Featuring the striking Dutch Royal Palace, Dam square is a hive for activity in the city center. The wide-open square featuring live music, street performers and a great throng of pigeons eager to be fed. The center of Dam square features the Dutch National Monument; a massive white stone pillar memorializing the victims of World War II. While the National Monument stands in the center of the square the Royal Palace dominates the skyline behind it. The palace construction started in 1648 and finished in 1665. It has played host to King Louis, Napoleon, and most recently the Dutch Royal House. Regardless of if you want to see it, you will find yourself in Dam square as all main roads lead to it. A must-see for anyone visiting Amsterdam.
Van Gogh Museum
The most popular Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh is a pillar of Dutch culture. The museum is a biographical look at his life and artistic career. Starting with his childhood in the Dutch countryside, the museum curation paints the larger portrait of how Van Gogh’s personal life was intertwined with his artistic development. This use of narrative by the museum curators creates a captivating museum experience, another must-see in Amsterdam.
Not something that needs to be sought out but something to be enjoyed while in the city is the pleasant feel of being by the canals. The still water and open-air gives the city a laid back feel as the city isn’t dominated by cars. If you have the chance to go on a canal tour, the view from right on the water is mesmerizing.
The largest green space in Amsterdam Vondel park is a great spot for a relaxing stroll or bike ride. During the summer there are performances in the outdoor amphitheater in the park. Statues are dotted around the park, the oldest was finished in 1867. As well as several upscale restaurants for a fancy lunch or night out. If the timing works make sure to catch a free outdoor concert here!
If you get the chance, rent a bike while in Amsterdam. Not only is it cheaper than public transport, it is also a great exercise and a great way to zip around the city. I have never been anywhere else in the world with more bike infrastructure than Amsterdam. Since the 1970s it has been the preferred form of transit and the city has responded to that, building separate bike lanes from the cars. Bikers have their own traffic lights and clearly marked lanes. Even a day riding around will immerse anyone into Dutch culture