Amsterdam and the Anne Frank House, Red Light District, Coffee Shops, Heineken Experience, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, I Amsterdam sign, Dam Square, Royal Palace, Begijnhof, Singel canal, reflection and Dutch bike photography, Bloemenmarkt - Flower market

Amsterdam is the capital city of The Netherlands which is located in the EU and Schengen community.  Amsterdam offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • Anne Frank House
  • Red Light District
  • Coffee Shops
  • Heineken Experience
  • Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the I Amsterdam sign
  • Dam Square and Royal Palace
  • Begijnhof
  • Singel canal, reflection and Dutch bike photography
  • Bloemenmarkt – Flower market

In Amsterdam you can find great deals on almost 2000 hotels and you can even stay in a boat hotel on the canal.

Church of Saint Nicholas, Amsterdam

Church of Saint Nicholas, Amsterdam

You have 3 main ways of getting around Amsterdam, on foot, by bicycle or by tour bus / boat.  The hop on hop off bus service in Amsterdam is part bus and part boat which makes it a more interesting service than in most cities (above).  There are also lots of places to hire bikes in Amsterdam if you have a desire to bike like the Dutch!  I chose to walk around the city which is very possible when the weather is reasonable.

Royal Palace, Dam Square, Amsterdam

Royal Palace, Dam Square, Amsterdam

Dam Square is the the center of the city of Amsterdam and is a short walk from Amsterdam train station.  The square gets its name because it was originally a dam of the river Amstel.  This is also how the city got its name, Amstel + Dam = Amsterdam.  You may have heard of the name Amstel, not because of the river but because it’s a famous Dutch beer.  Dam square is often the meeting point for walking tours and pub crawls of Amsterdam.

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is the prominent building on Dam Square.  This building was originally the city hall during the Dutch Golden Age, nowadays it is at the disposal of the Dutch royal family.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Museum lovers  will love Amsterdam due to the high concentration of museums.  There are museums of many different genres in Amsterdam, some quite surprising!  The most popular museums are;

There are also a few unusual museums unique to Amsterdam such as;

Anne Frank house, Amsterdam

Anne Frank house, Amsterdam

Imagine being locked up in a small room for 2 years.  This is the house which Anne Frank and 7 others were hiding from the Germans in (above).  The house is now a popular museum devoted to the diarist, Anne Frank.  Inside you’ll see her living conditions and how she survived here before sadly being discovered by the Nazis and taken away towards the end of the war.

During her time in the house, Anne Frank wrote a diary of how her life was.  This has since become a top selling book known as The Diary of Anne Frank.

Red Light District, Amsterdam

Red Light District, Amsterdam

A walk through the red light district of Amsterdam is a must, this is probably the most famous (or infamous) part of the city.  As you walk through the red light district you’ll see lots of almost naked women in rooms with curtains.  I was visiting on a quiet rainy day so the women were knocking on the windows trying to attract attention and potential business.  Also in the red light district, you’ll find lots of bars and nightclubs which makes this area a good night out.

Coffee Shops, Amsterdam

Coffee Shops, Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous for it’s coffee shops where you can legally smoke marijuana.  You’ll walk past countless coffee shops whilst passing through the streets of Amsterdam and the smell is very identifiable.  Because of this coffee shop culture, Amsterdam receives a lot of tourists from all over Europe visiting for a weekend of smoking.  There are other interesting items you can buy in some of the specialized marijuana Dutch marts which are called head shops.  In these head shops you can buy marijuana in the form of cookies, cake (known as space cake), smoking equipment, t-shirts and souvenirs as well as many specialized Amsterdam Red Bull energy drinks.

Coffee shops are not only in Amsterdam, they are in found in all major towns and cities in The Netherlands.  There is also a marijuana culture in Christiania, Copenhagen in Denmark.

Remember to act sensibly and responsibly whilst enjoying the entertainment in Amsterdam!


2017-03-29T12:15:33+00:00 March 18th, 2017|The Netherlands|37 Comments


  1. Aneesha March 19, 2017 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Like how detailed your post is. Amsterdam seems like a really fun place. I feel bad I missed the Anne Frank museum on my last visit!

  2. Clare March 19, 2017 at 9:22 am - Reply

    I loved Amsterdam, have been there twice now. Have visited the Anne Frank museum which was really well set up and very interesting and also the sex museum!!! I walked through the red light district and that was an interesting experience. It’s a great city to visit, though the drinks were really expensive!!!

  3. Jatin Chhabra March 19, 2017 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Amsterdam is amazing. I have plans to visit it and the part about legally smoke marijuana, didn’t know about that 🙂
    Great post James, especially the details on boat hotel, quite interesting.

  4. Torgeir Lindland March 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    I love Amsterdam and try to go there every year. Such a beautiful city, especially after a visit to a coffee shop 😉

    My favorite thing to do in Amsterdam is to rent a bike and just bike around. Once you get a bit out of the city center there are a lot of beautiful spaces not as overrum by tourists as the center is.

  5. Kate Storm March 19, 2017 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Very cool! I haven’t been to Amsterdam yet, but it’s on the list. 🙂

  6. Paulina March 19, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    That is a very detailed post. I’ve been a few times in AMsterdam, but there are still hidden gems to be discovered. And the pics are great!

  7. Rhiannon March 19, 2017 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    For the first time reading one of your posts I’ve actually visited almost all of the main points of interest on your list! Except the Heineken experience, but that’s only because as a non-drinker I preferred to spend that time doing other things. When I walked through the Red Light District I actually saw one of the lecturers from my university at the time. Bit of an awkward encounter that!

    • James Smith March 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      haha, I hope he wasn’t negotiating a price!

  8. David Adesanya March 20, 2017 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I’ve recently been making a number of visits to Amsterdam and really do feel at home there. I’ll see if I can get on the hop on hop off bus service as I definitely missed that.

  9. Debra Schroeder March 20, 2017 at 1:10 am - Reply

    Amsterdam is so amazing. Sadly I only had two days there but can’t wait to get back. This was a great overview of what to expect for new visitors. Your shot of I Amsterdam came out great. Nice frame work. Naughty, naughty on taking that red light photo shot.

  10. kathy (from March 20, 2017 at 6:16 am - Reply

    I have yet to visit Amsterdam but really need to head over there. It sounds so interesting and different from most major cities in Europe. I think I would be really interested in Anne Frank house. So much history there.
    And of course the more seedy side to Amsterdam would be interesting to experience too.

  11. Michaela Terese Harrison March 20, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Been to Amsterdam but I missed so much. Must return and see more especially Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, Anne Frank and
    Rembrandt. Great post thank you for sharing!

  12. Derek Cullen March 20, 2017 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Great post James and all I can say is thank God I gave up alcohol last year as I hate to think what would have happened with a trip to Amsterdam!! I think a lot of people get caught up in thinking AMS is all about the smoke and beer as with such a huge cafe culture, it really does sound like it would suit anyone and everyone!

  13. Kelly March 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing. All the museums here look so neat. I would love to check out the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum. And the red light district would just be neat to explore. Great photos!

  14. Ha @ Expatolife March 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    I visited Amsterdam last year and went to most of places you listed above, except Anne Frank house. It’s so interesting that you could take the picture of Red light district, because it’s prohibited to take photos there. Thanks a lot for sharing 🙂

  15. Christopher James Mitchell March 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I love the use of the wide angle lens here, and I must admit that I’m surprised you got a good photo close up in the red light district without getting too much flak! Anyway, good post altogether! Thanks!

  16. Melanie March 20, 2017 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Amsterdam has always intrigued me! It’s like a world all to itself. Would love to go and stay in one of the boat hotels on the canal!

  17. Janine Good March 21, 2017 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Amsterdam was such a joy on my travels. It was such a mix of emotions with being humbled by Anne Frank’s house, to appreciating the incredible Rembrandt paintings. The red light district was a bit creepy for me, but I walked quickly through. What I did find quite funny was that if you ask someone where to find a “coffeehouse” you will get spots for special “brownies” whereas if you ask for a cafe, you will get an espresso 🙂 I cannot wait to go back.

  18. The Travel Ninjas March 21, 2017 at 2:20 am - Reply

    We love Amsterdam and this is a great guide to some genuine highlights. Be honest. When you were there, did you make any puns about the “Dam” Square? We did, and we’re not ashamed to admit it 🙂

  19. Cat March 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    A great overview on touring Amsterdam. I didn’t know that there are 2000 hotels in the city! That’s crazy! I don’t think I will visit those “unusual” museums but definitely will pay a visit to Van Gogh museum and the Heineken Experience!

  20. Isabel March 22, 2017 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I left my heart at Amsterdam. And wow, you managed to get a shot at the red light district? That’s pretty cool. Did you spot the “blue light” district too? 😛

  21. Sandy N Vyjay March 22, 2017 at 2:47 am - Reply

    I was smitten by Amsterdam after I read the Diary of Anne Frank. I got further bewitched when i saw the beauty of Amsterdam. This place is on my travel list and I can’t wait to tick it off.

  22. Travel Cracker March 22, 2017 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Hi James, May be, I am going to Netherlands soon. Hope your article will help me a lot for finding new places. Thanks a lot for your post.

  23. Harsh Gupta March 22, 2017 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Damn, I am visiting Paris and France in August but Amsterdam isn’t a part of itinerary yet. I think I need to loop in a short trip here for sure. Can you please suggest things to do in 24 hours? I am interested in exploring the red light area, good coffee shops, and museums!

  24. Brianna March 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    I really wanted to fit Amsterdam into my Europe itinerary this year. But I would have only been able to be there one full day, and I thought it just wouldn’t be right to cram all of Amsterdam into such a small amount of time. How many days would you recommend for an ideal trip to Amsterdam?

  25. Lusine March 22, 2017 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Aw, Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world! I visited almost a year ago, and have been to almost all the places you describe, really nice memories! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and telling people about the awesome Amsterdam 🙂

  26. Amanda Lane March 23, 2017 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Great post James. I loved Amsterdam when I went but it was a few years ago so this article has inspired a return visit! A couple of the museums were closed when I went so it will be good to see them now they are re-opened and will certainly seek out some of the others that you mention that were not even on my radar.

  27. silvana March 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    I visited Amsterdam more than 20 years ago and I’ve seen almost all places described.
    Didn’t book in hotel but b&b and moved mostly on foot.
    Would like to use bicycle next time.
    I don’t like very much the concept of red light district and I thought that the picture below the text relating to Anne Frank: “Imagine being locked up in a small room for 2 years” creates a strange juxtaposition.

  28. Milijana March 25, 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Staying at a boat hotel in Amsterdam would be lovely! And visiting the hash, marihuana and hemp could be interesting, I need to check it out!

  29. Wanderlust Vegans March 25, 2017 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    There is so much to see in Amsterdam that everyone can find something to enjoy. We chose to walk around Amsterdam as well as go on the hop on hop off bus/boat one day which was fun. It’s really strange walking through the red light district. Also I thought I’d mentioned that technically cannabis possession and cannabis use is illegal in Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole. But in most cases it is only a misdemeanor offense where you could get a fine. The police do not enforce the law when people are carrying under a certain amount of cannabis.

  30. Paula - Gone with the Wine March 25, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Amsterdam is definitely on my list of future travels. So far I have only had some short layovers on at the airport there. I have heard from so many friends how nice it is in Amsterdam, and what to go see there. If I was still living in Europe I probably already had visited but it is a little far from my current home, California. Oh, well… someday!

  31. Sheri March 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    One of my favourite cities in the world! The hop on hop off service is great. Not all of them, art part boat though. We always discover new places when we go back and find there is always more to see and do.

  32. Chiera March 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I personally love Amsterdam. I’ve had family live there on and off over the years so I’ve been visiting since I was about 14. It really is a different experience as a kid and adult, in the sense that as a 14 year old I was oblivious to the more ‘adult’ side to the city ha! But it’s such a lovely place!

  33. Firdaus April 3, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Great posts! I haven’t been to Anne Frank house. Would love to go there one day.

  34. Bhusha May 8, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Whoa! How did you manage to click a pic in Red Light District? That’s a risk of losing your camera itself!!!!
    I love those canal tours! Its such a gorgeous thing to do.
    I did visit the Anne Frank Museum too. Its such a humbling feeling!!!

  35. I have been always fascinated with Amsterdam. I would definitely want to visit all the museums there. They are all interesting and quirky. I think Amsterdam is a perfect haven for all artists and art aficionados.

  36. Bee August 29, 2017 at 8:00 am - Reply

    cool post, and what a trip down memory lane it was for me to read this. The Netherlands was my very first trip abroad and all these places were on my list. I really felt Anne Frank’s House was a special visit, but the city itself is really cool and dynamic. great travel tips to visit and i agree the museums you mentioned are definitely worth it too.

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