One of the most interesting and vibrant European cities is surely Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands (also known as Holland). Surrounded by an incredible historical heritage, once in this city you will get the chance to visit fantastic museums, cycling around like a local, eating delicious Dutch cheese, walking alongside the iconic canals and of course having so-much-fun!
USEFUL INFORMATION NETHERLANDS:
- Language: Dutch, Frisian. In the Caribbean Islands: Papiamento. English is well spoken
- Visa: No visa for EU citizen. Please check the rule for your passport
- Capital: Amsterdam. Population: 814,000
- Currency: Euro
- Get to Amsterdam from Schiphol airport: You can take a taxi, and it takes no more than 15 min to be in Central Amsterdam, but you will spend around 50€! I definitely recommend to use Uber, and you will spend half of the normal taxi! Another option is to take the train from Schiphol Airport, which costs 5.20 € and it takes 15/20 min to get to Amsterdam Central Station.
- Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2
- Country Code: +31
- Emergency number: 112
- Population: 17,1 million people
Amsterdam is such a lovely city, especially in summertime! The first thing you probably would notice is the incredible amount of bikes around the city: everyone there seems just using bikes to go around, which is so good for the environment!
However, as a tourist, I’d like to highlight that to visit the most popular places in the city (mostly located in the central area) you can easily walk around. I walked everywhere indeed, I only used once the ferry to get to the A’dam LookOut (click here to read the full article I wrote about it) and took a tram to get to the Van Gogh and Rijks museums from the Central Station. The public transportation are extremely well connected in Amsterdam! One tip: remember to swipe your ticket both when you get in as well as when you get off the bus or tram!
Best place to stay: InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam
The fabulous building of the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam and its magnificent lobby give you straight away the feeling of luxury and exquisite taste, together with a spectacular attention to details. Located on the banks of the Amstel river, the prominent facade highlights the beauty of this exceptional 5 stars hotel in the heart of the Dutch capital.
I assure you the service offered is extremely efficient and the staff is highly qualified!
The rooms are luxurious, with the possibility of facing the canal (which is so romantic) and the space is perfect, even in the standard rooms (starting price: around 400€ per night). It seems to live in another epoque, especially if you have the chance to stay in one of the signature suites: like a dream!
The hotel offers great restaurants for fine dining, like ‘La Rive’ restaurant, with fancy and elegant interiors, directly facing the Amstel river: the atmosphere is amazing both for lunch and dinner.
I would suggest to try the phenomenal Royal Afternoon Tea, even if you are not a guest of the hotel: a wide selection of the best teas from all over the world, great Prosecco and Champagne, together with delicious food, especially the desserts final part! It takes approximately 2 to 4 hours to enjoy it.
On a side not, if you don’t want to stay in a 5 stars hotel, I can recommend other 2 hotels that I personally tried and found convenient, clean and perfectly located: Hotel Hermitage Amsterdam and Amsterdam Canal Hotel (between 120€-200€ per night, depends on dates).
TOP THINGS TO DO IN AMSTERDAM
Below you can find my personal list of the places and things you can’t miss while there. Please note that I did it all in 2 days, so it could be a perfect plan for a weekend in Amsterdam!
#1. A’dam LookOut and the Swing
The A’dam LookOut is an observation deck with an unrivaled panoramic view above the city.
Click here for the full article I wrote about it!
#2. Rembrandt’s House Museum
It is a building where the painter Rembrandt lived and worked between 1639 and 1656. You will have the chance to see beautiful paintings from 17th century and experience the atmosphere of the painter’s creative space. Definitely worth to visit, I loved it! Full info here.
#3. Rijks Museum
The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch national museum (‘rijks’ means ‘national’) dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam, which has a fantastic collection that cannot be missed. You will have the chance to see breathtaking paintings by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer and many more.
It is located at the Museum Square, very close to the Van Gogh Museum. If you get a tram to go there, the stop is the same for both museums.
In front of the Rijksmuseum you can find one of the iconic white and red sign “iamsterdam”.
#4. Van Gogh Museum
A magnificent modern building in honor of the most famous and influential Dutch painter of the Western Art history: Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890).
The museum is very big and it takes time to entirely visit it. I was astonished by the amount of paintings I saw as well as by the contrast between the contemporary architecture and the 19th century artworks.
Tips: I would suggest to go there early morning, due to the incredible amount of visitors in the afternoon. It is probably the most popular attraction in the city, so it could be smart buying the tickets online to skip the queue! Also, you cannot take pics inside!
#5. Anne Frank’s House
Who is Anne Frank? For those who are not familiar with the European 20th century history, Anne Frank became probably the most famous diarist during the Second World War. She was a German Jewish girl who documented her experience during the Nazism, who became extremely famous after her death when her diaries got published.
She lived in Amsterdam from 1940 to 1944, hiding with her family from the Nazi persecution against Jewish people. The entire family got arrested by the Gestapo in August 1944 and transferred to the horrifying concentration camp in Auschwitz. The little girl and her sister died few months later (probably of typhus) in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
This house became part of the local heritage because Anne Frank wrote the diaries there and all she witnessed, which I highly recommend to read to learn more about the terrible moments of the Holocaust. You can buy it online from here.
#6. Cruise around the iconic canals
During my trip I learnt that Amsterdam has more than 100 km of canals, 1.500 bridges and 90 islands! Not only: in 2010, the 17th-century canal ring area (including the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan) were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
Many people refer to the city as ‘the Venice of the North’ because of the similar city landscape. For this reason, buying a ticket for a cruise around the canals is definitely a wonderful experience, perfect to relax a bit and take many pictures all over! Click here for full info about how to book it!
#7. Eat Dutch Cheese, Stroopwafels and Poffertjes!
Netherlands is well known worldwide for its cheese production, in fact the country is one of the European leaders of cheese exportation, with a turnover of 7 billion euros!
The most famous cheese are Gouda, Edam and Leerdammer. You cannot miss the chance to go to one of the shops for a cheese tasting or visiting the cheese markets! Click here to read interesting article about it.
For the shops I would suggest the Cheese&Bakery Bar and the Golden Age Cheese, a popular chain that you can find in several spots around the city!
Switching to the sweets, you definitely need to try the most popular treats in the city: Stroopwafels and Poffertjes! So yummy!!!
#8. The Red Light District
This Amsterdam district is famous worldwide for the numerous sex cabins with prostitutes on display, typically illuminated with a red light at night. In general, it is renown as the area dedicated to sex oriented businesses, like sexy shops, brothels, peep shows, as well as for Coffee-shops which sell marijuana. ‘De Wallen‘ is the oldest and most famous part of the Red Light District.
In the Netherlands prostitution is legal and regulated, and cannabis is tolerated by the local authorities for personal consumption, if it is sold in the licensed Coffee-shops.
Tip: you seriously cannot take pics or videos of the prostitutes on display as they get very upset!
I went there during the day and everything was ‘on’ exactly as during night! I visited the erotic museum, a popular attraction for tourists not interested in the other services offered 🙂 !
#9. Visit Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market!
The beautiful and colorful flower market was founded in 1862, and it is located in the city southern canal belt. It is the only floating flower market in the world, it includes 15 florists and several souvenir gift shops. I loved the strong colors of the flowers, especially the iconic tulips! Definitely worth a visit!
#10. Dam Square
An extremely crowed square in the heart of Amsterdam, 5 min walk from the central station. The top attractions are surely the magnificent Royal Palace, the Madame Tussauds museum, the New Church and the concert hall+exhibition space ‘Beurs van Berlage‘.
Vondelpark is a beautiful public park in the North of Amsterdam, not far from the Van Gogh Museum. It was opened in 1865 and its name is in honor of the poet Joost van den Vondel. You can have a relaxing walk or cycling around and enjoy the stunning nature, and take a break near the lake full of swans and ducks!
Also, you can have lunch or drinks on the fabulous terrace of the Blauwe Theehuis, a ring shaped building considered a National Monument (‘rijksmonument‘). Highly recommended!
I hope this quick guide would be helpful for your stay!
And you… are you lusting for the sublime?