Citytrip Amsterdam – the capital of the Netherlands is a popular destination for a city trip. Every year, Amsterdam welcomes 18 million visitors. Amsterdam is the city of canals, museums, the Red Light District, Dam Square, bicycles and coffee shops. The city has so much to offer that one weekend is hardly enough to see all the sights.
A canal cruise, a visit to the Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum are only a few highlights of your visit. But there is much more! Amble up and down Albert Cuyp open air market, wander through alleys and along the canals, admire the mansions that line it. Go shopping in Kalverstraat and the Nine Streets area. Sit in an outdoor cafe at leidseplein and drink Heineken beer, go to a pub in the Jordaan neighbourhood, enjoy a stroll in Vondelpark, attend a performance in Royal Theater Carré or watch a movie in the art nouveau Tuschinski Theatre. Amsterdam buzzes day and night and is the perfect city for a city trip!
Amsterdam City Passes
Purchase a city pass, if you want to enjoy Amsterdam hassle-free and save money at the same time. City passes allow free entry to the most important museums and attractions in Amsterdam. They are often cheaper than buying single tickets and the big advantage is that you need not wait in the often long queues of popular attractions, because these passes allow fast-track entry. Many passes also include free public transport or the hop-on hop-off bus. There are three Amsterdam passes: Amsterdam City Pass, the Holland Pass and the I Amsterdam City Card. All city passes are easily purchased online in advance.
City Passes compared:
- The Amsterdam City Pass has only advantages! This pass offers free and skip-the-line entry to the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum (the choice is yours), a canal cruise and for those who arrive at Schiphol Airport, a train ticket from the airport to Amsterdam centre. In addition, you will enjoy discounts on attractions, museums and activities in Amsterdam.
- The I Amsterdam City Card allows you free entry to dozens of museums and attractions in Amsterdam, including the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum and Artis Zoo as well as free and unlimited use of public transport (metro, tram, bus) and a free canal cruise.
- The Holland Pass permits free access to 2, 4 or 6 attractions of your choice in Amsterdam or elsewhere in the Netherlands. You select either a tour on the hop-on hop-off bus to see the sights in Amsterdam or a canal cruise. The Holland Pass offers free entry and discounts on admission to over 60 museum and tourist attractions in Amsterdam and major cities of the Netherlands.
Comparing the Amsterdam Citycards:
Amsterdam City Pass
Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum
Canal cruise (1 hour)
Airport transfer (train)
No time pressure
I Amsterdam City Card
Valid for 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours
Special offers and gifts
Holland Pass – Amsterdam
2, 4 or 6 attractions of your choice
choice of 60 museums and attractions
Hop-on Hop-off bus or canal cruise
Valid for 1 month
Attractions in other parts of the Netherlands
Flights to Amsterdam
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, 17 kilometers from Amsterdam centre. It is the largest airport in the Netherlands and with around 68 million visitors a year one of the busiest airports in Europe. More than a thousand flights depart every day to destinations all over the world. Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, many American airlines and other major airlines fly to Schiphol. Low-cost airlines that go to Schiphol Airport are : Easyjet, Ryanair, Transavia and Vueling.
Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam centre
Schiphol has a direct train service to Amsterdam. There are eight trains per hour to Amsteram Central Station and the journey time is 16 minutes. Amsterdam also has a direct train connection to Brussels (Belgium). The Connexxion bus 397, also known as Amsterdam Airport Express, runs every 7 minutes and stops at Museumplein, Rijksmuseum and Leidseplein. This bus does not go to the Amsterdam Central Station. A taxi to the centre of Amsterdam is between € 45 and € 50.
Hotel or B&B in Amsterdam
Accommodation in Amsterdam is plentiful and ranges from luxury five-star hotels to backpackers’ hostels and from converted canal houses to houseboats and B&Bs. Hotels in the historic centre are often expensive. If you don’t mind a tram or metro ride, go to a hotel away from the centre because they are much cheaper. Staying in a B&B or an apartment booked through Airbnb is also very affordable.
If money is not the problem, stay the night in boutique hotel The Dylan at Keizersgracht 384 or hotel W Amsterdam at Spuistraat 175, both within walking distance of Dam Square. The Dylan has its own Michelin star restaurant, Vinkeles. The Conservatorium Hotel (Van Baerlestraat 27) is close to Museumplein and Vondelpark. Other affordable hotels are: Hotel JL. (Jan Luijkenstraat 76), a small boutique hotel close to the Van Gogh Museum, Hotel Sebastian’s, (Keizersgracht 15) located in an old canal house, Volkshotel (Wibautstraat 150), located in the old office building of the Volkskrant newspaper in Amsterdam East, near metro station Wibautstraat, Hotel Toon (Utrechtsestraat 18) and the Max Brown Hotel with two branches in old mansions, on the Herengracht (nr 13-19) and on the Jan Luijkenstraat (nr 44).
Things to do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam brims with beautiful sights and interesting museums. Canals and majestic canal houses, the Anne Frank House and the masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. Dam Square, the heart of the city, the Red Light District, Vondelpark and Artis Zoo are only some of the highlights. Be sure to include in your city trip a visit to Albert Cuypstraat and Waterlooplein, two open-air markets. The Jordaan and Pijp neighbourhoods are also worth exploring.
TIP: Start your city trip Amsterdam on the Hop-on Hop-off bus or the Hop-on Hop-off boat. Lean back while you pass most of the highlights of the Dutch capital. You decide where to get off, which attraction or museum you are going to visit and then you hop on again to see even more highlights (free with the Holland Pass).
How to get there
Dam Square is located between Damrak and Rokin, at about 800 metres from Amsterdam Central Station.
Tram and bus
Tram (4, 14 and 24) and bus (285, 287, 289, 291 and 293) have stops close to Dam Square.
Dam Square is the very heart of Amsterdam and in summer full of tourists, street artists, horse-drawn carriages, pigeons, tourist guides and sometimes you can even see a local. It is easy to reach Amsterdam hotspots from Dam Square. At the eastern side of the square is the National Monument. Its obelisk points 22 metres into the air and commemorates those who fell in the Second World War – both in the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies. Every year on the 4th of May the ceremony of National Remembrance Day takes place in front of the National Monument and wreaths are laid for the war victims. On the west side of the square is the Palace on the Dam, which originally served as a town hall, but has been a royal palace since 1808. Next to the palace are the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), where rotating exhibitions are held, Wax Museum Madame Tussaud, and the Bijenkorf department store and since 2016, Ripley’s Believe it or not Museum.
How to get there
Museum Square is a 35-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station.
Tram and busses
Tram 2, 3, 5 and 12 and buses 347, 357, 397, 358, N47, N57 and N97 have a stop at Museumplein and in Van Baerlestraat.
Op het Museumplein in Amsterdam zijn drie wereldberoemde musea gevestigd: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum en Stedelijk Museum. Een bezoek aan één of meer van deze musea is een must tijdens een stedentrip Amsterdam! Het Rijksmuseum met ruim 80 zalen is het belangrijkste museum van Nederland. De collectie biedt een overzicht van de Nederlandse kunst en geschiedenis met onder andere werken van 17e-eeuwse Nederlandse meesters als Rembrandt, Vermeer en Hals. Het pronkstuk in het museum is De Nachtwacht, het bekendste werk van Rembrandt. Met een collectie van 200 schilderijen, 500 tekeningen en 900 brieven bezit het Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam de grootste verzameling van Vincent van Gogh ter wereld. Beroemde werken zoals De Aardappeleters, De Zonnebloemen en De Slaapkamer in Arles zijn in het museum te zien. Het Stedelijk Museum is één van de meest vooraanstaande musea in de wereld voor hedendaagse en moderne kunst.Andere interessante musea in Amsterdam zijn onder andere: De Hermitage (Amstel 51), een dependance van de Hermitage in Sint-Petersburg, het Rembrandthuis (Jodenbreestraat 4), het voormalig woonhuis van Rembrandt van Rijn en het Anne Frank Huis aan de Prinsengracht (ingang Westermarkt 20).
Amsterdam’s most important canals are Brouwersgracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. All canals together with the bridges and houses are known as the Grachtengordel, the Canal Belt, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the past, the canals were important waterways to transport goods, but today they are alive with recreational and sightseeing boats. A canal cruise is an ideal way to get an impression of the city: take in the beauty of typical Amsterdam facades and arched bridges. Famous is the Golden Bend, a curve of the Herengracht (Herengracht Canal), where you can see the most expensive canal mansions in Amsterdam. When you go on a canal cruise in the evening, the spectacle is magical: hundreds of low-energy LEDs illuminate the arched bridges. Most canal cruises depart from Stationsplein and Damrak.
Red Light District
Every day, many tourists stroll along Oudezijds Achterburgwal and the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, two canals in the heart of the Red Light District in Amsterdam to catch a glimpse of scarcely dressed ladies. The Oude Zijde is the oldest part of Amsterdam and a tourist hotspot. Street prostitution was banned in the 1960s. Window prostitution is tolerated. A red light indicates, the prostitute is available, hence the name red light district. Closed curtains mean she is at work. Today, in Stoofsteeg and Trompettersteeg, two narrow alleys in the district, you can see the ladies of pleasure behind red-illuminated windows. The Red Light District brims with sex shops, peepshows and coffee shops (don’t confuse them with coffee bars). Sniff up some culture and visit one of the museums in this district: the Erotic Museum (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 54), Museum of Prostitution (Red Light Secrets – Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60), Cannabis College (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 124), the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148) or Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer on Solder, a clandestine church in the attic of a canal house on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38. Be sure to do some shopping in Warmoesstraat!
Anne Frank House
How to get there
The Anne Frank House is located in the centre of Amsterdam on Prinsengracht 263-267. The museum entrance is around the corner at the Westermarkt 20.
It is about a 20-minute walk to the museum from Amsterdam central Station. Trams 13 and 17 stop nearby, at Westermarkt tram stop.
Een bezoek aan het Anne Frank Huis hoort bij een bezoek aan Amsterdam. Iedereen kent het verhaal van Anne Frank, een Joods meisje dat tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog moet onderduiken om aan de nazi’s te ontkomen. Samen met zeven anderen zit ze verborgen in het Achterhuis van Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. Na ruim twee jaar worden ze ontdekt en naar de concentratiekampen gedeporteerd. Van de acht onderduikers overleeft alleen Annes vader, Otto Frank. Anne wordt na haar dood wereldberoemd door het dagboek dat ze tijdens de onderduik heeft geschreven. Het trieste verhaal van een Joods meisje met al haar dromen, hoop, wensen en verdriet gaf de vernietiging van de Joden ineens een gezicht. Een bezoek aan het Achterhuis, de plek waar Anne Frank en haar familie verborgen zat, is dan ook voor iedereen een indrukwekkende ervaring. Om een eind te maken aan de ellenlange wachtrijen voor het museum kun je sinds 2016 alleen nog online tickets met een tijdslot kopen.
How to get there
The Beguinage is off Kalverstraat. Side entrance is through the gateway on Spui. The main entrance is on the Gedempte Begijnensloot.
Trams 1, 2, 11 and 12 have a stop at Spui, a 2-minute walk from the Beguinage. Trams 9, 16 or 24 stop is a 4-minute walk away.
Beguinage, Begijnhof in Dutch, is a peaceful oasis right behind Kalverstraat in the heart of Amsterdam. The Begijnhof is the only medieval courtyard in Amsterdam. Only one house of this period remains: the wooden house at No 34, all other houses were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. This was the place where beguines lived, Catholic lay nuns, who cared for the sick and educated the poor. The last Beguine died in 1971. The Begijnhof Chapel at Nos 29 and 30 is one of clandestine churches in Amsterdam where Catholics attended mass in secret. Entrance is free.
How to get there
Vondelpark has several entrances: Amstelveenseweg, Emmalaan, C. Huygensstraat, Van Eeghenstraat, Konininneweg, Kattenlaan, G. Brandtstraat, P.C. Hooftstraat, Koningslaan, Frederikstraat, Oranje Nassaukade, Saxenburgerstraat, Roemer Visscherstraat, Vondelstraat, Vondelkerkstraat, Zandpad and Zocherstraat.
Tram and bus
Several bus and tram lines have their stops at some of the an entrances to Vondelpark, bus 347, 357 and 397 and tram 3 (Van Baerlestraat stop)
The Vondelpark, 2 kilometres long and 200 metres wide, is the largest green spot in the centre of Amsterdam. The park dates from 1865 and is named after Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), a Dutch poet and playwright. Vondelpark offers something for everyone. It is popular with locals and tourists alike who come here to jog, cycle, play tennis or come for a fitness boot camp. Vondelpark is also the perfect place to relax or simply have a picnic. If you haven’t brought your own food, go to one of the restaurants in the area: het Blauwe Theehuis, Vondelpark 3, the Vondeltuin with a large terrace and the Groot Melkhuis with terrace and playground. Scattered over the park are more children’s playground with sandpits and a kids’ paddling pool. The Openluchttheater, open air theatre, offers concerts, theatre, dance, comedy and kids performances from May to September.
Westerkerk and Westertoren
How to get there
The Westerkerk is located at Prinsengracht close to the Anne Frank House.
It is a 15-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Sation to Westerkerk. Take tam 18 or 21 and get off at Marnixplein stop.
With a height of 87 metres, Westertoren (west tower) is the tallest church tower in Amsterdam. It is crowned with the imperial crown of the Habsburg Emperor Maximillian. The view from the bell tower is breathtaking. The Dutch architect, Hendrick de Keyser, designed the church which was built between 1620 and 1631 in Renaissance style. The interior of the Westerkerk is sober, as are all Protestant churches, the floor is covered with gravestones and the walls are bare. Anne Frank wrote in her diary that she heard the carillon from her hiding place at Prinsengracht 263. Popular Dutch artists like Johnny Jordaan and Willy Alberti pay tribute to the Westertoren in their songs. The church is open to the public from 11.00-15.00 (except Sundays). Westertoren can be climbed from 1 November to 31 March on appointment only and from 1 April to 31 October, the tower is open from Monday to Saturday. There are guided tours every half hour starting at 10.00. The staircase is narrow and steep but the view is breathtaking.
Restaurants and bars in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has it all: restaurants for a luxurious meal, cafes for a quick snack, pubs for a beer and outdoor cafes to enjoy the view during your meal. Amsterdam is a multicultural city which reflects in ethnic and local cuisine. With almost 180 nationalities in Amsterdam, it is not difficult to find food to your taste: Chinese, Italian, Japanese, French, Thai, Indonesian, Greek, Surinamese, fast food or a simple Dutch ‘bitterbal‘, you do not have to search long because you will find something to your liking at almost every corner and street in Amsterdam. Restaurants come in all price brackets; from very cheap to very expensive. You can indulge in Asian cuisine at Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s Chinatown. When strolling on Albert Cuyp Market fragrant smells greet you: freshly baked syrup waffles, ‘poffertjes‘ (Dutch tiny pancakes), French fries and herring mingle with the spicy aroma of ethnic cuisine.
Recommendations for restaurants
If you want to eat in a Michelin star rated restaurant, your choice is plentiful in Amsterdam: four Michelin two-star and fifteen one-star restaurants. On top of the list are Ciel Bleu on the 23rd floor of the Okura hotel, exquisite food combined with a splendid view, (Ferdinand Bolstraat 333), Librije’s Sister in the Waldorf Astoria (Herengracht 542), & Moshik, chefs Moshik Roth and Ron Gastrobar (of Ron Blaauw, Sophiastraat 55) offer gastronomy at its best (Oosterdokskade 5)
Highly recommended because of very affordable prices are: Fa. Peekelharing (Van Woustraat 127), authentic dishes from all parts of Italy, Betty’s (Rijnstraat 75) vegetarian food, Restaurant Breda (Singel 210), cool and tasty rock’n roll food, Restaurant Vermeer (Prins Hendrikkade 59), heaps of vegetables and meat or fish and Restaurant Loetje famous for tender steak with gravy.
Outdoor and Late-night Pubs
Start your night off with a beer or a shot on one of the outdoor terraces at Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein. Go to a ‘bruin café‘, a traditional Dutch pub, in the city centre or in the Jordaan and Pijp neighbourhoods. Amsterdam nightlife has something for everyone’s taste.
Shopping in Amsterdam
Shopaholics will have the time of their life in Amsterdam: thousands of shops, from large flagship stores to small boutiques and from expensive jewelry and antique dealers to fun vintage. There is something for everyone’s budget. Add to these more than 30 open-air markets and you will understand that Amsterdam is the place to be!
The main shopping streets in the centre are Kalverstraat, Leidsestraat, Haarlemmerstraat and the Nine Streets. Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat, always full of shopping tourists and some locals, are the domain of the international and national chain stores. Haarlemmerstraat is famous for trendy local shops and vintage shops. The Nine Streets, located between Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, are made up of nine interconnected streets brimful with original and authentic shops, restaurants and cafes. P.C. Hooftstraat, Amsterdam’s answer to the Champs-Élysées, is home to international fashion houses: Dior, Calvin Klein, Lacoste, Marc Cain and more.
The Amsterdam shopping scene is characterized by individual stores and boutiques and there are only a few shopping malls. Magna Plaza on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in the former main post office of Amsterdam offers shopping on four floors in just over twenty stores. Further afield is Villa Arena, a large shopping centre with mainly home furnishing shops. With 160 stores Amsterdamse Poort is Amsterdam’s largest shopping mall at Bijlmerplein in Amsterdam-Zuidoost.
Markets in Amsterdam
Two famous Amsterdam open-air markets are the Albert Cuyp market and the flea market at the Waterlooplein. Albert Cuyp market has been going strong for over 100 years and is a household name. It is open 6 days a week, closed on Sunday, and is famous for its fresh products: vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, cheese, flowers and much more. There are also many stalls with tasty snacks from all over the world. Waterlooplein flea market is open every day (except Sunday). Rummage through vintage clothes, trinkets, army socks, books, bags, Delft blue pottery and all sorts of things you may or may not need. The Flower Market on Singel, the only floating flower market in the world, is very popular with tourists.