Amsterdam, a city that was developed from reclaimed land, is among the greatest cities in Europe. But, apart from its many beautiful sceneries, and deep culture, what other things make the city so unique? Here are some incredible things that Amsterdam is famous for.
15 Things Amsterdam is Famous For
Besides being the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is famous for several aspects that are rare to find elsewhere in the world. Amsterdam was initially known as Amstelredamme, a name that refers to a dam around river Amstel. The city’s history is quite lengthy and eventful, with its origins dating back to the 12th century.
Amsterdam is known as the city of canals. It is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to the vast number of canals. Besides the water trenches, how well do you know about Amsterdam?
If you’ve been longing for that trip to Amsterdam, you should read my article on 10 Things To Do In Amsterdam in December – Both Indoor and Outdoors. This will help you to know what to expect when you land.
Let’s now see what things are famous in Amsterdam:
Table of Contents
Top Famous Things in Amsterdam
Here are some of the most well known things in Amsterdam.
One of the most iconic landmarks in the world is Amsterdam’s concentric canal system. These canals attract millions of visitors every year and have played a vital role with regards to Amsterdam’s history. The water-filled channels form a unique layout for the city as the streets follow the canal belt, thus giving Amsterdam an artistic design.
There are over 165 canals that curl up to 100 kilometers within the city. Back in 2010, Amsterdam’s inner canal rings were officially recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
Just like any other UNESCO world heritage site, the canals are maintained per the international laws. This helps to preserve their cultural and historical significance.
The canals happen to be over 400 years old. Their centrality and age have made them hosts of numerous historical sites. And over 1,550 monuments can be found within their borders.
Additionally, the canals play a vital role in transport within the city as well as host several events around the year.
Besides being a town curled up with canals, Amsterdam is also famous for its canal cruises. You can blissfully explore the city in the comfort of a canal cruise. So, if you are planning to visit Amsterdam any time soon, get that camera ready!
There are different types of cruises to choose from, depending on one’s budget and taste. You can decide to hop on to a simple boat and swirl around the city, enjoying the breeze or board into a one-long cruise.
You also have a chance to choose from over 15,000 pleasure boats and houseboats within the town.
Precious Historical and Cultural Reference
History has it that Amsterdam was first eyed by two fishermen and later grew to be a vibrant port in the European region.
The rich cultural background has propelled museums, art galleries, and theatres to thrive. Amsterdam is the leading city with the most extensive museums per inhabitant in the world. The city has over 51 museums that provide a reliable historical reference of how Amsterdam grew through the ages.
Amsterdam’s reputation for art galleries precedes it. It’s not a wonder that artists, as well as tourists, flock the city. Most of these galleries run artist expositions and sell their work since time immemorial.
Some of the great galleries within Amsterdam include:
- Galerie De Appel
- Galerie Delaive
- Herman Brood Gallery
- Galerie Paul Andriesse
The Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is arguably the most visited in the whole of the Netherlands. It is located in Amsterdam and attracts an average of 1.5 million visitors per year. The museum was built and dedicated to Van Gogh, a prominent painter in the 19th century.
Van Gogh was the son of a reverend who worked in the art trade business. He managed to produce several artworks, 860 paintings, and 1200 drawings, but he only managed to sell only one of his paintings. His fame only came after his death, and the museum harbors about a quarter of his paintings.
The museum also features a rich collection of stunning artworks from other famous painters in the 19th century. Some of these legendary artists include:
- Claude Monet
- Paul Gauguin
- Maurice Denis, etc.
Amsterdam is famous for hosting the most important museum in the Netherlands as well. It would be unfair to visit Amsterdam and fail to check into Rijksmuseum. It is located at the Museum Square within the city, next to the Van Gogh Museum.
The museum is dedicated to showcasing the works of world-famous Dutch artists. Most of these Dutch-masters thrived in the 17th century when Dutch a society was blossoming as well as art. Some of the Dutch artists featured in the museum include Jan Steen, Vermeer, and Rembrandt.
The museum attracts around a million tourists each year. In case you happen to visit Amsterdam, and you are not quite sure about which museum to visit, place Rijksmuseum on top of the list.
Bike Riding Culture
Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the world’s capital of bicycles. Anybody who has ever tried to make their way through the city center of Amsterdam will tell you how painful it can get. Cyclists own the streets compared to the sheer number of motorists.
Among other great cities in Europe, Amsterdam is famous for the fact that it has more bicycles on the roads than cars. Taking a walk around the streets will give you a chance to notice the large bike garages. The city has long, endless cycle paths, and you can easily find city tours on a bike.
The best way to get around and discover the city is through cycling. Bike riding is an essential experience in Amsterdam, as it can be quite an adventure. If you are visiting Amsterdam, you can easily hire a bike and experience one of the world’s most famous cycling culture.
Anne Frank’s House
Anne Frank house is a great tourist attraction spot at the heart of Amsterdam. The house is a biographical museum that is dedicated to Jewish writer by the name Anne Frank. She was a wartime diarist who hid from the Nazi persecution during the second world war together with her family and other people.
Unfortunately, she did not survive the war, but her emotional diary got published in 1947. The Anne Frank Foundation was established to protect the house and rooms that Anne Frank and her fellow Jews used to hide.
This spot is quite emotional as it allows you to at least experience what it felt like to live during those moments.
Amsterdam also boasts of specular flower scenes. In the Netherlands, the tulip season marks the onset of spring. The rising temperatures and colorful flowers attract lots of people to Amsterdam as millions of tulips bloom in and around the city every year.
During the tulip season in the Netherlands, you can visit, participate, and enjoy the tulip festivals held in Amsterdam. Even though tulips bloom during the springs, Amsterdam gives you a colorful flower experience all year long. Several flower museums allow you to experience the Dutch tulips even though it’s not yet spring.
Red Light District
Yet another thing that Amsterdam is famous for is prostitution. This is one of the world’s oldest profession, and it’s hard to go unnoticed. Generally, prostitution is often related to loose morals, hence why it’s practiced behind closed doors in most parts. However, one of Amsterdam’s neighborhoods is an exception.
In Amsterdam’s Red Light District, prostitution is merely a taboo. Prostitutes will advertise and offer their “services” from behind a window. Besides that, the area is thronged with numerous live sex shows, brothels, sex shops, and strip clubs.
Although the area used to be unsafe, the authorities have assured the public that things have changed over the decade. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to be vigilant and cautious of pickpockets.
Even though there isn’t any age restriction to pass through this part of the city, try not to pass through with young kids to avoid some awkward questions later on.
The numerous coffee shops are among Amsterdam’s famous things. Well, you might be wondering why coffee shops would make a city memorable. Well, these are not just ordinary coffee shops. In these coffee shops, selling and smoking marijuana is also a regular business activity.
There are nearly 200 coffee shops within the city that happen to be quite beneficial to the tourism industry in Amsterdam. The coffee shops attract an average of 1.5 million tourists every year. Also, the coffee shops make an annual average sale of 100 tons of marijuana.
See related: 30 Cheap Places to Travel [Ultimate Guide]
17th Century Architecture
The city is also known for its nearly 9000 unique slender houses towering over the canals. These houses are beautiful and appealing to the eye, but most people don’t know the reason behind the narrow properties. The main reason as to why most of the houses are narrow boils down to taxation.
Back in the 17th century, the locals were being taxed based on the width of the property. To evade paying lots of cash to the authorities, these locals built narrow-front ended houses. Funnily, some were clever enough to build homes that were narrow on the front but grew wider towards the rear end.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of the three palaces in Holland. The castle is located on the western side of Dam Square. Not only is this exuberant civic structure known for hosting the royals, but it was initially built as a city hall in the 17th century.
During the golden age, Amsterdam was one of the most influential cities in Europe. The Royal palace’s architecture symbolized Amsterdam’s international influence in the 17th century. The stunning structure is 90 feet high, 60 feet wide, and 120 feet long.
Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE)
Amsterdam is famous for the various festivals that happen all around the year. Nonetheless, the Amsterdam Dance Event is a global event that places this beautiful city on a worldwide spotlight. ADE is a globally recognized music festival and conference.
The event converges the top artists in electronic music to one stage, thus drawing thousands of fans from various parts of the world. The festival typically runs for five days and nights in nearly 200 locations.
If you are an electronic music fan, you better start checking those dates out.
The city’s population is quite diverse, with over 180 different nationalities. This fact marks Amsterdam as the second city with the richest diversity after New York. In the past 100 years or so, Amsterdam has seen an influx of people from various European countries and beyond.
The diversity has played a vital role in facilitating the city’s lively culture. The city authority encourages this diversity and has laid down policies to reinforce it. Whenever you visit Amsterdam, you will always find a corner that is a home away from home.
It is always a pleasure to carry home souvenirs and gifts after a trip. But, is Amsterdam known for souvenirs? The answer is outright, yes. Amsterdam offers plenty of memorable items you can carry with you back home.
Given the city’s vibrant nature as well as tourism, lots of unique artifacts are sold in the markets and on the roadsides. Some of the remarkable souvenirs include:
- Clogs from the Zaanse Schans
- Dutch cheese
- Poffertjes (mini-pancakes) and these other amazing Dutch treats
- Precious antiques
- Dutch alcohol
- Dutch beers such as these top Amsterdam beers
- Dutch gin (Jenever)
- Anything else fancy, that you might want to remember Amsterdam by
See Related: Best Tours in Amsterdam
Conclusion on Things that Amsterdam is Famous For
It is undeniable that Amsterdam is famous for quite several reasons. These are only selections of remarkable things and spots that make Amsterdam so popular.
If you decide to visit Amsterdam, you will also notice that the locals are charming, free-spirited, open-minded, and warm-hearted. The city is full of hidden gems that you even didn’t know exists, and that will make your stay there, blissful.
So, wait no longer, plan your visit, and enjoy being in this incredible city.
- Travel Hacking 101: Travel the World For Next to Nothing
- Hotel vs. Motel vs. Inn: Pros and Cons of Each & Differences
- Why is everyone obsessed with travel?
- 16 Best Amsterdam Foods to Try
Via travelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure.