Centraal Station

Medieval Centre & Red Light District

Beyond being a transport hub, Centraal Station is a sight in itself. The turreted marvel dates from 1889. One of the architects, PJ Cuypers, also designed the Rijksmuseum, and you can see the similarities in the faux-Gothic towers, the fine red brick and the abundant reliefs (for sailing, trade and industry).

Built on an artificial island, the station was designed as a neo-Renaissance 'curtain', a controversial plan that effectively cut off Amsterdam from the IJ River. The garage in the right-hand wing was built to shelter the Dutch royal carriage, but it's rarely there (read: never).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Medieval Centre & Red Light District attractions

1. St Nicolaaskerk

0.11 MILES

In plain view from Centraal Station, the magnificent cupola and neo-Renaissance towers belong to the city's main Catholic church, the first to be built …

2. Damrak

0.13 MILES

The Damrak is the original mouth of the Amstel river – rak being a reach (straight stretch of water). The river flowed from a lock in the Dam into the IJ…

3. Schreierstoren

0.13 MILES

Built around 1480 as part of the city’s defences, this tower is where Henry Hudson set sail for the New World in 1609; a plaque outside marks the spot. It…

4. Zeedijk

0.14 MILES

This is one of Amsterdam's oldest streets. Initially a shipping district, it was a respectable place to be until the 17th century. Then the rich folk…

5. Sexmuseum Amsterdam

0.18 MILES

The Sexmuseum is good for a giggle. You’ll find replicas of pornographic Pompeian plates, erotic 14th-century Viennese bronzes, some of the world’s…

6. Brouwerij De Prael


Brouwerij De Prael offers engaging behind-the-scenes tours of its brewery. Tours depart on the hour and last 40 minutes, followed by a sample (or four)…

7. Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder

0.21 MILES

Within what looks like an ordinary canal house is an entire Catholic church. Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Dear Lord in the Attic) was built in the mid…

8. Warmoesstraat

0.26 MILES

Amsterdam's earliest canals grew out from the IJ River like the roots of a tree, and Warmoesstraat was one of the first streets to follow. Its historical…