Boat rental Amsterdam


In this blog, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the enchanting capital of the Netherlands. From its rich history and geography to its diverse demographics and political governance. We’ll also explore the vibrant culture, exciting events, thriving economy, and efficient transportation in this lively city. Dive into the magic of Amsterdam and be amazed by the versatility that this city has to offer.

The History of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has a rich history dating back to the 13th century. Originally a small fishing settlement on the banks of the Amstel River, the city grew into a major trading center during the Golden Age, with its canals, architecture, and cultural diversity still admired today. Let’s explore Amsterdam’s rich history.

The origins of Amsterdam, an old painting of Amsterdam.

The Origins of Amsterdam

Amsterdam emerged as a small settlement around a dam on the Amstel River in the 13th century. It began as a fishing village that gradually developed into a trading post for regional goods. Its strategic location and the presence of the dam were crucial for the city to expand its trade activities and ultimately become a significant economic center.

The Creation of the Canals

In the 17th century, Amsterdam began systematically constructing canals to improve connections with waterways in the surrounding area. The goal was to optimize water transportation, facilitate trade, and promote urban expansion. These canals became an iconic feature of the city and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Since 1876, the North Sea Canal has provided Amsterdam with a direct connection between the city’s port and the locks at IJmuiden, allowing ships access to the North Sea.

the old Amsterdam Canals

The Geography of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is located in the western part of the country. The city is situated at the mouth of the Amstel River and is characterized by an extensive network of canals, contributing to its unique urban landscape. Its strategic location on the IJ, a bay of the Markermeer, has helped Amsterdam grow over the centuries into a major trading center and a hub for international trade and shipping.

City Districts

Amsterdam is divided into several city districts, each with its own character and amenities. The city has a total of 7 districts, including the historic center, North, West, New West, South, East, and Southeast. Each district has its own local government responsible for urban development, public services, and neighborhood initiatives.

The Climate in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s climate is characterized by mild summers and cool winters. It falls within the temperate maritime climate zone, with the influence of the North Sea moderating temperatures. The average maximum temperature in summer is around 22°C, while winter temperatures range from 2-6°C. Precipitation is possible throughout the year, with a slightly drier period in the spring and early summer.

The Canals

The canals are an iconic feature of Amsterdam and play a significant role in city life. Canal construction began in the 17th century, and they were originally used for transportation, trade, and defense. Today, the canals are a tourist attraction, providing a picturesque backdrop for boat tours and waterfront walks. The Canal Ring, a network of historic canals in the city center, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Amsterdam canals

The City Center

The historic inner city of Amsterdam is the heart of the city and includes many of its most famous attractions, including Dam Square, the Royal Palace, the Old Church, and the Anne Frank House. Visitors can also find numerous shops, restaurants, museums, and nightlife venues here. The city center is a blend of historical architecture and modern amenities and remains the bustling center of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam city centrum map with highlights

The Neighborhoods

Amsterdam boasts various neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and identity. For example, the Jordaan is known for its picturesque canal houses, art galleries, and cozy cafes, while De Pijp is popular for its multicultural atmosphere, the vibrant Albert Cuyp Market, and Sarphatipark. Each neighborhood offers a unique experience to residents and contributes to the city’s cultural diversity.

Parks and Green Areas in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is blessed with many parks and green areas that provide relaxation and recreation for both residents and visitors. The Vondelpark, the city’s largest park, is a popular spot for joggers, cyclists, and picnickers. Other green spaces include Oosterpark, Westerpark, and the Amsterdamse Bos.


Why is Amsterdam the Capital of the Netherlands and Not of North Holland?

In the 17th century, Amsterdam became the official capital of the Netherlands when the country was still governed by the Dutch Republic. At that time, Amsterdam was a significant trading center and one of the wealthiest cities in Europe, thanks to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and international trade. Although Amsterdam is located in the North Holland province, it was chosen as the capital due to its economic power and central role in trade and diplomacy. Amsterdam has remained the capital ever since, despite the later relocation of political centers to The Hague.

The Demographics of Amsterdam

The demographics of Amsterdam are diverse and dynamic, with the city serving as a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities. With a population of over 800,000 people, Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands. The city is known for its tolerant and inclusive character, which has attracted people from all corners of the world, making it a vibrant and multicultural metropolis.

demographics Amsterdam. People riding on bikes.

How many inhabitants does Amsterdam have?

Now that Weesp with approximately 21 thousand inhabitants has been added to the municipality of Amsterdam, Amsterdam has approximately 903 thousand inhabitants as of March 24, 2022.

The composition of the inhabitants in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a very diverse population with people from various cultural backgrounds and nationalities. There are many immigrants in the city, which has led to a mix of different ethnic groups. The city also has a significant LGBTQ+ community and a relatively young population.

What religions are there in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is religiously diverse, with people adhering to various faiths. The majority of the population considers themselves non-religious or independent, but there are also followers of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions in the city.

What is the nickname of the inhabitants?

The inhabitants of Amsterdam are often referred to as “Amsterdammers.” This nickname is used to identify people who live in the city or are originally from Amsterdam.

The dialect of the inhabitants

The Amsterdam dialect, also known as “Mokums,” is traditionally spoken by the residents of the Amsterdam region. Mokums is a variant of Dutch with its own distinctive sounds and words. Although traditional Amsterdam dialect has become less common over the years, there are still some local words and expressions used by the residents to preserve their identity.

Municipality of Amsterdam

The municipality of Amsterdam is the capital municipality of the Netherlands and is located in the province of North Holland. It encompasses the city of Amsterdam and its surrounding areas. The municipality of Amsterdam is responsible for the governance and public services of the city and plays a crucial role in maintaining Amsterdam as a vibrant and diverse metropolis.

Government house Amsterdam

Politics and governance

The political and administrative system of Amsterdam is led by a city council, a mayor, and an executive board. The city council is elected every four years by the residents of Amsterdam and is responsible for setting policies and legislation. The mayor serves as the city’s figurehead and represents Amsterdam in public affairs, while the executive board is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of policies.

Who is the mayor of Amsterdam?

Femke Halsema is the mayor of Amsterdam. She took office as mayor on July 12, 2018, making her the first female mayor of Amsterdam.

The culture of Amsterdam

The culture of Amsterdam is rich and diverse, with a thriving art scene, historical heritage, vibrant festivals, and a tolerant and progressive atmosphere. The city offers a wide range of cultural activities and attractions that attract both residents and visitors and shape the cultural identity of Amsterdam.

concerthal Amsterdam

Landmarks and historic buildings

Amsterdam offers an abundance of landmarks and historic buildings that reflect its rich heritage.

  1. Canal houses: Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canal houses along the canals that crisscross the city center. These historic buildings date back to the Golden Age and are notable for their typical facades, narrow designs, and unique architecture. Many of these houses have been well-preserved and provide a picturesque view of the city’s historical past.
  2. The Rijksmuseum: This world-famous museum is one of Amsterdam’s key cultural attractions and houses an extensive collection of art and historical objects. The iconic building itself is an impressive architectural masterpiece that showcases Dutch history and culture in all its glory.
  3. Anne Frank House: The former hiding place of Jewish girl Anne Frank has now become a memorial that attracts thousands of visitors annually. The house offers a poignant look into the life and experiences of Anne Frank and her family during World War II.
  4. Van Gogh Museum: This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Visitors here can enjoy an extensive collection of his paintings and letters, gaining insight into his creative genius.
  5. Royal Palace Amsterdam: Located on Dam Square, this magnificent palace was originally built as Amsterdam’s city hall. Now, it is used for official receptions and events of the Royal House.
  6. Westerkerk: This Protestant church is one of Amsterdam’s most recognizable churches, with its imposing tower overlooking the city. It is also the final resting place of the painter Rembrandt van Rijn.

Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a paradise for art and culture enthusiasts, with an abundance of museums covering a wide range of subjects. The famous Van Gogh Museum pays tribute to the life and work of the Dutch master Vincent van Gogh, where visitors can enjoy his masterpieces and discover how his art evolved.

The Rijksmuseum, one of the most prominent museums in the world, houses an extensive collection of artworks and historical artifacts from Dutch history, including masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Van Gogh Museum

For lovers of maritime history, the Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum) is a must-see attraction. This museum is located in an impressive 17th-century building and offers a fascinating glimpse into Dutch maritime tradition, with numerous interactive exhibitions and even the opportunity to sail alongside historic ships.

In addition to these well-known museums, there are many other interesting and unique museums in Amsterdam, such as the Anne Frank House, the Stedelijk Museum of modern art, the Rembrandt House Museum, the NEMO Science Museum, and the Tropenmuseum, to name just a few.


Amsterdam is home to several beautiful churches with rich historical and architectural heritage. The Westerkerk, a Protestant church, is one of the most striking churches in the city, with its imposing tower overlooking the canal belt. It is also the final resting place of the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn.

Another notable church is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), located in the heart of the historic center. It is the oldest church in Amsterdam, dating back to the 13th century. The Gothic architecture and impressive interior make it a unique and atmospheric venue for cultural events and exhibitions.

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), although no longer in active use as a church, is an important cultural venue in Amsterdam.

New church Amsterdam


Amsterdam boasts several beautiful squares that play a significant role in city life and social interaction. Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square), named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, is a bustling square with numerous restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. It is particularly known for its vibrant nightlife and attracts both residents and tourists.

Leidseplein (Leidse Square) is another lively square in the heart of Amsterdam. It is known for its diverse cultural offerings, including theaters, cinemas, restaurants, and cafes. The square often features street performers and musicians, creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere.

Museumplein (Museum Square) is a larger square surrounded by major cultural institutions such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. It is a popular meeting place for both tourists and local residents and also offers space for relaxation and recreation in the nearby Vondelpark.

Leidseplein in Amsterdam


Amsterdam is known for its extensive network of canals and waterways, crossed by more than 1,500 bridges. These bridges are essential to the city’s infrastructure, allowing pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles to navigate the urban landscape easily. Some of the most famous bridges include the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), an iconic double drawbridge over the river Amstel, and the Torensluis, Amsterdam’s oldest surviving bridge dating back to the 17th century.

The Magere brug


De Wallen, also known as the Red Light District, is a famous and controversial district in the oldest part of Amsterdam. It is known for its narrow streets, old canal houses, and the presence of prostitution and coffee shops. Despite its reputation, De Wallen attracts many tourists due to its unique atmosphere and historical character.

The Jordaan is a picturesque and lively neighborhood with narrow streets, canals, and cozy cafes and boutiques. Originally a working-class area, it has now become a trendy and beloved district where artists and creatives reside. The Jordaan also offers a rich history and is the birthplace of many famous Dutch singers and artists.

The Jordaan in Amsterdam


Amsterdam has several famous theaters! Theater Carré is one of the most famous theaters in Amsterdam, located on the banks of the Amstel River. It is a historic theater dating back to 1887 and offers a wide range of performances, from plays to musicals and concerts.

The DeLaMar Theater is a modern theater in the heart of Amsterdam, known for its diverse program featuring both national and international productions. The theater provides a modern and elegant setting for theater performances and events.

Pathé Tuschinski is a historic art-deco-style cinema known for its stunning architecture and interior. It offers a luxurious film experience with a diverse selection of movies, from blockbusters to arthouse productions.

Carré Amsterdam

Events in Amsterdam

Amsterdam hosts several major events, and here are some of the most well-known:

  1. King’s Day in Amsterdam: King’s Day is celebrated annually on April 27 in honor of the King’s birthday. Amsterdam is the site of one of the largest and most vibrant celebrations in the country. The city transforms into a sea of orange, with street parties, flea markets, and events throughout the city. Many celebrate King’s Day on boats on the canals, creating a unique and lively atmosphere.
  2. Amsterdam Light Festival: The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light art festival held from late November to late January. During the festival, artworks by light artists from around the world are displayed along the canals and public spaces of Amsterdam. Visitors can take a special boat route to admire the beautiful light installations from the water.
  3. Pride Amsterdam: Pride Amsterdam is an annual event that takes place in late July and early August. It celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for equal rights. The festivities include colorful street parades, performances, and parties throughout the city, making Amsterdam one of the most tolerant and inclusive cities in the world.
Amsterdam Light Festival

Concerts in Amsterdam:

  1. Concert aan de Amstel: Concert aan de Amstel is an annual classical music concert held on the evening of King’s Day on the Amstel River. The concert brings together various renowned orchestras and artists and attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy the music and the atmosphere.
  2. Grachtenfestival: The Grachtenfestival is an annual classical music festival held in August. The festival includes concerts at various locations in the city, including on boats in the canals, historic courtyards, and famous venues such as the Concertgebouw.
  3. Liberation Concert: The Liberation Concert takes place annually on May 5 on the Amstel River as part of the celebration of the liberation of the Netherlands in World War II. The concert is performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and other musicians and is broadcasted live on television.
  4. Prinsengracht Concert: The Prinsengracht Concert is an annual open-air concert held on a floating stage on the Prinsengracht canal. It takes place in August and attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy classical music and a unique atmosphere on the historic canals.
Concert prinsengracht

The Economy of Amsterdam

The economy of Amsterdam is dynamic and diverse, with a strong focus on trade, finance, tourism, the creative industry, and technology.

What does the economy of Amsterdam look like?

The economy of Amsterdam is diverse and dynamic, with a strong focus on trade, finance, technology, and tourism. As a major financial center in Europe, the city attracts numerous international companies and investors. Additionally, the technology and creative industries are thriving, with Amsterdam being known as a hub for startups and innovation.

Companies in Amsterdam

The economy of Amsterdam is characterized by a diverse mix of companies, ranging from large international corporations to small startups and creative enterprises. The city has a favorable entrepreneurial climate and is known for its innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Amsterdam is home to important financial institutions, such as the Dutch Bank and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, making it a significant financial center in Europe.

Companies from the sky in Amsterdam

Income in Amsterdam

The average income in Amsterdam is relatively high compared to the rest of the Netherlands. The city offers a wide range of employment opportunities in various sectors, including finance, technology, media, tourism, and the creative industry. The high quality of life, excellent amenities, and cultural attractions make Amsterdam an attractive place for residents, students, and expatriates alike.

Shops and Markets in Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers a diverse range of shops and markets, from major shopping streets like Kalverstraat to boutiques in trendy neighborhoods like the Negen Straatjes. The city is also known for its many markets, such as the Albert Cuyp Market, Dapper Market, and Flower Market, where visitors enjoy fresh products, artisanal goods, and unique souvenirs.

Albert Cuypmarkt Amsterdam

Tourism in Amsterdam

Tourism is a significant pillar of Amsterdam’s economy. Every year, the city attracts millions of tourists from around the world. Visitors come to Amsterdam for its rich history, cultural heritage, world-renowned museums, and iconic landmarks. Tourism contributes to employment in the hospitality, retail, and cultural sectors, making it a crucial source of income for the city.

Traffic in and around Amsterdam

Traffic in and around Amsterdam can be challenging due to busy streets, bike lanes, and canals. Additionally, Schiphol Airport is a major international hub with connections to destinations worldwide.

Major highways in and around Amsterdam

The main highway in Amsterdam is the A10, also known as the Amsterdam Ring Road. This highway forms a ring around the city center and connects various parts of the city. In addition, there are other major highways such as the A1, A2, A4, and A9 that connect Amsterdam to neighboring cities and regions.

Traffic in and around Amsterdam

Roads running through Amsterdam

The canals and bridges are distinctive features of the city and serve as vital thoroughfares for cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Traffic in Amsterdam can be busy, especially during rush hours, but the city also encourages the use of bicycles and public transportation as more sustainable alternatives to improve mobility and promote livability.

Railways in and through Amsterdam

Amsterdam has an extensive railway network with several train stations, including the Central Station, the largest and most central station in the city. The Central Station is the primary train station in the city and offers direct connections to various cities in the Netherlands, such as Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. In addition to the Central Station, there are other stations like Amsterdam Amstel, Amsterdam Zuid, and Amsterdam Sloterdijk that support commuter and intercity traffic.

Buses and other transportation in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has an extensive public transportation network, including an extensive bus system and trams that run throughout the city. The GVB (Municipal Transport Company) is responsible for managing public transportation in Amsterdam and provides a reliable and convenient way to travel around the city. Additionally, Amsterdam has a modern metro system that connects various parts of the city, making it easy for residents and tourists to get around.

Train in Amsterdam

Shipping in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city with a rich maritime history and still has a thriving shipping sector. The canals are an iconic feature of the city and are widely used for tourist cruises and cargo transport. In addition to the canals, the Port of Amsterdam is a crucial hub for international shipping, with modern facilities and a strategic location on the North Sea. Shipping remains an integral part of Amsterdam’s culture and economy, and its preservation is of great importance to the city.

Visiting Amsterdam

Experience a day in Amsterdam full of adventure and culture. Start at the iconic Rijksmuseum and the nearby Museumplein for art and history. Then, cruise along the picturesque canals to admire the city from the water. Next, visit the Anne Frank House for an impressive historical experience. Stroll through the city center, enjoy the architecture and shops, and relax in Vondelpark. A day full of discoveries and delights in Amsterdam! Curious about what else you can do? Check out the “What to do in Amsterdam” page.

Want to see more? Go for a weekend in Amsterdam! Start with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum and discover the masterpieces of the famous artist. Then, cycle through the city, explore the charming Jordaan neighborhood, and visit vibrant markets. Enjoy the bustling nightlife in De Pijp and savor various culinary delights. Head to the atmospheric NDSM area and admire street art and creative hubs. An unforgettable weekend full of fun in Amsterdam!

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