The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular and interesting tourist cities. The city’s name is known for its colorful and interesting nightlife. Even if you are not interested in the Red Light District, Amsterdam is an important candidate for the list of countries to be seen on your European trip with all its beauties.
Known for its crazy and colorful nightlife, interesting canals, admirable museums, exquisite flower markets and splendid bicycle routes, Amsterdam is a northern city where the sense of entertainment and exploration never slow down. While it was a small fishing town in the 12th century, nowadays it reveals its romantic and bohemian lifestyle with its cute houses, bicycle paths and water channels that encircle the city for kilometers.
Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in Europe with 4.5 million visitors and 16 million daily tourists visiting its beautiful cobblestone streets every year. When you see so many visitors and the number of people who fall in love with the city, if you wonder where all this popularity comes from, take this cute city on your route.
The foundation of Amsterdam, known as Amstel-reddamme due to its establishment on the banks of the Amstel River, dates back to the 1200s. The region, which came under the sovereignty of the Dutch counts in 1296, began to grow as a city where Protestants and Jews took refuge in order to escape religious pressures for a few centuries, and by the 1600s it became a city where economic prosperity rose.
Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world in the 17th century as a result of innovative developments in trade. In the 19th and 20th centuries the city expanded further and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were added.
The canals with a total length of more than 100 km and most of which were designed in the 17th century add a very different and beautiful atmosphere to the city. Amsterdam’s famous canals are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Even though Amsterdam is one of the small capitals of the world with a population of 800 thousand people, as the tourism, culture, art and economy center of the country, it hosts guests from 180 different countries.
Places to Visit in Amsterdam
The best known of the sights are within walking distance of Amsterdam Centraal Station, the main station of the city.
The city center is quite small and mostly consists of narrow streets. You can buy city maps sold in many of the bookstores and explore the city on foot. Pay attention to flowing traffic, especially bicycle traffic. If you carelessly step off the sidewalk in Amsterdam, it wouldn’t be a surprise to have a bicycle accident.
Reserve a part of your visit to museums in Amsterdam, one of Europe’s richest cultural and artistic centers with more than fifty museums.
If you want to wander in the Dutch countryside, where you can also see the famous windmills and small fishing towns, you can go to Zaanse Schans, Marken and Volendam.
This is the heart of Amsterdam. It is very lively in both summer and winter. When you look around you can see tourists from all over the world.
With its pleasant ambiance, Dam Square is a place where you may want to take a break after a tiring city tour. Right next to the square is the Royal Palace, which was used as a town hall in the 1600s. Niewe Kerk (New Church), a 15th-century gothic church next to the palace that was converted into the Royal Palace in 1808, is an important building where coronations are held.
On the other side of the square is the National Monument with a 22-meter high obelisk. It was built after World War II to commemorate the victims of the war and as a symbol of freedom. Four male figures representing war, woman and child representing peace, two men representing resistance and howling dogs are depicted alongside other symbols.
The Royal Palace, Amsterdam
The Royal Palace in Dam Square serves as the residence of the king when he comes to the city. Built in 1648, the exterior of the palace has a classical architecture imitating the Ancient Roman period, while the interior is magnificently furnished. There are plenty of reliefs, ornaments, marble sculptures, friezes, and ceiling paintings by Rembrandt’s students Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck. The palace can be visited between 10.00-17.00, 6 days a week except Mondays. Royal Palace entrance fee is 10 € (9 € for students).
Another important place in the Dam square is Nieuwe Kerk, the New Church, which has been standing next to the Royal Palace since 1814 as the official coronation church of the Dutch monarchy.
The church’s most prominent place is the preacher chair built-in 1649. The figures of the four Bible writers, symbolizing faith, hope, philanthropy, justice and common sense, are made with magnificent Baroque woodcarving. You must see the church organ from 1670, the uniquely beautiful bronze choir stage and the elegant choir stools. The church can be visited between 10:00 and 17:00, 7 days a week. Nieuwe Kerk entrance fee is 15 €, online purchases are 10 €.
Canals of Amsterdam
Canals of Amsterdam, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is the most unique feature of the city. Amsterdam Canal tours, attended by 3 million people annually, are one of the most interesting activities for tourists. You find yourself on a journey through the beautiful architecture of Amsterdam. You can attend short-term hop on / hop off tours or luxury boat tours with refreshments. 1 hour canal tour 16 €. Hop on-hop off canal boat tour daily ticket € 21. Canal tour with dinner 79 €.
Red Light District
Almost everyone has different ideas or tolerance levels about De Wallen, better known as the Red Light District. Some people will of course spend a little more time here than others.
The Red Light District is an exclusive place with its many bars, sex shops, strip clubs and coffee shops, each with their own style, including three Bulldog Coffee Shops. The whole event starts after 23:00 and continues until 03:00 in the region where nice canals and delicious cafes are seen during the day.
De Oude Kerk
De Oude Kerk, the Old Church, is one of the oldest churches in the Netherlands. Located in the Red Light Distric, this church was built in 1306. In the Old Church, a door from the 1500s opens to the Iron Chapel, where many of the city’s privileges, including the freedom fees collected in 1275, are kept locked.
The tower, which was added in the 16th century and offers a wonderful view of the city, features a bell set made in 1658 and considered one of the best in the country. The church can be visited between 10.00-18.00 6 days a week, except Sunday, and 13.00-17.30 on Sundays. De Oude Kerk entrance fee 15 €, discounted ticket 10 €.
Netherlands’ national art gallery, Rijksmuseum is the most important museum of Amsterdam. The works of world famous artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jacob van Ruysdael are on display here. The most important art collections of the Netherlands such as 8 thousand works of art, sculptures, ship models, antique objects, local clothes are exhibited in the Rijksmuseum, built by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers in 1885 and reopened in 2012 by the Queen of the Netherlands Beatrix.
One of the most popular tourist activities in Amsterdam is to see this place. You need to spare at least 2 hours, even half a day is not enough if you are an art lover. The museum can be visited 7 days a week between 09.00-17.00. Rijksmuseum entrance fee 20 €, online ticket 19 €, under 18 free.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum, which exhibits the works of the Dutch artist Van Gogh, one of the most famous painters in the world, is among the most visited museums in the city. Here are more than 200 paintings, drawings and letters that make up the world’s largest Van Gogh collection. Around one and a half million visitors come to the magnificent Van Gogh Museum every year. Van Gogh Museum entrance fee is 19 €. This price is valid for online purchases only. The museum has a very heavy visitor traffic throughout the year, so we recommend buying tickets from the website in advance.
Anne Frank Museum
Overlooking the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House was dedicated to a Jewish girl called Anne Frank who wrote about World War II days in her diaries. The Frank and Van Pels families of Jews who fled the Nazis in Frankfurt in 1942 hid in a secret flat in this building for 25 months.
Anne Frank recorded in her diary what happened during her hiding here between 1942 and 1944. Anne Frank wrote her diary, which turned into a global bestseller just a few years after her death at the age of 15, but died just 2 months before the war ended. Most of the house is preserved as it was when Anne lived, and can be visited as a poignant monument of this tragic period of history.
Westerkerk (Western Church) is renowned as the church where former Queen Beatrix married in 1966. It was built in 1630 as a Renaissance church with its Gothic architecture. The tallest structure in Amsterdam, its 85-meter tower known as the Long John is very popular. Rembrandt’s tomb, once located outside the church, was later moved inside the church. The church can be visited 6 days a week between 11.00-15.00, except Sunday.
Rembrandt House Museum
The house where the world-famous Dutch painter Rembrandt lived between 1639-1660 was restored in 1906 and turned into a museum. The museum, which you can reach in 15 minutes by walking from Dam Square, has been hosting visitors since 1909. In the building, which is the home and workshop of the famous painter, there are approximately 250 works of drawings, sculptures and paintings, as well as personal belongings and tools he used. If you are a museum lover, add Rembrandt House Museum to your list.
The Heineken Museum, which is actually an experience rather than a museum and is known as the Heineken Experience, is a kind of interactive museum where you can see various entertaining presentations about Heineken, the country’s famous beer company. Used as the headquarters of Heineken until 1988, the building now provides information such as the history of Heineken and brewing. The museum, which is visited with great interest by tourists, also offers free beer.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Watch the brewing process and have a free beer at the Heineken Experience
Visit second-hand shops in Waterlooplein
Go to the Keukenhof Flower Fields (tulip fields) in April
Do not return without Gouda Cheese
Walk Amsterdam’s Jordaan Street and Grachtengordel Canals
Take photos and visit Oude Kerk in the Red Light District during the day; walk under neon lights at night
Check out the stalls in open air markets
Visit the tiny cafes and boutiques at Nine Little Streets and buy souvenirs
Drink coffee in coffee shops
Get lost in colors at the Bloemenmarkt flower market
Visit the torture and sex museums
Listen to a concert at the Concertgebouw
Drink liquor in the Wynand Focking liquor house
Ice skate in rivers and canals
See the Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein squares
Take photographs of the iguana and lizard statues
Tour the De Looier antiques market
Watch movies at the Eye Film Instituut
See Sunday Markt and Noordermarkt
Go to the sea at Blijburg beach