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Amsterdam Must-Dos

Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around Amsterdam—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.

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A boat travels down a canal past the Cafe Sluyswacht, near Rembrandt House.

Anne Frank House

“It is powerful to stand in the room where she [Anne Frank] wrote, see the chestnut tree she saw, and hear the church bells she heard."—Tracy Metz, arts and architecture writer, NRC Handelsblad. Faithfully preserved rooms in the back of the 17th-century canal house in the Jordaan, where the Frank family hid from the Nazis, and where Anne wrote her diary. Prinsengracht 267; tel. 31 20 556 7100; fee.


“Worth going for the Vermeer painting ‘The Love Letter’ alone, with its glimpse of a tranquil Dutch interior.”—Guus van den Hout, curator, Museum Catharijneconvent. 400 of the collection’s top Dutch master masterpieces—including work by Rembrandt and Frans Hals—are on view in the Philips Wing. Jan Luykenstraat 1; tel. 31 20 674 7047; fee.

Canal Boat Ride

“A chance to see the city from a different vantage point.”—Tracy Metz. A good way to get around. The Canal Bus (tel. 31 20 626 5574; offers 14 stops near major attractions, and allows for a view of tranquil canals beyond the city center.


“Everyone comes here on a sunny day for Frisbees, dogs, the open-air terraces, and the chance for a hopeful encounter.”—Bart Plantenga, producer and host, Wreck This Mess radio show. A 120-acre (48.56-hectare) outdoor entertainment center; skates for rent; playground; bike trails, Café Vertigo’s large alfresco terrace.


“If you can’t get out into Holland’s flower fields, this is the next best thing.”—Inge Yspeert, photographer. Flower vendors selling Dutch bouquets and bulbs, on barges floating in the Singel canal (between the Koningsplein and Muntplein).

Van Gogh Museum

“It doesn’t just show an amazing collection of paintings by Van Gogh but offers wonderful shows on other 19th- and 20th-century artists and topics.”—Guus van den Hout. The world’s largest collection of Van Gogh works; 200 paintings alone. Paulus Potterstraat 7; tel. 31 20 570 5200; fee.

Rent a Bike

“Biking in the city center takes a lot of practice, so it’s safer for first-timers to stick to one of the simpler, scenic bike trails.”—Inge Yspeert. Try the trail that runs south along the Amstel River. Bike rental shops are as common as florists in Amsterdam; among the easiest to find is MacBike (tel. 31 20 620 0985), which has multiple branches.


“It always charms me with its old world feeling.”—Steve Korver, editor, Amsterdam Weekly. The best of Amsterdam’s open-air, canalside markets, in the Jordaan; on Saturday organic farmers and cheese vendors join the flea market; also a flea market on Monday morning. Noordermarkt 43; tel. 31 20 623 0223.

FOAM Photography Museum

“They get all the major exhibits by the most talked-about photographers.”—Inge Yspeert. Exhibits all genres of photography (fine art, documentary, historical, contemporary) and features shows by both major names and emerging talent. Keizersgracht 609; tel. 31 20 551 6500; fee.

The Nine Streets

“It’s a silly name for a great neighborhood.”—Harald van de Goot, antique dealer, Prinsheerlijk Antiek Shop. Nine narrow streets that link the western ring of canals, each lined with galleries, boutiques, antique shops, and cafés. The best for one-stop shopping and people-watching.

Museum Van Loon

“The former house of an aristocratic family.”—Guus van den Hout. As close as you can come to living, for a second, in a Golden Age manor; stuffed with antiques, porcelain, museum-worthy Dutch master paintings; a formal, neoclassical secret garden in back. Keizersgracht 672; tel. 31 20 624 5255; fee.

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