Where are the ‘I amsterdam’ letters? The complete selfie guide

I am... where?!

Here’s a riddle for you: what weighs 250 kilos, is two metres high, and features in around 6,000 selfies a day? The I amsterdam letters, of course! The iconic red and white blocks stood proudly on Museumplein for well over a decade, while hundreds of thousands of tourists happily got their holiday snaps. 

But, the I amsterdam letters were a marketing campaign which became the victim of its own success. In 2018, the Amsterdam municipality bowed to complaints of over-tourism and crowding, ultimately forcing the removal of the giant letters.

In the winter morning mist of December 3rd, 2018, the letters were hoisted onto a truck, leaving behind nothing but empty space — just the way the Amsterdammers wanted it.

But were the letters thrown in the nearby IJ-river? Of course not! Instead, they’ve become a travelling circus, wandering the Netherlands, and popping up for festivals and events.

P.S. Keep reading, and you’ll find the top tip for getting the perfect snap!

Where are the I amsterdam letters now?

There is some good news. While the most famous letters were torn away from Museumplein in the heart of Amsterdam, there are still two sets of sister letters where you can get your photo fix.

i-amsterdam-letters-tourist-attraction
Iconic attraction in an iconic location. Image: Depositphotos

Schiphol airport — I amsterdam letters

If ticking off the I amsterdam letters is number one on your Dutch bucket list, this is for you! Just outside Arrivals 1 is a permanent set of the letters you crave to get your trip to the Netherlands off to a cracking start!

Sloterplas lake — I amsterdam letters

The letters in Amsterdam’s West are a little different. While the letters ‘I am dam’ stand upright, ‘ster’ is lying down. This makes it the perfect spot for a picnic, but less so as a selfie spot.

The Sloterplas letters also help make up a free-running course, so there may be some athletically inclined people getting in your way — or vice-versa.

On the road — I amsterdam letters

The original Museumplein letters are now on the road. After touring the country, they now pop up in the surrounding region. Is there a schedule or plan for this? Well, not a publically released one. We recommend checking out Instagram to see if you can spot some near you!

i-am-amsterdam-letters-the-netherlands
The letters can still be spotted in unexpected places. Image: Mariordo/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Why were the main I amsterdam letters removed?

You’ve found a magic recipe that’s bringing in loads of tourists, who are all spending money in your city. So why take them away? Well, the concept worked a little too well.

The I amsterdam phrase was originally created by a Dutch advertising firm, KesselsKramer, as their own take on ‘I ♥︎ NY’. However, there was one problem: Amsterdam-based designer, Vanessa van Dam, had already used a similar concept and design to ‘I amsterdam’ two years prior.

Luckily for her, the city of Amsterdam bought her out to the sweet tune of €20,000, despite finding that no copyright had been breached.

The letters landed in Museumplein in September 2004, patiently allowing thousands of tourists a day to climb, scrabble, and hug them.

Yet, in 2018, city councillor Femke Roosma, of the Groenlinks left-wing party, made a push for the removal of the letters. Roosma told The Telegraph that the letters contributed to overcrowding, and gave the wrong message about Amsterdam.

“The message of ‘I amsterdam’ is that we are all individuals in the city. We want to show something different: diversity, tolerance, solidarity,” argued Roosma. “This slogan reduces the city to a background in a marketing story. Amsterdammers want to regain their grip on the city.”

Roosma’s push for the removal was a success, and the largest set of the I amsterdam letters was carted away within weeks. It’s just one of the measures Amsterdam has taken in reaction to mass tourism in the city.

Big-letter trendsetters

While Amsterdam may have been the first to install giant letters for tourists, it was certainly not the last. In almost every big tourist destination today, there are examples of huge signs. Some other places you can get your big letter fix are listed below.

Cities & countries with giant letters like I amsterdam

Alanya, Turkey ‣ Antalya, Turkey ‣ Aruba, Kingdom of the Netherlands ‣ Bacalar, Mexico ‣ Bahia Kino, Mexico ‣ Bali, Indonesia ‣ Banff, Canada ‣ Barranquilla, Colombia ‣ Beirut, Lebanon ‣ Belgrade, Serbia ‣ Belize ‣ Bilbao, Spain ‣ Bogota, Colombia ‣ Boston, USA ‣ Braca, Portugal ‣ Brisbane, Australia ‣ Brussels, Belgium ‣ Bucharest, Romania ‣ Budapest, Hungary ‣ Buenos Aires, Argentina ‣ Cabo, Mexico ‣ Caborca, Mexico ‣ Caldera, Costa Rica ‣ Cancun, Mexico ‣ Cannes, France ‣ Cartagena, Colombia ‣ Caye Caulker, Belize ‣ Chapala, Mexico ‣ Cleveland, USA ‣ Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay ‣ Costa Maya, Mexico ‣ Cozumel, Mexico ‣ Curacao, Kingdom of the Netherlands ‣ Dahab, Egypt ‣ Dubai, UAE ‣ Edinburgh, Scotland ‣ El Alto, Bolivia ‣ Ensenada, Mexico ‣ Faro, Portugal ‣ Fores, Guatamala ‣ Gdansk, Poland ‣ Gijon, Spain ‣ Gili Trawangan, Indonesia ‣ Guadalajara, Mexico ‣ Guam ‣ Guayaquil, Ecuador ‣ Halifax, Canada ‣ Hanoi, Vietnam ‣ Harkany, Hungary ‣ Ibiza, Spain ‣ Indianapolis, USA ‣ Isla Holbox, Mexico ‣ Isla Mujeres, Mexico ‣ Jaco, Costa Rica ‣ Jambeli, Ecuador ‣ Jomalig, Philippines ‣ Karlovy Vary, Czechia ‣ Koh Samui, Thailand ‣ Liege, Belgium ‣ Lisbon, Portugal ‣ Loreto, Mexico ‣ Luxembourg ‣ Lyon, France ‣ Machu Picchu, Peru ‣ Madurodam, Netherlands ‣ Mallaca, Malaysia ‣ Marseille, France ‣ Mazatlan, Mexico ‣ Medellin, Colombia ‣ Melbourne, Australia ‣ Merida, Mexico ‣ Mexico City, Mexico ‣ Miami, USA ‣ Montego Bay, Jamaica ‣ Montevideo, Uraguay ‣ Naga, Philippines ‣ New York, USA ‣ Niagra Falls, Canada ‣ Nice, France ‣ Oaxaca, Mexico ‣ Oklahoma City, USA ‣ Ottawa, Canada ‣ Pai, Thailand ‣ Palawan, Philippines ‣ Panama ‣ Patong Beach, Thailand ‣ Pattaya City, Thailand ‣ Penasco, Mexico ‣ Playa Del Carmen, Mexico ‣ Plovdiv, Bulgaria ‣ Pombal, Portugal ‣ Ponce, Puerto Rico ‣ Porto, Portugal ‣ Puebla, Mexico ‣ Puerto Morelos, Mexico ‣ Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ‣ Quepos, Costa Rica ‣ Queretaro, Mexico ‣ Quito, Ecuador ‣ Rabat, Morocco ‣ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ‣ Roatan, Honduras ‣ Sacramento, California ‣ Salou, Spain ‣ Salvador, Brazil ‣ San Carlos, Mexico ‣ San Cristobal, Ecuador ‣ San Jose, Costa Rica ‣ Santa Cruz, Ecuador ‣ Sentosa Island, Singapore ‣ Sentosa, Singapore ‣ Seoul, South Korea ‣ Split, Croatia ‣ St Maarten, Kingdom of the Netherlands ‣ Tacloban, Philippines ‣ Taupo, New Zealand ‣ Tena, Ecuador ‣ Texas, USA ‣ Tijuana, Mexico ‣ Tirana, Albania ‣ Tokyo, Japan ‣ Toronto, Canada ‣ Tulum, Mexico ‣ Warsaw, Poland ‣ Winnipeg, Canada ‣ Xcaret, Mexico ‣ Yerevan, Armenia ‣ Yucatan, Mexico

**This list needs adding to! Got a tip? Drop it in the comments below!

How to get the best I amsterdam sign picture

We really considered not putting this in this article, but it’s a secret that could really change your life (or your Insta game). The biggest problem with taking pictures of big letters in cities is the stacks of other tourists crawling over them, right? Problem solved.

Are you ready? Stand on the back side of the letters — so that they appear backwards. Go to town with your photo shoot, knowing no other tourists can be seen.

Then, once you’ve had your fill of photo-taking, flip the image in a photo-editing program. Now, the letters are the correct way, and you’ve outsmarted the system. Golden!

Did you manage a selfie with the I amsterdam letters before they disappeared? Been to one of the other sites? Or do you have a tip on where the travelling set is now? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺https://gallivantations.com
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).

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