It is Amsterdam's unique cultural environment
that attracts numerous travelers from around the world, as Amsterdam is a city with an edge. It mixes the old with the new,
Calvinism with the sexual revolution, conservatism with laissez-faire and
yet it retains the practical sensibility that is the hallmark of Dutch society.
Many travelers connecting to other destinations in Europe via Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, often take the opportunity to spend a day
exploring Amsterdam. Be warned, the city is at its best at night
and it has too many interesting attractions to wedge into a short daytime visit.
Amsterdam has numerous tourist attractions and
attempting to see all of them would take too much time and energy.
Thankfully, some of the attractions are of minor importance and others are
incredibly touristy. Of the remainder, some are tacky, unusual, humorous (like the
Sex Museum and the Erotic Museum (think Red Light District)), or niche
attractions that appeal to a modest number of travelers. The best places to visit in
Amsterdam, however, are relatively close
together and the city is easy tour on foot or using public transportation.
Much of your time will be spent in the 17th century Canal District of
Amsterdam, an area shaped like a half-moon that is enclosed by nested rings
of canals. The Canal District was named a UNESCO World Heritage site
in 2010. Creating the "ring" of canals to the west and south of the Old Town
involved draining swampland, creating canals and filling their edges with
what was once a relatively uniform set of gabled townhouse.
The Canal Ring of Amsterdam (Grachtengordel), which is comprised of over 160
canals, is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year (2013).
Canal District of Amsterdam is one of the most popular sections of the city
for tourism. If you are interested in more information about the
canals and their lovely houses, visit the
Het Grachtenhuis , a museum
dedicated to the Canal District (located at Herhngracht 386).
Our recommendations for the best places to visit in Amsterdam are focused on twelve
of the city’s many attractions, including the city's two “must sees” - the
Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum,
which we describe below.
Our recommendations for the other "best places to visit in Amsterdam" can be found in the menu at
the right edge of this page. We should note that the relatively new
Heineken Experience claims to be
the most popular attraction in town, but we think that title is actually
held by the bars in Amsterdam's
Red Light District.
Guide to the Best Places to Visit in
The Anne Frank House (267 Prinsengracht) is, perhaps, the most famous
attraction in Amsterdam. When you approach the house from Prinsengracht,
you may wonder where the Anne Frank House is located, as, in many parts
of the world, the photographs and
images associated with the Anne Frank Huis are of the back of
the Annex which is not visible from the entrance, which faces
The front of the house serves as the entrance to the property and is where Otto Frank once
operated his business. The back part of the property, called the
Secret Annex, is where the family lived in hiding during the early years of
World War II.
Marie ("Anne") Frank was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1929, but spent the
majority of her life in Amsterdam. Although born a German citizen, her
Jewish heritage caused the loss of her citizenship. Her family had
originally moved the Netherlands to avoid the perils of being a Jew in
Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, the Netherlands were occupied by Germany
the Anne Frank House
is a sobering experience that is made even more melancholy by the knowledge
that the fifteen-year old Anne Frank died from typhoid shortly before her concentration camp was
liberated near the end of World War II. Some say she died of a broken heart,
mistakenly believing her entire family had preceded her in death.
Anne Frank's mother died in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland and this
was the camp where she,
her husband Otto and her daughters were originally imprisoned.
Margot and Anne were later transferred to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration
Camp in northwestern Germany where both died.
Margot, succumbed to the same epidemic as Anne, preceding her in death by
several weeks. Her father Otto Frank was liberated from Auschwitz and was the only member of
the Frank family to survive the Holocaust.
As you walk from room to room at the Anne Frank House, you will begin to
feel that you are an observer watching the unfolding of a terror-filled story.
Touring the house, reading the placards, and watching the short films takes
about an hour. You will be mentally exhausted by the time you finish. There
is a comfortable cafeteria offering food and beverages just before the exit.
Arrive near opening or closing times, as the crowds during the rest of the
day (even in off-season) can be significant and the wait lengthy.
The building is small and the rooms can be very crowded during peak hours in
Visiting the Anne Frank Huis is not for the infirm or physically challenged. There is only one
route through the house and most visitors, riveted by the displays, take
their time while learning the significance of this tribute to bravery in the
face of repression.
There are many steep stairways and narrow corridors to contend with
in the residence that reflect the “hidden” nature of Frank
Family's sanctuary. The older section of the Anne Frank House which includes
the Secret Annex, is not accessible to wheelchair users.
In the summer of 2010, the chestnut tree that Anne Frank could see from
the secret attic and wrote about several times, finally succumbed to old age
and disease after 150 years. Saplings from the tree have been donated
to locations around the world as a living remembrance of Anne
Frank's courage when confronted by the horror of the Holocaust
For detailed information on visiting, see the Anne Frank House
website. In addition to practical information for your
visit, it provides a detailed history of Anne Frank's life.
After seven months during which it was
totally renovated, the Van Gogh
Museum reopened on May 1, 2013 with a jubilee exhibition titled "Van Gogh
at work" celebrating the artist's 160th birthday. The exhibition
runs until 12 January 2014. See the
Museum website for details on its "new" look and the exhibition.
The Van Gogh Museum is the "crown jewel" of Amsterdam's art museums and one of the most popular attraction in the city.
The museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh's
paintings (over 200), drawings (500) and letters (700), is located in close proximity to the
Stedelijk Museum, also on the Museumplein.
You can walk to the Museumplein from the Dam in about thirty minutes or
arrive in ten minutes by hopping a local streetcar. (See our section on
information on the efficient public transportation network in
We recommend that you do not miss the chance to see the amazing history of artistic
accomplishments contained in this collection.
Van Gogh’s works are displayed chronologically and the progression through
his keynote color
techniques is astounding, showing the artist’s talent for innovation and his
fearless attitude towards change. Changes in the sequencing of the
collection may occur based on exhibitions and the aspects of Van Gogh's work
they may emphasize.
As his painting techniques evolved through Van Gogh's life, they appear to
reflect various stages of his dementia. All of Van Gogh's works
displayed in the Museum are outstanding. The range of style is so diverse
that it is difficult to understand how these paintings were created by the
same artist. Perhaps there were several talented personalities inside of
Vincent van Gogh.
The Museum is usually packed with visitors, but the display rooms are
large and handle the crowds well.
There is platform seating in the center of
most rooms for those who want to study the works and for those who are just
plain tired of walking.
The official website of Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum can be found
The website has an excellent biography of
Van Gogh and photographs of many of his most famous paintings. There
is a lot to see here and you might want to use the website to find your
favorites and their locations before your visit.
Advance tickets can be purchased online at this page of the
Museum's website .
The museum is accessible to the disabled. Lifts serve every floor and
wheelchairs are available free of charge.
For More of The Best Places To Visit in Amsterdam:
for the next page of our Amsterdam Guide, which covers the Rijksmuseum, The Dam, the Royal Palace, the Red Light District and
the Heineken Experience.
Here - for Amsterdam's Flower Market, Canal Boat Rides, the Stedelijk Museum, Nemo
Science Center, Artis Royal Zoo, Rembrandt House and the Hermitage Amsterdam.
Or Choose our section on Things Travelers Need to Know about
Visiting Amsterdam. This is the section where we cover travel tips such as transportation, lodging, drinking age
(including the "smoking" age), dining
tips, lodging, shopping, weather, day trips and more.
For more photos of the sights in Amsterdam,
Return to the
Best Places to Visit in the Netherlands
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.