About Amsterdam

Fun facts: 

  • Amsterdam got its name from the Amstel River.
  • Amsterdam has 165 canals.

There are 165 Amsterdam canals that combine for a length of over 100 kilometers (about 60 miles). The Canal Ring became part of the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010.

  • Monet painted the South Church during a visit to The Netherlands.

The Zuiderkerk, or South Church, was the first church built in the city for Protestant services and was built between 1603 and 1611. French impressionist Claude Monet painted the church 13 times during his visit to the Netherlands and the captain stopped for us to admire the exact angle as the Monet painting with the Groenburgwal canal leading up to it.

  • The tilted houses are called Dancing Houses.

The houses were built for the wealthy bankers and merchants and did double-duty as both houses and work spaces. The soil was so swampy that they had to built on stilts and that caused them to wobble and sink into the river, so now they are each a little off kilter!

  • Amsterdam has more bridges than Venice.

It’s almost hard for us to believe as we’ve trekked over Venice’s bridges countless times during our time living outside the Italian city, and it sure feels like there are thousands. There are only in fact 409 bridges connecting Venice’s canals. Amsterdam actually has 1281 bridges. That’s three times as many as Venice!

  • There are 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam.

2500 houseboats line Amsterdam canals and many have been afloat for more than a century. There are different types of houseboats and the concrete kind are the most desirable as they don’t need to be taken to the shipyard for repairs. Amsterdam has laws about the houseboats and the wooden ones need to be repainted every three years. Most are residential, but visitors can find houseboat hotels, rentals and even a Houseboat Museum if you just want to see what it’s like on one.

Main sites and talking points: 

Central Station

Amsterdam Central Station was opened in 1889 and today 250,000 passengers pass through the station daily.

Walk straight away from the station onto… around 10 min walk


Damrak is the busy north-south route from Central Station to Dam Square. The large brick building, Beurs van Berlage, was once the stock exchange building, now a concert hall.

Take Oudebrugsteeg (or any narrow side street) to the right to… 2 minutes walk


Running parallel to Damrak, Nieuwendijk is a pedestrian-only shopping street and one of the oldest in Amsterdam.

Walk 5 minutes south to…

Dam Square

Dam Square is in the historical center of Amsterdam and is located at the original Amstel River dam, which was built in 1270. Many notable buildings and monuments are on the square including the Royal Palace (built in 1655 as City Hall and converted to a royal residence in 1808); the New Church (built in the 15th century); and the National Monument honoring the victims of World War II (built in 1956).

From the WWII memorial on Dam Square, walk north on Warmoesstraat to Wijde Kerksteeg and turn right to…

in 5 minutes you arrive to

De Oude Kerk (The Old Church)

The 800-year-old De Oude Kerk, Old Church, is Amsterdam’s oldest building and was consecrated in the year 1306. Built as a Catholic Church, it is now a Calvinist Dutch Reform Church.

Walk around the church to the right, cross the canal on Oudekennissteeg and continue to the next canal and the…


A plethora of Asian (not only Chinese) shops and restaurants line Zeedijk, the main street through what is commonly called Chinatown. The He Hua Buddhist Temple, built in 2000, is a striking difference to the rest of the architecture.

LUNCH TIME in Zeedijk street - Chinatown

Continue 5 minutes south to Nieuwmarkt Square and …


De Waag

Dominating Nieuwmarkt Square is De Waag, The Weigh House. The building, which is Amsterdam’s oldest non-religious building, dates to the 15th century and was once part of the city walls. Now, it houses a popular restaurant.

Continue walking south on Sint Antoniesbreestraat across the canal and turn right on Zwanenburgwal to the…


Waterlooplein Market

The outdoor Waterlooplein Market has more than 300 stalls selling second-hand clothing, antiques, tools, books and other trinkets. It originated as a Jewish market in 1893 and was revitalized as a general market in the 1960s

At the end of the market, turn right on Waterlooplein Street and right again before the bridge to the front of the…

At the end of the market, turn right on Waterlooplein Street and right again before the bridge to the front of the…

National Opera & Ballet

The Amstel River fronts the National Opera and Ballet. Many of Amsterdam’s iconic houseboats are moored in the area

Heading west from the Opera, cross three canals using Staalstraat and then walk 10 minutes south on Nieuwe Doelenstraat to…


This busy square is actually a bridge with six streets leading to it. The Munt Tower, after which the square is named, was once part of the city gate. In the 17th century, the tower served as a mint.

Continue 2 minutes south and turn right (west) on Singel to the…

Flower Market

The flower market stalls are housed in floating shops and sell everything from seeds to fresh cut flowers.

Continue west to Leidsestraat and turn left. Walk to Prinsengracht and turn right to follow the canal north to…

20 minutes walk to arrive to :


The Westerkerk is a protestant church that was built between 1620 and 1631. The tower, which stands at 279 feet, is the tallest church tower in Amsterdam.

To the north of the church is the…

Anne Frank House

Now a museum, the Anne Frank House is where Anne, a young Jewish girl, hid from the Nazis during World War II. It’s easy to find, follow the long line and, just past it, the door numbered 263.

Across the Prinsengrach Canal is the…

5 minutes walk

Jordaan neighborhood

The working class settled the Jordaan neighborhood in the 17th century and attracted many with radical political ideas. In the 1970s, gentrification overtook the area, attracting young professionals, well-to-do families and, along with it, trendy cafes, bars, galleries and specialty shops.

Red Light District

The Red Light District is an odd prostitution-as-a-tourist-attraction sight. During the day, most of the red-lit window boxes are vacant, with only a few occupied by young women dressed in lingerie. At night, it is a different scene. Sex shops and the Erotic Museum are also found along the street.

Walk north through the Red Light District to Korte Stormsteeg and go right to Zeedijk. Turn right and walk south into…

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