12 Free Things That You Must See In Amsterdam

These 12 things are really a must see in Amsterdam! Whether you’re visiting the Dutch capital for just one day or 3 days, you don’t need your wallet to experience these amazing highlights.

12 | Wake Me Up When I’m Famous Bench

The best Instagram-spot in Amsterdam.

In Pisa, people pose leaning against the leaning tower, so they seem to avoid it falling over on a picture. In London, tourists walk along the pedestrian crossing of Abbey Road. In New York, people pretend to squeeze the Statue of Liberty between their fingers. And in Amsterdam, one can sit on the super popular Wake Me Up When I’m Famous bench.

One of the newest things to see in Amsterdam is this bench in De Pijp area. A young local painter made this with his father. He once stated: “I also see it as a motto for this time, for my generation. Everyone wants to become famous, but without putting in too much effort. And that seems to be within reach via social media.

Just around the corner you can see the inside of a strip club & brothel during the Amsterdam Brothel Tour from a local sex worker.

Strip club BonTon Amsterdam
The inside of the popular BonTon strip club.

“Real” customers are never present during the day. The perfect opportunity to explain more about legal sex work in the Netherlands in this exclusive place. Super interesting to hear this from a real sex worker. During the Amsterdam Brothel Tour she’ll show you around and share everything there is to know about prostitution.

11 | Amsterdam North

Free must see in Amsterdam ADAM Tower
The Amsterdam Tower has a great observation deck with swings on the right side.

The new and upcoming part of Amsterdam that offer plenty to see and experience. Amsterdam North is located on the other end of the IJ river behind Amsterdam Central Station. Right across the IJ behind central station stands the ADAM tower with an awesome lookout deck for some great views of Amsterdam’s medieval city center. If you are looking for more thrill, they also have Europe’s highest over the edge swing. It’s super cool!

In the basement is Amsterdam’s best techno club: Shelter. This is where you can have a proper party until the morning and it’s a place where both Amsterdammers as tourists come.

The futuristic Eye Film Museum.

In front of the ADAM Tower stands the EYE Museum, a museum dedicated to film. Besides a changing exhibition they also have several movie theatres that show current and classic movies.

A bit farther away lays the NDSM wharf. This former industrial ship wharf is now the creative hotspot of Amsterdam. You can get there via a 15 minute free ferry trip from behind Amsterdam Central Station. The area has kept it’s industrial look and street art can be found everywhere. There are also plenty of cool bars and terraces with plenty of sun time. During the summer many festivals take place in this area.

10 | Homomonument

Free must see in Amsterdam Homomonument
One of the three triangles on the monument enters the water behind the Wester Church.

The homomonument (gay monument) behind the Wester Church was the first monument dedicated to homosexuals in the world. To this day it still is the largest one. The monument is based on the pink triangle symbol that German gay prisoners were forced to wear in German concentration camps. This policy was never implemented in the Netherlands. The 3 points of the larger triangle each point to an important location. One to the Anne Frank House, another to the WW2 memorial on Dam Square and the third to COC Amsterdam, a gay rights activist groups established in 1946.

During our Amsterdam History Tour we’ll visit this spot and tell you more about it.

9 | Museum Square

free must see in Amsterdam Museum Square
In the front Museum Square, in the back the Rijksmuseum.

Home to two of the world’s best museums; The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands. Inside you get to see a collection spanning from the year 1200 to the present. The collection includes masterpieces by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated completely to master painter and has the largest collection of his paintings in the world. But wait, there’s more…

At Museum Square you also find the Stedelijk Museum, the Moco Museum and the Diamant Museum. And, it’s a great place for sunbathing between April and September.

The Van Gogh Museum on Museum Square.

The Stedelijk Museum is dedicated to contemporary and modern art from the 20th and 21th century. At Moko they also present modern and contemporary art, but also street art from artists like Banksy. Diamant Museum Amsterdam is the only diamond museum in Europe and present 400 years of diamond history. All in all plenty to choose from at Museum Square.

MORE MUSEUMS >

8 | Albert Cuyp Market

Free must see in Amsterdam Albert Cuyp markt
At the Albert Cuyp Market you can buy pretty much anything that springs to mind.

The Albert Cuyp Market is the busiest and largest daytime market in the Netherlands. It is located in the southern part of Amsterdam in area known as “De Pijp”. The market itself is a reflection of the multicultural city with many products on offer that originally come from Suriname, Morocco, Turkey, and the Antilles. The Albert Cuyp Market is open 6 days a week.

7 | Nine Streets

One of the cozy nine streets with boutique shops.

“De 9 straatjes” or the nine streets in English is a shopping area located in the city centre close to Dam Square. It has a lot of small boutique and fashion shops. In the 1990’s the owners of shops in this area decided to band together to give their area a brand name so it would stand out against the more known areas as the Jordaan and city centre. And not without succes, these days every Amsterdammer knows about the 9 streets and the quality type of shopping one can do there. Next to the boutique shops, you can also find many nice little restaurants and bars here.

6 | Skinny Bridge & Amstel River

The Amstel River in the summer time.

The Amstel River is Amsterdam’s founding river. Without it the city wouldn’t exist or have its name; Amstel (river) -dam (to stop the river). During the summer time there are many places along the Amstel River bank where people relax and have a swim.

Free must see in Amsterdam
The “Skinny” Bridge gets decorated with fresh tulips every year.

Fun fact: Did you know that blue tulips do not exist? Not even at Amsterdam’s Flower Market.

The most famous bridge in Amsterdam is the so called skinny bridge (magere brug in Dutch). The design is that of an Old Dutch wooden bridge that is balanced through a double-swipe mechanism. Story has it that the bridge was named after two sisters called Mager (skinny) how built the bridge so they could more easily reach each other. What is more likely though is that it got the name skinny because it was originally very hard for just 2 pedestrians to pass each other on the thin bridge.

5 | Dam Square

Free must see in Amsterdam Dam Square
The Royal Dutch Palace on Dam Square.

Amsterdam’s main square is called Dam Square and has some of the top tourist attractions including the Royal Palace, The New Church, Madame Tussauds Amsterdam and the World War II memorial. The Royal Palace is still in active use during special occasions. When not in use the palace is open to the public and we would advice anyone who’s visiting Amsterdam to have a look inside. Dam Square is a historic location with great sights, but to really get a feel for the significance of this place you should join our Amsterdam History Tour where experienced story tellers bring history to life.

4 | Red Light District

Must see in Amsterdam Red Light District
Amsterdam Red Light District famous street.

The most famous part of Amsterdam with its many window brothels and coffeeshops. But did you know that the area is actually located in the oldest part of town? Sinds the beginnings of Amsterdam prostitution and entertainment have been a part of this area as sailors left their ships in the old harbour and went looking for fun. It is therefor fitting that Amsterdam’s oldest building also stands in this area: The Old Church. Right next to it stand window brothels and a monument dedicated to sex workers worldwide. Around the corner one can find a daycare just next to a bunch of windows. Quite a neighbourhood!

amsterdam statues
Respect sex workers around the world.

Other highlights in this part of town are Chinatown, the Nieuwmarkt (New Market Square), world’s first condom shop, Amsterdam Stock Exchange, Dutch brown bars, sex shows, tiny alleys, Prostitution Information Centre, Amsterdam’s oldest canal, De Waag, the Museum Of Prostitution and whatnot.

To get a true feeling of this notorious neighbourhood we’d advice anyone who plans on visiting to take our Red Light District tour. By joining a tour from our licensed guides you know that you’re getting the right information. It’s also a great way to meet other people and to burn more than 400 calories.

3 | Begijnhof

Begijnhof Amsterdam
An oasis of peace in the heart of Amsterdam.

The Begijnhof is medieval courtyard right in the center of Amsterdam. A peaceful oases away from the city bustle. Inside you’ll find the famous wooden house which is one of the only two remaining completely wooden structures in Amsterdam. inside the “hofje” there are also two churches, the English Reformed Church and the catholic Houten Huys.

2 | Anne Frank Statue & Westerkerk

amsterdam westerkerk
The famous Wester Church tower.

The Westerkerk (Western Church) is Amsterdam’s largest purpose built protestant church, the Old Church and New Church were originally both Catholic. Our local guides tell you more about it during our Amsterdam History Tours.

anne frank statue
The Anne Frank statue in the centre of Amsterdam.

The Anne Frank house is actually located to the left of the Western Church and Anne Frank writes about the church bells in her diary. Fittingly a statue in her remembrance stands to the right side of the Wester Church. During our Amsterdam History Tour we’ll discuss both the story of Anne and the plight of all the jews in The Netherlands.

Did you know there is another Anne Frank statue in Amsterdam? It’s located in De Rivierenbuurt – a neighbourhood where she lived before she had to hide for the Nazis.

1 | Canals

Free must see in Amsterdam city centre

The UNESCO canal-ring is absolutely the best must see in Amsterdam. This is one of the main highlights that make this city. And who doesn’t love to see houseboats, tiny bridges and the wonderful Dutch canals? There are several options for exploring Amsterdam’s amazing canals. One is of course free, and that is by foot. But since there are around 75 kilometers of canals in Amsterdam most people choose a boat tour. You could take one of the larger tour boats or book a smaller boat for a more intimate experience. Via the link below we present a selection of the best options.

BOAT TOURS >

Have you been to the Dutch capital before and do you know really good highlights that others have to see? Share them in the comment section below.

Also read 16x What To See in Amsterdam and 10 Amsterdam City Tours

MORE AMSTERDAM TIPS >

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.