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As the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a city renowned for its many famous landmarks, historic buildings, and incredible museums. Located in the province of North Holland in Western Europe, the city is a virtual treasure trove of Dutch history and culture with galleries, museums, relics, and monuments on every corner.
While Amsterdam is certainly a worthy vacation destination, it’s packed with so many iconic landmarks that it can be hard to narrow down your choices. That’s why we’ve pulled together a handy collection of the city’s best landmarks and tourist attractions.
Along the way, we’ll point you in the direction of great tours and hidden gems that transform a visit to a popular tourist attraction into a memorable experience. We’ll even fill you in on our favorite hotels to help you find the perfect place to stay when you visit Amsterdam.
Pressed for time? No worries – here’s a quick breakdown of the best landmarks in Amsterdam to work into your travel itinerary.
Famous Monuments and Landmarks in Amsterdam
1. Grachtengordel (Canal District)
As you’ll quickly discover, many of Amsterdam’s most famous landmarks circle the city center, where you’ll find the canal district, aka “Grachtengordel.” The network of 17th-century canals was decreed a UNESCO World Heritage Site a little over a decade ago and remains a must-see attraction.
While you’ll find plenty of canal boat tour options, we recommend setting out with a guy named Captian Jack if you can. Captain Jack will regale you with fun commentary about all the monuments along the cruise as you enjoy the drinks and snacks he provides on his open-air boat.
Our favorite hotels in the Canal District:
2. The Royal Palace Amsterdam
Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147, 1012 RJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Central Amsterdam is also where you’ll find the gorgeous Royal Palace of Amsterdam, a 17th-century palace that originally functioned as a city hall. One of three palaces now at the disposal of the Dutch royal family, the Royal Palace now serves as the official reception palace of King Willem-Alexander.
An important historical site, the Royal Palace is almost always open to visitors, provided it isn’t being used for a special event. Sign up for a palace tour to check out its rich history and beautiful architecture.
See Related: 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
3. Dam Square
Don’t get so caught up in the beauty of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam that you miss the other historic sites in Dam Square! The square’s history dates back to the 13th century when it transformed from a dam meant to restrain the River Amstel into the town square.
Today, Dam Square is where you’ll find the National Monument, a 1950s statue built to honor the casualties of World War II. Directly across from the monument, you’ll see the iconic Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a lavish 5-star hotel that dates back to the 19th century.
A quick tour across the street from the hotel will lead you to popular museums like Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum. While they may not exactly be hallmarks of the Dutch Golden Age, there’s no denying that both are a lot of fun.
4. Oude Kerk
Address: Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam, Netherlands
The irony isn’t lost on most that you’ll find the most famous church in Amsterdam smack in the middle of the Red Light District. While the area can be as shady as you suspect at night, it’s generally pretty tame throughout the day, especially if you set out on a guided tour.
Just be sure to keep your wallet close, as pickpocketing can be an issue. Disclaimer aside, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) is one of the very few buildings in Amsterdam with a history that dates back to the Middle Ages.
While the church has endured many incarnations over the years, it remains a fascinating example of medieval architecture. Today, Oude Kerk is a work and exhibition space for contemporary artists, making it a great place to soak in the best of historic and contemporary Dutch culture.
5. Our Lord In The Attic Museum
Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38-40, 1012 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Right down the street from Oude Kerk, you’ll find the small but fascinating Our Lord in the Attic Museum. Now, it’s tucked away in the connected attics of three canal houses, but once it served as a secret Catholic church.
Its history dates back to 1578 when Protestants took control of the area and decreed it illegal for Catholics to practice their faith. But well-to-do merchant Jan Hartman figured that what the protestants didn’t know couldn’t hurt them and built a stunning secret sanctuary where local Catholics gathered to worship on the down low.
6. Beurs van Berlage
Address: Damrak 243, 1012 ZJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beurs van Berlage is right on the edge of Dam Square and the Red Light District. A stunning Neo-Romanesque and Art Nouveau building, Beurs van Berlage served as the bustling seat of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in the early 20th century.
While still among the most famous buildings in the city, the Beurs van Barlage has since been converted into a series of restaurants, shops, exhibitions, and meeting places. Be sure to visit Tony’s Chocolate Bar and Bistro Berlage if you decide to check it out!
See Related: Best Things to Do in Amsterdam (From a Local!)
Address: Westermarkt, 1016 DV Amsterdam, Netherlands
While most people associate the Holocaust as something persecuted against Jews (around six million Jewish people were murdered), there were countless other victims. Around five million other people had their lives taken from them during the Holocaust, including people of color, political opponents, free thinkers, Slavs, Romany Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.
What was initially established in the late 80s as a monument to the many gay men and lesbians who paid the ultimate price during the Holocaust, the Homomonument now serves as a place to commemorate all members of the homosexual community who have been persecuted because of their sexuality and orientation.
This serene, discreet monument, laid in the ground, gracefully descending into a canal, features three large, pink granite triangles organized into a larger triangle. It’s great for quiet thinking and features in many walking tours, particularly around pride.
8. Van Gogh Museum
Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
We’ll give you one guess whose collection of work you can expect to find here. Yep, the Van Gogh Museum is where you’ll have the chance to feast your eyes on some of the most famous paintings by the legendary Vincent van Gogh.
Whether you consider yourself an art connoisseur or not, this museum is definitely worth visiting. You’ll not only feast your eyes on some of the artist’s most famous masterpieces but also learn more about the life of one of history’s most enigmatic painters.
If you are a diehard fan, it may be worth springing for a guided tour of the permanent collection. Either way, book ahead because tickets tend to sell out weeks in advance.
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Rijksmuseum is not only the national museum of the Netherlands but also its most visited museum. Regarding national museums, it might be one of the best on Earth; it is simply astonishing. As you explore the four floors of the famous art museum, you’ll feast your eyes on some of the most magnificent works of the Dutch Golden Age.
Packed with 800 years worth of Dutch history, the Rijksmuseum is home to masterpieces such as Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, and even a self-portrait by Van Gogh. Whether you purchase a standard entrance ticket or splurge on an exclusive guided tour, the Rijksmuseum is one of those Netherlands spots you don’t want to miss.
PRO TIP: If you’re a big fan of Rembrandt, then be sure you also check out the Rembrandt House Museum, aka Museum Rembrandthuis. Located closer to the city center, the museum is located in the home where Rembrandt van Rijn lived and worked from 1639 to 1658.
10. Stedelijk Museum
Address: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
If modern art is more your vibe, head to the Stedelijk Museum, which you’ll find in Museum Square, aka Museumplein. The art museum features work by celebrated 20th-century artists like Picasso and Mattise and contemporary artists like Marlene Dumas and Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld.
Best of all, there’s no need to worry about printing your ticket beforehand. Just pull your phone, scan the ticket on your mobile voucher, and enjoy.
11. Anne Frank House
Address: Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam has famous historic sites, but the Anne Frank House is undoubtedly among the most powerful. Historically, Amsterdam was the home of most of the Dutch Jewish population, so when the Frank family fled Germany to escape persecution, Amsterdam seemed a good choice. History tells us another story
During their occupation, the Germans deported and murdered most of the city’s Jewish population – around 80,000 people, including the Frank family, who had been hiding from the Nazis for years. The actual hiding place of Anne Frank and her family during World War II is now one of Amsterdam’s most notable museums.
Throughout your experience at Anne Frank House, you’ll also see Anne’s famous diaries and manuscript papers, translated into multiple languages and moved readers worldwide. Tickets are only available on the official museum website and often sell out months in advance, so make sure to book ASAP.
See Related: Top Travel Tips for Amsterdam (+ Top Do’s & Dont’s)
12. Portuguese Synagogue
Address: Mr. Visserplein 3, 1011 RD Amsterdam, Netherlands
To learn more about Jewish culture’s history in Amsterdam, visit the beautiful Portuguese Synagogue. Built in 1675, the synagogue remains an active Sephardic place of worship to this day but welcomes the public to tour its beautiful interior and (literal) treasure chambers.
The complex also houses the Ets Haim Livraria Montezinos, the world’s oldest Jewish library still in operation. Many tours and ticket combos also include entrance to other famous Dutch places in the Jewish Cultural Quarter.
Here, you’ll find the city’s Jewish Historical Museum, the National Holocaust Museum, and the National Holocaust Memorial. No matter your heritage or background is, it’s worth learning about Amsterdam’s Jewish heritage through its historical monuments.
13. Amsterdam Centraal Station
Address: Stationsplein 5, 1012, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Amsterdam Centraal Station is quite possibly the most notable landmark in Amsterdam and is one of the most visited, as it’s still used by nearly 200,000 travelers daily. As the busiest railway station in Amsterdam, Netherlands, this is the place to head if you want to take a day trip. On top of that, it’s in my top three favorite train stations worldwide!
But even if you don’t intend to venture outside the city limits, it’s still worth checking out the Centraal Station’s incredible architecture. Built-in the late 1800s by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, the station is a masterful blend of the Gothic and Renaissance Revival styles.
See Related: How to Travel From London to Amsterdam
Address: Begijnhof 1, 1012 WS Amsterdam
Right behind the Amsterdam Museum, you’ll find the Begijnhof, a community that traces its roots back to the 14th century. One of the oldest historical landmarks in Amsterdam, the Begijnhof, was originally founded by pious women called Beguines.
While Beguines dedicated themselves to religious service, they weren’t quite nuns, as they didn’t take vows, and marriage was always an option. Today, the Beginhof is a common highlight of guided tours that introduce visitors to the city’s best historic sites.
Tucked between the stately 17th and 18th century houses surrounding the courtyard, you’ll find “Het Houten Huis,” the oldest surviving house in Amsterdam. Constructed around 1420, Amsterdam’s oldest house is one of just two in the city with a wooden front because the city shifted away from timber in the 1500s after a series of fires.
15. De Gooyer Windmill
Address: Funenkade 5, 1018 AL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Another of the most notable sites in Amsterdam is the De Gooyer, the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands. Dating back to the 1700s, the windmill is undoubtedly an important part of Amsterdam’s history, though not necessarily worth visiting.
It’s one of those monuments you might want to take a quick snapshot of, so we’d recommend visiting it as part of an Amsterdam highlights tour. This private rickshaw tour is a popular choice that will give you a great intro to the city’s various neighborhoods and highlights.
See Related: Visiting Kinderdijk Windmills
16. Magna Plaza
Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 182I, 1012 SJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Looking for a great excuse to do a little shopping? Head down to the Magna Plaza, which you’ll find behind the Royal Palace near Dam Square.
Designed in the late 19th century, the gorgeous Gothic revival style building originally served as the Amsterdam Main Post Office. Today, it’s one of Amsterdam’s few shopping malls, featuring everything from boutique shops to major fashion brands.
17. National Holocaust Names Memorial
Address: 1018 DN Amsterdam, Netherlands
This next one is one of the newest monuments on this list and references one of the darkest chapters in human history. Once again, we’re reckoning with the specter of the Holocaust.
The Netherlands fared poorly under the Nazis, with no one suffering more than its fluctuating population of “undesirables.” The Germans persecuted thousands of Dutch citizens, particularly the sizable Jewish population. By the war’s end, 75% of the Netherlands’ Jews would die.
At this moving memorial, you’ll be met with one of the most awesome blends of pedestrian and groundbreaking. You’ll see some fairly mundane red brick walls from far away – and you might miss what’s on top.
Four tremendous horizontal stainless steel profiles are mounted in the shape of some Hebrew letters (I’ll get to those). I say you might miss it because there are also huge mirrors reflecting the surrounding environment.
To cap it off, the four sections of this monument represent the Hebrew letters (Lamedh, Zayin, Kaph, and Resh) in the Hebrew word “lizkor,“ essentially meaning “In Memoriam.”
As you get closer, the message from the walls hits home. Inscribed on each red brick is the name, date of birth, and age at the death of a Dutch Holocaust victim. There are 102,000 alphabetically ordered bricks – sobering stuff.
18. Castle Muiderslot
Address: Herengracht 1, 1398 AA Muiden, Netherlands
Ironically, one of the most famous landmarks in Amsterdam is located just outside of town in a neighboring village called Muiden. But whether you rent a car with RentalCars.com or set out on an epic tour of the most famous monuments and castles nearby, Muiderslot, aka Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, is definitely worth seeing.
The castle was built in 1285 and remains one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful, well-preserved castles. 1878, the castle was turned into a national museum after being lovingly renovated by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, the same genius behind the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam Central Station.
Surrounded by a moat and stunning gardens, the castle contains historical treasures, paintings, and incredible artifacts. Enjoy a live performance in the famous Knights Hall, learn about the history of the castle’s residents, and find out what life was like in a bygone era.
PRO TIP: If you want to see more Dutch historical sites, check out combo tours that visit sites like the Dom Tower (the tallest church tower in the Netherlands) and Utrecht‘s Pope House.
When is the best time to visit Amsterdam, Netherlands?
Amsterdam has a mild climate year-round, which makes it even harder to nail down the best time to go. June – September tends to be the city’s peak season because the weather is gorgeous, but be prepared for more crowds. March-May is when the tulips are most spectacular, while October – February can be a great time to score budget prices during the off-season.
Do I need travel insurance to travel to Amsterdam?
Most U.S. insurance plans do not cover international travel, so it’s important to ensure you’re covered with a solid travel plan. Head to TravelInsurance.com to compare plans from top providers, ranging from single-trip to annual coverage.
Where is the best area to stay in Amsterdam?
As you can see from our list, many of the best places to visit in Amsterdam are near the city center. It’s hard to go wrong with a great hotel in neighborhoods like Jordaan or Oost. For more info, check out some of our favorite parts of Amsterdam right here.