As a photographer, it’s a hobby of mine finding the best places to take photos in Amsterdam. I’ve been living in Amsterdam for almost two years and I’m still finding cute streets with traditional Dutch architecture in Amsterdam to wander down. Here are the best photo locations in Amsterdam according to one biased resident. Free map of the best Amsterdam instagram locations at bottom.
Brown bars are cozy Dutch bars with an older wooden interior where you can stop off for a beer in an atmospheric location.
2. Prinseneiland Neighborhood
This small, hidden neighborhood behind Centre is a gem for photographers. A lot of people are terrible by the tunnel that you must pass under in order to get to this neighborhood, however Prinseneiland is truly one of the hidden gems of Amsterdam.
In Prinseneiland (as well as Realeneiland), you’ll find historic Rijksmoment warehouses that are straight out of a picture book. There’s also a number of historic wooden bridges that pass over the canals. Unlike the rest of Amsterdam’s centre, it has a village feeling.
For those with families, you’ll also find a canal-side petting zoo for children complete with friendly goats that truly make the view unique… You can read more about this area on the list of the best secret places in Amsterdam.
This modern area across the IJ river is perfect for photographers who want a more modern feel to their photos. There’s plenty of street art/murals around Noord although the best ones are close to the location of the IJhallen.
I have a weakness for the gorgeous canal houses in this area. I often come here to browse at the American Book Centre (where you’ll find a great photography book section). Although it’s still quite center, one wrong turn will bring you you to quieter street full of stunning houses and bikers.
This modern park, slightly outside of the City Center, is my favorite place to take photos outdoors. Although Vondelpark is pretty, it’s hard to get a photo without people. There are also adorable bungalows across a small canal and a pretty windmill that you can visit.
For shopping/hipster vibes, visit the Westergasfabriek complex for cool bars, cute local shops, and tasty food. I strongly recommend bringing a picnic blanket here for summer!
This iconic courtyard is one of Amsterdam’s many gorgeous hidden courtyards. You need to enter a hidden door, but once you do, it gets quiet. This gorgeous complex was shared by single Catholic women who lived in something similar to a convent.
You’re limited to the non-resident’s viewpoint, but it’s a great place to shoot photos. You’ll see a lot of Amsterdam photographers here with their tripods! There are far less touristy hofjes, however this one is open the most regularly. (Click to read about more secret places in Amsterdam.)
7. Rijksmuseum / Museumplein / iAmsterdam sign
The classic Amsterdam photo that everyone wants to have. There’s quite a few iAmsterdam signs around, but the Museumplein is stunning to shoot in summer. For most visitors, the iAmsterdam sign is a MUST.
The Rijksmuseum is incredible ornate inside and outside, so many photographers enjoy shooting this scene around sunset. I particularly love shooting in the Rijksmuseum library, which you can peek into while touring the museum. The main entry hall is stunning too…
You can easily walk a bit further to enjoy Vondelpark’s lush landscape/lakes (best in spring/summer/fall). One of my favorite off the beaten gems to shoot is the Blauwe Theehuis, soon to be part of Brouwerij ‘T IJ. This round cafe in the middle of Vondelpark is just a cool piece of architecture.
8. (Seasonal) Amsterdam Lights Festival
Between mid December and mid January, the Herengracht canal is lit up with sculptures during the Amsterdam Light Festival. You’ll see two parts in late December: the main part along Herengracht and the other part intended for walking tours.
To be clear, the sculptures change every year, so you will not see the same ones next year.) The sculptures are usually still there in early January, but it’s not guaranteed. I love walking along the canals with a cup of hot chocolate in hand!
The light sculptures along the walking tour can be easily seen for free without a guide and you can simply follow the crowds once arriving close to the Hortus Botanicus, another great photo spot, close to sunset. Many of these are also interactive, which makes it fun. Expect crowds although it’s still not that well known.
For the main part of the lights festival, you will have the best view from an open top boat (rather than a closed top boat) due to the glass reflection. It will be colder, but I was pleased with my boat trip, which included 3 glasses of gluhwein (mulled wine) and blankets. It’s easy to capture the lights without a tour.
9. Brouwersgracht & Herengracht Canals
Although Prinsengracht is the most famous canal, I love shooting along the Herengracht and Brouwersgracht canals. Even if you’re on foot, it’s possible to get some gorgeous shots by the canals! (Biking along Amsterdam is a great way to find your favorite buildings as the city isn’t that large!)
This area is not as well known among Amsterdam instagrammers or visitors, but for those into more industrial photographs, there are some really lovely areas to shoot here, including Brouwerij ‘T IJ. I’m a big fan of Amsterdam Roest, a cool cafe alongside a city beach. Perfect for those lazy summer nights.
11. Museum van Loon
This museum is a dream and there’s almost nobody around, besides a gorgeous fluffy cat. (The fluffy cat actually belongs to the neighbors and attempts to break into the house all the time. The cat is super friendly…)
Why go? Gorgeous canal house with a secret garden that connects to the other side of the canal. Is that cool or what? It also has beautiful furniture and paintings if you want to pretend that you’re royalty.
12. Wake me up when I’m famous bench / De Pijp
I’ve seen this funny mural in so many blogger photos, so I had to hunt it down for myself. Depending on whether there’s cars blocking it, you might need to avoid the bikes while taking a photo.
Now, to convince someone to sleep on the bench… De Pijp is one of Amsterdam’s residential gems, full of cute coffee shops and colorful houses. You’ll also find super instagrammable cafes like CT Coffee and Coconuts, a former theatre turned cafe.
13. Blue Amsterdam
For the best views in Amsterdam, head to Blue Amsterdam. This brunch spot with 360 views of Amsterdam is not as well known as the Amsterdam Swing, however the views are stunning. It’s hidden within a mall in the middle of centre, but this cafe is not to missed!
14. Museum Willet-Holthuysen
This canal-house museum has a stunning garden that you’ll definitely want to see. The house is a good example of how wealthy residents of Amsterdam lived in the mid-1800s. Photo tip: Have a friend stand in the window upstairs to take photos of you below in the garden!
15. The Flower Market
If you’re a flower lover, consider stopping into the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam. Some of the stalls have decorated their stalls with hanging flowers at the top of the stall although it’s particularly beautiful during tulip season in April.
Have you been to all these spots? Any other spots that you loved?
If you’re visiting and you’re looking for more local tips, you can check out my Amsterdam Tourist Tips, Guide to Amsterdam’s Neighborhoods, or Cheap Eats Guide to Amsterdam. Click for a list of 25 secret places in Amsterdam.
Have extra time? Consider taking a day trip to the gorgeous Muiden Castle, which is only 30 minutes from Amsterdam! Click for more information about how to get there.
Free Map of Amsterdam’s Best Spots!