With all of the attractions of Amsterdam on offer, how can you choose what to see and do? The canal-ringed city of Amsterdam is a world-famous tourist destination, sought out by libertines and artists and scholars for ages. Deciding on which attractions of Amsterdam to visit is a worthy challenge, but be sure to hit all the spots on this list to avoid missing out on a great adventure in one of the world’s coolest cities.
1. Van Gogh Museum
This interesting building houses the world’s largest collection of works by the renowned artist and is always one of the most popular attractions of Amsterdam. There are more than 800 paintings and drawings on display for art lovers to admire. Plan on spending 3 to 4 hours perusing the master’s works. Helpful hint: Buy your tickets online to save money and to avoid the long lines at the entrance.
2. Canal Tour
One of the features that make Amsterdam immediately recognizable is the canal system. There’s no better way to see the city than by booking a canal tour. The dedicated boats offer hop on/hop off service to make browsing the sights of Amsterdam easy. Key points: historic houses line the Herengracht, and there are too many boutique-shopping areas to miss. Keep an eye out for high quality bargains.
3. Red Light District
Whether you’re “shopping” or just “browsing,” the legendary Red Light District is one of the must-see places to visit in Amsterdam. The area is generally safe for all tourists, except for the easily shocked or embarrassed. Satisfy your curiosity by seeing the ladies on display in the glass windows lining the streets. Come at night to see the streets lit up, or come by day to see the Oede Kerk and the surrounding bars and restaurants. Helpful hint: photographing the ladies is strictly forbidden!
4. The Coffee Houses
My list would be remiss to leave out one of the most famous attractions in Amsterdam: the coffee houses. Yes, it’s true – you can legally buy and smoke marijuana in Amsterdam’s coffee shops. But even if you’re not a smoker, drop by one of the many local coffee shops just to enjoy live music, live sports on television, and to soak up the atmosphere. Warning: may result in contact high!
5. Museum of Handbags and Purses
Amsterdam is a great city for visiting museums, but sometimes you need a lighter diversion. Fashionistas really must stop by the Museum of Handbags and Purses and spend an hour perusing bags from the 1600s up through today. Though the collection is professionally curated and well maintained, it is a more fun take on history. The museum also offers bags for sale.
6. Heineken Tour
At some point, you’ll be ready to take a break from the Amsterdam tourist attractions and have a beer. Why not combine an interesting tour at the Heineken Experience with your beer? The 1.5-hour tour includes history of the Heineken family, but is also loaded with interactive activities and the ticket price includes 3 free beers. This is more than a factory tour with a monotone guide; what other beer company tour offers a DJ experience, music videos, and designing your own labels? Helpful hint: buy tickets online to avoid the long lines.
7. Anne Frank House
Taking a more serious turn, head to the Prinsengracht and visit the Anne Frank House. The house where Anne Frank and others were in hiding during WWII is now a museum, and her famous diary was written here. This is another place to book for online because this is one of the attractions of Amsterdam that has the longest queues.
8. Concertgebouw Orchestra Hall
Music lovers will enjoy a visit to this venue. The building itself is world-renowned for its amazing acoustics and aesthetics, and visitors can enjoy a free concert every Wednesday (September through June) at 12:30. Normally classical music acts prevail, but pay attention to the calendar for the occasional pop artist to show up.
9. Rembrandt House
Wrap up your Amsterdam visit just where you started, paying homage to one of art’s grand masters. Visit the Rembrandt House to see the home of Rembrandt van Rijk and experience the rooms where he created his greatest works. Helpful hint: plan your schedule to see the etching demonstration – well worth the time!
This list, of course, doesn’t limit your enjoyment of Amsterdam. Consider this a starting point, and build your own adventure built around the many attractions of Amsterdam. Enjoy! Where would you head first?