Amsterdam, a canal-rich, culture-driven land that has almost perfected the balance between work and life. Yes, it is a dream for many to just visit this city. But for the people that strive to create a work-life balance, this is their dream!
The cycles on the street outnumbering the cars make this place a wonderland for cyclists too. And if you thought these were the only reason for Amsterdam to be famous, well you are wrong.
The city’s population comprises more than 180 nationalities, which makes Amsterdam truly the culturally rich place it is today.
Like all famous cities with a rich heritage, Amsterdam too had a 17th century golden age during which it dominated trade. And this golden era has left this city with a lot of attractions that are worth visiting if you are a travel lover.
What are the best sights in Amsterdam?
Anne Frank’s House
Ever since reading the Diary of a Young Girl (and Fault in our Stars) I’ve wanted to visit Anne Frank’s house. Anne Frank’s story is a touching one and it reminds you of the human side of these stories of war.
Imagine a whole museum narrating one amazing story to you through various visual mediums. That is exactly what this extraordinary museum in Amsterdam does.
The house has been converted to a museum now and you can experience Annie Frank’s story through photos, videos, and a few original items.
The original items are of the people who hid here from the Nazi persecution. The tickets to this museum are often bought early by people so you might have to reserve your spot early itself.
This museum is the Centre and host of some of the most famous Dutch art in Amsterdam.
Famous paintings like ‘The Milkmaid‘ and ‘The Little Street‘ by Johannes Vermeer, ‘The Night Watch‘ and self-portrait by Rembrandt and the self-portrait by Van Gogh are all displayed here.
Also, you get to view other highlights of this museum, such as the Gallery of honor that hosts famous artists, the Great hall, and the Cuypers library, the largest and oldest library in the Netherlands.
The famous paintings aren’t the only reason large crowds are attracted to this museum. The whole museum in itself is an extraordinary example of Dutch art. The stunning interior design and the whole of the space present to us the story of almost 800 years of dutch history.
One tip to keep in mind would be to get here as early as possible in the morning. There is also a beautiful garden outside that is known as the ‘Green outdoor gallery’.
Here you can take a stroll to relax, view the sculptures and historic garden styles, and even take a drink from the gazebo in the garden.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh museum is one of the most visited museums in Amsterdam and even the whole of the Netherlands. The museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works.
This includes more than 200 paintings, over 400 drawings, and above 750 letters.
The museum is more than just a glorified gallery. Van Gogh’s art has been given life and it’s a story of its own that we encounter in the museum’s galleries. Each artwork has been studied and displayed in differing themes, keeping a special emphasis on the important features.
But the museum also has other works of contemporaries like ‘Vincent Van Gogh’ by John Russel, ‘Tulip Fields near The Hague’ by Claude Monet, and other representations from the 19th century which together account to more than two hundred in number.
Pro tip: the queues are usually very long here and it’s highly advised to book a spot for yourself well in advance.
It surely gets bustling in Amsterdam and if all you want is a bit of fresh air, you should definitely visit Haarlem. It is merely 20 to 30 minutes away from Amsterdam.
The heart of the city is an old town with its 17th and 18th-century architecture. The place also has many canals and numerous churches.
One of the most famous landmarks within is the Grote Markt which consists of many important and historically significant markers. These include
- the City Hall
- the Frans Hals Museum
- the famous Vleeshal (meat market)
- the Archaelogical Museum of Haarlem
- the Stature of Johann Costerus
- the Hoofdwacht which is the oldest building in Haarlem
- the Sint-Bavokerk
Rumor has it (or at least the golden plaque inside has it) that Mozart has actually played the organ of the Sint-Bavokerk, which was once the largest organ in the world. We don’t know how true this is though.
This charming little Dutch town has so much to offer that it’s definitely worth a visit.
De Negen Straatjes
De Negen Straatjes or the Nine Streets are named quite literally. It is a congregation of nine streets that are part of the Western Canal Belt. It is also part of the bigger Jordaan which is a charming neighborhood.
Exploring De Negen Straatjes can be like studying abstract art. There are many galleries, beautiful exhibitions, historic buildings, restaurants, and emporiums.
These streets offer you the best shopping experience in Amsterdam. From boutiques to quirky shops, there is something for everyone.
Nine Streets is especially famous for all the architecture built during the Dutch Golden Age. I have to give out a special mention to the Huis Marseille which was Amsterdam’s first photography museum.
The perfect blend of the original details from the 17th century and the rich exhibition pieces turns this into a paradise for me.
And the place isn’t even that crowded. Sure, there are tourists but you also get to check out the local scene quite a bit. Being quite a picturesque place, it’s also a great place to update your Instagram profile.
When I go to a new city, I always want to find that one little place which is less known but really amazing. I’m not always successful but if you’re like me and you’re in Amsterdam, then this is it.
To reach this… (I’m almost tempted to say funky but it’s really not me) place, you can take the free GVB ferry from the Central Station.
It used to be a shipyard but after it broke down, a 1999 urban regeneration process turned the place into a creative outlet for many small businesses.
The large grounds of NDSM Wharf hosts many festivals, displays, and exhibitions throughout the year. It also has many unique features like huge flea markets, greenhouse cafes, bungee jumping from an actual crane (which is also somehow a hotel), and an old submarine.
In particular, the Art City NDSM which is a very distinctive art studio compound and the IJ-Hallen Flea Market which is the biggest flea market in Europe, give us a different view of Amsterdam, the one not seen quite often in history books.
Our Lord in the Attic
This is surprisingly a museum that offers an insight into how Catholics worshipped in the 17th century.
From the outside, this is a beautiful fourth-century canal house. But when you go inside, there is a whole church, hidden away in the attic, just waiting for you!
It conveys the secrets of the time Catholics were not allowed to hold services in public. The faithful at the time did not let this hinder them in their prayers. The church was built by Jan Hartman, a rich merchant who then proceeded to furnish the rest of the house.
This church is built in the Dutch Baroque style and is simply breathtaking with stucco sculptures of God and Holy Spirit as well as the painting ‘Baptism of Christ‘ by Jacob de Wit.
The feeling inside the museum is peaceful and serene, quite different from the other museums of today. Regular services and occasional weddings still take place in the church. Visitors are encouraged to book tickets to avoid crowds.
Dutch tulips are very famous throughout the world. And the most famous region for its tulips is Bollenstreek, which is quite nearby to Amsterdam.
The large fields that blossom in the spring are indeed a sight for sore eyes. Of course, the Keukenhof gardens are also quite famous for their tulips and either one of these magnificent places can enthrall you.
There’s even a Bollenstreek cycle route that is perfect for springtime. You pass by many flower fields, which include tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils.
Moreover, there is a beautiful dune area with rich wildlife and a relaxing Langeveldererslag Beach on the route.
There’s also an annual flower parade that takes place in Bollenstreek. Many floats made up of thousands of flowers follow a route along Noordwijk to Haarlem. In Haarlem, these are on display the whole day so you can see them at your pleasure.
You will love Bollenstreek if you love walking. This hiking route is one of the biggest in Amsterdam. Also, to the east of Bollenstreek, you will find the Holland lakes.
This is the largest sailing area in Amsterdam. Hence you can go sailing too here.
This is a weird addition to this list but still mention-worthy. Body Worlds in Amsterdam is a museum that displays more than 200 plastinated (but real) human bodies.
Yes, these are real human corpses, preserved by plastination and dissected in different forms to show us what’s happening in the human body (Not a pleasant sight for many I agree but It sure is quite enlightening).
The exhibitions were created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens. The process of plastination itself is carried out for scientific research and education.
There is also a safari into the Animal Kingdom here. It tells you about the animal physiology and details about every actions of animals.
The Body Worlds museum in Amsterdam regularly changes themes, ranging from the effects of different lifestyles on our bodies to the anatomy of animals.
Currently, it has undertaken the Happiness Project that shows us how our moods affect our body and in turn, our health.
The exhibition is just a 5-minute walk from Central Station and Dam Square. When you buy a ticket, you can get a free InBody Scan which will inform you about exactly what you’re made of and what parts of your body you should pay more attention to.
What are the COVID 19 measures in Amsterdam?
The government is slowly implementing its reopening plan and intends to do so for at least the summer. This means that most of the places will be open with certain exceptions.
Most outdoor facilities will be open, although this does not include museums, concert halls, and cinemas. Indoor facilities should not gather more than 30 people and an interpersonal distance of 6 feet must be maintained.
Gatherings of more than 2 people over the age of 13 are still discouraged. Alcohol is not allowed between 8 pm and 6 am in public. Avoid peak hours and crowds during journeys using any mode of transport.
Is there any Nightlife in Amsterdam?
The city is almost always awake. Some places close up by 1 am on weekdays and 3 am on weekends. However, the government is taking action in order to ensure a vibrant nightlife, while still maintaining respect and courtesy to its residents.
Living in Amsterdam might be one of those experiences in life you never want to forget. There are many clubs, festivals, and bars that are open to everyone. It doesn’t matter what your definition of fun is, you will definitely fit in. Rest assured, this city will definitely have something for you.
How is the transportation in Amsterdam?
Public transportation in Amsterdam mainly consists of trams, buses, and metros. And if you prefer to use public transport, they have the OV-chipkaart which is the most convenient public transportation card much like the Metro Card in New York.
These come on both an hourly and daily basis. Also, as we’ve mentioned before, cycling is the most common mode of transportation in Amsterdam.
Most people have their own bicycles but there are also many bike rentals around the city. Amsterdam’s large number of canals also make the use of boats and ferries common.
Some tips to make your transportation in Amsterdam easier
Public transportation is mainly under the control of GVB. They have a GVB site and app that tell you about the routes, schedules, and other important information about buses, metros, and trams.
Other useful apps are:
- The 9292ov app will help you not just in Amsterdam, but the whole of the Netherlands.
- The Citymapper app will help you find your way by public transport, bike, or even by foot.
- The Schiphol Airport app will help you find your way in and out of Amsterdam easily.
It’s important to note that although there are taxis and cars, the local government strongly discourages the use of cars and instead encourages the use of bikes and public transit.
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