic 17th-century canal belt became part of the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010. While certainly a source of beauty today, the canals were originally built as a source of wealth and greatly contributed to the city’s affluence and growth. Their ingenuity and architectural influence earned the canals their spot on the acclaimed list, and many canal cruises will afford you a first-hand experience of the watery wonder.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Every sizeable European city has its share of breathtaking historical monuments, and Amsterdam is no different with the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Built as the city hall for magistrates in the 17th century, Amsterdam’s most famous historical building won’t disappoint. Lose yourself in the palace’s elaborately decorated interior, alive with beautiful paintings and sculptures that tell stories of the city’s past.
The grand Oude Kerk (Old Church) sits at the heart of the Red Light District. Widely considered to be Amsterdam’s oldest building and parish church, it’s believed to date back to around 1213. The Oude Kerk is much more than a beautiful historical landmark, though. Inside you’ll find one of the city’s youngest art institutions, and the church regularly hosts a variety of religious and cultural activities.
There are very few high-rise buildings in Amsterdam, but you’ll find great cafes with a view are on the seventh floor of OBA, the Amsterdam Public Library near Central Station, and outside EYE, the film museum just across the IJ Harbour. The ferry to take you there is free.