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Amsterdam's main canals make a series of rings around the city center, while a few more, along with the Amstel River, run out from the center like spokes on a wheel. Knowing where you are – in the Jordaan to the west, the Museum Quarter and De Pijp to the south, or the Plantage District and the Eastern Docklands to the east – in relation to the canals will help orient you in the city.

Things to do in Amsterdam

Albert Cuyp Market

With thousands of visitors every day checking out over three hundred stalls selling everything from food to home accessories, the Albert Cuypmarkt is the busiest outdoor market in Europe. Visit for the basement bargains and the tasty Dutch street food.

Albert Cuypstraat,
Tags: family | shopping | great value | art | things to do | culture

Anne Frank House

Even, or perhaps especially, if you’ve read the tale of this teenager who went into hiding from the Nazis, visiting the canal house where it all happened can be an emotional experience. Plan to go late in the day to avoid the long lines to tour the cramped rooms where her family lived for two years.

Prinsengracht 267, 011-31-20-556-7105,
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | culture | history


This intimate courtyard was once a cloister for nuns; inside you’ll find the oldest wooden house in the city as well as some unexpectedly handsome churches. The beautifully restored buildings date back to the 1400s.

Begijnhof 30, 011-31-20-622-1918,
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history


Branford Marsalis has lauded the Bimhuis as one of the world’s three best venues for live Jazz. Nightly concerts in all styles from mainstream to avant garde are complemented by improv sessions held in an acoustic (and contemporary architectural) gem.

Piet Heinkade 3, 011-31-20-788-2188,
Tags: nightlife | smart splurge | live entertainment | things to do | architecture | jazz


Thousands of herbs, plants, bulbs, and flowers can be browsed – and bought – at this floating flower market catering to gardeners since the mid-1800’s. A word to the wise: only bulbs pre-approved for export can be sent to North America so ask before you buy.

Singel between Koningsplein and Vijzelstraat,
Tags: family | shopping | things to do | market

Canal Cruise “De Tourist”

De Tourist isn’t the only company providing daily canal tours, but they’re the only one that eschews the typical touristy canal boats in favor of a stunning restored, salon boat.

c/o Pulitzer Hotel, Prinsengracht 315-331, 011-31-20-627-6753,
Tags: family | smart splurge | things to do | culture | history

De Drie Fleschjes

Sand carpets the floor and wooden casks adorn the wall at this historical “tasting bar” (its name translates to “Three Little Bottles”) – an institution since 1650. Liqueurs and Dutch gins are the house specialties.

Gravenstraat 18, 011-31-20-624-8443
Tags: nightlife | things to do | traditional | bar | dutch

De Kaaskamer

For visiting and local gourmands, “the Cheese Room” is a place of pilgrimage. Learn the difference between Belegen and Oude Amsterdam as part of a crash course on Dutch cheese; leave with a souvenir wedge from over 200 tasty varieties.

Runstraat 7, 011-31-20-623-3483
Tags: shopping | moderate | things to do | culinary


Think a museum of antique technology sounds dull? Hold on to your hat! You don’t just look at the gas lamps, electricity transformers, and elevators here; docents will fire them up for you in this former power station for the city’s trams.

Hoogte Kadijk 400, 011-31-20-422-1227
Tags: family | things to do | culture | history | museum

Museum Amstelkring

Under a strict Protestant regime (back when Amsterdam wasn’t so tolerant), Catholics were forced to worship in “clandestine” churches like this one.

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40, 011-31-20-624-6604,
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history | museum

Negen Straatjes

Laid out like a tic-tac-toe board in the center of the Western Canals, these “nine alleys” feature eclectic displays selling everything from art books to designer shoes, men’s and women’s fashions, vintage clothing, housewares and antiques. There’s even a shop that specializes in toothbrushes.

Tags: shopping | things to do | market | designer

News Photo

Part museum and part art gallery, News Photo takes the latest images from headlines and blows them up big – magnetic walls allow for instantaneous exhibition. If you like what you see, print out a version to take home.

Haarlemmerstraat 24-26, 011-31-20-330-8400,
Tags: shopping | art | things to do | gallery

Oude Kerk (Old Church)

One of this city’s great and myriad ironies is that one of its holiest buildings stands in the middle of the Red Light District. It’s also the city’s oldest standing building, having been constructed in 1306. Check for times of services or take in one of the frequent art exhibits here.

Oudekerksplein 23, 011-31-20-625-8284
Tags: family | things to do | culture | architecture

Post CS and Stedlijk CS

This former postal headquarters is serving as a temporary exhibition space for a world class contemporary and modern art collection (in October 2008 the collection will close to prepare for its reopening in December 2009 in a new location). Upstairs two floors of design furniture shopping and “11” a huge restaurant and danceclub offering the cities best harbor views, attract the same trendy crowd.

Oosterdokskade 5, 011-31-20-573-2911,
Tags: trendy | art | things to do | culture


Follow the mix of locals and tourists as they hop among the bars, clubs, cafés, and restaurants on this two-block-long stretch that’s become known as Amsterdam’s gay hub.

Tags: nightlife | lounge | dancing | things to do | open late | bar | gay | nightclub


The main building, a massive, gorgeous structure by Pierre Cuypers, recently underwent a major renovation and is now open to the public. In addition to visiting the main wing, be sure to visit the Philips Wing, which features a collection of some of the best Dutch art around – from masters like Rembrandt (whose paintings The Night Watch and The Jewish Bride hang here), Vermeer (The Kitchen Maid), Hals, and Steen.

Museumstraat 1, 011-31-20-674-7000,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | architecture | history | museum

Take an architectural tour

Taking advantage of one of the world’s most dynamic architecture scenes, Architecture Center Amsterdam has a helpful page of links to more than 30 companies and organizations that offer tours focused on city planning and historic and modern architecture.

Prins Hendrikkade 600, 011-31-20-620-4878,
Tags: editor pick | things to do | architecture | tour | red-light district

Van Gogh Museum

Some of the most famous works of this deeply troubled genius (including Sunflowers, The Bedroom, and Self Portrait with Felt Hat) are on display in these buildings (one by noted Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld). Special cultural events, many of which are aimed at the young at heart, take place on Friday nights. The main exhibit is divided into five chronological periods.

Paulus Potterstraat 7, 011-31-20-570-5200,
Tags: editor pick | art | things to do | culture | history | museum


This gracious, 140-plus-year-old park on the south side of the city is perfect for an afternoon with the kids, a leisurely bike ride, a concert at the open-air theater, or events at the Film Museum.

Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | culture

Waterlooplein Flea Market

The most frequent and frequented market takes place on Waterlooplein, near the Stopera (City Hall), with some 300 stalls specializing in vintage clothing, used books and, well, you never quite know what treasure will turn up.

Waterlooplein, near the Stopera (city hall),
Tags: budget | shopping | things to do | flea market


Nearly adjacent to the Anne Frank House, this church is where you'll find Rembrandt's grave. Visitors today can climb its 272-foot tower (the tallest in Amsterdam) for the city’s best views and a look at the bells Anne Frank heard while in hiding.

Westermarkt, 011-31-20-624-7766
Tags: family | things to do | culture | architecture

Yellow Bike Tours

Amsterdam’s flat geography and endless bicycle paths make cycling a breeze. Yellow Bike’s three-hour, guided city orientation tours allow you to see–and ride—this bike-obsessed city in a way that gives you local street cred.

Nieuwezijds Kolk 29, 011-20-31-620-6940,
Tags: family | biking | great value | things to do | tour

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