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9 Incredible Photo Spots in Amsterdam to Capture the Beauty

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Amsterdam’s enchanting canals, rich history, and vibrant arts scene make it a photographer’s paradise. As a travel photographer, I’m drawn to the timeless beauty of this European city, where every corner tells a story.

The intricate network of waterways, flanked by historic buildings, offers endless opportunities for capturing the city’s essence. It’s this beauty that made me want to make Amsterdam my home.

I often find myself venturing out in the early morning light when the city stirs softly to life, and the soft, golden hues cast a magical glow over the canals. The interplay of light and shadow at this hour accentuates the architectural details, and the calm waters become a mirror, reflecting the waking city.

My quest to document Amterdam’s storied past and present through my lens often leads me to iconic spots, where I wait patiently for the perfect moment when everything aligns – the lighting, the angle, and the mood encapsulating the spirit of Amsterdam in a single frame. Here are a few of my favorite photo spots.

1. The Magical Canals of Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal houses with bright flowers under a blue sky
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam’s canals are an enchanting network of waterways, each offering an avenue for exploration and photography. The reflection of the Canal Houses on the still water during the golden hour provides a stunning array of photo opportunities. I particularly love capturing the essence of these historic structures with the soft light of dawn casting a warm glow.

I always aim to arrive early for photos with soft, diffuse light and fewer crowds, just as the city awakes. Equally beautiful is the blue hour, when lights along the canals begin to twinkle. The interaction between artificial and natural light can be magical, especially at the Groenburgwal, where you can frame the serene waterway toward the Zuiderkerk tower.

For a truly unique angle, I take a canal cruise or stroll along Reguliersgracht, known for its seven-arched bridges. Photographing from a boat provides a dynamic perspective of the canals’ grandeur. And, no list is complete without mentioning Keizersgracht, where the interplay between light and shadow weaves a captivating visual narrative.

Here are a few more canal sites great for snaps:

  • Damrak: The bustling entry to Amsterdam’s canals, lined with boats and vibrant activity.
  • Prinsengracht: Known for its picturesque views and the Anne Frank House.
  • Amstel: Offers scenic vistas of the iconic Skinny Bridge and the grand Amstel River.
  • Herengracht Canal: A spot where the gabled facades create a quintessential Amsterdam backdrop.
  • Keizersgracht: One of the three main canals, perfect for photographing elegant canal boats.

2. The Iconic Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As an avid photographer, I am hopelessly drawn to the grandeur of the Rijksmuseum. I have an entire SD card dedicated to this place. The Dutch National Museum, designed by architect Pierre Cuypers, is a treasure trove of Dutch masterpieces and a striking subject for photography.

Enchanting Dutch architecture at Rijksmuseum Garden, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Location & Landscape

  • Located in Museumplein: The museum is part of a cultural hub, alongside the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and the Moco Museum.
  • Iamsterdam Sign: Once in the vicinity, the iconic “I Amsterdam” sign provides a playful, modern foreground with the Rijksmuseum’s Gothic-Renaissance facade as a backdrop.

Photography Tips

  • Golden Hour: At dusk, the exterior is what I find most compelling when the building itself appears as a grand, timeless work of art. Capture the warm glow as the sun sets, accentuating the intricate details of the museum’s architecture.
  • Wide-Angle Lens: Ideal for encompassing the vast expanse of the Museumplein and the majestic Rijksmuseum in one shot.

Get Inside!

Compositions featuring the Rijksmuseum are incomplete without the presence of The Night Watch, Rembrandt’s famed artwork. Inside, the soft, diffused light caresses the paintings, creating a serene atmosphere that I always try to convey in my photos.

See Related: Exclusive Sneak Peek: Frans Hals’ Artistic Mastery Unveiled at Rijksmuseum

3. Nostalgic NDSM Wharf

Colorful street art mural at STRAAT Museum, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

NDSM Wharf, with its rich maritime past, has transformed into Amsterdam’s cultural canvas. This neighborhood once buzzed with the sounds of shipbuilders at work, but today, it’s an inspiring hub of creativity, home to some of the city’s best street art. It is a photographer’s playground, blending industrial heritage and contemporary flair.

Location & Landscape

  • Where to Find Street Art: Huge murals and colorful graffiti art make every corner of NDSM a potential masterpiece for your lens.

  • Iconic Spots: The Pllek is not just a place for great food but also offers amazing views of the IJ River, a stunning backdrop for photos.

Photography Tips

  • Best Time for Photos: Capture the soft golden hues during the “golden hour” – just after sunrise or before sunset.
  • Unique Angles: Look for reflective surfaces around the area for interesting and dynamic shots.

My photo-shooting experiences at NDSM Wharf have been nothing short of inspirational. The marriage of industrial grit and artistic expression is perfect for photographers seeking to capture Amsterdam’s transformation. And with the IJ River reflecting the colors of the sky, I’m always reminded of Amsterdam’s ability to balance its history with the bleeding-edge artistry you’ll find around the wharf.

4. The Historic Begijnhof

Outside of the Begijnhof, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amidst Amsterdam’s bustling streets, I find solace in the serene ambiance of the Begijnhof, a secluded courtyard with a rich history dating back to the 14th century. This tranquil spot, originally a sanctuary for the Beguines, offers a glimpse into the city’s past with its preserved Medieval architecture.

I’ve found that Begijnhof’s lush gardens, historic homes, and the remarkable Engelse Kerk (English Church) are stunning backdrops for photographers. The hidden quality of the courtyard ensures a peaceful setting for capturing Amsterdam’s essence without the crowds.

Photography Tips

  • Best Time for Photos: The best time for amazing snaps is during the golden hour when soft light bathes the courtyard’s charming façades.
  • Unique Angles: Aim for low angles to capture the contrast between the ancient buildings and the sky.

5. Staalmeestersbrug: The Bridge of Views

Zuiderkerk tower and picturesque Amsterdam canal view with historic buildings and boats
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Staalmeestersbrug bridge has always captivated my imagination – and I’m not alone. It’s an irresistible photo spot for Instagram enthusiasts and photographers alike. The tranquility of the canal, aligned with the striking Zuiderkerk tower in the background, makes it an ideal place to capture Amsterdam’s essence.

Photography Tips

  • Best Time for Photos: Both sunrise and the golden hour offer some amazing opportunities, with the former offering fewer crowds and the latter a soft, warm light.
  • Capture the reflection in the water for symmetry.
  • Angling the camera from the bridge or nearby sidewalks can provide an enchanting perspective of the canal houses.
  • Use a low ISO to ensure the crispest shot.
  • A small aperture (high f-stop) will keep the entire scene in focus.

Remember to respect the area and local sentiments—keep the bridge free of locks to preserve its beauty and charm. Staalmeestersbrug continues to be one of my treasured photo spots, revealing the timeless romance of Amsterdam with each visit.

See Related: Best Bridges in Amsterdam to See

6. The De Pijp Neighborhood

De Pijp, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

In the “Old South” of Amsterdam, De Pijp is renowned for its dynamic array of street art and picturesque scenes. With what can only be described as an artist’s palette of colors adorning the walls and streets, every corner of De Pijp becomes a potential canvas for my camera.

If I can get it set up before something else takes my gaze. I often find myself lost in the unique charm of this place, so capturing the essence of this lively district on the fly with my GoPro and phone has also become part of the routine.

Exploring the Street Art

  • Best Time for Photos: Early morning light provides a soft glow, perfect for highlighting the textures of the murals.
  • Composition: Use wide-angle lenses to capture the full scene or a zoom lens for detailed close-ups.

Albert Cuyp Market – A Kaleidoscope

  • Best Shots: Stalls lined with fresh tulips add splashes of color to my photos, which are ideal for vibrant shots.
  • Insight: Weekday mornings offer clear shots without the crowds.

BONUS! – The Floral Display

  • While not in De Pijp proper, an early visit to the nearby Flower Market allows you to photograph tulips without the interference of harsh midday light spoiling the colors.

Amid the hustle of market life and the bold statements of street art, I’m reminded why De Pijp is celebrated as a photographer’s haven—a compelling neighborhood that continually inspires my lens, my spirit – and, more often than not, my love for Dutch cuisine.

7. Amsterdam’s Seasonal Spectacles

Multicolored tulip display on National Tulip Day at Van Gogh Museum
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amidst the urban charm, I find that Amsterdam’s seasonal events and spectacles offer some of the most enchanting photographic opportunities. Here are a few of my favorites:

Light Festivals to Tulips

The Amsterdam Light Festival transforms the city into a luminous art gallery in December and January. If I’m going out to shoot snaps for the festival, I always have my camera ready at twilight to capture the reflections on the canals. This offers soft natural lighting with a dramatic contrast for the ultimate festive photo.

Come spring, tulips paint the landscapes with colors. A visit to Keukenhof Gardens in March or April is a must for any photographer. The golden hour highlights the tulip’s hues, providing a natural photo saturation.

King’s Day and Pride: A Colorful Spectacle

Family During Koning's Dag in Vondelpark, Amsterdam
Me with my daughter on King’s Day (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

On King’s Day in April, the city bursts with orange (the Dutch national color – think William of Orange), and the festivities provide dynamic photo scenes. I aim for early morning shots to catch the soft light and avoid the crowds.

In August, Amsterdam Pride showcases the city in its most colorful way, and there’s so much to it. Pride festivals are always a gas and an infectious atmosphere that plasters a smile on your face. Amsterdam’s is no different.

It’s wonderful getting down at street level to capture people’s joy. I also enjoy photographing the parade from a high vantage point mid-morning, when the light reflects off the canals, giving images a sparkling backdrop. Speaking of high vantage points…

8. Amsterdam’s Rooftop Panoramas

Aerial View of Amsterdam Centraal Station (Amsterdam Central Station)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

In my quest for the perfect shot, I’ve found that Amsterdam’s rooftop panoramas offer an unrivaled perspective of the city’s skyline. Considering a lot of the city is the same height, this is no small feat apart from the A’DAM Lookout.

And once you bag the right spot, you can see Amsterdam from some unique angles. Ascending to these heights allows photographers to capture the essence of Amsterdam with sprawling, breathtaking views.

OBA

From the rooftop café of Amsterdam’s public library (OBA), I relish the uninterrupted views. The best time for photography here is during twilight when the city lights begin to twinkle. The soft, diffused lighting post-sunset provides a vivid backdrop for my photos, enriching the city’s contours with a warm glow.

A’DAM Lookout

The A’DAM Lookout thrills not only with its view but with Europe’s highest swing set on the edge. I visit during the early morning hours to avoid crowds and catch the golden hour’s light casting a magical hue over the canals. The soft morning light provides the perfect condition for my shots, illuminating the cityscape with a gentle radiance.

NEMO Science Museum

NEMO is one of my favorite attractions in Amsterdam – you can read my gushing about it here. But apart from its main function as an educational wonder, it’s also a terrific place to source some wonderful rooftop shots of central Amsterdam’s skyline and canals.

See Related: Best Museums in the Netherlands

9. The Artistic Alleys of Jordaan

Street in Jordaan with view of Westerkerk, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Wandering through the Jordaan neighborhood reveals a labyrinth of beauty ideal for photographers and art enthusiasts alike. Jordaan’s narrow streets and scenic canals are lined with historic buildings, with murals and street art dotting the district. This juxtaposition transforms the area into an open-air museum and meets a street gallery.

Navigating the Streets

  • Explore Jordaan’s picturesque lanes and alleyways at your own pace. Each one offers a unique perspective and composition.
  • Keep an eye out for unexpected art installations or charming architectural details. With street art, I find it important to respect the artwork’s integrity, framing my shots to preserve the artist’s message. The latter is a bit more subtle, but once you get the hang of it, you can see it everywhere you look.

Photography Tips

  • Best Time for Photos: I’ve found the early morning light to be soft and diffused, perfect for capturing the essence of Jordaan. For the most dramatic shots, I visit during the golden hour, when the sunlight bathes the streets in a warm glow.
  • Use cobblestone patterns or canal reflections to add depth to my photos.
  • Anyone can take a charming photo of Jordaan, but for a GREAT photo encapsulating the spirit of Jordaan, my advice is that patience is key. I take my time to absorb the surroundings, allowing the composition to reveal itself naturally. This neighborhood’s artistic heartbeat makes it an unforgettable setting for photography that truly resonates.

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