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Amsterdam is the creative and cultural heart of the Netherlands and a thriving global business centre.

People from around the globe are attracted to the city for its open, progressive attitude, its international orientation and its culture of cycling.

A great place to live and work

  • Amsterdam is one of the world’s best places to live (ranked 12th in the 2018 Mercer's Quality of Living Survey)
  • According to the The Class of 2020 Amsterdam is the fourth best student city in Europe
  • The 2018 Global Power City Index ranks Amsterdam third in the EU and sixth globally for its comprehensive power to attract people, capital and enterprises
  • Amsterdam is the safest city in Europe and 6th safest globally (Safe Cities Index 2017)

The city is also ranked first for English proficiency, third for innovation and sixth for happiness. Find out more in I Amsterdam's overview of international surveys.


As a key cultural and intellectual centre in western Europe, Amsterdam attracts students from all over the Netherlands and beyond. The inhabitants of Amsterdam, known as Amsterdammers, are easy-going and welcoming to foreigners.

English is the city's unofficial second language. It's easy to find Anglophone bookstores, TV channels, restaurant menus, library resources and cultural activities.

Amsterdam city centry

A big city with a cosy, small-scale feel

With some 800,000 inhabitants, Amsterdam has all the advantages of a major metropolitan centre while retaining a cosy, small-scale feel.

Amsterdam boasts beautiful architecture and over 150 canals, lending the city its characteristic shape and atmosphere. It is full of museums, art galleries, theatres, concert halls and many lovely parks, which serve as the inhabitants’ gardens in summer. The city is home to world famous music, opera, theatre and dance companies, as well as many internationally recognised visual artists.

Amsterdam Scheepvaartsmuseum

A historic city

Amsterdam is named after the river Amstel, which flows through its centre and was dammed by the region's first inhabitants in 1275. As maritime trade developed, Amsterdam expanded rapidly from the early thirteenth century onwards; by 1500 it was the largest city in the Netherlands.

The seventeenth century, known as the Dutch Golden Age, was a period of wealth and power for Amsterdam. This was when city’s famous crescent shape was designed.

Because of Dutch society's relatively tolerant attitude towards dissidents, Amsterdam attracted scholars and writers who wanted a level of freedom they could not find in their own countries. Dutch scholars, poets and artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Benedictus Spinoza, P.C. Hooft, Constantijn Huygens and his son Christiaan Huygens flourished during this period.

Amsterdam today

The city is still known for its spirit of tolerance, which has made it a natural locus for international intellectual exchange.

In the past century, the Dutch developed a rich, dynamic culture and a forward-thinking professionalism. Education has been central to this development, and the University of Amsterdam is one of the largest and most comprehensive centres of study and research in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam, Leidseplein, Theatre
Amsterdam's Leidseplein.

Find out more

The I Amsterdam website is the City of Amsterdam's comprehensive guide for anyone planning to visit, work or study in Amsterdam. Find information on everything from buying a transit pass, to registering as a new resident, to 'what's on this weekend'.