Amsterdam is the most visited city in the Netherlands; it is also the country’s largest city with a population of around 800.000. Amsterdam boasts a variety of attractions it has a rich cultural heritage, l7th century elegant canal houses and the somewhat seamier side of the nightspots in the Red Light District. Amsterdam is known for its tolerant traits.
Many of the places of interest are near or in the city centre making Amsterdam an ideal place to get around on foot or by bicycle which is a way of life for many Dutch people.
If you enjoy cycling you can rent bikes there are dedicated cycle paths/lanes. There are also organised bike tours available. You should purchase an Amsterdam pass and Museumkaart this gives entrance to various museums and use on the city’s transport.
A good place to start your visit is by exploring the Canal Ring, as you stroll alongside the canals you will see some wonderful architecture, there are some lovely old houses lining the canals.
A popular visitor attraction is the Anne Frank Museum situated at Prinsengracht the former hiding place where she, her family and the Pals family hid from the Nazis for more than 2 years during World War 11 You go through the false bookcase to get to the secret annex. Anne Frank’s diary is on display it gives a touching account of life in hiding. The museum does get very busy particularly in the main holiday months.
One of the oldest districts in Amsterdam is the Jordaan, to the west of the ring of canals it is a pleasant area to explore, it was a formerly a ghetto built for the poor working class population in the 17th century. Nowadays you can have refreshments at one of the pubs or cafés and soak up the atmosphere; you can see the old workers cottages, browse around the quirky shops and look in the craft studios.
Many of you will want to visit some museums while on your holiday break there are a variety of museums you can visit in Amsterdam, I believe there are around fifty.
The Van Gogh Museum has many paintings and sketches in their collection plus letters by the artist to Theo. Van Gogh began painting in 1880 he died in 1890.
The Rijksmuseum this huge museum attracts thousands of visitors yearly and has an unrivalled collection of Dutch Art.
The Museum van Loon, an impressive Canal House is a private museum which records the lives of the ‘Upper Classes’ in the city.
Other museums which may interest you include the Amsterdam Historical Museum, The Tropenmuseum (Tropical Museum). The Erotic Museum has a collection of erotic art, postcards, books etc.
Amsterdam’s Red Light District known as De Walletjes is centred on the Ouder Kerk to the east of Dam Square; the Red Light District is famous for the provocative clothed women displaying themselves in ground floor windows, the area is lined with various sex shops and rather seedy clubs. It is not recommended to walk the alleys alone at night. Better to join the hordes of tourists who come to ‘look’ by day and bring a festive air with them.
Approximately a five minute walk from Central Station will bring you to Dam Square; this popular square was created in the 13th century. There are cafes, bars, shops, and entertainment in the summer months. The 17th century Royal Palace of Amsterdam is situated on Dam Square; it is no longer the home of the Dutch Royal Family. It is mainly used for official state functions, when not in use it is open to the public.
You can relax and still do some sightseeing by taking a canal cruise; this will give you the opportunity to experience Amsterdam’s grand architecture from the water as well as admiring the many houseboats that live on the canals.
Shopping in Amsterdam can be very enjoyable many roads in the centre of the city are closed to cars (open to taxis, buses, trams and bikes) One pedestrian area is Nieuwedijk-Kalverstraat where you will find plenty of shops to keep you occupied , clothes, shoes, gifts etc. on the other side of Dam Square there are antique shops and restaurants. You will find a vast amount of bars, cafes and restaurants; some of the bars have live music there should be one to suit your mood and taste.
In the summer concerts are held in the city’s parks Amsterdam offers a varied music programme which includes some top bands, nightlife can be as energetic or as relaxed as you want there are chic wine bars, jazz venues, the clubs are diverse, Amsterdam has many gay bars and clubs, and bars tend to stay open until 3.00am. Coffee shops sell marijuana and hashish these drugs are legal substances in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam offers its visitors a host of attractions whether you are looking for nightlife, entertainment, music theatre or film, historic buildings and architecture, museums there should be something to interest most everyone.