5 Best Photo Opportunities in Amsterdam

Photo Opportunities Amsterdam

Lee Van Grack

Between the beautiful canals, sprawling fields of tulips, and attractions of questionable morality, it's easy to understand why Amsterdam has captured the imaginations – and lenses – of so many; but any guidebook can take you through those. For some truly memorable Amsterdam moments, here are some photo opportunities in these unforgettable surroundings:

Best Romantic Photo: Centraal Station

The clash of trains passing by, hundreds of people pushing their way through the crowds, dirty floors and pigeons aplenty. By virtue of its character, Amsterdam's Centraal Station would not seem an incredibly romantic location; but now picture this:

Golden light spills through a crescent panel of windows, casting a hazy glow onto the platform. People crowd the area in too much of a rush to notice what is in front of them. In the middle of it all, a weary traveler paces next to a length of track, waiting for a train that should have come and gone already. There is a gust from the top of the station. The traveler looks up to see another train pulling in on the opposite set of tracks. It comes to a halt, doors slowly parting to let enthusiastic passengers out into the city. From across the platform, our weary traveler spots his or her counterpart: a bright-eyed, eager adventurer ready to take on the world. Their eyes meet, and for a moment time stands still.

So maybe that isn't the most realistic depiction of a photographable moment, but you'll find myriad opportunities in the afternoon sun to capture the romance of the city. One of the many reasons Centraal Station facilitates some of the best photo opportunity in Amsterdam is that it doesn't try too hard. Unlike the marble and gold palaces that seem to make up other train stations in the region, a stolen moment between these unassuming brick walls would place the focus directly on the people. From a shy glance across a platform to a spontaneous proposal, this is a wonderfully creative place to capture that romantic moment.

Centraal Station
1012 AB Amsterdam
+31 900 400 40 40

Best Quirky Photo: Pancake House

Pancakes are a must when in the Netherlands. Often times they're so incredible you just have to see them to believe them – so why not take a picture? After all, your friends and family are sure to get a kick out of a picture of you holding up a pancake twice the size of your head. Covered in anything from cheese to all the toppings of an everything pizza, or even stuffed with lamb and tzatziki, unique pancakes promise unique photo opportunities in Amsterdam. Throw in a mad wave of a syrup-soaked wooden spoon, and you've got a laughable picture of perhaps the oddest pancake meal you will ever have.

The Pancake Bakery is a popular place right outside the city center, and for good reason. Its interesting creations and quirky space give the illusion of a family kitchen, patrons poised and ready to try a bit of everybody's specialty. Popularity does have its drawbacks, though. Reservations are usually necessary, and don't expect to take your time.

If you're up for a bit of a trip outside the city to the scenic Amsterdam countryside, Pannenkoeken Boerderij in Leiderdorp is a great alternative. About a half-hour drive south, this pancake restaurant offers a perfect dose of every clichéd Dutch icon – all in one place. Grab a photo of your favorite pancake, another next to the grazing cow statue and yet another next to their large rack of clogs. Sometimes the cheesy stuff makes for the best photo ops, and Amsterdam is no exception.

The Pancake Bakery
Prinsengracht 191
1015 DS Amsterdam
+31 20 625 13 33

Pannenkoeken Boerderij
Persant Snoepweg 12, Leiderdorp
+31 71 582 07 30

Best Family Photo: Amsterdam Dungeon

This is one of those learning-in-disguise opportunities for the children – and the kid in all of us. Between posing with pirates, members of the Spanish Inquisition and a cackling tour guide, the Amsterdam Dungeon is a fantastic place to explore the history of the city and take a theme ride, all at the same time! The dungeon walk-through allows the whole family a chance to interact with history by watching and becoming a part of the city's most memorable periods. The ride at the end offers a bit of a thrill and a chill, as well. The best photo opportunities for Amsterdam tourists are after the ride when you can grab a picture with your favorite costumed figure. Everyone in the family is guaranteed to remember what they learned in the depths of this spooky dungeon.

The Amsterdam Dungeon
Rokin 78
1012 KW Amsterdam
+31 20 530 85 00
11AM–5PM. Summer (July 3–Sept 5) 10:30AM–5:30PM
Adult: $10.50–$21, Child: $8–$16

Best Scenic Photo: Amsterdam Harbor

Looking out on it, it's hard to believe that the scenic Amsterdam Harbor isn't the open ocean. Part river, part bay, this rather shallow body of water offers a panorama of nautical beauty – and plenty of lovely Amsterdam photo opportunities. Sailboat masts and the occasional tall ship rise up from their docks, and the city grows wide to kiss the water. Still very much an active harbor for both tourist and commercial purposes, it is not the traditional scenic spot, but under the glow of the sun, posed looking out contemplatively over the vast expanses before you, you'll find a snapshot that makes it look as though you've reached the end of the world.

While boat tours can take you through a small stretch of harbor, the quintessential Kodak moment is best captured by hopping on public transportation and exploring the area for yourself. Travel up the north side to see sails billowing in the wind and discover an image of maritime wonder, or better yet, hop on a boat yourself and capture your inner mariner.

Best Classic Photo: Gouden Bocht

Otherwise known as the Golden Bend, this classic stretch of canal captures a bit of the Amsterdam everyone longs to find. It's flanked by classic Dutch architecture, from beautiful brick homes to mansions two lots wide, all featuring picturesque façades and gardens. Fan lights and broad doors welcome glances into these historic houses, sharing the wealth not only of their commissioners but also of the city as a whole. Bikes sit lazily under finely manicured trees while boats pass by with a steady ripple, giving motion to the canal. In the late spring, when everything is in bloom, this stretch of the canal almost seems to sing. Bridges cross in steady slopes, bearing the wide-eyed and wondrous. And just so you don't miss them altogether, you'll even find tulips in the planters along the walk.

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