Amsterdam. Photo by Canva

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Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, is a tourist destination known for its meandering canals, beautiful tulips, unending bike paths and master painters. According to an article in The New York Times published in August 2023, “the Dutch capital continues to lure visitors by the millions.” But do not let that spoil your trip. 

Come in April for the tulips or visit during the summer months when you’ll be part of the tourist brigade which has its own charm. Or you might like to take a trip during the slightly quieter winter months which has its own beauty.

Here are the unmissable sights in and around the magnetic city of Amsterdam, achievable even for vacationers on a short sojourn. 

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House. Photo by Ceneri

For most first-timers to Amsterdam, tourism starts at the Anne Frank House, as it did for us. This is the house where the young 15-year-old Anne wrote her world-famous diary, as they hid in The Secret Annex for a little over 2 years, documenting the life experiences of her and her family as they hid from the Nazis during the Second World War.

Anne Frank and the seven others who hid there were discovered by the Gestapo or Nazi police and sent to concentration camps. Except for Otto Frank, Anne’s father, everyone else including Anne became Holocaust victims and died in the camps. Thus, a visit to this house is a sober, heartbreaking but at the same time a life-affirming experience.

At this house museum, you can relive Anne Frank and her family’s life through exhibits of original items, photos, displays and film clips. See Anne’s diaries which have also been translated into many languages. Enter the Annex on the third floor, through the door disguised as a bookcase to get a first-hand picture of what their everyday life had been in 1942-1944. 

Find more information on visiting the Anne Frank House here. Remember to book your tickets well in advance and be aware that photography is prohibited inside the annex. 


Rijksmuseum. Photo by Canva
Rijksmuseum. Photo by Canva

There are many world-class art museums in Amsterdam and Rijksmuseum is where you should begin. This 800-year-old national museum of The Netherlands is an expansive treasure trove of Dutch art and history.

You can spend some glorious time traversing through its four floors enjoying Dutch paintings and prints, sculptures, decor items, fashion and applied art items such as porcelain and the famed Delftware.

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If you’re short on time, head to the Gallery of Honor on the second floor to see the Dutch masters of the Golden Age (1620-1680), which would mean Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Hals and many others. And the piece de resistance here is a gigantic painting occupying an entire wall, painted in oil by Rembrandt in 1642.

The painting is eye catchingly large and depicts the civil guards of Amsterdam during the day, belying its name. Because the painting gathered layers of dust and varnish over the years, it came to be known as “The Night Watch” in the late 18th century.

Find out more information on visiting Rijksmuseum here

The Rembrandt House Museum 

The Rembrandt House Museum. Photo by Canva
The Rembrandt House Museum. Photo by Canva

For a continuation of the aura of Rembrandt van Rijn, head to the Rembrandt House Museum. Located in Jodenbreestraat, or “Jewish Broad Street”, a bustling shopping street steeped in history. The residents of this street, primarily Jewish, were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis in World War 2, that emptied out this neighborhood. 

Although not Jewish, Rembrandt lived and worked in this Jewish quarter of Amsterdam from 1639 to 1658 in the house that is a museum today. Restored in the years 1907-1911 with furniture and decor items from the 17th century, the house is a time capsule of that era.

Rembrandt lived on the first floor with his first wife Saskia van Uylenburgh, and after her passing, with his second wife Hendrickje Stoffels. The second floor of the house was his workshop where he created his masterpiece paintings and he held classes in the attic of the building.

Get tickets here.

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum. Photo by irisphoto2

Now it will be time for you to visit the museum devoted to another influential Dutch master painter, Vincent Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum is highly popular as it houses the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works – more than 200 of his paintings are on display here.

Also on display are paintings by artists of his time such as Monet, Manet, Gauguin and others, all of whom were influenced by his work. 

There are two buildings interconnected by a glass entrance hall. On the first floor you can explore Van Gogh’s paintings chronologically as he evolved into being the brilliant post-Impressionist painter.

This is where you will see his iconic paintings such as Sunflowers and Irises, his incredible landscapes like Almond Blossom and Wheatfield with a Reaper and his amazing self-portraits among many other such luminary artworks. The second floor is dedicated to his letters, and about 500 drawings. 

Explore more about the Van Gogh Museum here

Amsterdam Museum

Conclude your Amsterdam museums tour with a stopover at the Amsterdam Museum, previously known as the Amsterdam Historical Museum. Quite interestingly the museum is located in a heritage building that has been continuously occupied by various peoples since the 15th century, chiefly a monastery and the City of Amsterdam orphanage that occupied this space from 1578 to 1960. 

Visit this museum to get a picture of the rich art, culture and heritage of Amsterdam exhibited through three floors of artifacts, paintings, toys, clothes, maps, books and sculptures.

Learn more about the Amsterdam Museum here.

Royal Palace 

Koninklijk Paleis in Amsterdam. Photo by Canva
Koninklijk Paleis in Amsterdam. Photo by Canva

To get a taste of Dutch royalty you have to visit the Royal Palace. Although Amsterdam has three palaces, the Royal Palace is the most extravagant one. Located in Dam Square in the center of the city, the palace remains the official working quarters for the king of Netherlands and is still used for royal events and ceremonies. Thus the palace is inaccessible to the public on those days. 

Do remember to book your tickets online to view the magnificent rooms and regal art and artifacts. Built in the 17th century in the Baroque style, the palace is another epitome of the Dutch Golden Age. 

Book your tickets here.

Canal Cruise 

Canals in Amsterdam. Photo by Canva
Canals in Amsterdam. Photo by Canva

Any trip to Amsterdam would be remiss without a tour of its famous canals, which have led to the city being known as “Venice of the North.” The three main canals, dug in the 17th century ring the city in concentric circles and are flanked by historic buildings, churches, monuments, mansions and gardens. Together they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

We boarded the boat for our canal cruise near the Anne Frank House in Prinsengracht and embarked on a lovely 75-minute trip through the iconic waters. The boat made its way through the canals, passing underneath many quaint bridges that crisscross the water connecting streets on either side.

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The guide pointed out the many historic sights, some of which we had already visited like the museums. Then we saw Centraal Station, the main railway station of Amsterdam, notable for its Gothic Revival architectural style and highly similar to the Rijksmuseum, designed as they were by the same architect, Pierre Cuypers. Of note was also the Sea Palace Chinese restaurant, a floating eatery built in the pagoda style in 1984. 

Get your canal cruise tickets here.  

Day Trips from Amsterdam 

Even a short vacation becomes doubly memorable if you are able to squeeze in a few excursions. Here are the two most popular ones that can easily be added to your trip:


Keukenhof Gardens⁠. Photo by Canva
Keukenhof Gardens⁠. Photo by Canva

If you’re in the land of tulips, you must visit a tulip garden if you’re lucky enough to be there in March-May. The place to go to would be Keukenhof, a botanical garden in Lisse and reachable quickly by train or bus or by guided day trip tours. Keep in mind the garden is open only for about 9 – 10 weeks. 

Keukenhof had a humble beginning as a kitchen garden of a 15th-century castle and was landscape designed along with the castle grounds in the 19th century into the massive garden of today. And it was in 1949 when the first tulip bulbs were planted in Keukenhof.

Head here to be mesmerized by the gorgeous tulips, inimitable flower displays and colorful riots of a variety of spring flowers.

Find out more about Keukenhof here

Windmill Trip

Zaanse Schans Windmills⁠⁠. Photo by Canva
Zaanse Schans Windmills⁠⁠. Photo by Canva

While are in Amsterdam, you should also visit the Dutch countryside and take a tour of its famous windmills. We traveled to Zaanse Schans, a mere 17 minutes away by local train from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.

Then we walked for about 10 minutes through a residential neighborhood of quaint wooden houses, barns, local workshops, pedestrian footbridges and of course, windmills, all very picture-perfect under a shining blue sky above and the jewel-like River Zaan below. 

The highlight of the trip was the tour to see the intricacies of a working windmill. Also fascinating was a stop by a clog factory to see how the famous Dutch wooden shoes were made. The trip truly made us feel as if we had stepped into 18th and 19th-century Dutch life.

All you need to know about Zaanse Schans is here.

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