Amsterdam is an exciting city in the Netherlands with so much to see and do that it can be difficult to fit all your sightseeing into one visit. In fact, we went in the fall and had so much fun that we are already planning to return in the spring to catch the famous Dutch tulips at their best. We stayed in the Center or the city centre, as busy and bustling as any in Europe. It is a very convenient launching pad when visiting Amsterdam. Here are some of the amazing things to do in captivating Amsterdam.
1. Van Gogh Museum
For those who love Van Gogh’s art, the Van Gogh Museum is a must-see of the best things to see in Amsterdam. The works and methods of Vincent Van Gogh come to life with incredible depth. Explore his drawings and letters as well as his masterpieces to understand the ideas behind his process and universe. The bedroom of his self-portraits is in itself unforgettable. Iris, Sunflowersand Room in Arles are just a few of the many highlights. Located in Museumplein, the museum is next to the Moco Museum, a great place to see modern, contemporary and street art from Warhol, Banksy, Basquiat, Haring and others.
2. Anne Frank House
An important historical monument in the Netherlands is the Anne Frank House. The memory Diary of a young girl chronicles the days Anne Frank and her family spent in hiding from the Nazis as they swept through Europe during World War II. The original red-checkered diary that the little Jewish girl received on the 13the anniversary, just weeks before going into hiding, is exposed with its rewritten version. Also on display are notebooks containing her favorite quotes and short stories she has written. There’s plenty to absorb in the museum and annex, as well as the spirit of a brave young girl who recorded her thoughts during one of the most terrifying times in human history.
3. Canals of Amsterdam
One of Amsterdam’s finest features is its iconic 17th century canal ring, named to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2010. Each Amsterdam canal has its own personality, name and style. identify. Beautiful canal houses line them, among the best examples of the Gouden Bocht (Golden Curve) section. And the Singel canal, which served as a moat around the city before the 16e century, is now the innermost canal of the city.
Canal cruises are available to get a perspective from the water with a view of the many charming bridges. For an inside view of the unique houseboats that line the canals, visit the Woonbootmuseum. For a fun break, stop and refresh yourself in one of the many cafes with a view. Discover Holland like the Dutch with a bike tour or take advantage of a guided tour or walking tour to get all the historical and cultural information about the region.
4. De Wallen — The Red Light District
While Holland is famous for its tulips and windmills, its capital is also famous for De Wallen, Amsterdam’s red light district, one of three legal prostitution areas in a city. A singular expression of liberal Dutch culture, the area features window brothels with sex workers visibly introducing themselves to potential clients. Interspersed with beautiful private homes, porn cinemas and day care centers.
For an inside view, head to Red Light Secrets, a former brothel turned prostitution museum. Admission of a history booklet and an audio guide with the revealing stories of Inga, the most remarkable lady of the evening in the city. Visitors can sit at a window and try their flirting skills with the many passers-by. De Wallen also has many cafes that sell cannabis products, which are also legal in Amsterdam (the Cannabis College is also here). A code of conduct enforced by the police makes it a lively and safe area for a unique nightlife in the city.
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most admired art museums in Europe. With over 30 art galleries dedicated to the Dutch Golden Age, the museum is a source of pride and inspiration. Some of the world’s most famous paintings are housed here, including masterpieces by Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Rembrandt and Vermeer.
The biggest attraction is undoubtedly The night watch, which is fully visible in a glass chamber as part of Operation Night Watch, in which research into Rembrandt’s masterpiece continues. Nearby, in this area of Museumplein, is the Stedelijk Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Design. For some fresh air, a walk of around 15 minutes leads to the beautiful Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s answer to Central Park.
One of our favorite parts of Amsterdam is the Jordaan district. A working-class district that fell into decline in the 19th century, the district was reborn when students, artists and young professionals settled there and brought it back to life. This is the perfect place to take a foodie tour or just to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes, especially for breakfast and brunch lovers. Enjoy a Bloody Mary with your favorite morning meal or just sit on a terrace with a hot cup of tea and watch the city come to life.
On Saturdays, Lindengracht Market has over 230 stalls offering everything from fish and fresh produce to Dutch specialties, clothing, leather goods and more. Take a break from the fabulous Dutch apple pie at Winkel 43 and splurge on the whipped cream. If you’re there on a Monday or Saturday, end with a stroll through the incredible Noordermarket flea market, open since 1623.
7. Rijsttafel — Indonesian rice table
For a unique dining experience, save your appetite and try a rijsttafel, which in Dutch means “rice table.” This fun Indonesian meal was invented by Dutch plantation owners in Indonesia who wanted to enjoy a wide range of dishes at the same time. The meal became a festive banquet used to celebrate the multiple cultures of Indonesia.
It has come to incorporate many different dishes served in small portions ranging from satays, spring rolls, sambals, fruits, pickles, vegetables, meats, fish and curries attractively arranged along a table. The accompanying rice is an integral part of the elaborate display. After Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonialism, the rijsttafel is rarely seen in Indonesia but thrives in the Netherlands. We had a wonderful time with ours at Kartika Restaurant but there are plenty of choices all over town.
8. Flower market
Founded in 1862, the Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world. A colorful place to stroll, the market contains flower stalls that stand on barges, reminiscent of the days when flower vendors made deliveries by boat. Fresh flowers such as tulips, geraniums, narcissus and others may be available as stems, bouquets or bulbs and vary by season. During the holidays, fresh green Christmas trees are also offered. For avid gardeners, many bulbs are ready for export, so they can be taken home to other countries. The market also offers seed packets and many Dutch souvenirs like wooden clogs and tulips, as well as cheese and other treats.
9. De Kattenkabinet
Amsterdam is a dog-loving city, as evidenced by the many puppies that roam or trot alongside bicycles with their people. But fear not, cat friends. There’s a special place in town just for you! De Kattenkabinet (Cat Cabinet) is a small but charming museum inside a beautiful old house devoted entirely to those of the feline persuasion. Founded by a wealthy Dutch cat lover to commemorate his own beloved cat, this fun tribute to catdom has plenty of appeal and some pretty amazing cat-focused art. Photos of cats with their famous owners, sculptures, paintings, books, drawings, posters and memorabilia honor the feline in all its glory.
There is a beautiful garden at the back of the house with posters and benches to relax. A small shop at the entrance also offers kitty items for sale. Several fully operational felines live on the premises, and when we were there, more than one of them seemed taken aback by the presence of many adoring fans. Unfortunately, the house, where its owner still lives upstairs, is not yet able to accommodate people with disabilities.
10. The Nine Streets
From Negen Straatjes or The Nine Streets consists of nine side streets off the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel canals in central Amsterdam, which has touted itself as a unique shopping destination since the 1990s. The neighborhood is a fun place filled with many shops and varied restaurants. The buildings in the streets themselves date back to the 18e century, including more than 140 national and municipal monuments. Vintage items, original art, books, Dutch specialties and all sorts of unique items can be found in the area. Grab a treat from one of the bakeries or cafes. It’s a fun place to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.
11. Albert Cuyp Market
Around 1904, vendors gathered to sell their wares to working-class residents. The unorganized space has become a hazard, so the city has established rules to deal with the madness. Over time, the wide street offering the Albert Cuyp Market provided space for vendors to set up stalls to sell whatever appealed to shoppers who increasingly came from other countries. This is how the wonderfully diverse collection evolved where some 20,000 visitors now shop on weekdays and twice as many on Saturdays. 300 stalls sell everything from fresh produce, cheese, fish and poultry to clothing, personal items and household items. The stalls sell prepared foods from around the world as well as Dutch treats like poffertjes (mini pancakes), marinated herring and crispy potato fries. But our favorite treat was a huge caramel-filled stroopwafel, freshly made, deliciously warm and gooey.
Amsterdam is a captivating city with many amazing things to see and do. We can’t wait to go back to experience even more of what the Dutch capital has to offer.
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