Amsterdam, sights and attractions.
Oude Kerk (translated from the Flemish Oude Kerk – Old Church) honestly deserves its name. The wooden chapel on the site of the present church dates back to 1213, and the construction of the stone church was consecrated in 1306.
On Amsterdam’s busiest street stands the Berlage Bourse, one of the capital’s most important architectural monuments. You could even say it’s the building that gave rise to the city’s distinctive architecture.
Another symbol of the country (in addition to tulips and coffee shops) is undoubtedly the windmill. Many of these structures stand all over the Netherlands, giving a special flavor to the surrounding landscape.
Canals of Amsterdam
One of the distinctive features of Amsterdam are its canals, which form four concentric semicircles encircling the Old Town. Because of them, as well as more than 1500 bridges and about 90 islands Amsterdam got its nickname “The Venice of the North”.
Keukenhof – is a fabulous park and flower kingdom, spread across an area of 32 hectares in the tulip region, more precisely in the vicinity of the town of Lisse between Amsterdam and The Hague, has long been called the “Garden of Europe”. Obviously, this title Kekenhof deservedly received for its unique vibrant beauty.
Royal Palace in Amsterdam
Royal Palace in Amsterdam was built in the 17th century. The construction of this architectural work of art, as often happened with them in those days, proceeded rather sluggishly: from 1648 until 1665.
Amsterdam’s nightlife is concentrated here on the picturesque Leidseplein. There are many clubs, theaters, cinemas, stores and art cafés. Street performers and musicians stay out in the open until the early morning.
Van Gogh Museum
The largest collection of Van Gogh’s works is in the Amsterdam Museum, built by the famous Dutch architect in the 1920s. There are more than 200 paintings and drawings, as well as letters of that famous artist’s correspondence with his brother.
The Nieuwekerk (or translated as “New Church”) is a famous landmark of Amsterdam that has become a true symbol of the Dutch capital. Funny enough, but the name of the church has a very conventional character.
Dam Square is the central square of Amsterdam and one of the most famous and important places in the city. Dam Square gets its name from the dam built on the River Amstel in the 13th century, and was formed from two squares, the Middeldam and the Platse.
The main purpose of a visit to the Rijksmuseum is, of course, to see the paintings of famous artists such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Vermeer and Rembrandt. The tour culminates with a visit to the “Gallery of Fame” where Rembrandt’s mesmerizing painting “The Night Watch” rises silently above the mortality of the world, surrounded by hundreds of tourists’ eyes.
Red Light Street
Red Light Street isn’t really a street – it’s an entire neighborhood affectionately called De Valletyes by the citizens themselves – once home to the city’s fortifications. Prostitutes came to love this place in the 14th century. It’s very central and not far from the port.
In the center of the Red Light District, in the former home of Jan Hartmann, a Catholic church, dubbed the Church of Our Beloved Lord in the Attic (Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder), survives. The organ and interior have been carefully restored; on the lower floors are paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries and church utensils.
The center of Dutch soccer life is the Amsterdam Arena. PSV fans, for example, might argue with this statement, but you can’t argue with history. The best club in the country – the century-old Ajax – received a new home in 1996. The most interesting soccer matches of the domestic championship are held here.
In the Middle Ages the béguinage was a kind of dormitory for Catholic women leading an almost monastic life, but not taking monastic vows; there were many of them in Flanders. In Amsterdam, the béguinage is located within the city limits and is an enclosed courtyard where the béguinages lived and prayed.
In honor of the blue stripe on the Dutch flag, symbolizing the sea and maritime traditions, an entire bridge was erected in Amsterdam. The Blaubrug has long since lost its original appearance. It is no longer the blue bridge, and it is not even as blue as it was in the 1600s.
Amsterdam Botanic Garden
The botanical garden, founded in Amsterdam in the 17th century, originally served the needs of apothecaries and doctors – they grew medicinal herbs here. Merchants brought plant seeds from all over the world to the port city and the collection grew steadily.
Royal splendor and at the same time very elegant, the Western Church of Amsterdam is not accidentally considered to be one of the most beautiful in the city. From the outside, its walls seem to be made of fragile Delft porcelain.
Wollendam is a small town near Amsterdam, which in the 19th century gained tourist fame. At that time it was a fishing village and also a port for shipment of cheese products from the nearby Edam to other Dutch cities.
Anne Frank’s House
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who died in the Belsen camp shortly before the end of the war and who kept a diary describing life in the asylum during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. In 1957, a foundation named after her opened a memorial museum in the very house where the Frank family hid from the Germans for two years.
Amsterdam. This word alone reeks of coolness, the smell of tulips and oil paints. Determine the purpose of your trip – that’s the first task of the tourist. Because it’s a city of many faces, and to see all of its attractions is not an easy task. Let’s try to break down the components of the possible trip.
Cathedrals of Amsterdam: Oude Kerk is the oldest church in Amsterdam. Rembrandt’s wife is buried here in the church cemetery. Westerkerk: In addition to being the tallest building in the city, it contains Rembrandt’s own tomb. The Begijnhof is one of the most famous sights in Amsterdam. Until now, the date of its creation is still unknown. The first mention dates back to 1346, and already then the nuns lived there. Plaques with biblical commandments have been preserved on the walls here.
Yes, the houses themselves are a sight to behold in Amsterdam. Look closely-they’re crooked! And it’s not an audacious idea of the architect, it’s a natural creation. The ground here is soft, and the houses are built with piles that rot over the years, so the buildings are sometimes even too noticeably sloped.
In addition to these unplanned distortions, each house has a well-founded slant – forward. No, not to surprise and frighten tourists, but for the convenience of moving. Doors and stairs do not imply the comfortable lifting of large things.
Look closely – on the roof you can see a hanging beam with a hook. That’s how newcomers pick up furniture.
Walking through the streets of Amsterdam, do not forget to look through the windows. Here it is not considered improper. On the contrary – the residents of the city do not hang curtains, so that passersby was more convenient to consider their homes.
When walking through the streets of Amsterdam, do not forget to look through the windows. Here it is not considered indecent. On the contrary, the inhabitants of the city do not hang curtains, so that passersby could see their homes more easily. In the old days, it was believed that honest people had nothing to hide, and if you hide behind a rag, it means you’re unclean. To this day, the exhibition of life in the window is one of the favorite pastimes of the Dutch.
Holland is the home of tulips. In the 17th century you could buy a huge house for one tulip bulb, flowers were a kind of currency. In memory of this crazy time, only a flower market is left. Check it out!
You can visit the red light district on your own, but an experienced guide knows a lot of interesting stories and facts that you can share with your friends afterwards. Lovers of painting will enjoy a tour of the Van Gogh Museum or the Rembrandt House Museum.
Amsterdam, sights and attractions.
What to see and do in Amsterdam?
When you plan a trip to Amsterdam, you may wonder: how many days are left for sightseeing in this beautiful city? How do you distribute your time wisely to see as many sights as possible?
Relying on our personal experience we will try to help you find answers to these questions.
Itinerary for Day 1: Strolling through the historic center
On the first day, most tourists traditionally go to explore the most interesting thing: the center of Amsterdam. It is there that the most popular attractions are concentrated. And so we will.
Don’t forget you can’t spend the whole first day exploring the city, as you have to spend a lot of time on airport transfers, checking into a hotel/hostel, and other primary matters. And not everyone arrives early in the morning.
We tried to compose a convenient walking route through the historic center, which would cover as many interesting places as possible.
Leidseplein (Leiden square).
Start your walk at Leidseplein. Why here? It’s a small square on the edge of the historic center and it’s a very good starting point to go deep into the old town.
Five streetcar lines intersect here, so if you’re staying away from the city center, it will be quite easy and convenient to get here. The square is very lively and there are many cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets around (e.g. the Wok to Walk establishment, which we wrote about in the article To Amsterdam cheap), and after the flight and check-in you can hardly eat out until then. In short, Leidseplein is the perfect place for a starting point of departure and to satisfy all needs.
From the square we move along Leidsestraat.
We cross the three main city canals (Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht) over bridges and reach the bridge over the Single canal, which forms a small square called Koningsplein. Here is the Frens Haringhandel shop, where you can try the famous Dutch fast food – a hot dog with a herring. The Flower Market on the right is worth a visit: a great selection of souvenirs at the lowest price in town, tulip bulbs, cheeses and free tasting – in general, in spite of the name, not only flowers are sold here, and the place is quite interesting.
Before you turn on the market, we recommend to walk a little to the left and admire the Gothic church De Kritjberg.
After passing through the Flower Market, we turn left and come to the quite famous landmark of the city – the Coin Tower.
Spuy Square and Beguinage
Next, we walk along Rokin Street and then turn to Spui Square.
Here we need to find a wooden door, which will lead you to a very interesting place – the closed courtyard Begijnhof. It is a very picturesque and quiet courtyard surrounded by typical Amsterdam houses. By the way, the place is not so popular among tourists and not many people, but the atmosphere here is amazing.
Then we go back to Rokin Street and head to the heart of Amsterdam – the main central Dam Square.
The main sites here are the New Church (Nieuwe kerk), the Royal Palace and the National Monument.
Red Light District (daytime) and Audeckerk Church
After admiring the expanses of the square, walk along Damstraat, then turn off at Voorburgwal and along the canal head for Amsterdam’s main church, the Audeckerk.
To get inside the church you need to pay 10 euros. Whether it is worth it or not is up to you to decide, but it is necessary to appreciate this oldest huge church at least from the side.
The block we are walking through, by the way, is the famous Red Light District. You will probably get here during the day or in the early evening and you will most likely catch yourself thinking that this place has nothing to do with what you usually expect to see in the Red Light District. Don’t be intimidated. That’s what it’s supposed to be. By day and by night, it’s two completely different places with a different atmosphere. The architectural splendor of the quarter is unlikely to be seen in the dark, but by day it’s perfect. There are a number of quite unusual and interesting museums nearby: the Museum of cannabis, marijuana and cannabis, the Museum of Prostitution, the Museum of Erotica. You can check out one of them if time permits.
We will return to the Red Light Streets, of course.
After walking to the end of the street we get to the spacious Prins Hendrikkade street.
At first, after the narrow streets along the canals, you will be quite unfamiliar here: too big and open space for Amsterdam. A huge architectural building right in the center is the Central Station.
Here is also the main transportation hub of the city, where three subway lines and many streetcar and bus routes intersect. You may have been here before, as the train from the airport arrives right here (and the bus to our starting point, Leidseplein Square). Read more about transportation in Amsterdam.
On the right side is another noteworthy site, the Church of St. Nicholas – it’s worth checking out.
Walking along the canals
In front of the Central Station, along Damrak Street, there is a pier, from which the pleasure boats on the canals of Amsterdam depart.
Be sure to take a tour of them! It takes about 60-75 minutes. For a standard multi-passenger covered boat you will need to pay 16 euros, for 19-20 euros you can take a small boat for 10-12 people. The driver of the boat will act as a guide. Learn more about the canals of Amsterdam.
The canal cruise ends where it began, so you will be back in front of the Central Station.
Right across from the pier is the Sex Museum, a popular attraction for visitors to the city. The entrance ticket costs only 5 euros, a walk around the museum takes 20-30 minutes. If you are interested, do not hesitate to visit.
In 10-15 minutes walk from the station is another interesting place – the Science Museum Nemo. A lot of interactive exhibits that you can touch, feel, click and get an idea of how the world works. However, this place is interesting not only as a museum.
The roof of its building is an open panoramic platform, which offers a good view of Amsterdam.
On this platform there is a cafe where you can order yourself a drink, take a break from the walk, and admire the views, waiting until it gets dark. A visit to the Nemo Museum, however, can be postponed until the third day. The program for the first day we have pretty full, and it depends on what time you arrived in town, checked into the hotel and started your journey.
Red Light District (in the evening).
After dusk begins to fall on the city, return to the Red Light District. This is where it all begins to get interesting, and Amsterdam opens up to you in a whole new way.
If you are visiting Amsterdam just for one day, if you are just passing through and do not need to check into a hotel/hostel, you can walk this route backwards, i.e. start your walk from the Central Station.
Amsterdam in 1 day – itinerary on the map
On the first day you will see the most important sights of Amsterdam, but of course not all of them.
The second day, we mainly propose to devote to the most famous museums of the city. They are concentrated in one place, which, oddly enough, is called the Museum Quarter.
If you live far from the city center, the best way is to go to the familiar Leidseplein. From there, it’s a five-minute walk to the Museum Quarter.
What museums are located here? First and foremost are: Rijksmuseum Art Museum (€17.5) and Van Gogh Museum (€17).
You can visit these museums as part of interesting tours, in the company of Russian-speaking art guides:
- Enjoy a visit to the Rijksmuseum with an art historian
- Understand Van Gogh: Learn about the artist’s life and work at the Van Gogh Museum
There’s also the Diamond Museum (€10), and nearby the Heineken Beer Museum (€16 for an online ticket and €18 if buying on the spot).
Prices, of course, bite – Amsterdam is not known for low prices for tourists, especially for the cultural and historical attractions. Depend on your budget and personal preferences.
Right in front of the Rijksmuseum is the famous I Amsterdam inscription, near which you will want to take a photo.
A few steps away from the Heineken Museum is the rather popular Albert Cape Market, where you can do a little shopping.
After visiting the museums, we suggest a stroll through the city’s most famous Wondela Park, located nearby.
What to see in Amsterdam on day 2 + map
On the third day, first thing in the morning, you will take a trip to the countryside, to the Saanse Schans, a museum village about 16 kilometers away from Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is rightly considered the “land of mills”. Saanse-Schans is a striking confirmation of this fact.
There are about 10 mills, each of them once produced their own products: oil, mustard, paint, spices, etc. In each of them you can enter, some for free and some for a few euros. In addition to the mills, the village has about 30 buildings, many of which are small museums and souvenir stores, including products that are produced in the mills. In short, a real paradise for tourists.
You can get to the village by train departing from Central Station, so this is where we need to arrive first.
After you return from the village to Central Station, you can go to the Nemo Museum, if you choose not to do so on the first day. In any case, the interesting places in town are still over.
Right behind the Central Station is the pier, from which the free ferry leaves for Amsterdam’s northern Noord district. The area itself does not have any interesting tourist attractions and is mostly residential. But someone may find it interesting to see a very different, non-touristy, Amsterdam.
From the Central Station you can also walk (or take a few streetcar stops) to perhaps the most unusual sight in the city, the Python Bridge.
The amazing places don’t end there. Have you ever drank a beer right in the shadow of a huge old mill? Then the De Goyeer Mill, which houses the Brouwerij’t IJ brewery bar, is the next stop on your Amsterdam trip.
Don’t forget that Holland is a small country. From Amsterdam you can also go to other cities: Rotterdam, The Hague, etc.