Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 5 million foreign tourists each year, not including the 16 million day trippers that visit the city.
Because of its picturesque canals that crisscross the city, stunning architecture, and more than 1,500 bridges, Amsterdam is commonly known as the Venice of the North. There is something here to suit any traveler’s tastes, whether they love culture and history, serious partying, or just the calm beauty of an ancient European city.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the world’s oldest stock exchange, is situated in the city center. Amsterdam’s main attractions, such as its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House, the Amsterdam Museum, the red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops, attract over 5 million international visitors each year.
Over the last decade, the number of tourists has consistently increased. This is due to an increase in the number of European tourists. Two-thirds of the hotels are in the city center. Hotels with four or five stars account for 42 percent of total beds offered and 41 percent of overnight stays in Amsterdam. In 2006, the hotel occupancy rate was 78 percent, up from 70 percent in 2005. The bulk of visitors (74 percent) are from Europe. The United States is the greatest source of non-European tourists, accounting for 14% of the total. In Amsterdam, some years have a theme to attract more visitors. For example, the year 2006 was dubbed “Rembrandt 400” to commemorate Rembrandt van Rijn’s 400th birthday. During certain years, several hotels provide unique arrangements or events. The average number of tourists staying in the city’s four campgrounds each year ranges from 12,000 to 65,000.
De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is Amsterdam’s biggest and most well-known red-light district and is a designated area for legalized prostitution. This area has become a popular tourist destination. It consists of a network of roads and alleyways with several hundred tiny, one-room homes leased by sex workers who advertise their services from behind a window or glass door, which is usually lit with red lights.
The businesses in Amsterdam vary from enormous high-end department stores like De Bijenkorf, which opened in 1870, to tiny speciality shops like Maison de Bonneterie, which opened in 1889. The streets P.C. Hooftstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat, which are near the Vondelpark, are home to Amsterdam’s high-end stores. The small, ancient Kalverstraat in the city’s centre is one of Amsterdam’s busiest thoroughfares. The Negen Straatjes, Haarlemmerdijk, and Haarlemmerstraat are further retail districts. TheGrachtengordel, Amsterdam’s circular canal system, has nine small streets known as Negen Straatjes. The presence of a significant range of privately owned stores distinguishes the Negen Straatjes from other retail areas. In 2011, the Haarlemmerstraat and the Haarlemmerdijk were named the greatest shopping streets in the Netherlands. As the Negen Straatjes, these streets contain a wide variety of privately held stores. However, because the Negen Straatjes are dominated by fashion stores, the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk offer a diverse range of shops, including candy and other food-related stores, lingerie, sneakers, wedding clothing, interior shops, books, Italian deli’s, racing and mountain bikes, skatewear, and so on.
The Albert Cuyp Market, Westerstraat-markt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt are just a few of the city’s many open-air marketplaces. Some of these markets, such as the Albert Cuypmarkt and the Dappermarkt, are hosted on a daily basis. Others, such as the Westerstraatmarkt, take place weekly.
G-star, Gsus, BlueBlood, PICHICHI, Iris van Herpen, 10 feet, and Warmenhoven & Venderbos are all headquartered in Amsterdam, as are fashion designers Mart Visser, Viktor & Rolf, Sheila de Vries, Marlies Dekkers, and Frans Molenaar. Elite Models, Touche Models, and Tony Jones are among the modeling companies that have established offices in Amsterdam. Yfke Sturm, Doutzen Kroes, and Kim Noorda all began their modeling careers in Amsterdam. The World Fashion Center in Amsterdam houses the city’s garment center. Buildings in the red light district that used to be brothels have been turned into ateliers for young fashion designers, also known as eagle fuel. Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, both fashion photographers, were born in Amsterdam (Netherland).
- I amsterdam Visitor Centre (VVV Amsterdam), Stationsplein 10(Koffiehuis Stationsplein, across from Central Station), +31 20 702-6000.M-Su 09:00-18:00. The tourist office of Amsterdam is located in the same building as Smits Koffiehuis, just across from Centraal Station. In addition to maps, brochures, and reservations, the GVB office sells tram and metro tickets. There are a few touch panels with generic tourist information for Amsterdam.
- I amsterdam City Card. This card provides free admission to a number of the city’s museums and attractions, as well as unrestricted public transportation travel within the city and a list of discounts at additional attractions. 24h – €55, 48h – €65, 72h – €75, 96h – €85.