Things to see and do within the city
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a tour of the incredible canal system. Originally an essential element of the region’s defence and transport infrastructure, the canals have recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. That doesn’t mean you’re only allowed to look at them from a distance though. Get on board a tour boat for an unforgettable trip along the winding waterways – an excellent way to see the sights and soak up some local history on the way. Thousands of people still live on houseboats on these canals, and the Houseboat Museum on Prinsengracht gives you a taste of what life afloat is like.
Back on dry land, there are plenty of art museums and exhibits to take in. The Van Gogh Museum is the most visited in the city and a unique tribute to the work of the Netherlands’ most famous post-impressionist painter. Then there’s the Rembrandt House Museum, the interior of which aims to reproduce the style and atmosphere of the artist’s former residence. It’s not all art, however, as the city is also home to the largest science centre in the Netherlands: NEMO.
The Anne Frank House is another of the city’s treasures and stands as a monument to the victims of World War II. Read extracts from the famous diary as you walk through the cramped and dark secret annex where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, with little or no connection to the outside world. The original diaries and other artefacts are on display in a museum in the building next door to the main house.
Amsterdam hosts more than 90 festivals each year with themes to suit everyone’s taste. Dance fans in particular will be in heaven over the summer with the urban dance festival, Summer Dance Forever, in August. Valtifest, the wild child of the city’s summer festival programme with innovative music, fashion, arts and acrobatics, hits the city in September. If you're looking for something a little less energetic, there’s also Fashion Week in summer, the Dutch Theatre Festival in September and the International Documentary Film Festival in November.