As the heart of the Netherlands, Amsterdam gives an exuberant experience for anyone who chooses the city as their destination. Most people think about its Red-Light District when they hear the name Amsterdam without knowing about the city’s rich past.
It might not have the windmills and fields of tulips that have made the country so famous, but Amsterdam’s historical buildings and landmarks, as well as its long canals, have made it a must for travelers who want a truly versatile destination.
From its baroque-inspired architecture to priceless works of art by the best Dutch painters to have ever lived, Amsterdam should be a must on everyone’s bucket list.
10 Our Lord In The Attic Museum
For an attraction that’s far from usual, Our Lord In The Attic Museum is a remnant of the city’s struggle during the 17th century. The main house was built in 1640, during the Eighty Years War, when it was forbidden to practice the Catholic faith in public spaces. So, a wealthy merchant commissioned a “hidden church” to be built in the attic during the early 1660s, which is the reason behind its name.
Both the house and church are now entirely open to the public for anyone who wants to walk down its walkways and admire the perfectly-preserved interiors.
9 Anne Frank House
During the WWII persecution against the Jewish community, Amsterdam ended up being a hiding place for many people during the war, most notably Anne Frank.
The attic of an old canal house located in the center of the city became a small safe haven for the Franks and other people who were trying to remain hidden from the German forces, receiving the name “the Secret Annex.” And it’s also the exact place where Anne’s diaries were later found.
The house has since been turned into a museum, and it’s been preserved to honor the memory of both Anne herself and all the Jewish people who lost their lives as a result of the war.
8 Rembrandt House Museum
For art lovers, and students wanting to find inspiration from the work of great artists, Amsterdam is home to many exhibits that display some of their most gorgeous pieces. And one of the must-see galleries is the Rembrandt House Museum.
Located right behind the Red-Light District and a short walk from Dam Square, the house not only keeps on display many of Rembrandt’s most personal work but was once also the painter’s home and studio for 20 years. It wasn’t until 1911 that the house was preserved and turned into a museum.
It offers guided tours along Rembrandt’s daily footsteps throughout his “glory years”, allowing visitors to live like he once lived.
7 Van Gogh Museum
About half an hour from Rembrandt’s house, there’s also a more modern museum that pays homage to the Dutch master of impressionism: Vincent van Gogh.
The Van Gogh Museum is famous for its unique architecture, and it holds several permanent exhibits that show the painter’s life and work, with masterpieces such as Sunflowers, The Bedroom, and many self-portraits. It also has a wing dedicated to retelling Van Gogh’s story: from his humble beginnings in Zundert, to turning painting into a passion and his untimely death.
To finish off strong with Amsterdam’s best museums, at just a 5-minute walk from the Van Gogh Museum, it’s the Netherlands’ biggest museum, the Rijksmuseum,
Unlike the previous two, which focussed only on a single painter’s work, the Rijksmuseum is home to over 8,000 works of art and artifacts that tell 800 years of Dutch history. All complete with different galleries and exhibits dedicated to each one of the collections, so Vermeer’s paintings won’t be seen among the 20th century artifacts.
And, for those who only come for the cream of the crop, the museum has a special gallery reserved for the best paintings housed in the building.
5 Royal Palace
Built in 1650 as a place that could reflect Amsterdam’s wealth and power during the 17th century, the Royal Palace serves as one of the three major palaces that are available to the Dutch monarchs within the Netherlands region.
Although it’s a housing space for the royalty, the palace is also open to visits with guided tours and free-roam entry, as long as there aren’t any major events taking place or isn’t currently being used by anyone in the royal family.
Either way, being able to take a couple of pictures of the palace’s facade and admire the architecture is more than reason enough for passing through while walking or riding a bike along Amsterdam’s canals.
4 Grand Hotel Amrâth
Amsterdam is filled with many great stay options when choosing to visit and admire its beautiful art and rich history. From small canal houses to extravagant hotels, there’s a place fit for everyone.
However, a stay in Amsterdam can also be an attraction upon itself, as the Grand Hotel Amrâth in Amsterdam is a five-star hotel built over an old shipping house, mixing modern-age commodities with 20th-century charm. Due to being once a shipping house, the Amrâth has a great view of the canal, and it’s only a walk away from places like the NEMO Science Museum and The Old Church.
3 Leidseplein Square
As a more open and active destination, Leidseplein is the busiest square in Amsterdam, especially during the nighttime. There are many shops, restaurants, and bars that surround it, as well as being directly outside the Rijksmuseum, so it’s the perfect gathering place after a rough day of sightseeing through Amsterdam and not looking like an obvious tourist.
2 Hortus Botanicus
Amsterdam can be a very crowded city sometimes due to the high volume of people and density of buildings. This is why it’s so nice that there’s a place where one can sit down, take a deep breath, and admire a beautiful array of botanical life.
That’s exactly what Hortus Botanicus offers, as it has cemented itself as both a place of study and care, and a historical attraction. And its history is as rich as the still-growing collection of over 6,000 species of unique plants. The Hortus came to be from Amsterdam’s need for a reliable source of medical plants during the plague epidemic of the 17th century, and it slowly grew into the size it is today.
1 Tuschinski Theater
Amsterdam has Art Deco fans covered, housing one of the oldest cinemas in the country. The Tuschinski Theater opened its doors in 1921, and after many renovations, it still remains as active as it was when it first opened. However, the look doesn’t match what is shown on the screens, as the Tuschinski is one of Amsterdam’s release cinemas, but it stands with unmatched decoration and comfort above the others.