Amsterdam will not leave you disappointed with its picturesque canal network, rich history and vibrant cultural scene reflected in architecture and museums.
A cultural path
Amsterdam has a great and wide offer of cultural experiences, and the I Amsterdam city card gives some interesting offers and discount that are worth to consider. You can find some info and inspirations here.
A must go is the Anna Frank’s house, where the diarist teenager hid from the Nazi with her family: the back of the museum has been preserved to lead you in the confined spaces and have a feeling of the horror of the persecution. A breathtaking experience that will not leave you indifferent.
Queues are usual in the museum, so online booking is advised to skip queueing time. I visited it in the early morning, that was also helping to reduce the waiting time. Find out more about visiting Anne Frank House.
The central Museumplein is a district where the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Moco Museum and the Van Gogh Museum are located, giving a great chance of exploring the finest levels of art, from expressionism to the contemporary art.
I personally find the Moco museum a worldwide excellence of contemporary art exhibitions, with fair waiting times: for the other three museums I strongly recommend online booking, as waiting time (especially for the Van Gogh museum) can be quite long.
Exploring the canals
Amsterdam’s canals are a UNESCO World Heritage protected site: exploring them with a tour on a boat is a great opportunity to admire Amsterdam from different perspectives. Many companies offer this service and free rides and discounts are offered with the I Amsterdam city card. Alternatively here you can find info and buy your Amsterdam canal cruises tickets.
Exploring the city by bike
Amsterdam, together with Copenhagen, is probably one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. It is an unique opportunity to explore it in a green and healthy way by renting a bike, a service that many companies offer.
Riding your bike will give a huge freedom and entertainment in the flat Amsterdam: you will be able to ride easily to the Bloemenmarkt – the world’s only floating flower market (did you know that Netherlands supplies the 70% of commercial flowers market?) or visiting one of the beautiful green parks in a sunny day, where local people relax and socialize having a picnic or a walk in the sunshine. There are many green alternatives, like Vondelpark (the largest with its 47 acres, hosting summer outdoor concerts, and with multiple choice of bars and restaurants); other choices are Rembrandtpark, Westerpark and Sarphatipark. Or bike to one of the many open markets and try a marinated herring with pickles and onions!
Food, drink and nightlife
With all this running and biking, you must be hungry and thirsty! Let’s see what we can do!
First of all, Netherands are the home of Gouda cheese, and you will find many shops nearby Amsterdam’s canals selling and offering generous samples of Gouda. There is also a cheese museum for who is really loving the genre! But there are many street foods and cafés where it is possible to taste typical dishes, like waffels, oliebollen, herrings. But there are many restaurants especially in the canal area serving local food. I recommend this guide here.
You should stop in one of the pubs to get a dutch or belgian beer: thick (7% or beyond that) and tasty, these beers have conquered the world. Try a belgian abbey beer, still produced (directly or under license) by the monks.
Let’s face it, Amsterdam has some elements of notoriety which go beyond architecture and nature (allow me to have a neutral approach on that, I wouldn’t give my personal opinion on this matter!)! The red district and the coffee shops are animating the night life: a tour in the De Wallen district, is one of the main touristic attractions of Amsterdam, where sex work is legalized and even unionized and hundreds of cabins with prostitutes are offering their services to the visitors of the district, also consisting of sex shops, sex theaters and even a museum of sex.
Coffee shops selling marijuana are very popular in the De Wallen district, that also includes the beautiful gothic Oude Kirk church. An experience out of the ordinary that should be part of your itinerary.