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17 Things Amsterdam is Famous For

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Amsterdam, a city developed from reclaimed land, is among the greatest cities in Europe. But, apart from its many beautiful landscapes and deep culture, what other things make the city unique? Here are some incredible things that 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 the Amstel River. The city’s history is lengthy and eventful, dating back to the 12th century.

Amsterdam is known as the city of canals. It is sometimes called the “Venice of the North” due to the vast number of canals. Besides the water trenches, how well do you know about Amsterdam? Here are some of the most well-known things in Amsterdam.

Top Famous Things in Amsterdam

1. Canals

Aerial View of the Canals of Amsterdam

One of the most iconic landmarks in the world is Amsterdam’s concentric canal system. These canals attract millions of visitors annually and have played a vital role in 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. Since the city is entirely built on water, there are over 165 canals that curl up to 100 kilometers within the city.

In 2010, Amsterdam’s inner canal rings were officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like any other UNESCO World Heritage Site, the canals are maintained per 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.

2. Canal Cruises

Amsterdam canal cruise with historic cityscape views
I never mind getting on the canals. (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

Besides being a town with canals, Amsterdam is 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 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 a one-long cruise.

You also have a chance to choose from over 15,000 pleasure boats and houseboats within the town. Want to see what it’s like touring Amsterdam on a boat cruise? Take a cruise with us from our YouTube channel.

See Related: Things to Do in Amsterdam in December

3. Precious Historical and Cultural Reference

Street Art in Amsterdam in NDSM
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

History shows two fishermen first eyed Amsterdam, which later became a lively European port. 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 globally.

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 to the city.

Most of these galleries have run artist expositions and sold their work since immemorial. Some of the great galleries within Amsterdam include Galerie De Appel, Galerie Delaive, Herman Brood Gallery, and Galerie Paul Andriesse.

See related: Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam Review

4. The Van Gogh Museum

Front of Van Gogh Museum
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 annually. The museum was built and dedicated to Van Gogh, a prominent painter in the 19th century, and contains the world’s largest collection of his art.

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 one of his paintings.

His fame only came after his death, and the museum harbors about a quarter of his paintings. The Van Gogh Museum also features a rich collection of stunning artworks from other famous painters in the 19th century, including Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, and Maurice Denis.

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5. Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum in Summer
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam is famous for hosting the most important museum in the Netherlands as well. Visiting Amsterdam and failing to check out the Rijksmuseum would be unfair.

It is located in Museum Square, 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 society was blossoming, as well as art.

Some Dutch artists featured in the museum include Jan Steen, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. The museum attracts around a million tourists each year. If you visit Amsterdam and are unsure about which museum to visit, place Rijksmuseum on top of the list.

See Related: Brunch & Breakfast Spots in Amsterdam

6. Bike Riding Culture

Biking Intersection in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 are the ones who own the street. You get the right of the way over the sheer number of motorists. Among other great European cities, Amsterdam is famous for having 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 visit Amsterdam, you can easily hire a bike and experience one of the world’s most famous cycling cultures.

See Related: Best Hostels in Amsterdam

7. Anne Frank House

Front of Anne Frank House
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Anne Frank House is a great tourist attraction spot in the heart of Amsterdam. Anne Frank’s House is a biographical museum dedicated to the Jewish writer and inspiration, Anne Frank.

She was a wartime diarist who hid from the Nazi persecution during the Second World War with her family and others. Unfortunately, she did not survive the war, but her emotional diary was 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.

See Related: Museums in Amsterdam to Visit

8. Dutch Tulips

Amsterdam tulips

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 in, and enjoy the tulip festivals held in Amsterdam.

Even though tulips bloom during the spring, Amsterdam gives you a colorful flower experience all year. Several flower museums allow you to experience the Dutch tulips even though spring has not yet arrived.

See Related: Best Food Tours in Amsterdam

9. Red Light District

Red Light District in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Yet another thing that Amsterdam is famous for is prostitution. This is one of the world’s oldest professions, 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 Red Light District 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.

10. Coffee Shops

Front of Grey Area Coffeeshop in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The numerous coffee shops are among Amsterdam’s famous things. You might be wondering why coffee shops would make a city memorable. These are not just ordinary coffee shops. In these coffee shops, selling and smoking marijuana is a regular business activity.

There are nearly 200 coffee shops within the city that are quite beneficial to Amsterdam’s tourism industry. The coffee shops attract an average of 1.5 million tourists every year.

Also, Amsterdam’s coffee shops make an annual average sale of 100 tons of marijuana yearly.

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11. 17th Century Architecture

Amsterdam Canal Houses in Summer
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The city is also known for its nearly 9,000 unique slender houses towering over the canals. These houses are beautiful and appealing to the eye, but most people don’t know why their narrow properties exist. The main reason 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 narrow homes on the front but grew wider towards the rear.

12. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Royal Palace of Amsterdam at Night
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of the three palaces in Holland. Amsterdam’s Royal Palace is located on the western side of Dam Square. This exuberant civic structure is known for hosting the royals and was initially built as a city hall in the 17th century.

During the Dutch 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.

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13. Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE)

Electronic Music Concert During Amsterdam Dance Event
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam is famous for the dozens of festivals that happen annually. Nonetheless, the Amsterdam Dance Event is a global event that places this beautiful city in the worldwide spotlight.

ADE is a globally recognized music festival and conference. The event brings the top artists in electronic music together on 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.

See Related: Best Party Cities in Europe

14. Diversity

The Dutch capital’s population is diverse, with over 180 nationalities. This fact marks Amsterdam as the second city with the richest diversity after New York.

In the past 100 years, Amsterdam has seen an influx of people from various European countries and beyond. Diversity has played a vital role in facilitating the city’s lively culture. The city authority encourages this diversity and has laid policies to reinforce it.

Whenever you visit Amsterdam, you will always find a corner that is a home away from home.

See Related: Free Amsterdam Packing Checklist

15. Souvenirs

Inside a Dutch Cheese Store in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Carrying home souvenirs and gifts after a trip is always a pleasure. 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 spirited culture as well as tourism, lots of unique artifacts are sold in the markets in Amsterdam and on the roadsides.

Some of the remarkable souvenirs include clogs from Zaanse Schans, tulip bulbs, Dutch cheese, antiques, Dutch gin (Jenever), Dutch beers such as these top Amsterdam beers, poffertjes (mini-pancakes), and other amazing Dutch treats.

See Related: Best Tours in Amsterdam

16. Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest)

Boat Rentals at the Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdam Bos)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdamse Bos means “Amsterdam Forest,” although Amsterdam Woodlands may be appropriate in this context. Though situated mostly within neighboring Amsterdam, Amsterdam has incorporated the park and is easily accessible via tramway or bicycle.

The park offers tons of activities for kids, including the goat farm, the Fun Forest, which consists of rope ladders and suspension bridges, and swimming pools. This is definitely worth the short journey to get into the forest.

It doesn’t just stop at the Amsterdam Forest here. What makes Amsterdam famous beyond the forest is its amazing park system, with Vondelpark, Beatrixpark, and Amstelpark being top Amsterdam attractions, especially with kids, in their own right.

All of which is just a stone’s throw away from the city center of Amsterdam. Check out these best parks in Amsterdam to make the most of your visit.

17. Amazing Museums

Van Gogh Museum from Museumplein
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

While the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum are in a league of their own, Amsterdam is a city for art lovers and history lovers. The city features hundreds of other excellent museums, such as the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, one of the world’s most popular museums for modern and contemporary art.

In addition to this, there are plenty of other great museums, such as:

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What is Amsterdam known for?

Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, incredible architecture, and lively nightlife. It’s also a great place to find Dutch art and culture, and the city has a rich history that dates back to the 13th century.

Amsterdam is a city rich in culture and history, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking to explore. Renowned for its iconic canals and distinctive architecture, Amsterdam offers a truly unique experience.

Amsterdam is also great for nightlife – there’s always something going on in the city’s many beer cafes, bars, and clubs. And, of course, no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without checking out the city’s famous red light district.

Tours in Amsterdam

1. Amsterdam Highlights Small-Group Walking Tour Top Recommendation

Embark on a small group walking tour of Amsterdam and marvel at the city's top attractions with an insider's view. With a maximum of just 12 people, this intimate tour is led by an informative guide who will take you around the historical center. Learn about the city's intriguing history as you stroll past Dam Square, the Royal Palace, Nieuwmarkt, and the infamous Red Light District. Snap photos of the UNESCO-listed canals and 17th-century gabled houses as you enjoy this morning stroll through one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

2. Amsterdam: Guided Bike Tour of Central Amsterdam

Immerse yourself in Dutch culture as you explore Amsterdam by bike on a guided tour. This is the perfect way to see all the best sights of the city, from the charming canals to the trendy boutiques and historic museums. You'll learn all about the city's rich history from your local guide, and you can rest assured knowing that you're travelling with a small group of 15 people or less. This is a great way to see Amsterdam at your own pace and learn all about what makes this city so special.

3. Amsterdam: City Canal Cruise

Looking to explore Amsterdam in a unique and atmospheric way? Then look no further than a canal cruise! Discover the city's UNESCO world heritage canals, iconic bridges, and waterfront houses on this 75-minute tour. See the sights of Amsterdam from its famous waterways and get a real sense of the city's history and culture. This is a great way to explore the city and is sure to be a memorable experience.

What is Amsterdam?

Aerial View of Amsterdam Central Station
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam has been around since the 1200s when it was founded as a fishing village. It’s the capital of the Netherlands and is known for being a progressive city with a strong art scene and a population that loves to party.

It’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with over 7 million visitors each year. That’s an average of 687 people every hour. And why wouldn’t they want to come?

Amsterdam has everything you could want in a city: art museums, recreational activities, historical sites, and tons of great food. One thing that makes Amsterdam such an amazing city is how easy it is to get around.

Where is Amsterdam located?

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, located in the northwest of the country along the coast of the North Sea. Amsterdam is a part of the Dutch province of North Holland. The city is built around a network of canals and is known for its lively atmosphere and interesting architectural style.

It is undeniable that Amsterdam is famous for plenty of reasons. These are only selections of remarkable things and spots that make Amsterdam 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 you didn’t even know existed, which will make your stay there blissful.

There are plenty of things beyond this list that make Amsterdam famous. This is just the start. So, what are you waiting for? Visit the amazing Dutch capital of Amsterdam to change your perspective on the world.

FAQs

What is Amsterdam famous for?

Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, quirky architecture, and lively nightlife. It’s also a great place to find Dutch art and culture, and the city has a rich history that dates back to the 13th century. If you’re looking for a city with plenty of culture and history to explore, Amsterdam is definitely worth a visit.

Why do people go to Amsterdam?

People go to Amsterdam for a number of reasons reasons. The city has a rich history and culture and is home to some of the world’s most famous museums. It’s also a great place for nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs. And, of course, the city’s famous red light district is always worth a visit. Amsterdam is also a great place to find Dutch art and architecture, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Why is Amsterdam the best?

Amsterdam is relatively small compared to other cities yet still offers much to see and do. It’s easy to get around the city, and there’s always something going on. The city also has a rich history and culture, making all the top Amsterdam attractions unlike anything else.

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