Amsterdam is a city that seems tailor-made for tourists. Its compact streets are lined with a treasure trove of historic venues, artistic masterpieces and postcard perfect scenery. To get the most out of Amsterdam, it is essential to move beyond the popular top tourist spots and explore different neighbourhoods, shops and eateries all around the city. Here are some great things to do in Amsterdam.
1 Immerse Yourself in Amsterdam’s Rich Cultural and Art History
Amsterdam and The Netherlands have enjoyed a rich history filled with kings, queens, epic battles and world renowned painters. To get acquainted with the bite-sized country, take a trip to the Rijksmuseum. Newly reopened following a decade-long restoration and makeover, the Rijksmuseum is home to the largest collection of historic treasures in The Netherlands. The museum covers 800 years of Dutch history with 8,000 objects scattered amongst 80 galleries. In addition to priceless artifacts and antiques, the museum is home to masterpieces by famous Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Just around the corner from the Rijksmuseum is the Van Gogh Museum. This is a must-visit for fans of the Dutch artist as it is home to dozens of his works along with artifacts from his life. Rembrandt enthusiasts should also consider visiting the artist’s former home, located on Jodenbreestraat in central Amsterdam. Rembrandt painted many of his works from this home, which is now a museum dedicated to his life.
2 See the City by Boat or by Bike
Amsterdam is characterized by the maze of tranquil canals that criss-cross the city, but is also known for its penchant for biking. Instead of walking or taking the public transport, consider hiring a bike or take a canal tour through the city. This is the best way to view Amsterdam in all its glory. Make sure to visit the Jordaan District, considered to be the most beautiful neighborhood in all of Amsterdam. Wind your way around the tree-lined streets to enjoy people watching and window shopping. The city is full of scenic churches, gardens, parks and squares that are all worth exploring. Take an evening tour either on bike or through the canal of Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District to see the alternative side of the city’s nightlife.
3 Search for Priceless Antique Treasures
Rummaging through Amsterdam’s many markets is a great way to interact with locals and you never know what treasures you might uncover. The best place to go for serious treasure hunting is the Spiegelkwartier (Mirrored Quart), primarily around Spiegelgracht. This has been a central place for Dutch and international antiques in Amsterdam for over 80 years and you’ll be able to find everything from 17th century porcelain, to ancient Roman coins. The daily market at Waterlooplein, in the former Jewish Quarter, is also a great place to find a bargain. Specializing in second hand goods, antiques, knick-knacks and everything in between, the market here has been going strong since the 1890s. For the mother of all flea markets, head to the IJ-hallen flea market in northern Amsterdam. Here you’ll have access to over 700 stalls selling second hand goods and merchandise.
4 Visit Anne Frank’s House
Perhaps Amsterdam’s most famous resident, Anne Frank’s tragic tale was immortalized after her diary was published and became a worldwide sensation. The Dutch teen hid from the Nazis in her home along Prinsengracht with members of her family before she was finally discovered in the mid-1940s. Following the end of World War II, her home was converted into a museum and was restored to its 1940s condition in the 1960s. The small back room (or annex) that Anne and her family sought refuge in is on display and provides stark imagery for those who have read the book. The museum is also home to collections and exhibits covering Anne Frank’s life and has become one of Amsterdam’s most visited locations.
5 Dine like a Local
Dutch cuisine hasn’t had the greatest impact on the culinary world stage, but it is worth trying on a visit to Amsterdam. The local food here is hearty, featuring loads of braised meats, stews, potatoes and chips. Seafood in the form of mackerel and eel are also major ingredients in popular stews and soups. However, if there is one thing to try here, it is the pickled herring. The daring delicacy is a favorite snack in Amsterdam and can be found at countless food and snack vendors all around the city. For an authentic Dutch meal, try restaurants like Moeders, Loetje and Greetje, which all specialize in hearty home-style Dutch cooking. If Dutch stews aren’t to your liking, head to one of the city’s many outdoor food markets and pick up a few fresh ingredients for a picnic in Vondelpark with the locals.
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