What To See In Amsterdam | 16 Tips
Amsterdam is probably one of the densest cultural spots in the world so you might be thinking “what to see in Amsterdam?”. This list contains hidden gems and some other must-sees that the city has to offer.
This wooden Dutch church was originally constructed as a temporary church back in 1668. The church was constructed with haste because the Amsterdam canal ring was expanding rapidly at the time, which meant more churchgoers that needed to be served. Temporary became permanent.
These days the church functions as a multipurpose building. It hosts office spaces and an art gallery area, which can be visited for free during office hours. The larger midsection of the building often host chamber music events.
Fun fact: during Napoleons visit in 1811 this church supposedly functioned as the stable for his horses.
One of the six statues that suddenly appeared in Amsterdam. The maker has remained anonymous. The unknown sculptor placed his statues in the citiy in the 80’s and 90’s in the dead of night, without a prior notification.
Het Boomzagertje (the small tree cutter) is a touching little statue of a man who puts his saw in the tree. 25 years have passed since it first appeared and the tree now encapsulates the statues feet and saw.
Fun rumor: some people speculated that the former queen of the Netherlands made the statues, because one of them had a face that looked like the one of her husband.
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Beer from Amsterdam has conquered the world (Heineken, Amstel), but if you truly want to taste some locally brewed beer you should visit Brouwerij ‘t IJ. They offer a wide range of 25 types of beers!
This brewery is located in a former bathhouse next to one of Amsterdam’s last remaining old school windmills. This brewery also has amazing terrace that fills up after each workday during the summer season. Long tables with beer, whine or juice make for an informal atmosphere where you easily meet new people.
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Café In t’ Aepjen
This café is located in the Red Light District, in an old wooden house, one of the oldest homes in Amsterdam! It dates back all the way to 1544. This was the sailor hot spot for centuries. Back in the day sailors brought back all kinds of exotic animals from their journeys and on more then one occasion these animals were used to pay the bar tab.
The owner of the café kept the monkeys he got in little cages as entertainment so his guests had what to see in Amsterdam. This explains the name of Café In T’ Aepjen (Monkey). Besides a great historical setting they also serve some quality Dutch Jenever (gin). A must visit!
Sometimes we pass by this amazing Dutch bar during our Amsterdam Red Light District Tours.
In 1911 Chinese shipping stokers were the first Chinese to settle in Amsterdam. These days Amsterdam’s Chinatown is considered to be the oldest Chinese settlement on the European mainland. However, Asian town might be a better term as the area around the Zeedijk and Geldersekade also hosts many Thai, Korean, Japanese and Asian fusion restaurants.
However the Chinese remain the largest group that is present in the area. In Chinatown you’ll find the He Hua Temple at the end of the Zeedijk, close to the Nieuwmarkt. This is the largest traditional Chinese palace style Budhist temple in the whole of Europe. A must what to see in Amsterdam!
We’ll also stop at this temple and tell you more about it during our interesting and highly rated Red Light District tours with local guides. We host them daily. Click on the link above to join this fun activity in Amsterdam.
What looks like a flying saucer is actually Amsterdam’s film museum: EYE. It’s located across the IJ-river behind Amsterdam Central Station. The architect Delugan Meissel tried with this design to translate the experience of film medium into architecture. The Architects present the building as a sequence of scenes. Inside the museum there are 4 theatre rooms with an extensive collection of old and new films.
The large exhibition space presents 4 different expositions each year that highlight the thin line between film, visual arts and other types of media. For those who don’t care about any of that there’s also a very wide and sunny terrace with a great view of the IJ-river.
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On top of the Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre Hotel in the western part of town sits Floor 17 an 85-meter high rooftop terrace. This terrace offers a spectacular view of the city and is open when the weather permits it. Comfy couches, beanbags and mellow music create a relaxed lounge atmosphere. Even in the wintertime this is an excellent spot as the terrace is transformed in the highest skating rink of the city.
This is the new hotspot of the city. This former tram depot has been transformed into a large cinema with 9 theatre rooms and a large food hall section. As a subtle reminder to the history of the place you can still see tram rails in some parts of the building. The beautiful restoration alone is worthy of a visit. The covered food market is the main attraction and is modeled after examples from London, New York and Madrid. Around a central bar stand 20 different trendy booths that serve the higher end types of street foods.
In the center of Amsterdam there’s a surprising experience! One that shouldn’t surprise any local though since the Hollandsche Manege (Dutch Horse Riding School) has been in Amsterdam since 1882. Dolf van Gendt who also designed Amsterdam’s concert building designed the building, a National Monument.
These days it’s promoted as the living horse museum because of the 54 horses in the stables. A hidden treasure in the museum is the neoclassical style foyer where it appears that not much has changed in 130 years. Those who can already ride a horse can take lessons in astride horseback riding.
The cactus collection alone is reason enough to pay a visit to VU Hortos, VU’s very own botanical garden. Three tables both 10’s of meters long are filled from front to end with cacti and succulents, the largest collection of their kind in the Netherlands.
Other greenhouses contain large collections of orchids and ferns. In the tropical greenhouse it’s like your entering the Amazonian rainforest! Visit this unique spot in Amsterdam whilst it still exists. Plans are that the botanical garden will disappear in 2023.
Completed in 1655 Amsterdam’s new city hall was constructed with Amsterdam’s newly acquired power and wealth in mind. The 17thcentury municipal government dared to think great and constructed the largest governmental building of Europe at the time and presented Amsterdam as the center of the universe.
Amsterdammers used to proudly speak of the 8th world wonder. The Royal Palace on Dam Square has an impressive classicist design. The interior dates back to the rule of Napoleon, whose brother took up residence and turned the city hall into a palace.
This place is a must visit for anyone who’s interested in Amsterdam’s golden century.
Amsterdam Red Light District
The most famous area in Amsterdam. Anything deemed unholy you can probably find in this area, window brothels with sex workers, bars, restaurants, smoke-filled cannabis coffeeshops, strip clubs you name it.
But few know that this area is located in the oldest part of Amsterdam. Sex work in the Red Light District actually dates back to the 1300’s. Amsterdam was already turning into a bustling port back then and all those sailors needed entertainment.
This is why the area is located so close to Amsterdam’s Central Station, which was planted right in the spot that used to be the old harbor.
This former shipbuilding wharf is one of Amsterdam’s last real cultural sanctuaries. Shortly after the closure of the wharf in 1985 artists and outcasts discovered the area. Gradually ever more creatives such as artists, theatre makers, free thinkers and enthusiasts entered the area, where for a short while there were no rules.
As creative hotbeds were closing all over the city in 90’s some artists banded together and presented a plan to the municipality to make the wharf the largest creative hub of Europe. The NDSM wharf has since functioned as a model for the development of similar creative spots all over the world. Expect a creative treasure when you visit this part of town!
When people talk about Holland’s golden century the VOC, world’s first corporation, will always be discussed. The Oost –Indisch Huis (East-Indian House) served as headquarters of the most powerful and wealthiest corporation that the world has ever known.
These days the building is owned by the Amsterdam University and houses the faculty for political, social and cultural sciences. But it takes little imagination to see the 17thcentury merchants.
This place that reminds the visitor of the start of the Dutch colonial era also commemorates its end. A plaque remembers 12 American journalists that died in a plane crash after a Dutch press junket trip. 50 years later it was found out that Indonesian Republican separatists were possibly behind the crash.
Amsterdam Trees Street
On the Lomanstraat in Amsterdam you can find these beautiful trees that look like they come from a Harry Potter movie.
After a thorough renovation the Volkhotel (peoples hotel) re-opened its doors as a hotel, café, restaurant and club where, as one would expect with such a company name, everybody is welcome! There’s close to 24/7 hours of different entertainment options for every type of person.
At the ground floor things are lively in “werkplaats”, with on the left a café with among other things a chilled game corner, and on the right long tables and meeting rooms for flex workers. At the backside of the building are workspaces for creative spirits.
But to really get a feeling of the building you’ll have to take the elevator to the 7thfloor. Enter Club Canvas with its rooftop terrace with a great view of Amsterdam. After 10 pm all the tables and chairs are cleared from the floor and infamous club canvas nights start off inside.
And if you’re up for an all-nighter head back down to the basement to Doka “the basement where life happens in the dark”.
The Best Street Markets in Amsterdam
We also listed 7 street markets in Amsterdam which offers clothing, (Dutch) food, tulips, books, art, vinyl records, jewelry, etc. Check it out!7 MARKETS IN AMSTERDAM >
So, there you have it! Our top picks for things to see and do in Amsterdam when you’re on a budget. If you want more tips or ideas, be sure to check out our other blog posts or hit the green button below to get all sorts of travel advice. And finally, don’t forget to enjoy your time in this beautiful city – after all, that’s what traveling is all about! 🙂MORE AMSTERDAM TIPS >