Amsterdam, European museums capital
Amsterdam is blessed to have a lot of art treasures. The inner city alone harbors nearly seven thousand monuments reminiscent of the Golden Century, Amsterdam’s period of blossom. Add to that the world-renowned museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and a plethora of other collections worth seeing in the city. And, of course, there is so much more to Amsterdam’ Think of all those markets, delightful squares, the Jordaan neighborhood, the nightlife. There is always something to see or do in this multicultural metropolis, yet it retains its charming folksy atmosphere.
Things worth seeing
There are so many things worth seeing and doing in Amsterdam that it’s impossible to list them all. There’s the Allard Pierson Museum that showcases valuable archeological artifacts, the wax figure museum Madame Tussauds, the Grachtenhuis museum and of course the Anne Frank House. Other hits include the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), the Vondelpark, the Maritime Museum and the ring of canals.
Attractions and events
The swinging city of Amsterdam is full of adventure. Every year The Holland Festival, the City Marathon, the Uitmarkt, the Gay Parade and The Parade are full of surprises. During the Jordaan Festival you can dance to the music of famous bands. During the Canal Festival you can enjoy classical music in exciting locations like gardens and patios, monuments and private residences for five days straight. Other parts of the city also host a variety of events. For example, the Multicultural Kwaku Summer Festival in South-East Amsterdam.
Excursion vessels ceaselessly navigate the canals. There are numerous stops where you can get on and take a tour of the extraordinary, old canal-side houses (some of them can be viewed from the inside). With a pedalo you choose your own pace and you might even see more of your surroundings. Artis is Holland’s most famous zoo which houses animals from all continents on a relatively small surface area.
Art and culture
Amsterdam’s inner city is one big treasure chamber. The museums will draw your attention with world famous paintings and other artifacts, but there is also much to see and do out in the streets. Take the architecture adjacent to the ring of canals. There are exciting stories everywhere, and they are told in a myriad of ways. You can hire a regular guide in an excursion boat, or listen to the personal and colorful stories told by the guides. The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on the Dam always hosts an extraordinary exhibition. The Palace on the Dam will sometimes let you enter: its interior is decadent and glorious.
Spending the night
During the summer months most affordable hotels are booked solid. If you’re late, you’ll have a hard time finding a place to sleep. Booking ahead of time is definitely necessary during the holiday periods. There is a wide range of hotels available, from cheap budget hotels to five-star luxury hotels. The hotels housed in old canal-side building often speak to the imagination the most.
Food and drink
There are restaurants scattered throughout the center of Amsterdam. You can try out dishes from every kitchen in the world. In streets where tourists often go, like the Jordaan neighborhood, the Zeedijk or the Utrechtse street, you’ll find numerous excellent eateries everywhere, but plenty of great restaurants are found outside of the tourist areas. Every year, new restaurants and bars emerge on the scene and just as many disappear. Amsterdam is a city of innovation.
Young party-goers are mostly found in the nightlife surrounding the Rembrandtplein and the Leidseplein. The Melkweg and Paradiso have managed to stay on top of trends and still serve as pop temples. Amsterdam’s many theaters guarantee a wide selection of shows. The Leidseplein houses an American stand-up comedy theater show. In the Stopera you can attend wonderful ballet or opera shows. Fans of classical music come from far and wide to see performances in the Koninklijk Concertgebouw (Concert Hall). There are many more theaters, each with its own charm and schedule.
Many people come to Amsterdam to go shopping. There are plenty of fun markets, like the Albert Cuyp market, the Patch market in the Westerstraat, the exotic Dappermarkt and the market on the Waterlooplein. You’ll find a lot of small shops offering unique clothing or other special ranges. The P.C. Hooftstraat is home to an ever increasing number of ‘flagship stores’ of well-known brands. The Kalverstraat and the Nieuwendijk have something for every budget. Magna Plaza is a large shopping mall (former post office), near Amsterdam’s biggest shopping mall of all: de Bijenkorf.
The Jordaan neighborhood is one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods, and rightly so. Here, you will wander through a maze of cozy streets and alleys looking for interesting shops, trendy galleries and excellent restaurants. The bars and pubs on and around the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein attract young and old from all corners of the world. You will find a reflection of colorful Amsterdam in de Pijp with its many bars and on the crowded Albert Cuyp market. The architecture on the KNSM island and IJburg also attract many inquisitive visitors.
The Greater Area
Few visitors will want to see Amsterdam’s greater area for lack of time. Still, a boat ride to the fortified island of Pampus makes for a great outing, as does the Zaanse Schans in Zaandijk where different kinds of houses and windmills were built along the river Zaan. These authentic structures together make up an enormous outdoor museum. A trip to Broek in Waterland, Volendam or Monnickendam will guarantee a beautiful hike past ancient Dutch wooden houses.