Amsterdam is the capital city of The Netherlands and one of the most photogenic cities in Europe. There are a lot of iconic landmarks which make for stunning Amsterdam photography;
- Dam Square and Royal Palace
- Church of Saint Nicolas
- Rijksmuseum + I Am Amsterdam Sign
- Van Gogh Museum
- Heineken Experience
- Canals and Dutch Bike Photography
- Anne Frank House
- Coffee Shops
- Red Light District
Royal Palace, Dam Square
Dam Square is the the center of the city of Amsterdam. The square gets its name because it was originally a dam of the river Amstel. More importantly, 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 a popular meeting point for Amsterdam tours.
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. Did you know there’s another Royal Palace in The Hague?
Church of Saint Nicholas
A stunning view in Amsterdam is the Church of Saint Nicolas. Not only is this a unique Baroque style church but it’s also surrounded by Dutch style houses as well as the canal. This is quite a rough canal, as a result it doesn’t offer a reflection, however a long exposure in the evening could produce some special photography.
How to get around 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.
Rijksmuseum + I Am Amsterdam Sign
The Rijksmuseum building is a photogenic building in its own right. Furthermore, it’s adjacent to a colorful park, as a result you can photograph it from many colorful locations. That’s before you go inside to view to iconic artwork inside. Visit the official Rijksmuseum website to view the latest exhibitions. More importantly, buy the skip the line ticket to immediately start photographing the artwork inside.
Van Gogh Museum
Adjacent to the Rijksmuseum is the circular shaped Van Gogh museum. Because of its circular shape, it photographs beautifully, even more so with a blue sky as well as a few clouds. Moreover, once inside, you can photograph the most famous of Van Gogh’s artwork. Visit the official Van Gogh site to see the latest exhibitions. In addition, buy a skip the line ticket so you can enter first!
Did you ever visit a brewery and see the processes involved in creating beer? Even if you’re not a fan of Heineken you can’t deny it’s an extremely popular beer. If you take a tour of the Heineken Brewery, you’ll not only learn about beer but you’ll also come away with some fantastic photos. Moreover, when you’re walking around Amsterdam, there’s nothing more Dutch than a photo with a Heineken object in it! Alternatively, you can get an Amstel subject in your photo.
Canals are one of the most famous landmarks of Amsterdam. They are incredibly picturesque, not just for the colorful boats on them but also for the typical Dutch houses as their backdrop. If you walk into the quieter parts of the city, often the canals are much calmer and picturesque. You’ll be rewarded for exploring several different canals of the city with unique photos. Additionally, you could organise a canal cruise to photograph the canals from a different angle.
There is an area of Amsterdam famous for its historical houses and churches. When you combine this iconic architecture with canals you’ll come away with some wonderful photos.
Dutch Bike Photography
There are millions of bikes in Amsterdam. Most are the traditional Dutch bike but to mix things up they come in all sorts of colors and designs. As you’re walking through the streets of Amsterdam keep your eyes open for especially picturesque parked bikes.
Anne Frank House
Imagine being locked up in a small room for 2 years. You can visit the house which Anne Frank and 7 others were hiding from the Germans during World War II. 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. Although this is not a photogenic location, Anne Frank is an important reminder of World War II history in this region. You may have heard of the top selling book known as The Diary of Anne Frank.
Amsterdam is famous for its coffee shops which sell a lot more than coffee! You’ll walk past countless coffee shops in 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. Coffee shops are not only in Amsterdam, they are also found in other parts of The Netherlands such as Utrecht and Rotterdam. There is also a similar culture in Christiania, Denmark. Remember to act sensibly and responsibly whilst enjoying the entertainment in Amsterdam! Finally, from a photographers perspective, these coffee shops create excellent street photography.
Red Light District
The Red Light District is probably the most famous landmark of Amsterdam. It’s actually several blocks of bars, nightclubs and of course, the women. Additionally, in this area you’ll find some of the strangest museums in the world. With all the questionable legal activities in Amsterdam, you don’t need to stretch your imagination too far to work out their subjects! It’s forbidden to photograph the women but if you really want a photo I’m sure you can sneak one.
Enjoy your Amsterdam Photography Experience
There is a negative side to Amsterdam, it suffers from over tourism. As a matter of fact, during holidays it’s difficult to walk around the city because of the number of people. For this reason, I strongly recommend you visit off season, alternatively you can visit other cities in The Netherlands which are much quieter and offer equally as good photo opportunities.