A cobbled city of bridges, canals and unsolicited surprises, Amsterdam is one of Western Europe’s most popular cities. The Netherlandic capital boasts of all things offbeat. Whether its a 17th-century Golden Age experience you seek, or an innocent walking tour to discover the city, Amsterdam has a plush array of experiences to offer at every corner. The city is impossible to not fall in love with; with its picturesque, quaint houses and beautiful gables stacked onto every building, it truly is a sight to behold. Here are some guidelines to enable the perfect Dutch experience in Amsterdam!
Taking a canal tour has got to be one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam. The majority of Amsterdam canal tours will take visitors through the well-known canals passing through areas with major sights like the Anne Frank House, and the Jordaan district. You can also see some of the city’s hidden treasures by taking a backroads canal tour, which takes you through the old centre of Amsterdam. Take in the beauty of the city’s history, or discover pretty streets and a million photo opportunities; whatever floats your boat! (See what I did there?)
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The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s museum of the Netherlands, is one of the most popular museums in the city. Being a visitor during the winter, I was spared the rush hour and long queues that are a regular sight at the museum. The museum houses classic works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and countless other recognizable names. It also has a HUGE library and a sculpture gallery.
Great hall and beautiful art, what else could you want?
Van Gogh Museum
Barely a 5-minute walk from from Rijksmuseum and neighbour to the I AMSTERDAM sign is the Van Gogh museum. The museum houses many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life and is laid out in chronological order, starting with his earliest works. Go there for the sheer knowledge!
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Ice skate near Rijksmuseum
Go nuts at the ice skating rink with Rijksmuseum as a backdrop. Amsterdam has other options of skating rinks as well, if the child in you just wants to float, and possibly fall flat on your face, just for the laughs.
Anne Frank Hous
There is no better way to learn about history than to see it for yourself. The Anne Frank House is one of the most famous attractions in Amsterdam. Although it barely looks like an ‘attraction’, the attention it draws isn’t unwarranted. Founded in 1957, the building is a museum on the inside, housing various rooms from Frank’s life, complete with various memories displayed on the walls. The experience is surreal, and unlike any other.
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CHEESE. SO MUCH CHEESE.
Amsterdam’s relationship with Cheese is a pretty public one, with various Dutch cheeses taking center stage when it comes to food. Explore different kinds of cheeses available in literally ALL markets. Amsterdam isn’t regarded as cheese lovers’ heaven for nothing! My personal favorite was the De Kaaskamer- Runstraat 7, Amsterdam!
Make the most of Heineken
Amsterdam offers a whole Heineken experience- right from a tour of the brewery, to the end result being a tasting. Beer lovers, this is your chance.
Vlamese Frites (Fries, Duh)
Most viably, go on a ‘Best Frites’ quest. Indulge HARD in fries. And if you’re anything like me, a lover of fries with cheese, you’re in for a good time! Fries in Amsterdam are available in all shapes and in all places, right from small vans and carts to shops that sell layered-cheese fries. Choose from a variety of sauces and get going.
What to experience?
Apart from its many major attractions, Amsterdam offers unique experiences and ways to discover the city in your own way. Here are a few offbeat experiences that are my favorites:
There are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people, owing to the huge population that bikes everyday. Rent a bike for a day and go on a bike tour throughout the city, or book a biking tour, and fly- metaphorically, ofcourse.
2. The 9 streets/ De 9 Straatjes
The 9 Streets in Amsterdam is a network of picturesque streets criss-crossing Amsterdam’s canals. The area is just two minutes away from the Royal Palace in Dam Square. The streets are crammed with quirky boutiques, shops, and art galleries. Try some good coffee at the variety of cafes lined on the streets.
3. Coffee Shops
Hit the infamous coffee shops around the city. Avoid the ones with large crowds, and discover some hidden ones for a great time!
4.Red Light area
The red light district is not an offbeat experience anymore, however, many people would like to avoid it due to its sheer candour, I’d say, go for it! Walk around the district and take in the roguishness of the streets!
4.Day trip to Den Haag
Den Haag, predominantly The Hague, is a small city south of Amsterdam. The city is a perfect place for a day-trip from neighbouring, bigger cities, especially if you’re visiting Amsterdam. A train ride should take you 40-45 minutes from Amsterdam to The Hague.
5. Flea markets
If you enjoy flea markets and local markets, make sure you explore the Albert Cyup Market. It offers everything from chocolates and flowers to clothes and bedding. Albert Cyup is the perfect place to sample local Dutch specialities such as herring and Dutch liquorice. If you happen to visit during wintertime, the city hosts some beautiful Christmas markets, with fine food, wine, and festivity!
6. Chill at Dam Square
After an exhausting day and incessant sightseeing, chill around Dam Square, a town square in Amsterdam. With constant events and beautiful monuments (a PALACE), it makes for one of Amsterdam’s best offbeat attractions.
A city like Amsterdam is a gamut of variety and one can certainly be spoilt for choice. The city offers both luxury stays overlooking picturesque views, as well as hostels and lodgings that come at prices as low as 10 Euros a night, and great quality. Book a swanky, super-comfy hotel, or share a room with other travellers and make friends from all over the world, take your pick.
- WALK!- Walk as much as you can, there is too much to see in the city that you wouldn’t wanna miss.
- Be wary of the weather- always have a coat or jacket on you.
- Start with the museums to avoid long queues. Best be there before 11 am.
- Few museums like the Van Gogh don’t allow photography, and bags and luggage have to be checked into lockers. Make sure you travel light and don’t carry unnecessary items to the museums.
Lastly, go where your vision takes you! Be as random as you can, and take in the city with every breath. Vibrant, plush in beauty, and full of surprises- that’s Amsterdam for you!