What is Amsterdam Known For?

Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital city, attracting millions of tourists every year. The city was originally a fishing village but is one of the country’s most populous cities today. You might be wondering, what is it about this city that attracts people all over the world, what is Amsterdam known for?

There are so many sights to see here, like the canals, culture, museums, sex museums, and of course, the coffee shops. In this post, we have highlighted some of the city’s top features you can explore on your next visit – some of the things Amsterdam is famous for.

15 Things Amsterdam is Famous for


Amsterdam is famous for its canal system as the Dutch are famous for their excellent and efficient water system; therefore, there are many canals throughout the country. The Prinsengracht, Herengracht, and Keizersgracht form the city’s canal network. 

Here in the city, there are over 165 canals, which are over 400 years old, and they are maintained based on international laws. This helps preserve their cultural and historical significance. 

In fact, these canals attract millions of visitors every year because of the unique layout they have formed in the city. The canals provide the city with an artistic design that awes plenty of tourists. 

Aside from this, the canals also play a significant role in transport within Amsterdam. There are various ways to explore the canals, which is why it’s highly recommended you spend some time in the water. You can get on a boat cruise. However, consider yourself warned: many boat cruises are available here, so choose wisely; otherwise, you can try several to make the most of your trip. 

What is Amsterdam Known For
The canals of Amsterdam are one of the things Amsterdam is famous for


It is not only Amsterdam but the entire country known as the Bicycle Capital of the World. There are actually more bikes in Amsterdam than residents, which is pretty surprising. 

In every city and village in the Netherlands, you will find bikes, which are a great way to explore the city. However, if you’re a tourist and not used to biking, remember that biking around the city is not for the faint-hearted. 

Why? Most locals here cycle to get from points A to B, which means they won’t appreciate it when you slow them down when they’re on the way to work or running some errands. Therefore, know the road rules and maintain a steady pace when biking around the city.

Anyhow, cycling around the city is one of the most efficient ways to enjoy beautiful sights, particularly when you only have one day in Amsterdam.

There are a lot of places where you can rent a bike a day. However, if you have a long stay in Amsterdam, it may be a good idea to get a second-hand bike. 

Things to do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the Bicycle Capital of the World

Anne Frank’s House

One of the reasons tourists visit Amsterdam is to see Anne Frank’s house. Almost everybody in the world knows Anne Frank’s story, a Jewish girl who tried to escape from the Nazis during WW2. Based on her diary, she and other family members and friends went into hiding for two years in a secret annex inside the house. Unfortunately, she didn’t survive the war, but her diary was left behind, becoming a historical gem that narrates the struggles during WW2. 

Today, Anne Frank’s house is a museum where you will know what it was like to live in hiding. So, don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two.

Famous Things about Amsterdam
Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam | photo by Phototraveller via Depositphotos

Red Light District

The red-light district, a common spot in the city, is a unique attraction for people worldwide; hence, they flock to the city to experience and see what it’s all about. The red light district is filled with bright lights and an interesting population — particularly prostitutes. The area is also famous for its bar scene. 

The area attracts a lot of sex tourists a year, and even if this isn’t your thing, it’s easy to find yourself strolling down the streets at night. Trust us. It’s something you don’t want to miss. Watch out for erotica behind glass windows.


Amsterdam, having plenty of canals, has limited residential space. That is why some people choose to live in houseboats. The good news is that tourists can stay on a houseboat, which is an excellent way to experience the city and get a sense of its roots as a fishing village. 

You can also find houseboats for rent along the river Amstel, and there are various ones you can find – from one-bedroom houseboats to an optional bed and breakfast. However, renting a houseboat isn’t cheap, but if you have the budget, you should definitely give it a shot!

Amsterdam Canals
Houseboats on the Canals of Amsterdam | What is Amsterdam known for


Stroopwafels are a popular Dutch delicacy, and you can find them almost anywhere in Amsterdam. These are sugary treats that resemble two waffles glued together by delicious syrup. They are affordable and go well with a hot drink if you’re in Amsterdam during the colder months. It can get addicting, so you could really gain quite a few pounds when you’re in the city.

Things Amsterdam is Famous for
Delicious Stroopwafels, famous foods in Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum

One of the most visited tourist attractions in the Netherlands is the Van Gogh Museum. The museum is dedicated to Van Gogh, but besides his works, you can also find a rich collection of artwork by other popular painters, such as Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, etc.

Facts about Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum, one of the most famous landmarks in Amsterdam | photo by felker via Depositphotos


The city is home to many popular museums, and another famous museum you should see in the city is the Rijksmuseum. Located in Museum Square, it sits next to the Van Gogh Museum. The museum holds world-famous artworks by popular Dutch artists, such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Jan Steen.

Everything you need to know about Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most famous landmarks in the Netherlands.


The Netherlands is famous for its tulips and has an amazing flower scene. Several museums here can tell you more about Amsterdam’s tulips, or you can visit the market, especially when it’s off-season. In the market, you will still see beautiful tulips all year round.

To things about Amsterdam
Market selling Tulips bulbs in Amsterdam

Coffee Shops

What is Amsterdam Known for? Coffee Shops, but Amsterdam’s coffee shops are like no other; they are famous worldwide because they don’t just brew good cups of Joe – there’s more you can get from these shops. In Amsterdam’s coffee shops, it’s legal to smoke marijuana, and they’re selling, too – so, if you want some, you can easily get it here in the city. 

The coffee shops attract millions of tourists every year and earn a lot from selling marijuana. The cannabis scene is easily one of the most famous things about Amsterdam.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

This is one of the three palaces in the country, and you can find it on the western side of Dam Square. The palace hosts royals, but unbeknownst to some, it was initially built as a city hall. You will also see the 17th-century arcs it is famous for.

Amsterdam famous things
Royal Palace of Amsterdam | What is Amsterdam known for

Amsterdam Forest

The Dutch love nature, so there’s no wonder why there’s a forest inside the city. Although the forest is in the Amstelveen, the park is owned by Amsterdam, and you can easily get there via train. Here, plenty of activities await. There is a goat farm and even a swimming pool. So, if you’re in Amsterdam in the summer, you can quickly take a dip in the pool here. 

Sex Museum

A trip to the world’s oldest sex museum is worth a visit. The Sex Museum in Amsterdam is also known as the Temple of Venus. Here, you can find many erotic paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts that talk a lot about human sexuality. So, if you’re in the city, make sure you pay a visit to the famous Sex Museum. 

Houseboats for Cats

We talked about houseboats for rent, but did you know there’s a houseboat for cats in the city? De Poezenboot is an attraction for cat lovers. It houses homeless cats in Amsterdam. Even if you’re not a cat lover, seeing the houseboat filled with cats is one of the best things you can do. However, remember that the boat is only open a couple of hours a day, so before you come here, check online first.

Narrow Houses

Along the canal, you will notice narrow houses. Back in the 18th century, locals were taxed based on their property’s width; therefore, the houses were built upwards instead of sidewards. You might be wondering how residents bring furniture up to their places? They use a pulley system to do this, which explains a hook installed at every house’s tip. With that, you will also notice that most houses are tilted forward!

Well-known things about Amsterdam
Narrow Houses in Amsterdam

So, are you ready to explore Amsterdam? All of these things only show that the city is worth visiting. You will definitely have an amazing experience here that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Go on, book your ticket now to Amsterdam and explore by yourself what is Amsterdam known for!

About the guest author:

Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase The Netherlands’s beauty and inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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