Amsterdam still looks much like it did in the 1600s — the Dutch Golden Age — when it was the world's richest city, an international sea-trading port, and the cradle of capitalism. Wealthy, democratic burghers built a city upon millions of pilings, creating a wonderland of canals lined with trees and townhouses topped with fancy gables. Today's Amsterdam is still a city of good living, with cozy cafés, great art, street-corner jazz, stately history, and a spirit of live and let live. It's a place where carillons chime quaintly from spires towering above coffeeshops where yuppies go to smoke pot. Take it all in, then pause to watch the clouds blow past stately old gables — and see the Golden Age reflected in a quiet canal.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Rijksmuseum Best collection anywhere of the Dutch Masters — Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, and Steen — in a spectacular setting.
▲▲▲ Van Gogh Museum More than 200 paintings by the angst-ridden artist.
▲▲▲ Anne Frank House Young Anne's hideaway during the Nazi occupation.
▲▲ Stedelijk Museum The Netherlands' top modern-art museum, recently and extensively renovated.
▲▲ Vondelpark City park and concert venue.
▲▲ Amsterdam Museum City's growth from fishing village to trading capital to today, including some Rembrandts and a playable carillon.
▲▲ Amstelkring Museum Catholic church hidden in the attic of a 17th-century merchant's house.
▲▲ Red Light District Walk Women of the world's oldest profession on the job.
▲▲ Netherlands Maritime Museum Rich seafaring story of the Netherlands, told with vivid artifacts.
▲▲ Hermitage Amsterdam Russia's Tsarist treasures, on loan from St. Petersburg.
▲▲ Dutch Resistance Museum History of the Dutch struggle against the Nazis.
▲ Museumplein Square with art museums, street musicians, crafts, and nearby diamond demos.
▲ Leidseplein Lively square with cafés and street musicians.
▲ Royal Palace Lavish City Hall that takes you back to the Golden Age of the 17th century.
▲ Begijnhof Quiet courtyard lined with picturesque houses.
▲ Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp Museum All the dope, from history and science to memorabilia.
▲ EYE Film Institute Netherlands Film museum and cinema complex housed in a futuristic building.
▲ Rembrandt's House The master's reconstructed house, displaying his etchings.
▲ Diamond Tours Offered at shops throughout the city.
▲ Willet-Holthuysen Museum Elegant 17th-century house.
▲ Jewish Historical Museum The Great Synagogue and exhibits on Judaism and culture, with Portuguese Synagogue across the street.
▲ Dutch Theater Moving memorial in former Jewish detention center.
▲ Tropical Museum Re-creations of tropical-life scenes.
Houseboat Museum Your chance to see one of these floating homes from the inside.
Central Library Architecturally fun spot — with great view terrace — to take a breather among Amsterdam's bookworms.