Although the Netherlands' seat of government is at Den Haag, Amsterdam is the nominal capital. It is the country's largest city, with a population in excess of 800,000, and the most visited, receiving over 1.5 million visitors each year. It stands on precariously low-lying ground at the confluence of the Amstel and IJ rivers near the IJsselmeer and, like much of the Netherlands, would flood frequently but for land reclamation and sea defences. This position places Amsterdam at the heart of the Randstad, a term used to describe the crescent-shaped conurbation covering much of the provinces of Noord Holland, Zuid Holland and Utrecht, and encompassing the cities of Utrecht, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Leiden and Haarlem.
Amsterdam has more monuments than any other city in the world and a broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sites. Most historic buildings and other sites are located within walking distance of eachother along the canals which encircle the city center.
The Amsterdam VVV (Tourist Information Office) has mapped out a number of interesting walking routes through various parts of the city. The booklets contain convenient street maps with dotted lines to indicate the routes. The route booklets can be obtained at the four VVV offices in Amsterdam (on Stationsplein across from Central Station, Leidseplein/corner of Leidsestraat, Stadionplein and on Platform 2 at Central Station), at the Holland Tourist Information desk at Schiphol Plaza and at various bookstores in Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam Pass is a perfect way to discover Amsterdam. This pass offers a public transportation ticket, free access to top museums, such as the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Amsterdam Historical Museum. It also offers a free canal cruise, reductions on boat tours and a variety of attractions (like Madame Tussauds) and other museums, as well as discounts at selected restaurants. The Amsterdam Pass can be purchased for one ( 26), two ( 36) or three ( 46) days and consists of a chip card, a public transportation ticket and a full color guide. You can purchase the Amsterdam Pass at the Amsterdam Tourist Office (VVV).
Amsterdam top attractions.
The Dam is the very centre and heart of Amsterdam, although there are arguably prettier sights in the city. As an historical site however, it is fascinating and worth taking the time to appreciate.
Just a five-minute walk down the "Damrak" from Central Station takes you into this jam-packed square, jostling with locals and tourists day and night. It was created in the 13th century when a dam was built around the river Amstel to prevent the IJsselmeer from swarming the city. The impressive history of the square is well documented in the Amsterdam Historical Museum
The Royal Palace, which dominates the square, was originally used as the city hall for the magistrates of Amsterdam. It's classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city of Amsterdam and its government. The Royal Palace is one of the three Palaces placed at the Queen's disposal by Act of Parliament. It is used mainly for official state functions. The palace is open to the public: opening hours 12.00-17.00 (daily in July and August, all other months closed on monday and friday), adult entrance fee 4.50, free guided tours (both dutch and english) are provided for individual visitors on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons (all tours start at 14:00 hour).
Adjacent to the Royal Palace is New Church. Since 1815, Dutch monarchs and other members of the Royal Family have been officially inaugurated here. In between coronations and royal weddings, the church houses art galleries and temporary exhibitions. Entrance is free, opening time is daily from 10.00 - 18.00 hour.
Other must sees in the Dam Square area are Madame Tussauds, the world famous wax works museum, Magna Plaza (the former post office rebuilt to a modern shopping centre) and the Amsterdam Diamond centre.
Amsterdam's Canals and the Jordaan Area
Many visitors to Amsterdam are surprised by the sheer amount of water in the city. The enormous number of canals have led Amsterdam to become known as “The Venice of the North”. And thus, a trip to Amsterdam is not complete without a boat-ride. A canal-tour can be both fascinating and relaxing by day and enchanting and romantic at night when many of the houses and bridges are illuminated. The four main city center canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel. There are also numerous smaller canals, of which the Brouwersgracht, the Bloemgracht and the Leliegracht are especially pleasant.
Of Amsterdam's 1280 or so bridges, the Magere Brug, or Skinny Bridge is the most famous. It is a traditional double-leaf, Dutch draw-bridge connecting the banks of the river Amstel. Approximately every twenty minutes, the bridge opens to let boats through. The original bridge was built in 1670, but as the traffic on Amstel increased, a wider bridge was built to replace the narrow one.
Once a working class area, Amsterdam’s Jordaan area has now become greatly sought after. The converted warehouses are especially popular, and the Jordaan is now inhabited by a colorful mixture of students, well-to-do businessmen and creative professionals. The Jordaan oozes atmosphere with its narrow streets, picturesque canals, brown cafes, art galleries and unique. You can easily lose yourself in a pleasant stroll in through the enchanting streets that connect the 3 main canals.
Leidseplein en Rembrandtplein
The Leidse square is one of Amsterdam's most popular centres for nightlife. With many restaurants, clubs, coffeeshops, cinemas and theatres in the area, the Leidseplein is vibrant and colourful. On warm summer evenings, tourists and locals alike take advantage of the pubs’ outdoor seating for long, lazy drinks with friends. Street musicians, jugglers, fire-eaters and other performers liven up the square, often till the early hours.
Rembrandt square is lined with pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels and is a popular centre for nightlife with it's traditional Dutch pubs playing real Dutch music. In summer, the terraces are packed with people enjoying a drink and watching the world go by. In the centre of the square is a small but pleasant park where you can relax or pay homage at the statue of the Great Master. Around the area you’ll also find quality night clubs, gay venues, respectable diamond dealers and the inevitable tacky souvenir shops.
Red Light district
Beer and party atmosphere, sex for sale, and limitless people-watching. The stores are full of hardcore videos, magazines and sex toys. The Red Light District is somewhat of a sexual amusement park and often not taken too seriously by the hordes of tourist who frequent it. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Red Light District, is that it’s actually quite pretty. The famous red window lights are striking against the quaint, old canal houses and even the fairy lights that line the bridges at night are coloured red. Although it is generally considered to be a very safe area, care should still be taken when walking through the quieter streets of the area. There is a strict “No Photography” policy.
The Vondelparc is located in the south of Amsterdam, just a five minute walk from Leidse Square and in walking distance from the National Museum, City Museum and Van Gogh Museum. With 10 million visitors a year, the Vondelpark is the most famous parc in the Netherlands and loved by Amsterdam habitants as well as by tourists. Free concerts are given at the open-air theatre or in the summer at the park's bandstand. Other attractions are the statue of the poet Vondel, the cast iron music dome, the Groot Melkhuis with playground for children, and the Film museum with its popular terrace.
Albert Cuyp market
The Albert Cuypmarkt is arguably the best known and busiest outdoor market in Europe. The market began trading in 1904, now over 300 stalls are lining both sides of the Albert Cuyp street in the neighbourhood of De Pijp. Stalls sell everything from fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish and spices to clothes, cosmetics and bedding. The prices are among the cheapest in Amsterdam. The market gets very crowded especially on a sunny day and Saturdays. Opening hours are from 9:30 am to about 5 pm, Monday to Saturday, however the market can close earlier in winter or due to bad weather.
Museums are the main tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has over fifty museums which attract many millions of visitors every year. Alongside the wealth of magestic Golden Age paintings, you'll find exciting modern art, press, film, theatre and photography museums and some unique Dutch treats like the Heineken Experience, the Football Club Ajax Museum and the Houseboat Museum. And Amsterdam wouldn't be Amsterdam without the Sex, Erotic, Hash or Torture museums.
The National Museum (Rijksmuseum)
The Rijksmuseum (National Museum), set in its historic building, is the largest museum in the Netherlands. Each year, more than a million people visit the Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum is internationally renowned for its exhibitions and publications and not only are these high quality products, but are also areas in which the museum extends the boundaries of scholarship and encourages new insights. The museum also devotes considerable resources to education and to the decor and layout of exhibitions. Leading designers are regularly commissioned to work on Rijksmuseum projects. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. The entrance is from Stadhouderskade 42.
Update: The main building of the Rijksmuseum is being renovated. The good news is that the very best of the collection is displayed in the redesigned Philips Wing. The name of this exhibition is 'The Masterpieces'.
Entertainment and Culture
Amsterdam offers a diverse array of world-class entertainment, as for centuries has been one of the leading centres of culture in Europe. A variety of performances are staged in hundreds of venues throughout the city. There is also plenty of low-cost entertainment from the multitude of street perfomers and live bands in bars and cafes.
All year round, every night of the week, you can find quality, English-language theatre in Amsterdam. Most of the major theatres are centred around the Leidseplein, within an easy stroll of each other. The easiest way is to drop by the theatres' box offices, where you can browse programmes, ticket prices and availability.
Amsterdam has over 50 cinema venues, where films are shown in their original language, with Dutch subtitles. The Tuschinski Theater deserves a special mention. Constructed in 1921 as exotic mixture of Art Deco and Amsterdamse school style, it features a luxurious foyer, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cinemas in Europe.
Amsterdam is burstling with live music, it is the city with a rich tradition in classical music and opera. In summer concerts can be enjoyed in one of the city's beautiful parks.
Ballet and dance
There are two world-class ballet companies in the Netherlands. The renowned Dutch National Ballet is one of the resident groups in the Muziektheater, the repertoire encompasses both classical and modern dance. Another one, the Netherlands Dans Theater regularly performs in venues throughout the city.
As the evening falls, Amsterdam really starts to sparkle, especially on nice summer days. Around Leidseplein you will find the Stadsschouwburg (City theatre) and other theatres, lots of cafes, restaurants, cinemas, the casino, the Lido theatre with live entertainment and those famed cultural and music centres, Paradiso and Melkweg. Both Paradiso, and De Melkweg offer an extremely varied music programme: rock, pop, dance, rap and world music, including big-name bands.
The soft drugs are available in coffeeshops for people who are over 18. Don't buy any drugs on the
street. This is illegal, dangerous and, if caught by the police, the only trip
you'll make is down to the police station. There are plenty of coffee
Red Light District
The camera in a slash/circle sign behind many of the windows, along with the furious tapping on glass of the women themselves will inform you that taking a camera into the Walletjes, Amsterdam's red light district, is a serious breach of etiquette. One of the district's security crew may remind you - destroy your film; may even ask you to leave, or worse. No cameras in red light distict! If you really need some pictures, there are some discrete shots in our gallery.
Prostitution in Amsterdam
Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands from 1815 and in 1996 the Dutch
government started to tax it. According to statistics there are now over 25,000
in the Netherlands and over half of these are said to be illegal immigrants.
Like many cities in the world there are a large number of brothels in Amsterdam
but unlike other cities there are a large number of red lit windows in the Red
Sex Museum, Damrak 18
Inside the sex museum you will find a great collection of erotic art from throughout history and a number of other entertaining exhibits. There is everything from an extensive collection of literature and manuscripts portraying various illustrations of sex that have popped up throughout history through padded booths playing porno films to a gallery of alternative sexual fetishes. Very informative and explicit, not for those easily offended.
An artistic view over the world erotics. The Erotic museum reflects what it is all about in the Red Light District. Five floors of erotic enjoyment and a collection of erotic art from all over the world.
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 54, Red Light District
Condom shop Het Gulden Vlies
This shop is a kingdom of condoms. It has all colors,
shapes, sizes and flavors. Some are even hand painted and are for decoration
only. You can also find
all sorts of information and books and it has a small condom museum. Address:
Marihuana Hemp Museum
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148, Red Light District
This museum is next-door and owned by the sensi seed bank. Its fairly small and
goes through the history of the cannabis plant. There are also some plants growing
on show aswell as explanations of hash production, etc. Next to the museum is
a seed bank where you can buy quality cannabis seeds (for medical purposes, of
Amsterdam offers a diverse array of world-class entertainment, as for centuries has been one of the leading centres of culture in Europe. High-quality culture spread across 65 theatres and concert halls, 42 museums and over 140 galleries. The availability of culture in Amsterdam is thanks to afforable prices , and the fact that Beethoven's Ninth can be enjoyed just as much in jeans as in more formal attire.
Amsterdam's cultural season lasts all 52 weeks a year. Each year about 16.000 concerts and theatre performances take place, averaing over 40 events a day, in traditional venues such as Concertgebouw, the Muziektheater and Stadsschouwburg, while more experimental productions can be found in the Felix Meretis Theater or the IJSbreker among amother places.
Museums in Amsterdam are among the main tourist attractions. The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum are the most popular choices, but there are many, many more. Amsterdam has over fifty museums, which attract millions of visitors every year. Alongside the wealth of magestic Golden Age paintings, you'll find exciting modern art, press, film, theatre and photography museums and some unique Dutch treats like the Heineken Experience, the Ajax Museum and the Houseboat Museum. And Amsterdam wouldn't be Amsterdam without the likes of the Sex, Erotic, Hash or Torture museums.
For kids there is the impressive NEMO; a hands-on, science and technology museum housed in an unmissable, boat-shaped building. The Shipping Museum is also worth a visit with its replica of a Dutch trading ship, docked at the front. Museums such as the Tropical museum and Jewish museum also include children's section. The Museum card is the ideal solution for museums and arts addicted, for tourists wishing to stay in Amsterdam longer, or visiting museums also in other Dutch cities.
The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands, with
more than a million visitors each year. The Rijksmuseum is a familiar
Amsterdam landmark and possesses an unrivalled collection of Dutch art, from early religious
works to the masterpieces of the Golden Age.
Location: Stadhouderskade 42, The museum quarter.
Anne Frank House in the center of Amsterdam is the hiding place
where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during World War
II. The original
of the diary
is on display as part of the Anne Frank House's permanent exhibition.
Location: Prinsengracht 267, Jordaan quarter near Westerkerk.
Ever wondered what it is like to live right on the canals of Amsterdam? This is your chance to visit a former sailing vessel, although the houseboat is no longer used as a home, it looks like the owner could pop back in at any moment.
Location: Prinsengracht, opposite 296
Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis
In 1687, for the occasion of his marriage to the much younger Sara Hinlopen, the wealthy and influential merchant Albert Geelvinck built a canal mansion. Today the period rooms and the rich garden between the main house and its former carriage house on Keizersgracht is open for the public on Sundays 11:00 - 17:00. A guided tour will give you an impression of the life inside. Address: Keizersgracht 633
Jewish Historical Museum
The museum consists of four synagogues, the oldest dating back to 17th century and houses a rich collection. It shows the history, religion and culture of Jews in the Netherlands.
Location: Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4
Housing the civic collection of modern art, the museum also stages contemporary art exhibitions. A sculpture garden is to be found behind the building. Location: Oosterdokskade 5, temporarily in the harbour area not far from the Central Station.
On the edge of the Red Light District, museum houses in the
restored 17th-century canal house with two smaller houses
to the rear. The lower floors of the building became a museum in 1888 and today contain refurbished
rooms, as well as a collection
of church silver, religious artefacts and paintings.
Location: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40.
The paintings of the wall and ceiling and the marble staircase form the background of the museum of theater history. The spotlight is put on all forms of theater, from the early Middle Ages until the modern experimental works of the 21st century.
Location: Herengracht 168
Allard Pierson Museum is Amsterdam's the only specialist
archeological collection, now owned by the
University. The museum contains
Egyptian, Greek, Cypriot,
Roman, Etruscan and Coptic artefacts.
Location: Oude Turfmarkt 127.
The permanent exhibitions are housed around
the complex's inner courtyards. Clear signposting
allows the visitor
on a specific
period of the Amsterdam's history.
Location: Kalverstraat 92, Nieuwezijds
Voorburgwal 357, St Luciensteeg.
Netherlands Maritime Museum holds the largest
collection of boats in the world. Displays
of real-size ships,
view of Dutch
Location: Linnaeusstraat 2, quarter
- Tropical Museum
One of the most intriguing Amsterdam's museums belongs to the Royal Institute for
the Tropics, a foundation devoted to the study of the cultures of tropical areas around the world.
Location: Kattenburgerplein 1, quarter
An impressive collection of furniture, silverware and paintings housed
in a beautiful preserved 17th-century canalside mansion. How did a wealthy family
live in an Amsterdam canal house?
Find out in this 17-th century mansion.
Location: Herengracht 605, South-East of the city center, near the river Amstel.
The collection of the film museum consists of thousands of movies, photos, posters and scripts of Dutch and international movies. Exclusive masterpieces of cinema history are show every day since the museum is often the only place which has the equipment to show them.
Location: Vondelpark 3
Van Gogh Museum
The museum houses some 200 paintings and 550 sketches showing Van Gogh in all his moods. These combined with hundreds of letters by Van Gogh to Theo, and selected works by his friends and contemporaries, form the core of the museum's collection.
Location: Paulus Potterstraat 7, The museum quarter.
Nieuwe Kerk – New Church
This late Gothic church is the home of several unique exhibitions throughout the year. Each exhibition will show only masterpieces of a certain era or subject.
Location: Dam square
No time to book a visit with princes Maxima? You can see her every day, right next to Kylie Minogue, Bono and Bob Marley. A bit of culture perhaps? Watch Rembrandt at work in his atelier. Life size and frighteningly lifelike.
Location: Dam square
FOAM – photography
Be inspired by the exhibitions in this museum for photography. Join the discussions, study and mingle with the professionals. Your holiday snaps will never be the same again.
Location: Keizersgracht 609
De Hortus -the Botanical Gardens
This oasis in the centre of the city has always been called
the jewel in the crown of Amsterdam. It was established in
1638 as an herb garden for Amsterdam doctors and chemists
and has since developed into a living museum with plants
from all continents.
Location: Plantage Midddenlaan 2a
Gemeentearchief - the Municipal
In the archives and collections you can find out everything
about the history of your relatives from Amsterdam, your
house or the neighborhood you live in. The total length
of the archives
is about 35 km, and consists of archives, books, newspapers,
drawings, maps and ideos and much more.
Location: Amsteldijk 67
De Appel - the Appel Foundation – contemporary art
This is the center for contemporary art in Amsterdam. It provides
a space for new artists and forms of art that cannot be found
anywhere in the Netherlands.
Location: Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 10
ARCAM – Amsterdam Centre for Architecture
The ARCAM foundation aims to show the public all aspects of
Amsterdam’s architecture and is housed on the top floor
of a unique building designed by René van Zuuk. You
can find different exhibitions throughout the year, and once
a month a distinguished architect is invited to talk about
his or her work.
Location: Prins Hendrikkade, open Tue – Sat 1 –5
Bijbelsmuseum - Biblical museum
This museum shows visitors the world of the bible: religious
objects, and even the smells from the bible stories. Clay tablets,
and archaeological findings tell the tale of the origins of
the Bible and it’s influence on Dutch society.
Location: Herengracht 366- 368
Verzetsmuseum - Resistance Museum – WWII
The main exhibition of this museum shows the work of the Dutch
resistance during WWII, but it also makes the visitor think
about the things we take for granted nowadays, like freedom.
Location: Plantage Kerklaan 61
This museum shows you the history of energy production, elevators
and household appliances. A large collection of working engines,
generators, aggregates, toasters, and radios is on display,
and will transport visitors back to the days when these inventions
turned the world upside down.
Location: Hooge Kadijk 400
Huis Marseille – photography
Every three month this foundation for photography organizes
new exhibitions in this former house of a wealthy French
merchant. All imaginary forms of photography are on display,
emphasis on the visual quality.
Location: Keizersgracht 401
Vakbondsmuseum - National trade union museum
Situated in one of the finest trade union buildings, de Burcht
van Berlage, build in 1900 for the Dutch diamond workers,
it now houses the national trade union museum. It houses
exhibitions that are related to the long history of trade
unions in the Netherlands.
Location: Henri PolakLaan 9
Right next the Central Station is the largest futuristic science
center in the Netherlands, housed in a ship like building designed
by Renzo Piano. Here you can be amazed by the world of science
and technology. Contrary to other museums, here you must touch
the collection and experiment with it.
Location: Oosterdok 2
Open Havenmuseum - Open harbour
Located on the oldest passenger terminal of Amsterdam this
open air museum will give you the opportunity to examine
historical vessels and see what life was like in the old days
of the port.
Location: KNSM-laan 311
www.openhavenmuseum.nl (currently offline)
Persmuseum – Press museum
This museum guards over four centuries of journalistic heritage
and has a large collection of newspapers ad magazines, a unique
collection of political images and an extensive library of
the Dutch printer press.
Location: Zeeburgerkade 10
Rembrandthuis - Rembrandt house museum
The house where Rembrandt lived from 1639 until 1659 is now
the home of a large collections of his etchings and the
very place where most of them where made. It also has a
collection of paintings of people who inspired him, like
Location: Jodenbreestraat 4
Museum Het Schip – Amsterdam School
This is an excellent example of the Amsterdam School of Architecture
from the beginning of the 20th century. “The ship” as
the block is called, was designed by M. de Klerk, and it’s
interior has now been carefully restored.
Location: Spaarndammerplantsoen 140
This history of Ajax football club, images of 100 years of
football legends from these “Sons of the Gods”,
one of the best know teams in the Netherlands and across the
Location: Amsterdam Arena, Arena Boulevard 29, Amsterdam ZO
No visit is complete without taking a peek in the breweries
of the worlds best beer. Find out everything you wanted to
know about the history of beer making and take a bottleride
to see the process of beer making from beginning until the
Location: Stadhouderskade 78
Another must when in Amsterdam: The Venustemple houses an extensive
collection of erotic paintings, pictures, objects and recordings
from different ages and cultures all over the world.
Location: Damrak 18
Located right in the hart of the red-light district, this museum
reflects the history of the area. Five floors full of erotic
enjoyment and artwork.
Location: OZ. Achterburgwal 54
Another unique place: This small and dark museum shows some
of the most horrid inventions to extract confessions. Complete
with straps, spikes, weights and blades, these machines
are sure to make you talk, and be thankful that they are
used in modern times.
Location: Singel 449
Remember: Museumkaart is designed to enter more than 400 museums in Holland!
Exept for well known museums, there is a number of Art Galleries in Amsterdam.
Free pictures of museums for
your web site.
All year round, every night of the week, you can find quality, English-language theatre in Amsterdam. Most of the major theatres are centred around the Leidseplein, within an easy stroll of each other. The easiest way is to drop by the theatres' box offices, where you can browse programmes, ticket prices and availability.
For comedy, you cannot miss the hilarious Boom Chicago, now an Amsterdam institution after 11 years. Around the corner you will find the more low-key Comedy Café which often hosts international, stand-up comedians.
De Balie is a beacon for artists and the intelligentsia with its theatre, film and political debate. The Melkweg and Paradiso are popular nightclub venues that also stage quirky, fresh, new theatre. Finally, at the Stadsschouwburg, the Municipal Theatre, you will find quality stage performances housed in a gorgeous, historic site.
In summer, the city comes alive with culture and entertainment. The Holland Festival runs throughout June and the popular, free Open Air Theatre in the Vondelpark, throughout July.
In the Leidseplein and Vondelpark you will often stumble across theatre quite accidentally, out in the streets. Imaginably, Amsterdam is a magnet for buskers and street-performers, some of whom are surprisingly entertaining.
For more information and reservations:
Uit Buro (AUB)
1017 PT Amsterdam
AUB Ticketline: 0900.01.91 (0,40 EUR per minute)
Waterlooplein 22, Amstel 3.
Whichever the city, whatever the time, the cinema is probably one of the best places to relax and what better backdrop than Amsterdam. Every single cinema in the city screens films in their original language with Dutch/English subtitles. There are some 55 movie theatres to choose from, many of which are located around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Cinemas here can get very busy on the weekends so it’s advisable to book early. Most reservations can be made by phone or online, if not, just pop into the movie theatre prior the showing. Admission prices are around €8, depending on the showing, time and day.
Like any other city, Amsterdam caters for all tastes offering first run cinemas (screening regular films) and art-houses or film-huizens. With the exception of Uitkijk, every cinema sells popcorn and an array of hot and cold beverages. If you fancy watching an art-house film or cult classic, head for Het Ketelhuis (Westergasfabriek, Harlemmerweg), the Rialto (Ceintuurbaan) the stunning Film Museum (Vondelpark) or The Movies on Haarlemmerdijk, which has its own restaurant. For the ultimate cinematic experience, a must is Tuschinski, a grand Art Deco cinema.
For cinema venues, check out below:
Marnixstraat 400-402, Tel: 06234876
Tram: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10
Lijnbaansgracht 236, Tel: 06236615
Tram: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10
Cinema De Balie
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 13-25, Tel: 020 5535100
Tram: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10
Vondelpark 3, Tel: 020 5891400
Tram: 1, 3, 5, 6, 12
Filmtheater De Uitkijk
Prinsengracht 452, Tel: 020 6237460
Tram: 1, 2, 5
Tel: 020 6231708
Tram: 6, 7, 10
Pathe de Munt
Vijzelstraat 15, Tel: 0900 1458
Tram: 4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25
Regulierbreestraat 34, Tel: 020 6262633
Tram; 4, 9, 14
Ceintuurbaan 338, Tel: 020 6623488
Tram, 3, 4, 12, 24, 25
To find out weekly listings, get a copy of the Film Agenda brochure (in English) which you can pick up at the cinemas, hotels and cafes. Or try the bimonthly magazine Preview; the monthly newsletter Filmkrant or local newspapers Trouw, De Volkskrant and Het Parool. For online listings, check out filmladder.nl (in Dutch).
For printable guide see Shark's Film Agenda: This week's films in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is also famous for its film festivals. A few of those worth visiting are the Amnesty International Film Festival (20-23 March), the International Documentary Film Festival (18-28 November) and the Amsterdam Pink Film Festival (10-19 December).
High Times Cannabis Cup - November 21st - November 26th
Pax Party House. Melkweg, various coffeehouses, (various times)
Following pages do not encourage use of any drugs and should serve as a general source of information - just because Amsterdam is a sin city. Never try to take drugs out of the country, penalties are stiff.
In Amsterdam, coffeeshop means a place where cannabis is openly sold and smoked.
Thought soft drugs have not been legalized in the Netherlands,
it is tolerated when used discretely. Hard drugs are strictly prohibited.
The coffeeshops can legally store up to 500 g of marijuana and can sell
up to 5 grams to adults over 18.
There are many different kinds of coffeeshops in Amsterdam,
some are relaxed, some more vivid, with psychedelic decor or loud music.
Since people around enjoy, any agression will not be accepted. Also, it is not favourable just to hang around -
a coffee, soft drinks and snacks are generaly available,
only few coffeeshops have an alcohol license.
You can smoke from your own bag, you just have to buy something.
Tobacco is physically addictive, cannabis may be mentally addictive.
If you are pregnant do not smoke anything, it can harm your unborn child.
General rules that coffeeshops require to abide:
- Minimum age 18 years, identification duty
- No alcohol, no hard drugs
- No selling goods
- No mobile phones (in some)
- Agression is not allowed
- No hanging around
Each coffeeshop offers several kinds of weed and hash, usually there is a "menu" to choose from.
The prices vary according to the quality (about 5 EUR per gram) - be careful, the local skunk is strong,
you can always ask the staff for the strenght and the general effect. You may also want to ask for a pipe to use, rolling papers and filter-tips are available as well.
Since the coffeeshops in Amsterdam are not allowed to advertise, all below is an independent editorial review. If you feel any information inappropriate, please let us know right now. Welcome to see Amsterdam smartshops, these are fully legal.
A pink pig marks the entrance to this warm and friendly coffeshop where Pinkfloyd music is often on play. Here you can surf the Internet while enjoying a sandwich - just short walk from the central station.
Web: www.pinkfloyd.nlCafe The Dolphins
Lively and smoke-friendly cafe conveniently located near to Leidsplein. Coffee, beer, all kind of drinks. Free wi-fi Internet is also available around. Thought, not selling gear anymore...
Address: Kerkstraat 39
Web: www.thedolphinscafe.comCoffeeshop Little
Very little basement club, just downstairs from the sidewalk, don't bump your head. Not a tourist place (what is also good for tourists of course!), but a quite friendly crew, stuff at little prices.
Address: Vijzelgracht 47
Coffeeshop Mellow Yellow
The first coffeeshop in Amsterdam ever, a smoking reminder of 70s, still an enjoyeable break from the packed tourist places in the centre.
Address: Vijzelgracht 33 Coffeeshop The Rookies
Situated close to the Leidseplein, the Rookies is a pub-like coffeeshop and a bar with a pool table and darts.
Address: Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 145-147
Web: www.rookies.nl Coffeeshop Bulldog - Leidseplein
Bulldog's bar and coffeeshop is certainly a major attraction at the Leidseplein, often crowded with groups of tourists and visited by celebrities.
Web: www.bulldog.nlCoffeeshop Get Down to IT
Almost at the Leidseplein, this is the Internet coffeeshop, but also has a bar and pool tables.
Address: Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 77-79 Coffeeshop Jamaica
Original Jamaican coffeeshop run by a Jamaican, serving Jamaica bio and plays Jamaican Raggae. Truly a place for Bob Marley to go. Pool table is available.
Address: Reguliersgracht 27
Coffeeshop Choice ExactCoffeeshop Johnny
Located on a busy tourist street off the Dam square, this old-style coffeeshop is suitable also for groups who like drink beers while paying pool or table football.
Address: Oude Hoogstraat 9
Open: Sun-Thu 12.00 -1.00 am, Fri-Sat 12.00 - 3.00 am.
A tiny coffeeshop in the very heard of Jordaan.
Address: Elandsgracht 3
Coffeeshop Rokerij (Leidseplein) Coffeeshop Grasshopper
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 41
Open Sun-Thu 10:00 am to 01:00 am (3:00 am weekends).
A spacious touristy coffeeshop just off Damrak towards red lights, with a terrace in summer, plus a bar and restaurant upstairs.
From brothels to sex shops to museums, the Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. It is very likely that you will have heard about this neighbourhood and to be frank, everything you will have heard is probably true , but to really put rumours to rest, you have got to check it out for yourself. The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike any other place. Guaranteed. Certainly, the Red Light District that everyone knows about is the one where women, of all nationalities, parade their wares in red-fringed window parlours, many ready to offer more than a school boy peep-show in a private cabin. Another familiar image of the Red Light District is of packs of men, young and old , couples holding hands and pointing in shock of it all, giggling groups of women celebrating a hen night , and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras (except not in the direction of the female entertainers! Strictly banned!). This is proof enough that the RLD deserves a visit, if not a little look in.
Perhaps what few really notice is that the Rossebuurt (Dutch for ‘pink’ or ‘red’ neighbourhood) is in fact one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city with its long winding narrow, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14 th century architecture, such as the gothic Oudekerk, or Old Church. The Red Light District simply oozes charm and one cannot help but admire the old buildings that lean at odd-angles, and the tree-enshrouded canals. Music, especially during the summer season, invites you to linger just that little bit longer while the arrival of new classier eateries and great authentic restaurants such as Café Pacifico, one of Europe 's first Mexican restaurants, make it so appealing. Recently resurfaced streets, restored façades and trendier clientele to the area are now transforming what was once a dark and seedy part of town.
Amsterdam prides itself, and rightly so, on its wholly liberal and tolerant attitude, embracing the fact that people may be into prostitution, soft drugs and pornography-and this is only human. So instead of criminalizing everything, this very upfront city wears its heart on its sleeve-what you see is generally what you get. Enjoy the honesty of it all, as you won’t find it anywhere else. So how do you get to it? It depends which RLD you are looking for as t here are in fact three Red Light Districts in Amsterdam: the main area is in the Walletjes area (between Centraal Station and Nieuwenmarkt), and the other two, in Singel (between Raadhuistraat and Centraal Station) and de Pijp (behind the Rijksmuseum).
Prostitution is legal in Holland, and in Amsterdam most of it is concentrated in the Red Light District where it has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance. Since October 2000, window prostitutes have been allowed to legally ply their trade. Today, prostitutes in the Netherlands are also taxpayers. Unfortunately, discrimination is still very much part and parcel in this trade as many prostitutes report that some banks even refuse to grant mortgages for example. However, now as a legal profession, the government ensures that all prostitutes are able to access medical care and work in better conditions by regulating and monitoring working practices and standards. Help is also at hand in the district itself thanks to the Prostitution Information Center (Enge Kerksteeg 3, www.pic-amsterdam.com). Also, contrary to popular belief, the RLD is actually the safest area in Amsterdam as clusters of policemen, and private bodyguards employed by the girls themselves are always on duty.
Did you know?
W indow prostitution is distinct to the Netherlands. Until recently, there was also a tipple -zone (pick-up area) servicing the needs of clientele on the move. Utrecht, 30 minutes east of Amsterdam, has its own canal-based RLD, Rotterdam has a number of sex clubs or private houses (privenhuizen) and smaller cities like Groningen and Alkmaar have also jumped on the red light bandwagon.
So where to go? Well, if curiosity does get the better of you, come down at night when the district really comes to life. During the day, the district is less lively and even less attractive as the more sordid aspects reveal themselves in natural daylight. Although there are women forever tapping on the windows even during the light hours, most of the action takes place around 11pm , when the district is swarming with crowds and the red neon lights illuminate the inky canals. The atmosphere pretty much thrives until around 2 or 3am when the crowds die down and businesses shut up shop.
Whether you are window-shopping, Amsterdam style, or actually wanting to buy something, there is likely to be a place, window, or even two, that cater to your every whim. For those not easily offended, there are plenty of live sex shows and the most notorious of these go on at the theatres Casa Rosa (OZ Achterburgwal) and the infamous Moulin Rouge (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 5-7). For the merely curious, there are numerous peep shows that may come with video booths. But of course, for the more adventurous among us, there are more interactive shows, for example at de Bananenbar (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 37). Exactly what goes on in these places is up to you to discover, if you so wish. For goods, there is a somewhat eclectic mix of videos, magazines, sex aids and toys. The RLD is also home to many gay bars and cinemas which can be found on the very busy Warmoesstraat. If the Red light alleyways are not your cup of tea, there are a number of brothels and private houses that offer a more traditional form of prostitution.
For culture, you don’t need to look very far as the very picturesque Zeedijk, the Jewish quarter, Waterloo Square and Nieuwmarkt Square lie just around the corner. RLD also boasts a string of unusual shops and pubs, so be sure to visit. And restaurants? Try the stylish Mediterranean kitchen , the Blauw aan de Wal ( Oudezijds Achterburgwal 99), the French brasserie Café Roux (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197 or head down to Chinatown.
The Red Light District is arguably one of the few places where you can get authentic and really tasty Chinese food. These restaurants are easy to spot as cooked Duck is usually hung in the front window, admittedly a bit of a stomach-turner for vegetarians! Over the years, Chinatown has gone from strength to strength and today, booming businesses are spilling over into the Nieuwmarkt area. Of course, Chinatown in itself is a bit misleading as there are also dozens of Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai restaurants and caf és scattered along the beautiful canals. This buzzing complex of Far East/Asian restaurants, shops, salons, apothecaries, markets and martial art schools has received rave reviews, and deservedly so. To make your dishes truly authentic, visit the Oriental Supermarket which stocks a vast array of dry goods imported from China. Some of the supermarkets here even have 5 floors so be sure to go early if you want to get around the whole building! And make a point of stepping into the Taiwanese Fo Kuang Sham temple on the Zeedlijk. It stands as testament to the conviviality between the local Dutch and Chinese communities, and what’s more, it’s free.
To make sure you get the best out of the Red Light District and that it doesn’t get the worse out of you, stick to these tips closely.
Number one: Do not take photos of the occupied windows - this is strictly prohibited and any attempt will be quickly stamped out (it could get messy, you have been warned!). Number two: watch out for pick-pocketers, as this is almost always an extremely overcrowded area. Number three: try and go in a group or at least go in twos to avoid attracting any unwanted attention. Number four: Don’t visit the Red Light District first otherwise you may get the wrong idea about the Dutch and Amsterdam as this is not all we are about! Number five: enjoy yourself, as a trip down the RLD will leave a lasting impression. Number six: Do not buy from dealers -whether its drugs or bikes- or else you will find yourself on the other side of the law!