See the best of Amsterdam and Local Tips
Amsterdam is a city with many faces, maintaining a delicate balance between light and dark. It holds a reputation for debauchery, while at the same time showcasing beauty and splendour from the Dutch Golden Age. Above all else, the city of Amsterdam is a place of freedom. And whether you go for the Rembrandts and Van Goghs, or for the brown cafes and coffeeshops, a visit to Amsterdam is an experience that you won't soon forget.
- Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Take a minute to admire the magnificent Amsterdam Centraal station, dating back to 1889. Your tour of the city begins here, whether you decide to take the tram, hop on a boat, rent a bike, or explore on foot.
Walk straight ahead onto the busy Damrak, which leads you to Dam Square. Here you'll find the Royal Palace, constructed during the Dutch Golden Age. Right next to it is the 600-year-old Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), which often hosts exhibitions of art and photography.
- Anne Frank House
Cross a few canals to reach the Anne Frank House, where the world's most famous diary was written. It now serves as a museum, drawing over 1 million visitors each year. Check out the nearby Westerkerk (Western Church), where Rembrandt was buried.
Step onto the Rozengracht (Rose Canal) to find yourself in the Jordaan neighbourhood. Once a typical working-class area, it's now an expensive place to live. Spend some time exploring the many art galleries and the little courtyards known as hofjes.
- Museum Square
Follow the Prinsengracht (Princes Canal) south, past the Leidseplein. This is a lively square at night, so stop by later for a drink. Make your way to the Rijksmuseum to find Dutch masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
The Museumplein (Museum Square) stretches out behind the Rijksmuseum. Here you'll find the Van Gogh Museum, as well as the Stedelijk Museum for modern and contemporary art. When you're all maxed out on museums, take a leisurely stroll through the nearby Vondelpark.
- De Pijp
Part of Amsterdam's Old South area, De Pijp is a truly bohemian area. Go shopping at the always busy Albert Cuyp Market, where you can buy Dutch specialties here like cheese, herring and stroopwafels (syrup waffles), but also food from Suriname, Turkey, Morocco and the Antilles.
If shopping made you thirsty, sit down at one of the many bars in the area. Beer enthusiasts can also take the tour at the Heineken Experience, located in the original Heineken brewery. Tasting included!
- Hermitage Amsterdam
Follow the Amstel river north to find the Dutch branch of St. Petersburg's world-renowned Hermitage museum. Interestingly enough, Tsar Peter the Great modelled the city of St. Petersburg after Amsterdam, impressed as he was with the architecture and the canals.
Circle around the Waterlooplein (Waterloo Square), where the National Opera House is located. Walk on in northern direction to reach the Nieuwmarkt (New Market). This square is dominated by The Waag (Weigh House), originally a city gate in the 15th century.
- De Wallen (Red Light District)
De Nieuwmarkt is located on the border of De Wallen, Amsterdam's notorious Red Light District. It was also the medieval city center, so try to look beyond the neon-lit windows. Follow the canal up and down to get a good impression of his lively area.
When you're finished, walk up to the historic Zeedijk (Sea Dike). Now the main street of Amsterdam's Chinatown, this is a great place to get Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese food. Follow the Zeedijk north to find yourself back at Amsterdam Centraal Station.
Cruise the canals
When Amsterdam’s streets swell with tourists, take to the canals for a little breathing room before you have your breath taken away by the completely different perspective on the city. There’s a reason you’ll find Amsterdam’s locals taking in the sights from the water, so rent out a boat and see for yourself.
Eat like a spice trader
While fried bar snacks, like bitterballen (beef croquettes), tend to rule Amsterdam’s lively evening landscape, you’ll also find that the Netherlands’ merchant past brings a wide variety of international flavors to the table as well. Pick a restaurant with a terrace and prepare to sample some dishes worthy of the Dutch East India Company.
If you really want to see the local scene in Amsterdam, leave the chaos of the city center behind and take a free ferry north from Amsterdam Central Station to the NDSM-werf neighborhood. Here, you’ll find alternative bars, restaurants, and attractions bustling with life. Stop by the IJ-Hallen flea market to seek out hidden treasures among the sea of odds and ends.
"Amsterdam North is a hidden refuge from the busy canals of the center. Go to quirky Noorderlicht cultural cafe for live jamming sessions on a waterfront terrace. Also worth checking out are De Ceuvel, a self-sufficient, sustainable bar built on a former polluted area, or Pllek, a restaurant constructed from old shipping containers."
Getting to Amsterdam
Amsterdam is easy to reach from anywhere in the Netherlands, on comfortable Dutch trains that travel frequently. International trains connect the city with Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin and London. All these trains terminate at the monumental Amsterdam Centraal station, which drops you right in the heart of the historic center.
You can find all trains to and from Amsterdam in the Eurail timetable.
From Paris to Amsterdam
From Berlin to Amsterdam
From London to Amsterdam
Flights and public transport
All flights to Amsterdam arrive at Schiphol Airport, the international airport just south of the city. A direct train will take you to Amsterdam's city center in just 15 minutes.
Cycling is the way to get around in Amsterdam, but if you're not comfortable on a bike, the tram is your best friend. It will take you anywhere in the city center within minutes.
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