If you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll be amazed by just how beautiful Amsterdam is. It’s easy to associate the city with coffee shops, canals and red lights, but there’s a depth of culture and aesthetic appeal that rivals any city in Europe. Whether you’re looking to add pictures to your Instagram account or you’d just like to enjoy the unique architecture, food scene and continental culture, Amsterdam is the place to be.
Beautiful spots in Amsterdam
Let’s run through a few of the prettiest places in Amsterdam.
Probably the most famous bridge in the entire city (and definitely the widest), Torensluis Brug was once the base of a fortress tower called Jan Roodenpoortstoren. The tower was demolished in 1829, but you can still see the foundations outlined in the pavement today. If you’re walking around the city’s canals, then the chances are good that you’ll stumble upon this bridge.
Torensluis Brug is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a popular location that attracts tourists year-round, so, if you want a photo on the bridge, you’ll need to battle the crowds. Getting up early to beat the traffic is usually a good idea!
Where? Singel 165A, 1012 VK Amsterdam
Dam Square is a gorgeous open space just a short walk from the Centraal Station. A hub for tourists and locals alike, it’s teeming with food stalls and restaurants – but it’s also home to some of the city’s most memorable landmarks and architectural treasures. These include the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, also called Koninklijk Palace: a building which once belonged to Dutch royalty and is still used for major state events. The square is most active in summer, but you might find it most beautiful when the weather’s a little bit cooler.
Where? Centrum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
You’ll need to leave the city to explore one of the largest single flower gardens anywhere in the world: Keukenhof. It’s well worth the trip as around seven million different flowers are planted here every year. There are more than just tulips on display and the gardens are in bloom until winter!
If you want to visit the gardens, the best time is during Spring for the tulip display. This is when the garden is at its most impressive. You can expect to spend just over an hour on the train when travelling from Amsterdam to Keukenhof, so it’s worth getting up early and booking your tickets well in advance.
Where? Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands
The Floating Flower Market
For those in search of flowers a little closer to the city centre, the famous floating flower market in Amsterdam is well worth a visit. Since 1862, florists have been selling their beautiful blooms on houseboats. Back in the day, this allowed stores to be replenished quickly via the canals. The flower market has a distinct charm that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re visiting the market, you’ll find other things for sale, too. So, while you might not be able to bring home fresh, Dutch tulips, bring home some beautiful wooden tulip fridge magnets for your friends and family — the perfect souvenir.
Where? Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Vondelpark is a popular park that takes its name from the famous Dutch playwright, Joost van del Vondel, whose statue can be found at the centre of the park. If the weather’s nice, then you’ll find it packed with sunbathers, walkers and tourists. There are great bars and restaurants, too, and a few outdoor sculptures – including “The Fish” by Pablo Picasso.
From May to September, check out one of the outdoor performances in the open-air theatre. You can get into the park for free, making it a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Where? Vondelpark Openluchttheater, Vondelpark 5A, 1071 AA Amsterdam
Beautiful buildings in Amsterdam
Let’s look at a few of the architectural wonders that Amsterdam has to offer. Just look up!
The Dancing Houses
Chances are, you won’t soon forget the dancing houses of Amsterdam. These structures, which sit along the canal, are called grachtenhuizen in Dutch. They tilt forward, and for good reason. They were built like this so that heavy goods could be easily transported from the bottom of the building to the top, without hitting the walls on the way up.
Some of the older buildings’ foundations are softening – which makes them look like they’re leaning into the building next door.
Where? Amstel 106, 1017 AD Amsterdam, Netherlands
History fans can’t miss visiting the Royal Palace in Dam Square. It’s one of the most significant 17th-century buildings in the country and it’s open to visitors at different times during the year. Built-in 1648, it was originally the town hall. Make sure to check ahead for opening days and hours and book your tickets here.
Where? Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147, 1012 RJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam wouldn’t be Amsterdam without its famous Centraal Station. More than a quarter of a million passengers travel through its doors every day. What’s more, the building is home to the main tourist office.
But even if you aren’t travelling to Amsterdam via train, take time to see the building for yourself. It’s the work of Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and opened in the late 19th century. It was built in Renaissance-revival style and is perfect for photographers and history buffs alike.
Where? Stationsplein, 1012 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you prefer architecture to be bold, modern and experimental, visit the ‘Summertime’ housing project. It’s a complex of almost 200 apartments, built within two large buildings that taper toward one another.
Like many modern buildings, it creates divided opinions: some say that it’s beautiful; others think it’s ugly. See it in person and make up your own opinion!
Where? George Gershwinlaan, 1082 LS Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This beautiful and historic cinema is still running today. So if you’re needing a break from sightseeing, this is the perfect place to catch a film.
The building itself is worth the visit, too. It’s a beautiful movie theatre, where you can enjoy a guided tour of the building itself before enjoying the movie. With a mixture of art deco, Amsterdam school and art nouveau architectural styles, it’s an impressive building. This is a unique cinema experience you won’t want to miss. Can’t wait? Book your tickets or consider going on a digital tour to get a preview!
Where? Reguliersbreestraat 26-34, 1017 CN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beautiful museums in Amsterdam
There are many world-class museums in Amsterdam, each packed with beautiful items and exhibits.
The famous Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands’ national museum. It was founded in the Hague in the late 16th century but moved to Amsterdam just a decade later. It’s the largest and most popular art museum in the country, thanks to a collection of thousands of masterpieces, including Rembrandts and Vermeers.
This is a must-visit and perfect for rainy days.
Where? Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
The EYE Film Institute is housed in a sleek, modern building on the waterfront. It moved from its old home in the city centre in 2012 and acts as a museum, film archive and cinema. If you’d like to learn about the history of cinema, then this is the place for you.
Where? IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Anne Frank House
Between 1942 and 1944, Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in the rear of a canal house in Amsterdam. In 1947, her diary was published, making her the world’s most famous victim of the Holocaust. In 1960, a museum dedicated to her was opened in the very house where she took refuge.
When you think about the number of visitors that come to see the house every year, it is a small house. It’s important to be respectful of this place and the history it represents, so this isn’t the place to visit for Instagram photos.
Where? Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nemo Science Museum
If you like science more than art or history, then a visit to the NEMO Science Museum will fit the bill. Right on the waterfront, it’s bright green, and can’t be missed. You’ll get an incredible view of the city from the rooftop. Book your tickets today!
Where? Oosterdok 2, 1011 VX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is a home for all things quirky and unusual. Nowhere proves it better than the world’s first museum of fluorescent art at Electric Ladyland. The lights are switched off (or at least, dimmed), so you can walk around and marvel at all the luminescent artworks. You can even learn how to make fluorescent art yourself! You can also learn about fluorescent minerals and other cool light facts, and receive a tour through the history of fluorescence and how it’s been used in science.
Where? Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5, 1015 TB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Can’t get enough of museums? We’ve listed some of the best museums in Amsterdam.
Beautiful restaurants in Amsterdam
Thanks to its coastal location and vibrant culture, Amsterdam is home to world-class restaurants. Check our recommendations below to enjoy a nice meal in an instagrammable setting!
The Butcher Social Club
On the ground floor of the A’DAM Toren is a mini street food village, The Butcher. Open from 7 am until midnight every day, there’s something here to please everyone – whether you’re looking for a place to unwind after a heavy party, or to grab a coffee at the start of the day. The burgers are probably the most popular, but pancakes, pies, tacos and poached eggs are all on offer. Yum.
Where? Overhoeksplein 1, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Vegan Junk Food Bar
If you’re looking for food that doesn’t include animal products, then the award-winning Vegan Junk Food Bar is the place to be. It opened in 2017 on the city’s west side and now you can find it all over the Netherlands. On the menu, you’ll find vegan burgers, croissant sandwiches, fake-chicken nuggets and the famous “bitterballen”. There’s something for everyone here!
Where? Reguliersdwarsstraat 57, 1017 BK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ron Gastrobar Oriental Downtown
Ron Gastrobar Oriental Downtown is an Oriental-fusion restaurant, combining flavours from across China and Indonesia. There’s an impressive list of cocktails and regular entertainment to spice up the meal. Whether you’re looking for Peking duck, dim sum or Indonesian rice, nowhere does it better.
Where? Netherlands, Kerkstraat 23, 1017 GA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Looking for a quick sit-down meal on the waterfront? It’s hard to beat Café Lennep. The food is affordable and gets great reviews from locals and tourists. Check out the famous rotisserie chicken or the oyster mushroom and bulgur burger.
Where? Jacob Van Lennepkade 334, 1053 NJ Amsterdam
When it comes to spectacle, it’s tough to beat the iconic Sea Palace. This floating restaurant is one of the most famous Chinese eateries in Europe, thanks to its beautiful setting. But there’s more to this place than the view: the food is pretty tasty, too.
The restaurant is the largest floating restaurant anywhere in Europe, and it’s seriously impressive when lit up at nighttime. The menu is completely made from scratch and there’s an incredible selection of dim sum to try. There are hundreds of restaurants to try in the city, so check out our guide on the best restaurants in Amsterdam.
Where? Oosterdokskade 8, 1011 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beautiful streets in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to its fair share of attractions. But the streets alone are beautiful, too. If you’re walking around and seeing the sights, make sure to stroll along some of the most beautiful streets in the city.
Brouwersgracht (or ‘Brewer’s Canal’) is in Jordaan. It’s not as touristy as the other major canals, but it’s got the same brightly-coloured townhouses, making it a perfect spot for photos. Back in the day, many of these buildings were breweries in the 16th and 17th centuries, and that’s why it’s called the Brewer’s Canal.
Where? Brouwersgracht,Amsterdam,1013 HC, Korte Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
This mini island was once known as “Middeneiland”, but now goes by “Prince’s Island”. It was first built in the early 17th century, but it wasn’t until the aftermath of the Second World War that people started to live here. The island is home to artists and musicians, so you’ll find plenty of miniature galleries dotted about.
Where? Prinseneiland 1013 LR Amsterdam
The “Nine Little Streets” was named after the sort of trade that was once concentrated there. Pelts, Wold and Bear Street were all crammed with leather workers, specialising in real craftsmanship. Nowadays, the area is better known for its boutique shops and restaurants. The nine streets are arranged in a small grid, separated by four canals and are within an easy walk of the city centre.
Where? Wolvenstraat 9, 1016 EM Amsterdam, Netherlands
‘s-Gravelandseveer sits on the north side of the Amstel River. It takes its name from the village of ‘s-Graveland, where many wealthy families in the city used to have country homes. If you’re looking for great views over the river, head to the nearby Halvemaansbrug bridge.
Where? 1011 KN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amstel Street is the long street that runs along the river Amstel. If you’re going for a walk along the river, you can expect to encounter a series of quality riverside cafes, restaurants and bars.
Where? Amstel, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is just as beautiful as other European cities, but it’s unique and special in its own way — sure to make your pictures unforgettable. If you want to find more instagrammable places in the city, check our article on street art in Amsterdam. For interesting information about the city, have a look at our list of Amsterdam facts. If you’re looking for accommodation, visit us at ClinkNOORD Youth Hostel Amsterdam, on the banks of the river Ij, we’re just a short trip from the Centraal Station.