A great time to take a trip to Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands, is in the summer when the sun rises early and sets late. My recent trip to Amsterdam was in early June, and then sun went down at 10pm, with only partial darkness until about 10:45pm. This gives you tons of time to take photos and explore, while maximizing your day. The best light for photography is between 7pm and sunset when the shadows get longer and the colors become more dramatic. (If you travel to Amsterdam in the winter, it should be noted that the days are much shorter, with sunsets as early as 4pm in December and January).
Amsterdam has plenty of transport options from the longer-distance trains that take you from other cities to the Amsterdam Central Train Station (and from the airport to the city center), to the network of local trams and buses that come as often as every few minutes on weekdays and up to 15 minutes per hour on weekends. My favorite method of getting around is walking, so that I can see everywhere in between my destinations for photo spots. The Dutch way of getting around is by bike, and there are lots of places where you can rent a bike for a few hours or a day as well! Amsterdam has no shortage of bike lanes, which make biking around the city easier than in cities that are less bike-friendly.
Below are 3 of my favorite places to find some photos!
Amsterdam’s Southern Canal District
Amsterdam is known for its many canals, and there are beautiful perspectives and architecture at every turn in the southern canal district. You can walk until you get lost and get shots of what’s happening on both land and in the water. In the streets, there are plenty of opportunities for shots of people biking and sitting outside at cafes, and in the side streets that do not have canals, excellent perspective shots that feature Amsterdam’s traditional tall homes with narrow front facades. If you look closely, some old buildings on the corners of this neighborhood are actually leaning, and it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you! Some buildings that were constructed in the late 1700s through the 1800s were not built with proper support, and over time, they’ve started sinking and leaning. These are most interesting to photograph because they seem like illusions.
Not as popular as the southern canal district in the city center is Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands area, which has had a revival in recent years and is home to more local life (with fewer tourists). As a photographer, I felt very welcome here while I took photos of the river, the quiet courtyards in communities with newer architecture styles and some interesting modern buildings built with angled surfaces.
Everywhere in between
There is so much beauty and interesting things around Amsterdam. The bikes, the signs, the people, the places and more all can make interesting compositions. My favorite thing about photographing Amsterdam is getting lost on the side streets and hunting for interesting details and light. Golden hour feels very extended in the summer months!