Amsterdam. Capital of the Netherlands. With its famously scenic canals, rich history and iconic cultural scene, Amsterdam is one of the world's most vibrant cities. This page offers top tips to see our capital city like a local. Read about the city's hidden gems, sustainable travel tips and off-the-beaten-track adventures.
See Amsterdam like a local
As one of the most famous cities in the world, Amsterdam is synonymous with vibrant culture, rich history, inclusiveness and beautiful canals. Since its construction in the 17th century, the Amsterdam canal ring has grown into one of the most unique urban landscapes in the world. It’s not for nothing that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Go on a canal cruise or hire a boat or kayak to see the city from a different perspective. Het Grachtenmuseum canal house museum is also a great way to learn more about this special aspect of Amsterdam.
With over 800 years of history to discover, Amsterdam is rich in fascinating attractions and sights. From old castles to beautiful museums and from charming secret courtyards to picturesque, cobbled streets, our capital city is a feast for the eyes. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a frequent guest, no trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to icons of art and culture such as the world-famous Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum or the Anne Frank House. Get a glimpse behind the scenes during events such as the Open Garden Days and Open Monument Days Amsterdam, when historic canal houses and monuments in the city centre open their doors to the public.
Amsterdam is for everyone, regardless of origin, gender identification, religion or sexual preference. The Pride & Queer Festival, one of the largest celebrations of LGBTQ+ equality in the world, lights up Amsterdam every year with dance parties, film screenings, sporting events, debates, exhibitions and much more. Join the Pride Walk, discover the festivities during Pride at the Beach and show your support during the famous Canal Parade. Everyone is welcome to the party.
Finally, the Netherlands is known for its dance music. We have world-class DJs and exceptional music festivals. Especially in and around Amsterdam, lovers of dance music will have the time of their lives. The annual Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is a celebration of that culture, bringing more than 2,500 of the world's most prominent artists to stages across the city. From underground bunkers to newly renovated warehouses and from rooftops to museums – you’ll always be able to find a party that suits your style in Amsterdam.
One of the most sustainable cities in Europe
With its beautiful, tree-lined canals, famous parks and no less than 400 kilometres of bicycle paths, an environmentally conscious attitude is deeply rooted in the Amsterdam way of life. Our capital city is known around the world for its art and culture, but did you know that it’s ranked 10th among the most sustainable cities in the world? The municipality of Amsterdam aims for a completely emission-free city by 2030 and wants to be circular, climate-neutral and climate-adaptive by 2050. This means that there are numerous options for a pleasant, sustainable holiday.
Amsterdam's clean air and lush greenery are helped by the locals' favourite mode of transport: the bicycle. Cycling is a way of life for locals of all ages and walks of life, and the well-designed cycle paths and level streets make it safe and easy. If you want to explore the region by bike or look for hidden gems in your neighbourhood, these cycling routes will ensure that you return home with unique stories.
Photo: Flowers in Amsterdam
The NDSM Wharf as a cultural hotspot
The NDSM Wharf is a great place to visit if you want to see a different side of Amsterdam than the well-known canals and tulips. Transformed from an industrial shipyard into a vibrant social space, you'll find urban art, eco-conscious restaurants and spectacular waterside cafes for chilling out among the shipping containers and graffiti-decorated hangars. The wharf is easy to reach: two free ferries, accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and mopeds, go directly to the NDSM wharf.
The Westerpark is one of those places where there’s always something happening. From unique culinary festivals to art of the highest level, there are plenty of ways to discover this historic Amsterdam district. The Westerpark is home to the Westergas cultural complex, which is a hub for festivals, art events and even flea markets all year round. An adventurous environment where inspiring collaborations come to fruition, best described as quirky but at the same time typically Amsterdam in character.
Visiting Amsterdam with your family? Then don’t miss out on a ferry trip to Fort Pampus, a UNESCO World Heritage site. An artificial island and former sea fort, Pampus is a true oasis of tranquillity and relaxation. The island is characterised by sun, wind and water, which are even a source of green energy and make Pampus one of the first self-sufficient World Heritage sites.