Amsterdam – capital of the Netherlands – is of course known for its liberal pursuits such as legal prostitution and drug use. But not everyone knows it’s also a historical and beautiful city, which is certainly worth a trip. The thing about Amsterdam is that there is always something to do. You can take a walk through the Vondelpark, enjoy the nightlife or visit the oldest building of the city: Oude Kerk. Buy the I Amsterdam City Card to receive discounts on transportation, sights and extra’s.
What can’t you miss during a visit to this freely city? On my visit to Amsterdam I’ve managed to scoop up a list of 10 things you should definitely do or see.
The Rijksmuseum is a cultural highlight. The beautiful building holds thousands of Dutch art objects dated from the middle ages up to now. Paintings of Dutch artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and Rembrandt van Rijn, for example Rembrandt’s famous “The Night Watch”, can be seen in The Rijksmuseum.
The Amsterdam Canal District
Amsterdam isn’t called one of the Venices of the North for nothing. A boat tour through the canals is one of the main tourist attractions and during the tour you’ll sail along all the highlights of the city. Plan your activities with the Canal Bus – a Hop on Hop off cruise tour – and board whenever it suits you.
When you are visiting Amsterdam with children, you should definitely go to Nemo. The different labs in the Science Center can be used for experimenting with chemistry or music. But not only children will enjoy this attraction, grown-ups will certainly have fun too. The experiments and exhibitions change regularly.
Van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh is probably one of the world’s most famous painters, and he is Dutch. He mainly painted (self) portraits, landscapes and still life. You may also know him as the artist who cut off his own ear – if this is true. The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the life and works of the famous painter.
Anne Frank House
Who hasn’t heard of Anne Frank – or her diary? In Amsterdam you’ll find the Anne Frank House at the Prinsengracht 263-267. In the rear of this building, Anne and her family hid from the Nazi’s during WO II – until they were betrayed. It is now a historic house and museum dedicated to the Jewish girl.
The best gigs at the Melkweg or Paradiso
Nearby Leidseplein you’ll find a former church that is now turned into a music center. Many of international artists – Adele, Nirvana and Lenny Kravitz among others – performed small gigs in cosy Paradiso. Another popular music center is The Melkweg. Take a look at the websites to see if someone interesting is performing during your stay.
Red Light District
This brings us to the most renowned district and the major tourist attraction of Amsterdam: the Red Light District. Nothing is left to your imagination when you walk through this neighbourhood. The prostitutes offer their “services” from behind a window or glass door – often illuminated with red lights (hence the name of the area). Besides these services, the district holds a number of sexshops, peep shows and coffee shops.
National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum – or Scheepvaartmuseum – shows the influence of the sea on the Dutch culture. Discover the maritime history of the Netherlands with interactive exhibitions, show models of different ships and detailed maquettes. The impressive building is the perfect location for the museum.
Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)
De Bloemenmarkt is a floating market on the Singel canal. The flower stalls all stand on boats. You can buy all the tulips and/or narcissus you want and you can even buy Christmas trees in December. The market is open daily from 8.30 to 19.00 – on weekends until 19.30.
Cycle through the city
Do you want to feel like a local? According to the Dutchies, there’s no better way to get around than by bike. In Amsterdam you can book several City Bike Tours to explore the city. But beware of the locals. They are experts at cycling through the crowded traffic. Do not follow their lead because they break the rules all time.
A great piece of advice when visiting Amsterdam, keep in mind that the city is not that big. This means that it can get a little crowded – especially during summer. Are you planning on staying in the Netherlands for a while? Combine your trip with a visit to some nearby towns such as Haarlem, Utrecht or The Hague.
Tip: it could be wise to take a (cheap) prepaid phone with you, so you won’t lose your smartphone. You can easily top up your prepaid credit online at Recharge.com.