One of Europe’s most unique cities, Amsterdam is known for its relaxed, liberal atmosphere, beautiful historic canals and its love of cycling. With a wealth of diverse, rich museums, lush green parks and thriving nightlife, Amsterdam is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the world, accommodating to a variety of different tastes. There really is something for everybody here.
Amsterdam is arguably the most bike-friendly major city in the world, and there is no better way to get around town than by cycling. Bikes have the rule of the city’s roads over cars and pedestrians. Cycling is an essential part of the city’s culture, and you would be missing out if you don’t travel by bike. In addition to the more generic routes along the city’s canals, there are a number of interesting routes which take you to the city’s more far-flung corners-such as the Amsterdam Forest to the South of the city or to the city’s rustic North. When you arrive in Amsterdam, the first place you should go is the bike rental store.
Anne Frank House
Amsterdam’s most famous and somber museum is an essential experience when visiting the city. The museum is dedicated to the eponymous icon of the Second World War. The Anne Frank Museum provides an immersive experience, preserving her hiding place during the Holocaust whilst featuring a number of key items from her life. The museum promotes a firmly anti-discrimination message, and is one of the most culturally significant sites in the country.
Very much the cultural centre of Amsterdam, Museumplein contains three of the city’s most significant museums. The Rijksmuseum is the country’s pre-eminent national museum, with specialisations in both art and history. Having opened in Amsterdam in 1808, the Rijksmuseum boasts an extensive collection of Dutch art, its most notable work being Remrbandt’s iconic ‘The Night Watch’. The Van Gogh Museum, having opened in 1973, is dedicated to the eponymous iconic Dutch painter. The country’s most visited museum, it boasts a substantial collection of the artist’s work as well as that of a number of his contemporaries. Finally, there is the Stedelijk Museum, the city’s pre-eminent contemporary art museum, which boasts work from a number of iconic 20th Century painters including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol. It is especially known for its substantial collection of De Stijl art work. For those in search of a substantial cultural fix, Museumplein ticks a number of boxes.
Amsterdam’s Red Light District, from the outset, conjures up images of sleaze and depravity, but this is far from the case. De Wallen is one of the city’s most interesting areas, having undergone a substantial clean-up in recent years. The area is home to some of the city’s finest bars and restaurants as well as a number of left-field museums such as the Erotic Museum and the Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum. It is one of the most unique neighbourhoods in Europe and worth witnessing first-hand.
Amsterdam is known for its many lush green areas scattered around the city, and Vondelpark is the crown jewel of these. One of the most picturesque urban parks in the world, Vondelpark is a core part of Amsterdam life, transforming in the summer with public holidays such as King’s Day having a large presence in the park. During the summer months, the park is home to an open-air theatre featuring musical concerts. There are few more pleasant ways to spend a summer’s day than by luxuriating in Vondelpark by the lake.
Off the beaten path but still an essential destination, the Amsterdam Forest is one of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. Three times the size of New York’s Central Park, the forest is a lush area of greenery that caters to a number of different tastes. There are a number of different activities in the forest such as cycling, canoeing and sailing while it is also a popular camping destination. For those willing to make the journey, there are few better places to visit.
Amsterdam, and the Netherlands in general, are renowned for their beautiful flowers, specifically tulips. The best place in town for flower shopping is Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. Established in 1860, the flower market has been a staple of Amsterdam’s tourist industry. A thoroughly unique site and a great place to get a number of Dutch souvenirs including tulips and clogs.
Electric Ladyland Museum
In a city full of weird and distinct museums, this has to be the strangest. The world’s first and only museum dedicated to fluorescence, the Electric Ladyland Museum is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Visitors are taken on an informative and entertaining tour by the museum’s charming and eccentric proprietor, who expounds at length about the different fluorescent rocks. Located in Amsterdam’s trendy Jordaan neighbourhood, the museum is a must-see for those looking for a left-field detour, even by Amsterdam’s standards.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
The city’s botanical gardens are amongst the oldest and most beautiful in the world. Dating back to 1638, the gardens today contain in excess of 6,000 distinct plant species. One of the city’s major tourist attractions, the Hortus Botanicus is a real standout, even amongst the city’s wealth of green spaces.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
One of the Netherlands’ three palaces-the Royal Palace of Amsterdam is the most grandiose of these. Built initially as the city’s Town Hall in 1655, the building was converted into a palace effectively in 1936. The Palace is a focal point of Dam Square, the central hub of the city.