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Best things to do in Amsterdam

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Where in the world: Europe  /  The Netherlands  /  North Holland Province  /  Amsterdam
You'll never be short of things to do in Amsterdam, a city of picturesque canals, little squares, and verdant parks. Many of the important sites, including Rembrandt's grave and Anne Frank's house, along with art galleries, boutiques, pubs, and cafes, are located in the city's historical quarter, The Jordaan. Stroll along its small, winding streets and you'll get the picture why Amsterdam is called "Venice of the North." Museums will take quite a bit of your time in the city, but on a sunny day you can ride a bike through Vondelpark or take a stroll among the colorful stalls of Albert Cuyp Market.

Amsterdam is best known for its Art Museums, Specialty Museums, and Nightlife.

Top 15 things to do in Amsterdam

1. Van Gogh Museum

Art enthusiasts and van Gogh fans will adore visiting the largest collection of the Dutch artist's work at Van Gogh Museum. This museum opened in 1973 and today is one of the most visited in the world, attracting 1.4 million visitors in 2013. Wander through the site's permanent exhibit, which contains a vast selection of van Gogh's works, with about 200 paintings and 600 drawings in total. Study his most significant pieces, including "The Potato Eaters" (1885), "Sunflowers" (1889), and nine of his self-portraits. You'll have the opportunity to view several works of van Gogh's Impressionist and post-Impressionist contemporaries as well, such as Monet and Manet, plus visiting exhibits.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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2. Anne Frank House

Discover the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her noteworthy diary during World War II at Anne Frank House. This home site and museum sits inside a 17th-century canal house in the center of Amsterdam. Since it opened to the public in 1960, this museum has inspired and educated visitors from around the world, many of whom were greatly affected by reading the published diary of Anne Frank. Step behind the bookcase that disguised the famous secret annex where Frank's family hid from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Get a sense of what young Anne's experience was like during those two years before she and her family were discovered and sent to concentration camps.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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3. Rijksmuseum

Committed to preserving and displaying the art and history of the Netherlands, Rijksmuseum holds masterpieces from some of the country's most prominent artists. This museum was founded in 1800 and moved to its current location in 1808. Since this time, it has acquired more than 1 million objects and artifacts, 8,000 of which are currently on display. Take a moment to notice the restored architecture of the museum before entering. Walk through 800 years of Dutch history, including an impressive collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age featuring the works of Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, and others. Walk down the Hall of Fame to the Night Watch room to view Rembrandt's masterpiece "The Night Watch." Enjoy the Asian collection and Asian Pavilion, built in 2013.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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4. Vondelpark

Join the 10 million visitors who experience Vondelpark annually. Walk your dog, ride a bike, or simply relax at the largest and most popular city park in the capital city. This 47 ha (120 acres) park features a statue of poet and author Joost van den Vondel, for whom it is named, as well as other works, such as pieces by Pablo Picasso. Come to see a concert at the park's open-air theater; take your kids to the Groot Melkuis, surrounded by several play areas and a large playground; and stroll along the historical park pavilion. You can grab lunch at one of the bars or restaurants on site, including the famous Vertigo restaurant.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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5. Keukenhof, Lisse

Visit Keukenhof, the world's second-largest flower garden. With more than 7 million flowers in bloom every year from March to May, this is also called the Garden of Europe. The park was founded in 1949 on 15th-century hunting grounds that were developed to display Dutch and European hybrids. Discover 32 hectares (79 acres) of colorful, blossom-filled parkland. Walk through Castle Keukenhof which was built in 1641, view the traditional English landscape garden, and stroll along the pathways of the exotic Japanese garden. Because the Netherlands is known for tulips, you may expect to see many of them here, however, the only nearby tulip fields lie beyond the garden's borders and are privately owned.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. Heineken Experience

Participate in Heineken Experience, a tour of the historic brewery for the internationally known Heineken pilsner. More than just a tour, this experience is meant to engage and entertain its visitors. Walk through the industrial building where Heineken brewed beer for more than 100 years since it was established in 1867. Learn about the process of pilsner brewing, as well as the history of production and branding. View artifacts, interact with exhibits, and, of course, sample the brewery's famous beer. The site happens to be an anchor point along the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Celebrate the life and career of famous Dutch artist Rembrandt at Museum Het Rembrandthuis, a home where he spent more than two decades. Rembrandt lived and painted in this house from 1639 to 1658. Today you can visit the museum and home, which was remodeled to reflect how it would have looked when Rembrandt lived there. Walk through a replica of his bedroom, view his collection of artifacts from around the world, and see many of his prominent works on display. You can also take a guided tour, participate in a print-making workshop, or watch an etching and paint-preparation demonstration.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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Experience wildlife at ARTIS, which supports an aquarium, planetarium, arboretum, and the country's oldest zoo. The zoo was founded in 1838 and holds 27 historic buildings that are wonderful examples of 19th-century architecture. The park's name is short for "natura artis magistra," (nature is the teacher of art and science). Learn about art and science through exhibits with more than 900 species of animals and 200 species of trees. Watch giraffes, zebras, monkeys, and more, along with marine life, at the on-site aquarium.
Suggested duration: 5 hours
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9. The Jordaan

Explore one of the capital city's historical neighborhoods, The Jordaan, known for its small, winding streets and cultural sites. This was a working-class and emigrant district in the 17th century but is now a popular neighborhood for young entrepreneurs, artists, and students. Discover art galleries, boutiques, pubs, and cafes throughout the charming quarter, where many significant figures in Dutch history, such as writer Joost van Vondel and artist Rembrandt, once resided. Visit Rembrandt's grave at Westerkerk church, the Anne Frank House, and many other important sites. View art studios, courtyards, and stone tablets, for which the quarter is famous.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Albert Cuyp Market

Buy fruits, vegetables, sweets, and clothes at Albert Cuyp Market, the largest street market in the capital city. Following a tradition since 1904, vendors in 300 stalls sell a wide range of products bursting with colors and smells. You can get anything from fish and cameras to makeup and spices. In addition, the prices are usually lower than at regular shops. Look for typical products from Africa and the Middle East, and quench your thirst at some of the numerous ethnic cafes and bars that surround the market.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. NEMO Science Museum

With five stories of interactive science exhibits for families, NEMO Science Museum makes learning fun. The largest science center in the Netherlands, it features a different scientific theme on each floor. Begin your journey on the first floor, learning about DNA and chain reactions. As you move through different levels of the building, you will discover a performance hall, water cycle exhibit, science lab, and hands-on display about the human mind. Finish your tour with a great view atop the museum at its café with a nearby children's play area.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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12. Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

The people who live along the city's widest channel, Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht), can enter their homes directly from their boats when the weather's good. Take a walk through the quaint streets and stop by a charming cafe, or tour the site to find numerous important buildings. Look for an 1854 Syrian Orthodox church, ornamented with Neo-Gothic elements. See 17th-century warehouses with stepped gables that were once used for storing whaling products, and today host luxury apartments. You can also take a boat tour to learn the history and highlights of the area.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Leiden Square (Leidseplein)

Choose your spot among hundreds of bars and clubs at Leiden Square (Leidseplein), one of the city's famous nightlife hubs. The square has trams, boutiques, and a vibrant atmosphere filled with street performers. Have a coffee in the open air while people-watching and breathing in the youthful vibe of the site, or grab a pint in a lively Irish bar. Neon lights and raw bass are guaranteed at the square. You can also have a sightseeing spree and view architectural marvels such as the Stadsschouwburg theater, a Neo-Renaissance structure that hosts the Dutch National Ballet.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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14. Boat Tours & Water Sports

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Madurodam, The Hague

Take a condensed tour of Holland at Madurodam, an interactive miniature theme park focused on Dutch cultural traditions and historical sites. This impressive, well-visited park opened in 1952 and features small-scale replicas of the most famous landmarks, cities, and landscapes in the Netherlands. Look for Rijksmuseum, Binnenhof, Port of Rotterdam, tulip fields, windmills, and small recreations of traditional Dutch canal homes. Don't try to count the tiny lights--there are 50,000--in this shrunken city. You'll have better luck with the number of miniature planes stationed at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol replica.
Suggested duration: 5h 30 min
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