Amsterdam Square, sometimes called Dam Square, is home to bands of pigeons and an ever-changing crowd of talented street performers. There are lots of things to see and plenty of attractions to visit in the square. Not to mention the bustling streets which surround it. In this guide we’ll walk you through visiting Amsterdam Square, so you can get the most out of your trip.
Getting to Amsterdam Square by train
Let’s start with the logistics. There are lots of ways you can get to Dam Square, and the best option for you will depend on a few things. Firstly, where are you based in the city? If you’re staying in a central hotel, you should be able to get to the square on-foot in no time. We recommend walking around Amsterdam as an exciting way to see more of the city – you never know what might be around the next corner!
If you’re based a little further away, or you want to save your energy for the day, you can always take public transport to Amsterdam Square. The city is served by an excellent transport system, with lots of buses, trains, and trams running throughout. These are straightforward to use and stretch from the centre of Amsterdam to outer neighbourhoods and beyond, so you can get wherever you need to go in this way.
Which station is nearest to Amsterdam Square?
There are lots of tram and bus stops around Amsterdam Square, all appropriately called Dam. The one you stop at will depend on the direction you’re coming from, but with such a straightforward name, you’ll know it when you see it.
You can also take the metro to the stop Rokin, which is on the bustling shopping street of the same name. From here, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Amsterdam Square.
If you’re visiting Amsterdam for a few days, the best way to use public transport will be with a multi-day pass, like the I Amsterdam Card or OV-chipkaart. These let you travel on any train, bus, tram, or metro with a single swipe. You can choose how long you’ll need it for, and this period will be reflected in the price.
Exploring Amsterdam Square
Because it’s so full of history and modern culture, there are plenty of exciting things to see in Dam Square. Let’s take a look at some of the area’s best bits, so you can be sure to check them off your to-do list.
The National Monument
At the eastern side of Amsterdam Square there sits an unmissable limestone monument. It soars up into the air, reaching 22 metres at its peak, and might just be the first thing you notice when you enter the square.
This beautiful white obelisk is the most important World War II memorial in the Netherlands. It’s a reminder of the atrocities of war and the many lives lost, and also plays a central role in the city’s annual Remembrance Day celebrations on the 4th of May.
The monument was designed by Dutch architect J. J. P. Oud and revealed to the public on Remembrance Day 1956. It’s been restored a couple of times since its erection, which means it remains in excellent condition for visitors to enjoy today.
The Royal Palace
Another reason visitors flock to Amsterdam Square is its beautiful Royal Palace. It’s the most historic and aesthetically beautiful building of its kind in the city, and an absolute must-see if you’re interested in the history of the Netherlands.
The original palace was built in the 17th century and later remodelled to become the grand structure we know today. The front balcony has been the stage for lots of historically significant events, like the introduction of Queen Beatrix in 1980.
You can enjoy the spectacular Amsterdam Palace from the outside or join in a guided tour around some rooms and galleries. There are lots of paintings and sculptures to see inside, not to mention elegant décor fit for a king!
The New Church
The so-called New Church, or Nieuwe Kerk, is actually one of Amsterdam’s most impressive historical monuments. It dates back to the Middle Ages, being consecrated in 1409. So, why ‘new’? The church’s name was chosen to distinguish it from the 13th century Old Church, or Oude Kerk, which you can visit not too far away.
It should come as no surprise that the 15th-century building has been through a lot over the years. The church has been lovingly restored several times throughout its life. Today it’s home to the largest organ in the Netherlands and lots more impressive features. Swing by while you’re in Amsterdam Square and see what all the fuss is about.
Translated to The Beehive, De Bijenkorf is an unbeatable department store for shopping in Amsterdam. This swanky spot, which was established in 1870, is home to a plethora of exciting shops with something to suit every taste. You’re almost guaranteed to leave with something exciting in hand.
Whether you’re looking for men’s or women’s designer fashion, cosmetics, accessories, or homeware, there’s plenty to explore here. If some of your group don’t feel like shopping, they might like to wait in the excellent coffee shop at De Bijenkorf or sit out in Dam Square and soak up the atmosphere.
Madame Tussauds is a unique wax statue museum with several locations around the world. Their Amsterdam spot sits right on Dam Square, making it easy to visit while you’re there. Check out super-realistic, life-size statues of all your favourite historical figures, modern celebrities, and famous characters. This is a fantastic attraction for all ages. Don’t forget your camera!
Amsterdam Square History and Facts
Amsterdam Square has been a significant hub for the city since the early days when a connection was built to join the two sides of the Amstel River. The Dutch call this type of structure a dam, which is how Amsterdam got its name!
The square wasn’t constructed all at once, like lots of similar spots across Europe. Instead, it developed over time with new additions being added throughout the centuries. Because of its slow development, the architecture in Amsterdam Square is a little mismatched, which only adds to its charm and unique atmosphere.
A fish market
Historically, ships docked at Dam Square for a local fish market. Seagulls flocked, picking scraps from the floor of the square, while locals traded and bustled about collecting provisions for the week ahead.
There was a weigh station to measure the fishermen’s hauls in the square during this time. It was removed in 1808 at Napolian’s request since it spoilt his view from the Royal Palace.
The neo-Gothic Nieuwe Kerk was added in the 15th century, as well as the City Hall and stock exchange, bringing new life and importance to Amsterdam Square. By the 20th century, new additions would include the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky and De Bijenkorf upscale department store, the largest of its kind in the city.
The modern square
1960s Amsterdam Square was a hotspot for free-spirited locals who contribute significantly to the city’s vibe to this day. The Dutch capital is famous around the world for its laid-back atmosphere and tolerance for alternative lifestyles, and Dam Square has been at the heart of that for decades.
The coronation of Willem-Alexander
In 2013, Willem-Alexander of Orange, Holland’s first king for a century, was coronated at the Royal Palace, with Amsterdam Square as a backdrop.
National Tulip Day
This is an incredibly colourful day for Amsterdam Square. Spring arrives early here when flower growers come together to erect a giant temporary garden in the usually stone-coloured square. This is the official start of tulip season in the Netherlands, celebrated with around 200,000 flowers on display. If you’re in Amsterdam for this, don’t miss out. Visitors even get the chance to pick their own tulips!
It’s fair to say this bustling destination is one of the most important historical and cultural spots in Amsterdam. Since there are so many things to do in Dam Square today, be sure to add it to your travel plans.
Restaurants, bars, and shops near Amsterdam Square
Thanks to its location in the centre of Amsterdam, Dam Square benefits from proximity to lots of the best restaurants, bars, and shops in the city. It’s an excellent place to visit when you first arrive, easing yourself into the local atmosphere from its heart. Enhance your experience by visiting some of the best spots nearby! Let’s take a look at some to help make your planning easier.
The best restaurants near Amsterdam Square
Fancy a bite to eat? is one of the most exciting things about visiting a new city. At the same time, there are lots of excellent international spots here too! The best eateries near Amsterdam Square include:
Restaurant Bougainville. An elegant spot for fine dining on Dam Square.
Rob Wigboldus Vishandel. A tiny local fishmonger where tourists can try a traditional fresh herring sandwich. Don’t forget the pickles!
Van Kerkwijk. A classic Amsterdam café just behind the square. Head there any time of day for great traditional food.
Kaagman en Kortekaas. This modern seafood spot is an excellent choice for lunch or dinner.
Crêperie Cocotte. A beautiful French spot, serving delicious Breton crepes, a perfect lunch or snack!
The Lobby Nesplein Restaurant & Bar. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this favourite Dutch spot has something to suit every taste.
The best shopping near Amsterdam Square
We’ve already mentioned the beautiful department store which sits in Amsterdam Square. This is not only one of the best retail spots in the area, but among the most beautiful. So be sure to head to De Bijenkorf if you’re in the mood to browse and buy.
Some more great shopping near Amsterdam Square include:
Kalverstraat. The most famous shopping street in the Netherlands. Head here for international chains and high-street favourites.
Rokin. Rokin is another bustling central shopping street which stretches off from Amsterdam Square. There’s a great department store on Rokin, Hudson’s Bay, as well as lots more gems to discover.
Nieuwendijk. Walk along Nieuwendijk for chain stores and tourist spots. You’re sure to pick up a souvenir here.
Magna Plaza. A luxury department store with lots of exclusive brands to explore. The Magna Plaza occupies a suitably elegant building, which used to be the city post office!
9 Little Streets. A favourite shopping spot in Amsterdam, the 9 Straatjes, or 9 Little Streets are a maze of vintage, antique, and new independent stores, perfect to get lost among.
Amsterdam Square Opening times and Ticket Prices
Amsterdam Square is a public square, which means you can visit at any time of the day or night. It’s always open, which is fantastic news if you’re pushed for time. Dam Square is incredibly charming early in the morning or after a night out, when most of the tourists are sleeping, so head there out of hours if you can manage it.
Although the square itself is always open, some of the best attractions have regular opening hours. For example, the Royal Palace is open from 10:00 to 17:00 on Wednesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can buy tickets online or pick some up at the door.
The New Church is also open from 10:00 to 17:00 every day except Monday. If you’re interested in visiting one of these historical attractions, visit Amsterdam Square during opening hours to get the most out of your visit. You can always return to soak up the atmosphere at night!
Travelling to Amsterdam by train
It's easy to take the train to Amsterdam from many major destinations across Europe. Travel direct from London to Amsterdam in just 4h 2m on a high-speed Eurostar service, or why not jump on an equally high-speed Thalys train, and whizz from Paris to Amsterdam in just 3h 12m. Brussels to Amsterdam is also another well-connected route, taking just 1h 45m.
You can find out more about travelling around the Netherlands by train in our trains in the Netherlands guide.