Amsterdam’s artistic heritage shines from every corner of the city that not even long held stereotypes can dull its light.
Crooked, gabled buildings are the backdrop for treasure-packed museums, hidden gardens and ultra-hip restaurants whipping up Dutch classics with a modern twist. Urban explorations by foot or by two wheels will take you down narrow lanes in up-and-coming neighbourhoods and along canals with whimsical, picturesque corners.
Amsterdam is irresistibly photogenic by day and by night, proving to be challenging and alluring to photographers for its tight spaces yet charming frames.
We’ve compiled a list of key locations in the city that are worth your time and effort, to visit and to photograph. It may not include the most instagrammable restaurants in Amsterdam but places we consider the top Amsterdam Instagram spots.
Trust us – you’ll be feeling that famous gezellig in no time.
INSTAGRAM WORTHY SPOTS AMSTERDAM | 16 PLACES TO TAKE PHOTOS
1. Groenburgwal, City Centre
On the edge of Amsterdam Centrum, make your way down to Groenburgwal where a pocket of cafes and boutiques trade quietly away from the humdrum of the Red Light District. Stand in the middle of Staalmeestersbrug. Look down Groenburgwal towards Zuiderkerk, the former 1600s church formerly painted by Monet. By day and by night, this canal lined with boats and cars is perfect symmetry.
2. 'I Amsterdam' - Schiphol Airport
If you want to snap a planned pose in front of these iconic red and white letters, make sure to look for the smaller set outside Schiphol Airport. The message of “I Amsterdam” was first installed in the city back in 2004 and aimed to celebrate Amsterdam’s citizens in all their diversity. The set of letters that previously sat outside the Rijksmuseum was removed in late 2018.
To be honest, the “I Amsterdam” letters at the airport may be less crowded outside of peak travel time in comparison to the Museumplein set. If you choose to climb on the letters, take particular caution after recent rain.
3. Brouwersgracht & Herengracht Canals
Some of the best canal pictures Amsterdam boasts are along Brouwersgracht and Herengracht. Bring your walking shoes and your camera and you’ll snap the perfect frame of the delightfully mismatched buildings.
The large red window shutters of the spacious apartments can be found at the upper end of Brouwersgracht as you walk away from Amsterdam Centraal. The best time to photograph this unique architecture is in the early morning when the buildings are perfectly reflected in the still canal waters.
4. Damrak, City Centre
Undoubtedly, the prettiest row of gingerbread houses in Amsterdam is located at Damrak. Many of the canal tour boats park here. Traffic along the footpath and the canal becomes quite congested during the day. Come at dawn when the water is still. The rising sun helps to create beautiful reflections of the narrow houses of Damrak in the water making it one of the top Amsterdam Instagram spots.
5. Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, Plantage Middenlaan
These compact botanical gardens sit in the city’s east and feature outdoor gardens and greenhouse sections. It’s a peaceful oasis where one can come and sit in the serene greenery away from the bicycle bells and shuffling trams, if only for an hour or so.The most photographed spot is the spiral staircase inside the main rustic greenhouse. Snap fast otherwise your camera lens will fog up in the humidity!
6. Prinsengracht Canal
Prinsengracht was one of our favourites to cycle up and down as it is arguably the prettiest canal in Amsterdam. Start from Anne Frank Huis in the west, wander past the eye-catching Westerkerk before arriving at De 9 Straatjes. Pop in here for a slice of cake and boutique shopping. Then, continue ambling down past the Houseboat Museum. Feel free to stop whenever a particular facade catches your eye. Pause at Spiegelgracht and point your lens down towards the Rijksmuseum. And then right towards the eastern end of Prinsengracht, you’ll reach the Seven Bridges at Reguliersgracht.
7. Bloemenmarkt - Singel
The floating flower market has been operating since 1862 and continues to bring plenty of colour and joy to locals and visitors alike. The market stalls sell a wide variety of species in the form of seeds, bulbs and blooms that you can easily transport home. Open daily, you’re best to come at opening time for your IG shot, and on a weekday if you can plan your trip accordingly. The passage along here becomes super crowded, particularly around lunch time.
8. Markets in Central Amsterdam
Markets in Amsterdam are everywhere. They’re both a regular shopping trip for locals and they’re a treasure trove of culture, gastronomy and history for visitors. The weekends are obviously the busiest so for you to snap a shot for your IG feed, you’re best to take a photographer buddy with you (tripods aren’t banned per se but you’re likely to be frowned upon as there is A LOT of foot traffic. Our faves are Albert Cuyp Markt, Ten Kate Markt and Noordermarkt.
9. Dam Square
Dam Square is the main square in Amsterdam Centruum and sits outside the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam (Royal Palace). The grand residence is rather austere, unlike the opulence of the castles and palaces you may witness in France or Austria. But if you come at dawn, when the square is empty and there is no one else except yourself and cooing pigeons, your creative juices may flow rapidly in front of the majestic building.
10. Magere Brug
This historic bridge which stretches across Amstel is a popular crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. Magere Brug is a beautiful sunset spot in Amsterdam and we’d recommend coming to shoot at dusk. Point your camera towards Kerkstraat and look out for the golden light sheen, just before the sun sinks behind the roofs of the gingerbread houses. The bridge is also illuminated at night making for a romantic spot to enjoy a lovely stroll by the water’s edge.
Amsterdam’s equivalent of Central Park in New York City, Vondelpark is where all locals come to spend their weekend and summer evenings when the sun shines in all her glory. Pedestrians and cyclists share the paths and Amsterdammers set up picnics by the waterways. If you’re keen for a picture with a customary Dutch bike, Vondelpark is a good spot to set up a shot away from the bustling bikeways along the canals.
12. Seven Bridges, Reguliersgracht
Seven bridges cross the narrow canal called Reguliersgracht and so Seven Bridges is what it is named. The crossings line up perfectly from Herengracht down to Weteringschans. At night, the archways are lit up by lightbulbs creating a magical effect. Bring your tripod and practice your night time photography! For the ultimate canalside shot, shoot from an opposing corner whilst framing a canal arch in the background.
13. Wake Me Up When I’m Famous - De Pijp
Created by artists Rinus & Jurriaan van Hall in July 2013, the “Wake Me Up When I’m Famous” street art piece is now one of the most well known walls in Amsterdam. Located in trendy neighbourhood, de Pijp, it’s a simple black stencil on a white brick wall. A bench seat sits underneath inviting people to pose as they wish. It is a bit tricky to position your tripod with cars parked streetside so our recommendation is to bring a variety of lenses and an open mind!
14. Secret Triangle Stairwell
Bevan discovered this spot on Instagram by accident and so we went hunting for it. It’s not an obvious spot, nor is it easily accessible. We got lucky, asking the right person at the right time. This frame may not be everyone’s cup of tea as it’s not your typical “travel photo” but the light, the lines and our good luck made it all so worth it.
Drop us a comment below if you want to discover this location and we’ll send you a message with the details!
The building that houses masterpieces by Dutch masters and Golden Age artists is a magnificent architectural wonder itself. The building of the Rijksmuseum was designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885. The red and white stone proffers an air of regality, painstakingly restored during its ten year renovation in the early 20th century.
16. Canal boat
A ride on a boat along Amsterdam’s canals is a classic Dutch experience. It’s even more fun if you get to charter your own boat or share one with friends, without the touristy commentary. There are a few companies which allow you to rent a water vehicle without a boat license so grab your mates, a couple of beverages and spend a joyful afternoon cruising the waterways.