When people think of Amsterdam, all too often what comes to mind is vice. Yet, beyond the red light clichés lies a beautiful European city filled with centuries’ old three and four flats, remnants of a civilization driven by international trade and the Dutch East India Company, as well a spectacular network of waterways and canals. Furthermore, Amsterdam has a thriving cultural scene brimful of art and history, making it an ideal destination for your next trip. Here are some of the top things you can do while visiting Amsterdam for a vacation:
6) Take a Canal Tour or Book a River Cruise
Explore Amsterdam via the many waterways that have been so integral to this city’s history and commerce. Some boats offer loudspeaker tours led be knowledgeable guides who explain Amsterdam’s story through architecture and geography. Other canal boats are simply for transport. For the ultimate Amsterdam canal ride experience, consider climbing onboard one of the city’s many cocktail and/or dinner cruises. Amsterdam is also the departure point for Viking River Cruises’ Grand European Tour, a fifteen-day cruise that goes through Germany and Austria before ending in Budapest (prices vary).
5) Pay Homage at the Anne Frank House & Museum
In the aftermath of WWII, which devastated Holland along with the rest of Europe, Otto Frank returned to the attic where he and his family had hid from the Nazis. While sorting through the remnants of his family’s belongings, he discovered the diary of his teenage daughter, Anne, who had perished in a concentration camp. Otto Frank published the diary. It has since gone down in history as one of the most candid accounts ever written, encapsulating the experience of Nazi occupation as seen through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old girl. Today, the house where Anne and others once hid from the Nazis has been converted into a museum. It is a permanent reminder of how humanity was affected by the holocaust and a hope that history will cease to repeat itself. The Anne Frank House opens every day at 9am (euro 9 for adults, 4.50 for teenagers 10-17, children under 10 are free). There is usually a line around the block, which is why it is a good idea to arrive early. Perhaps the popularity of this attraction is a testament to the impact of Anne Frank’s story.
4) Eat at the Eet-Café de Valk
Located on the Amstel River across from the Amstelland Fire Department, the Eet-Café de Valk is a great stop for gourmet salads, paninis, and other European fare. Try the melted Brie cheese panini, or perhaps the fresh green and orange salad topped with caramelized goat cheese and capers. Sit outside in the café’s outdoor dining area to people watch over a shot of espresso. Eet-Café de Valk is located at Valkenburgerstraat 8-16, 1011 Amsterdam (prices vary, but most entrees cost around euro 10). For the ultimate in luxury in the heart of Amsterdam, consider staying at the Hotel De L’Europe. Within the city center, this hotel is also located on the Amstel River. It is in close proximity to other great restaurants as well as museums.
3) Stroll through Vondel Park
Named after seventeenth century Dutch author Joost van den Vondel, Vondelpark is one hundred and twenty acres of well-maintained public property located in the heart of Amsterdam. Having first opened in 1865, Vondelpark has numerous paths, statues, an English garden, a rose garden, a large pond, a playground, and a theater. An exemplary example of the European city dweller’s need for nature in urban environments, Vondel Park is a great place to walk, bike, or have a picnic. Be sure to stop at the I-AMSTERDAM pool for your essential tourist photo-op. Vondelpark is free and open twenty-four hours.
2) Gaze upon masterpieces at the Van Gogh Museum
Not far from Vondel Park is the Van Gogh Museum. This attraction boasts a vast collection of paintings created by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh, who was famous for both his artistic vision and intriguing life story. Van Gogh originals on display at the museum include “Sunflowers”, “Self Portrait”, and “The Sea at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer”. The Van Gogh Museum opens daily at 9am (euro 15 for adults, children under 17 are free), and also displays works by other nineteenth century artists including Émile Bernard and Claude Monet. For children ages 6-12, ask the front desk about the treasure hunt activity.
1) Rent a Bike
Amsterdam is known hands down as the best bicycle city in the world. Thanks to an intricate network of well-maintained bike paths, complete with their very own traffic signals, it is easy to get around this city on two wheels. Amsterdam is an ideal place to rent a bicycle and go exploring (bike rentals are typically euro 9.50-13.50 for 24 hours, and many bike shops offer organized tours). Don’t forget to ask the rental shop for a map of the city and keep in mind that Amsterdam’s layout resembles a sun, with roads and canals that extend outward like rays of light. It is incredible to observe local Dutch cyclists carrying extraordinary cargos via their bicycles. I saw one man biking with an impressive ¾ double bass strapped to his back! The moment it starts raining, watch as dozens of passing cyclists pop open their umbrellas without even stopping, like a parade of Holland’s celebrated tulips blooming across the glistening bike paths.
As you can see, there is much more to Amsterdam than first meets the eye. For a trip that is customized to your own interests and preferences, call Traveloni today and let one of our specialists plan your Amsterdam vacation.