“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”
The Fault in our Stars
The reputation Amsterdam has earned over the years is no secret. And I’m no one to deny it. The liberal laws of this region act as a major crowd-puller. But once you set foot in Amsterdam, you realise that there’s a lot more to it than the sale of weed in coffee shops and the Red Light District. The city is enchanting. You find the city in its canals and cobbled streets and the beauty of the people and its history.
So what do you do in Amsterdam as a hardcore tourist? Well, the opportunities are endless. One can begin with renting a bike because this city is teeming with them. The city has about 700,00 people and a million bikes with about 60,000 bikes being stolen every year. It’s fairly easy to bike around Amsterdam owing to its flat terrain. However, if you happen to be a wobbly biker who doesn’t dare to take their hand off the handle to even signal, you should consider exploring the city by foot or bus. But lets not forget, Amsterdam is a city of canals so it’s quite simple to get to most places by boat! Even DHL uses the canals to deliver packages all over the city.
If you’ve read the Diary of Anne Frank, an obvious place you will visit is the Anne Frank House. Located at 263 Princegracht, it is the same place where the Frank family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War. The waiting time in the queue to enter the House is long and can stretch to 4 hours. But it’s worth the wait. The House shows the Secret Annexe where the eight members hid along with a number of relics such as the recipe book of Opekta- the company run by Otto Frank, along with a videos of him, Miep- a helper and Hanneli Goslar- Anne’s friend. And of course, the very diary is also on display.
If your thirst for history has not been quenched by the Anne Frank House, fear not for Amsterdam has every conceivable museum you can think of. Apart from the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, you can also find a Torture Museum, a Bags and Purses Museum, a Sex Museum, a Houseboat Museum, a Tulip Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Tropical Museum and these are just the ones I can recall off the top of my head.
If you’re going to Amsterdam and you happen to be a beer enthusiast, the Heineken Experience cannot be missed. And as the name suggests, it truly is an experience. It takes you through the history of the Brewery, a 4-D simulator showing you how beer is made, you’re taught how (and how not to) drink your beer and and a host of other interactive experiences form a part of this tour. It’s quite easy to gauge why it’s one of the best tourists attractions of Amsterdam.
There’s quite a lot to see in the city. The Nemo Science Centre cuts an impressive structure with its boat shape and has all sorts of fun science experiements to do and exhibits to see inside. The Windmill de Gooyer- the tallest wooden windmill in Netherlands, Vondelpark- the Central Park of Amsterdam- the city will not leave you with a spare moment.
Amsterdam is also home to a brilliant pancake house called the Pancake Bakery which offers innovative and international pancake options. It’s always super busy so get ready to wait for your table.
A trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete without a canal cruise. As touristy as it may be, sitting in a boat while the city passes you by on both sides is an experience you can have at only a few other places.
And of course, do visit the coffee shops and the Red Light District.
If you happen to have a couple of days to spare after seeing everything the city has to offer, don’t worry, there is still more to explore. The Dutch countryside is worth a visit with its old windmills, Dutch cheesefarms and traditional clog makers. Biking there is a great idea as there’s little traffic and the Amstel river offers a spectacular view.
Brussels happens to be only a couple of hours away from Amsterdam by train. If you wish you tick another city off your list, have some great beer, gorge on delectable waffles, taste the best Belgian chocolates and snack on the original Belgian fries- look no further. Grand-Place is bustling with people, with the Cathedral and the Waffle Factory nearby. Royal St. Hubert Galleries has great shops and cafes. And is you’re looking for really good Belgian chocolate, avoid the tourist traps and try Pierre Marcolini or Neuhause. They might not be easy on the pocket but you’re it’s not every day that you’re in Belgium.
There’s plenty of reasons to visit Amsterdam. And this is one city which will easily convince you to stay.