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What is Amsterdam Known For?

by Rafal Sulowski

Amsterdam is known as a Venice of the North. I live in this beautiful, one of my favorite cities on Earth. Amsterdam is quite a popular destiny and you may have heard about it a lot. So what is Amsterdam known for?

Amsterdam is known for beautiful canals and breathtaking architecture. There are plenty of famous museums such as Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum. World-known Amsterdam’s attributes are traditional Dutch clogs, windmills, or delicious Old Amsterdam cheese.

In this article, I will describe shortly many things that make Amsterdam world-known. I won’t go in-depth, but you can learn more about Amsterdam on pages of this blog. Together with my friends, we do our best to provide quality content about Amsterdam for our readers. Check also our YouTube channel -> here.

Amsterdam Is Known For…

Historic Canals

There are 165 canals in Amsterdam with a total length of over 165 km. There are also 1281 bridges ( 3 times more than in Venice ) and 2500 houseboats. The most beautiful canals are Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht which since 2010 are a part of UNESCO World Heritage. Canals of Jordaan district are also breathtaking. The best way to explore Amsterdam and see its architecture from the water perspective is a canal cruise. There are many different companies that run canal cruises. My favorite is this one. If you want to go for a private canal cruise you must pay at least 5 times more.


The Netherlands already for a long time is associated with freedom. Holland is a first country which in 2001 legalized gay marriage. It’s also a capital of the biggest gay parade in the world. Cannabis was legalized in 1972. Prostitution is also legal and regulated. Owning a brothel is a regular business and prostitutes pay taxes. Moreover, there are people from all over the world living in this small city. There are 180 different nationalities living here and that makes people more tolerant than in any other place in the world. What I like personally is that no one judges you, what you wear and what you do for a living is your own thing. Amsterdam is a place where you can be yourself and I love it.


3 canals Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht that are a part of a Canal Belt became a part of UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE in 2010. Don’t underestimate the size of a Canal Belt. It may not look that big on the map but you can spend quite a long time walking along these beautiful canals.


Clogs are a very popular part of Dutch culture. They say that wearing that kind of wooden shoes is very healthy. They used to be shoes of low, working class. Today they are sold as souvenirs, but some people still keep on wearing them. I was working in a company where I’ve seen a guy walking in these shoes. Today there are brands that use this form of a shoe to create a new trendy stylish shoe. For example one of them is a Swedish brand Träskor.


Dutch are definitely food lovers. There is cheese specific to each and every part of the Netherlands. When it comes to cheese they really know what they do and cheese has been a part of Dutch culture and tradition for ages. You’ll see cheese vendors all over the city of Amsterdam. Have you ever heard of Edam or Gouda? These are Dutch towns which are famous for their cheese. You can visit these towns (they are close to Amsterdam, 30 minutes) and you can go for a cheese market. Vendors in traditional outfits trade their products. It’s definitely worth seeing. The thing that is not really worth seeing is a cheese museum in Amsterdam. You can skip it.

Cheese Shops in Gouda || Photo by Denilo Vieira on Unsplash

Cuisine From All Over The World

People often say that they would like to go to a Dutch restaurant. I am sorry to say but I don’t know any. Dutch Food is a point on your checklist that you can skip ;p, Of course, they have some tasty foods but what I am more excited about, Amsterdam is a city where are over 180 different nationalities and it means that you can try foods from all over the world. You’ll find here Indonesian, Surinam, Mexican, Argentinian, Hungarian restaurants. It’s really a great spot for food lovers.

Amsterdam is a Headquater of big Companies

Amsterdam is a city where big companies such as Philips, AkzoNobel, Shell, Unilever, Aegon, TomTom, ING, Uber, Netflix, and Tesla have their headquarters. It’s definitely a city of business, a great place to work and focus on a carrier. If you are interested in carrier in Amsterdam than you should take a look into RAI – they organize many interesting conferences, also jobs & carriers.

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank was a Jewish girl living during the Holocaust in Amsterdam. She’s been writing a diary during these tough time and thanks to her we can learn about the war from her point of view. Anne Frank House is a house where together with her family, they were hiding in years 1942-1945. After two years of hiding, she was found by Germans and in 1945 she died in a concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. It’s a sad story that should be a lesson for us.

Anne Frank House is at the moment the most popular attraction in Amsterdam. It’s definitely worth visiting but if you want to get tickets you must buy them in advance. I would say that you should get them even two months before coming to Amsterdam. If you are already here, forget that you will buy tickets, it’s impossible. You can book tickets for Anne Frank House here.


Amsterdam has been always a city which attracts artist. I am sure you are familiar with Rembrandt and  Vermeer and Van Gogh. They were both living in Amsterdam and today you can visit their museums. Micaela has written a great article about the best art museums in Amsterdam. You can read it here –> WHAT IS THE BEST ART MUSEUM IN AMSTERDAM? In the Netherlands, you can find the most interesting art museums in the world. Among them, there is Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage and much more. This city itself is an art, gorgeous little ginger houses and historic canals create an amazing vibe.


The Netherlands and Amsterdam itself are well known for flowers, especially tulips. If you want to visit the Netherlands in the period when tulips bloom you should definitely read this article -> WHEN IS THE TULIP SEASON IN HOLLAND?

When it comes to tulips in Amsterdam you can visit a Tulip museum, or a flower floating market. During the bloom period (mid-April) a city is decorated with these beautiful flowers. There are even special flower-related events, such as a flower parade. Here you can read the article “Where To See Tulips in Amsterdam” You won’t see flower fields in Amsterdam. The Best places to see flowers fields in Keukenhof, Hillegom, Sassenheim, Noordwijkerhout, and Lisse. They all are about 30 minutes from Amsterdam. You can easily get there on public transport.

Photo by Sergei Akulich on Unsplash

I Amsterdam Letters

Everyone wants to take a photo while sitting on the I Amsterdam letters. If you also want to have this photo, you have to search for letters. They are often moved. Now there are not anymore next to the Rijksmuseum. You can find them just in the front of the Schiphol Airport and in Amsterdam Noord, next to the highest in Europe swing. There are always so many people taking photos with letters so If you plan to be the only person on this photo you must go there very early in the morning.

Photo by jennieramida on Unsplash


There are 8 windmills in Amsterdam. The Netherlands is, in general, a country of windmills. 1200 windmills survived until these days. Most of them are just a memory of the past but there are some that are fully functional. There are also many windmill museums and you can visit them. There is even a windmill day in Holland and on this day a Dutch windmill organization prepares some windmill related events. During these days most of these windmills are open for public. Did you know that in some of these windmills live people? Yes, they are changed into houses.

Red Light District

The area of Red Light District is called “De Wallen” It’s a medieval part of the city with beautiful canals and narrow streets. During the day time, the Red Light District is just another living area of the city. During the night it becomes a party district. RLD is full of interesting stories and mysterious secrets. There are some private tours organized in the Red Light. If you want to go for one, I can recommend you, Otto. He is a Dutch guy living in De Wallen and he knows everything about it. You can find his tours here.

Photo Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org


There are 880 000 bicycles in Amsterdam. That’s more bikes than people living here. Amsterdam is a cycling heart of Europe, but it hasn’t been always like this. Amsterdam cycling infrastructure blows my mind. In the city I come from there was no bike paths at all. You’ve got to cycle on pavements and on the streets. Cars pass by half a meter from you, trucks too… In Amsterdam, there are bike paths everywhere, and you can get wherever you want on a bike. Bicycle is the best mean of transportation. It’s in fact, the most convenient, the fastest and the healthiest transport in the city center. I love Dutch culture of cycling, and I think that in the 21st century more countries should follow Dutch and learn how to create that well-organized cycling infrastructure. The municipality of Amsterdam wants to make the city a CO2 free until 2030.


Amsterdam is a city of museums. There are many famous museums with world-known exhibitions. Among them are Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt house, Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage, The Eye and many more. If you plan to visit muesums I recommend you to get an I Amsterdam card. With this card, you can enter over 44 museums and attractions. It includes also free public transportation in the city, canal cruise, and 25% discount in many restaurants. There are more cards such as Museumkaart and Holland Pass, but I Amsterdam is the best for tourist. If you would like to learn more about the other two here is an article where Micaela compares all of them.

So probably you would like to know which museums are worth visiting and which one of them you can skip. If you have limited time in Amsterdam I recommend you Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, and Stedelijk. You can skip the tulip museum, a sex museum, cheese museum, and ripleys believe it or not.


Pancakes served all over the world are actually traditional food in the Netherlands. Here they are called pannenkoeken. If you are a pancake lover and you think that you make perfect pancakes you better check Amsterdam pannenkoeken first. You’ll be surprised how many different variations you’ll find. There are for example Ham, Cheese, Ananas pancakes. Very popular is also bacon, apple set.

Ginger Houses

Architecture in Amsterdam is a mix of Dutch Golden Age little ginger houses and modern stylish construction. I must say that I like much more these old buildings that still look like in the 17th century. Houses in the city center of Amsterdam are breathtaking, unique and one of a kind. There is nothing similar to this architecture in the world. Can you imagine that some of these houses are only 2 meters in width, but they have 4 floors? It’s because in the past they were taxed by the width of the front elevation. That’s why each house is so narrow. When you visit Amsterdam you’ll be amazed that each and every house is completely different.


There are over 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam. They are almost 100 years old. They are renovated and they provide electricity, gas, and water. You may think that living in one of these floating houses may be quite cheap. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prices of houseboats in the city center can go beyond 1 000 000 euros! I mention floating houses, but they are not really floating. Houseboats are permanently anchored, and although you can feel a slight movement when canals are very busy, there is no way that your house will float away. However, when visiting Amsterdam you can rent a houseboat and if you visit the capital of the Netherlands with a group of friends that can be a great experience. There are over 80 houseboats in Amsterdam available for tourists. You can book them here.


Don’t confuse Coffeeshops with Cafe. If you would like to get a coffee you go to a cafe, but when you want to get a joint you visit a coffeeshop 🙂

The Fault In Our Stars

John Green novel “The Fault In Our Stars” published in 2012 is an emotional story of teenagers who fall in love but they can’t be together. It’s a great book, and there is also a movie based on this story. I’ve read this book and I must admit that’s a great novel. Why is it on this list? The action of “The Fault In Our Stars” takes place also in Amsterdam.

Parties and Festivals

Defqon1, 2019

The Netherlands is a home of electronic music festivals. Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix, Tiesto, Hardwell, Afrojack, Nicky Romero – all of these world-known DJs come from the Netherlands. You can hear Dutch techno, trance, hardstyle all over the world. If you like concerts and festivals, Amsterdam is a place to be. The photo you can see above is taken on Defqon1 hardstyle festival. I don’t really listen to that kind of music but it was one of the best experiences in my life. These festivals are very expensive but the experience is exceptional!


Amsterdam is also known for its high prices. Definitely Amsterdam is not a budget destination but you can organise your trip on a budget. I created a free guide on how to save money when visiting Amsterdam. You can find it here. There you find only honest tips and tricks from a guy living in this city. Amsterdam is very expensive, especially in the last few years prices of accommodation skyrocket. That’s also where you can save the most, choose a good, affordable hotel!


There are 32 different markets in Amsterdam. You can find there food, books, antiques, souvenirs and many more. Here you can read a guide to Amsterdam markets written by Micaela! Among the most popular markets are Albert Cuyp Market, Waterlooplein, Dappermarkt, Amsterdam Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt), Boekenmarkt Op Het Spuim Noodenmarkt – Boerenmarkt, Antiekcentrum – Antiques Market. My favorite market is organized only once a month in Ijhallen. It’s the biggest flea market in Europe. Anyone can rent a stand and sell their things. That’s why you can find there real gems.

Photo Courtesy of dilpe || Flickr

Wrap Up

As you can see Amsterdam is an outstanding city. On pages of this blog, you can find an in-depth description of the things that I mention in this article. Check also our youtube channel where we answer your frequently asked question. You can check it here.

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