Editor’s Note: Travel is complicated right now, but we hope this will inspire your future travels.
Amsterdam’s endless canals, boutiques, coffee shops, world-famous art museums, stunning Dutch 19th-century architecture, iconic windmills and tulips are just a few reasons that visitors flock to this capital city of the Netherlands located in Europe.
Not sure what you should plan to see first? No worries. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 things to do in Amsterdam, from where to sit back and enjoy an Amstel to the best canal cruises.
You can book your tickets for these activities through our partner, Get Your Guide. You’ll get a great price and easy booking, and we’ll get a tiny commission for each purchase. Enjoy Amsterdam.
1. Anne Frank House
Located on the Prinsengracht canal, the Anne Frank House was named for the author of one of the most famous diaries, Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
During World War II Frank hid in this house from 1942 to1944 until she was discovered by the Nazis. Her diary perfectly chronicles her life in hiding while coming-of-age during the Holocaust.
2. Keukenhof’s Garden of Europe
Touted as the most beautiful spring garden in the world, Keukenhof, or the Garden of Europe, is located in the town of Lisse southwest of Amsterdam. Keukenhof boasts around 7 million flower bulbs on its verdant grounds.
If you can’t get enough flowers, be sure to visit the Bloemenmarkt on the Singel canal in Amsterdam. It’s the only floating flower market in the world.
3. Van Gogh Museum
One of the most famous art museums in the world, the Van Gogh Museum features the most impressive collection of works by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh.
Located a stone’s throw from the Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum features the artist’s permanent collection, including 500 drawings, 750 letters and more than 200 of his paintings.
If art is the music of your heart, the Rembrandt House Museum should also be included as a must-see on your trip to Amsterdam. Guided tours are encouraged at these museums to get the full experience.
Another must-see Amsterdam museum is the Dutch national museum Rijksmuseum, which pays homage to Amsterdam’s arts and history. It is located near the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in the Amsterdam South borough.
5. Exploring Amsterdam Canals
The Netherlands capital, Amsterdam, boasts over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of grachten (the Dutch word for canals) with three main canals and 1,500 bridges all constructed during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century.
The best way to see most of these canals is via a boat tour or canal cruises, but crossing these canals by bike is also encouraged.
6. Amsterdam Red Light District
Dating to the 14th century, the Amsterdam Red Light District is a tip of the hat to Dutch architecture and is located in the oldest part of Amsterdam. Keep in mind that the “red-light district” is also known as the pleasure grounds of the city, which means prostitution, a seedy nightlife and businesses centered around sex, such as strip clubs, adult theaters and shops.
Spanning 120 acres, Vondelpark is named for 17th-century playwright and poet Joost van den Vondel. This urban park is in the borough of Amsterdam-Zuid just west of the Museumplein.
Originally opened in 1865, Vondelpark is the most visited of parks in the Netherlands, with an average of 10 million visitors per year. Take a bike tour of Amsterdam to see it and more.
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the Netherlands outside of tulips are windmills. Today, 19 of the original historic windmills built in the18th century are protected under the UNESCO World Heritage status.
They are still standing, although some have had to be rebuilt due to weather. The best way to see these windmills is to hop a bus that will take you between Rotterdam and Kinderdijk.
In the city center of Amsterdam is the Jordaan district. Its inviting architecture and charming canal houses that weave through these tiny streets are the perfect backdrop of boutiques, celebrated restaurants and an unmatched ambiance.
For a more relaxed experience, the neighborhood of De Pijp or the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam offers the Heineken Experience in the one-time original brewery of the famous beer.
10. Royal Palace of Amsterdam
There are three palaces in the Netherlands, but the Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of the most opulent from the inside. From the outside, it’s a more stoic view, but stately and awe-inspiring as well.
Located in the center of Amsterdam, next to Nieuwe Kerk and on the west side of Dam Square, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam is another must-see.