Most people who visit the Netherlands spend some time in its capital, Amsterdam. With its historical monuments, ample museums and a plethora of dining opportunities, there is plenty to keep you entertained.
Amsterdam in a Nutshell
What once began as a small fishing village has since grown into the biggest Dutch city. A growth that has brought a mix of 17th-century grandeur and modern day hipness with it. Music lovers flock to the concert halls - offering a stage to both global and local talent - while pleasure seekers head to Amsterdam’s more risqué side.
Amsterdam’s layout is designed around its famous canal district. As you crane your neck to take in all the tall, skinny canal houses, you’ll appreciate the area in full. Behind and between these façades, you’ll find glimpses of the city's past, designer boutiques and delicious restaurants and cafes.
This is a city built for exploring, but keep your ears tuned for bike bells. Cycling is key to the country’s character, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Amsterdam city center.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Ask locals what you should do while visiting Amsterdam, and you’ll get loads of answers. An excellent way to get your bearings is a trip on the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus. Or if you’d prefer to view the Amsterdam city center from the water, try one of the canal cruises. They depart throughout the day and into the evening.
Museums are a must, and in Amsterdam, you will be spoiled for choice. You could spend a day (or more!) at the largest art museum in the country, the Rijksmuseum. Or, if you prefer something a little smaller – but no less impressive– try the Van Gogh Museum. You could also take in photography at FOAM, cats at the KattenKabinet (‘Cat Cabinet’) and handbags at the Museum of Bags and Purses.
Step foot in the cramped and somber rooms of the Anne Frank House. Meander through the floating flower market. Feel inspired and artistic at Het Rembrandthuis (‘Rembrandt House Museum’). Be sure to also add the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam (‘Royal Palace’), located at Dam Square, to your to-do list. When not being used for royal events, the impressive interiors are often open to the public. And if you need a break from the hustle and bustle, head to the Vondelpark - a large city park loved by Amsterdam's locals.
Amsterdam city center is located a mere 15-20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. So, you won't have to wait long before enjoying the city’s sights and sounds. Once there, Amsterdam is ideal to be explored by foot – or bike. However, if you would like to pack in as much as you can, try utilizing the public transport system. Your options include trains, trams, metro, ferries and buses. And if you would like to head further afield: trains depart regularly from Amsterdam Central Station – and the capital’s other stations – to destinations across the country.