A beginner’s guide to the capital of Netherlands : Amsterdam

A beginner’s guide to the capital of Netherlands : Amsterdam

There’s something about Amsterdam that makes you want to go back again and again. It is one of the most sought tourist destinations of Europe drawing visitors from all over the world. Blame it on the charming golden canals, the delicious patat frites (Dutch fries) with a handful of different sauces, the architectural delights or the eclectic nightlife that abound the city. When I visited the capital of Netherlands for the first time, I said to my friend ‘’No, this is not a place I see myself coming back’’. Oh well, I went back this year and I seriously don’t mind going back.

Amsterdam, also known as the Venice of the North, is a contrast of old and new. This is a city where old architecture marries perfectly with new developments. The best way to begin the Amsterdam adventure is by taking a canal cruise. Whilst this may seem too touristy, I found it enriching and a great guide before I started to explore on my own. It takes you around the most important sights.

I feel that Amsterdam has more museums than anything else. (To be honest, museums are not my thing except for Art museums but I didn’t visit any of them. Skip this section if this resonate with you).

I’ve compiled a list of the museums that you might be interested to visit during your trip.

Van Gogh Museum features the best works of the artist Van Gogh as well as paintings by artists such as Matisse, Manet and Monet.

Located right next to Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum hosts the Rembrandt collection and over one million artworks and historical objects. If you are into modern art, you can check the Stedelijk Museum in Zuid.

If you’re interested about the origin of Tulips, head to the Tulip Museum. It is located in a small room in a tulip shop (Address: Prinsengracht 116, 1015 EA Amsterdam, Netherlands).

For a good history session, you can’t go wrong with Amsterdam History Museum. It portrays the story of Amsterdam through maps, painting, audiovisual displays and relics. Spare at least 3 hours to visit this place.

Photography lovers can head to FOAM museum.

Jewish Historical Museum tells the history of Jewish influence in Holland.

Wait there’s more! So, curious about the life of Anne Frank? Head to Anne Frank House. And please tell me everything you learn about her after your visit.  

Go to Houseboat Museum (based in Jordan) if you’re thinking about living in one of the houseboats – for a real experience. Alternatively, visit Van Loon museum (located on the Keizersgracht canal) which was once a canal house owned by the rich merchant Van Loon who treasured a beautiful collection of art.

MORE OF AMSTERDAM

If you’re looking for a place to relax and escape from the buzz of the city, Amsterdam has some beautiful green spaces such as Vondelpark and Oosterpark. When the weather is pleasant, you’ll find many people picnicking at the parks. Oosterpark is quieter and less crowded compared to the former.

Albert Cuyp Market is the largest market in Amsterdam where you can try traditional Dutch specialties such as Stroopwafels, Pofferjies, local cheeses, krokets and the famous Herrings served with pickled cucumber. The market is closed on Sunday. Another option is Waterlooplein Flea Market which is an open-air market selling clothes, antiques, vintage items and a lot more stuffs. To sample international food, head to Foodhallen which is an indoor food market nestled in the western part of the city. Not to forget, beer lovers can have a glimpse of the history of Heineken at the former brewery now turned into a museum for a Heineken Experience.

If you’re wondering where to find the iconic giant IAMSTERDAM sign. There is one at Schiphol airport and another one in front of Rijksmuseum.

Many of us overlook the central station which is in itself an absolute beauty. Take a pit-stop to contemplate its charm.

There are quite a few spots to visit around Dam Square such as the National monument, the oldest building of Amsterdam – Oude Kerk Church, the residence of King Willem-Alexander – Koninkliik Palace and Madame Tussaud. There is also a big Primark for late minute shopping.

Bloemenmarkt i.e. the flower market is one of my favorite spots in Amsterdam. The market is flanked by varieties of flowers, plants, souvenirs and cheese shops.

While ambling around the city, you’re bound to cross the red-light district which hosts countless coffee shops, erotic museums, sex shops and the famous windows (you know what I’m talking about). While these may be a hullabaloo in your country, it is legal in Amsterdam. Brace yourself for strong cannabis smell throughout the city which is also permitted.

It’s good to know that most people speak English in Amsterdam even though the official language is Dutch. The very first thing to do when you land in the city is to get your transport card. If you’re flying to Amsterdam, you can buy your card at Schiphol airport itself. They are available in many options such as 1-day card, 2-days, 3-days card etc. The most common way to get around Amsterdam is cycling. You’ll see bicycles everywhere and they have lanes dedicated to cyclists. The transport system is amazingly reliable, you can use the bus, metro, train and ferry to get around. Some of the hotels offer airport shuttles. Furthermore, Amsterdam is classified as one of the safest cities for girls.

If you have a thing for canals, quirky cities, coffee shops and museums, head to Amsterdam! You’ll love it.

Read this for food you need to try in Netherlands.

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