Is Amsterdam in the Netherlands or Holland? It can get confusing.
The answer is both. The official name of the country in which Amsterdam is located is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Within the Netherlands, there are 12 administrative provinces, two of which contain the name Holland. Amsterdam lies in Noord-Holland or North Holland. Zuid-Holland, or South Holland, lies just south, of course, and includes the Netherlands' official seat of government, the city of Den Haag.
Many think that Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is famous for many things, but that is not one of them.
Amsterdam for Art
Amsterdam is a draw for art history buffs. The museums such as the Rijksmuseum, whose permanent collection includes the best of Dutch and Flemish masters, is a must-see. The famous Rembrandt's De Nachtwacht, and other 17th-century masterpieces are housed there. Also in the museum quarter, you can visit the Van Gogh Museum dedicated to one of the most famous Dutch painters.
Cruise the Canals
Amsterdam is also famous for its canals, barges, and bridges. Amsterdam has retained 165 of its historic canals, and you can take a canal boat tour. You can also take a more modern boat for your tour around the Canal Belt, four semicircles that loop around the historic area of Amsterdam. Seeing the old homes and architecture from the water is an ideal way to orient yourself to this historic city.
Stroll Through the Flowers
Not far from Amsterdam is Keukenhof Gardens. You can take a tour or even a city bus to get there. Keukenhof is especially beautiful in spring when the tulips are blooming but you can visit the bulb gardens other times of the year. Daffodils are usually blooming in February.
Red Light District
Amsterdam's Red Light District is probably the only such district that is also a famous tourist attraction. De Wallen, the red light district, has red-lit windows where sex workers look their best in hopes of attracting clients. It's also a very historic district and interesting to explore. While there are sex shows and shops, De Wallen boasts some fine restaurants, and it's not far from Amsterdam's Chinatown.
Cannabis and Coffee
Stop into one of Amsterdam's coffee shops and you may be surprised to find people smoking a joint and sipping their coffee. Amsterdam is a place where it is legal to sell and buy marijuana, hash , and edibles. Some visitors go to Amsterdam because of the cannabis coffee shops, and quite a few visitors step into a coffee shop at least once on their trip.
Anne Frank House and WWII Museums
Amsterdam was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945, and so Amsterdam is an ideal place to get a sense of how the country dealt with the occupation and World War II. You can visit the Anne Frank house and museum where Anne Frank wrote her now world-famous diary. The Dutch Resistance has been awarded the "Best Historical Museum in the Netherlands" designation.
The Jewish Historical Museum also has much to offer for those wanting to learn more about Europe during WWII.