We’ve all seen the typical tourist shots from a bridge over one of Amsterdam’s many canals, but if you’re after something a little different to capture (and this city has plenty of it!) we’ve got a few tips up our sleeve for you. Between the must-see sights, the best local cuisine and where to get those magical shots, our blog covers all you need to know for your trip to Amsterdam.
What to see
Dam Square is the heart of Amsterdam’s bustling centre, and it’s easy to see why. At one side lies the magnificent Koninklijk Paleis – former home to the Dutch royal family – and opposite you will find the opulent Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky and its luxury café, the ideal place to stop, take a break and enjoy watching the world go by.
You will see the National Monument, which commemorates the victims of World War II, as well as the Nieuwe Kerk, the scene of many high-profile religious ceremonies. As one of the city’s main tourist hotspots, there’s always plenty going on – you can expect to be greeted with street performers, entertainers and some seasonal surprises such as the spring carnival.
It’s not just the attractions around this hub of activity that make it such a tourist hotspot, it’s also what you can find nearby. Just walk down one of the streets off Dam Square and you’re sure to uncover more of the city’s charm. Plenty of the nearby streets are home to food outlets offering traditional Dutch favourites such as the stroopwafel as well as more international cuisine to eat on-the-go. We recommend grabbing a snack and heading into Dam Square to enjoy it.
Whilst you’re in the city, head over to the Rijksmuseum to see the famous ‘Iamsterdam’ sign and enjoy how the giant modern letters contrast with the historic building behind. The sign attracts all sorts of tourists year-round who are looking to get their iconic Amsterdam photo, so chances are you won’t be alone in trying to photograph the letters! Once you’ve got your perfect shot, why not use it as the cover for your Amsterdam CEWE PHOTOBOOK?
Where to explore
If you’re looking for something a little less touristy, the Grachtengordel neighbourhood or ‘canal belt’ is the place for you. The charming area that hugs the inner city gives a relaxed, continental feel and you’ll be treated to a selection of small boutique shops and cafes throughout its streets. This residential neighbourhood is a highly coveted area of the city, laced with green areas and pretty canalside walks, and in 2010 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. We think it’s a must for any visit to Amsterdam.
On the western edge of the canal belt, you will find the famous house where Anne Frank lived and the nearby Westerkerk, the church famous for its perfectly tuned bells that the diarist used to listen to from her hidden annexe just down the street. If you’d like to go inside Anne Frank’s house, it’s best to book in advance, but you can get some good snaps of the house from outside if you would prefer to admire from afar.
If you’re tempted to hop on one of the city’s renowned bicycles, you’ll find it much easier to navigate around the canal belt and in the outer areas of the city centre. Amsterdam is a very cyclist-friendly city and it is a quick, easy and fun way to see the city’s sights, but if you would prefer a quieter area with less traffic and pedestrians, use your time cycling to explore those outer areas.
Take a look round Bloemenmarkt, the city’s famous flower market, and enjoy the display of colour in the huge variety of tulips on offer. As well as the quintessential Dutch flower, you will also find a range of other fresh flowers, bulbs and souvenirs to buy – and don’t forget to look out for the floating barges on which the market rests!
Best photo opportunities
The Jordaan neighbourhood
Slightly outside of the main city centre but easily accessible on foot, Jordaan is an area that should not be missed by those with a camera in hand. Characterised by its mismatched houses and chilled out vibe, you can’t fail to be impressed by the quaint residential streets, quirky buildings and pretty canals that run through the neighbourhood. Virtually anywhere you choose to go is an Instagrammer’s paradise! If you’re really after those perfect shots, take an Instagram photography walking tour and enjoy the sights of this beautiful neighbourhood whilst gaining valuable photography tips and plenty of shots for the ‘Gram.
Why not try experimenting with shots at different times of day? Snap a picture in the morning, at dusk or at night to see how the light plays on the water differently depending on the time of day.
Spot the parakeets
Keep your eye out and you might just spot one of the estimated 4000 rose-ringed parakeets resident in the city. Mainly found in green areas, you’re likely to see them nesting in trees, so get your camera out and make sure you take the opportunity to practise some wildlife photography!
The A’DAM LOOKOUT
For something a bit more special, head up the A’DAM tower to the lookout at the top for a 360-degree view of Amsterdam. There’s even a giant swing on the top floor if you’re feeling adventurous! Up at the lookout you’ll experience astonishing views over the city and its harbour that are hard to match elsewhere. Top tip – this is the perfect place to get that panoramic shot for the double page spread of your CEWE PHOTOBOOK!
If you have a little longer…
We couldn’t possibly write about Amsterdam without mentioning the spectacular Zaanse Schans. With a short bus or train ride from Amsterdam Central Station, you can reach this residential area packed full of coloured wooden houses and windmills. As well as discovering this beautiful little area, you’ll be sure to get some wonderful pictures.
Now you’ve explored the city and captured a camera roll full of impressive snaps, it’s only right that you make good use of them… and that’s where we come in! You could choose a favourite picture to print on some wall art, put all your holiday memories together in a special CEWE PHOTOBOOK or add a few into next year’s calendar, and we’ll take care of printing them to our top-quality standards.
We love to see your pictures, so if you visit Amsterdam, be sure to tag us on social media at @cewephotoworld and share your Amsterdam photo book on our CEWE Community pool. We can’t wait to see what you capture!