Amsterdam is a beautiful destination, with its charming canals, cute cobblestone streets, attractive architecture, and fascinating history. The city boasts numerous attractions, offering a little something for all ages. With such variety, it can be difficult to determine where to start. The next time you visit the Dutch capital, there are a few things you should not miss. Below are the top five reasons to visit Amsterdam. In addition, some additional resources are provided, such as helpful tips and links.
1. Picturesque UNESCO Site
The historic canal district, majority of the city’s center, is a UNESCO heritage site. With the arched bridges, cute streets, tree-lined canals, and gorgeous houses, this area is the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll, day or night. Be sure to appreciate the tops of the houses; the gables are unique, and you’ll often see the dates of the houses. You may also notice that some of the houses are leaning. This is common, due to the foundation of the city. Also in the area, be sure not to miss the floating flower market, the Bloemenmarkt. It’s the only floating flower market in the world.
2. World Renowned Museums
Amsterdam is home to internationally renowned museums, such as the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum. I highly recommend you reserve a time slot online for the Anne Frank House, as the queue can be quite long (up to two or three hours). The Rijksmuseum in particular is spectacular for multiple reasons, not only for the artwork on display but the building itself; it is a work of art. In addition to the aforementioned museums, give the Museum van Loon, a 17th century canal house, or Ons Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), a hidden church in the attic of an old canal house, a try for more “off-the-beaten-path” museums.
3. A Foodie Haven
Food. My favorite topic! Amsterdam is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with 178 nationalities calling the city home. As a result, the number of cuisines available is impressive. For the best fries in town (a Dutch and Belgian staple), check out Manneken Pis, just off the Damrak. Bitterballen, another Dutch favorite, is also tasty. Café Hoppe, one of the oldest cafes in the city dating back to the 1600s, is a good place to try this. Herring is another treat you will not want to miss, as well as oliebollen and appelflap in the winter months. Winkel 43 near the Noordermarkt serves the best apple pie in town. If you’re in the mood for pancakes, another favorite of the Dutch, head to Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs. This tiny restaurant has only four tables, and you have to climb up this very narrow staircase. If you drink beer, visit Brouwerij t’IJ, an Amsterdam brewery located at the foot of a windmill. Arendsnest, with approximately 30 beers on top and about 100 by the bottle, is the place to go if you want to try a variety of Dutch beers. Be sure to check out all the restaurants included in my book, “Flavors of Life,” for additional recommendations.
4. Spectacular Views
The DoubleTree by Hilton, right next to Amsterdam Centraal Station, has the best view of the city, hands down. Head to the 11th floor, the Sky Lounge, for a coffee or beer. The coffee selection includes one free refill in the listed price. Mr Porter, situated at the top of the W Hotel, overlooks Dam Square and serves amazing cocktails. Blue, located in the Kalvertoren, places you right in the middle of the canal belt, providing a great view of the local Amsterdam canal houses.
5. Colorful Neighbourhoods
Outside the charming canal district, Amsterdam has many great local neighborhoods. If you like wandering through open-air markets, check out the Albert Cuypmarkt in De Pijp. It’s one of Europe’s largest open-air markets. Plus, you can get fresh made stroopwafels (they are thin waffle-like cookies with caramel on the inside). De Pijp is home to an international scene, with a variety of restaurants ready to try. The Jordaan, near the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk, is also a beautiful neighborhood, peaceful and residential. If you love boutique stores, look no further than the Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets). This area offers many cute little shops and cozy cafes, providing a great place for a shopping pit stop. Other shopping areas include the Kalverstraat, De Bijenkorf, and Magna Plaza. Don’t forget to walk along the famous Amstel river and see the Magere Brug (the skinny bridge). It’s beautiful at night. In the area nearby, make sure to stop by Rembrandtplein. They have statues arranged in the same way as The Night Watch, Rembrandt’s famous painting that is now hanging in the Rijksmuseum. Each area of Amsterdam has so much to see and do.
Tips For Getting Around
If you’re up for it, you can rent a bike, but make sure to get used to biking before venturing out. Plus, biking in Amsterdam is a whole other beast. Read my biking guide here. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to see the city is by foot or bike. Biking tours can be a great way to get acclimated and see the sights, too. We Bike Amsterdam has two great tours – one to see the city and one to explore the beautiful Dutch countryside.
You can also utilize the public transportation system: the trains, trams, buses, and metros. GVB – for the city of Amsterdam – has 24, 48, and 72 hour passes. That is the way to go, especially if you are going to be hopping on and off. Basically it costs 2.80 EURO for one hour and 7.50 EURO for 24 hours, so that gives you an idea of how much you’d be using it and if it’s worth it to get the longer passes. Especially in the winter or heavy bouts of rain, an unlimited pass could be worth it.
For more tips and advice, be sure to check out 10Best.com.
Wherever you decide to go, one thing is the most important: have fun! Wishing you a wonderful trip. Please leave your favorites in the comments below, and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.