Amsterdam: Painting a picture with culture & canals
Amsterdam truly is a beautiful city. Its landscape provides a serene atmosphere making it a very relaxing vacation spot. Famous for many aspects, Amsterdam has been home to many noteworthy figures in history. From artists to philosophers, novelists to young, innocent children enduring a life that was more complicated and harsh than what it should have been, Amsterdam is chock full of history and culture.
Amsterdam is an international hub for train travel and has easy access to other major European cities, such as Paris is only 3 hours and 18 minutes away via the high-speed Thalys train. Also, Amsterdam to Brussels is only 1 hour 53 minutes. The Thalys train has great on board accommodations, like Wi-Fi and all first-class travelers going to Paris Gare du Nord from Amsterdam (or other cities) can book a taxi while still on the train. So the taxi will be waiting upon arrival at the station.
There are many things to do in Amsterdam. Well-known for its lively nightlife, there are many cultural and historical activities to be found too. Below are our Top Ten Culturally-rich Amsterdam Activities list.
10. Floating Flower Market
Get yourself a pocket full of posies at Holland’s best flower market. Located on a floating barge in the Singel Canal, this floating market first began in 1862. It has remained on the barge to depict days gone by when the plants and flowers were shipped into the city. Fresh flowers still arrive in Amsterdam, however, they are shipped by vans nowadays. Once you’ve had your fill of fragrant flowers in Amsterdam, get yourself to the Central Station and wait for bus 172. This bus will take you to Aalsmeer, home of the world’s most famous flower market. Millions of flowers and plants are bought and sold every day of the work week. Buses run frequently from Amsterdam to Aalsmeer and it is a fairly short ride.
9. Albert Cuypmarket Market
One of the best ways to get a true appreciation for an unfamiliar place is to visit a local market. Amsterdam is home to the well-known Albert Cuypmarket. Cars are forbidden within the boundaries of this market making it easy and relaxing to stroll through the over 300 stalls. You can find everything here from computers to vegetables, furniture to cosmetics. It would be a shame to visit Amsterdam without paying a visit to the Albert Cuypmarket.
8. Do a Day trip to The Hague (Den Haag)
Here you will come across Binnenhof. This is where the Houses of Parliament can be found. Be sure to also pay a visit to the Peace Palace, home to the International Court of Justice. On the outskirts of The Hague is the small town of Madurodam. This town is frequently referred to as “Holland in a Nutshell”. Many visit Madurodam to wander around and photograph reproductions of famous Dutch structures such as buildings, bridges and monuments. Your day trip to The Hague will give you a good look at the Dutch justice system.
7. Tour the City Through the Canals
The canals that fill a great deal of Amsterdam are what make this city known as the “Venice of the north”.
Canals seem to emit a feeling of romance and mystery. As you stroll down the streets, crossing over bridges that connect the city over the canals, you will be in awe and want to take many photos. Alternatively, you can get an even closer look at the city while riding a boat through the canals! Get yourself a Canal Bus Day Pass and have a fun day touring the city through the canals. Using a hop on, hop off system, the canal bus makes 14 stops, all at nearby tourist attractions and places of interest. Aside from great transportation, short commentary is also played on the canal bus giving you an overview of the city.
6. Spend some time wandering around the Begijnhof
This courtyard dates back to the 14th century, which was a time of great posterity for Amsterdam. The Begijnhof was once the home for the Begijntjes. This was a Catholic sisterhood that lived like nuns, however, they never took vows. Now the houses in Begijnhof are occupied by single women. In the courtyard you will see Amsterdam’s oldest surviving house, Het Houten Huis. It is claimed that this house was built in 1420. And in the southern part of the square you will find a beautiful medieval English church. The church stands proud with its original tower, dating back to the 15th century. This is the perfect afternoon activity to relax you and gear you up for a night out on the town!
5. Vincent Van Gogh’s House
Today he is considered to be one of the world’s greatest artists, Vincent Van Gogh lived a tragic life that ultimately ended with him taking his own life. You can stop by his house in Amsterdam and also visit the Van Gogh Museum. The museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Van Gogh’s works. As you walk through the halls of this museum, you’re not just embracing art, rather taking a tour of the artist’s emotions and feelings, what he was going through as he made each brush stroke. It is truly a moving experience.
4. Heineken Brewery
Heineken is Amsterdam’s pride and joy. The Heineken Brewery demonstrates one of the achievements of the Dutch beer industry. Currently this popular tourist spot is closed for renovations, however, is slated to open this summer with enhanced exhibits. Some of these new features include a mini brewery and tasting bar! Be sure to stop by if you’re in Amsterdam this summer.
A visit to Amsterdam should definitely include a trip to the Rijksmuseum. This is Amsterdam’s premier art and history museum and the largest in the Netherlands. Much of this great museum’s popularity is thanks to the gifted artists of the 17th century, as much of their work is on display at the Rijksmuseum. Make some time in your schedule to spend a few hours here.
2. Rembrandt House Museum
Number two on our list is a marvelous painter from the 17th century, Rembrandt. van Rijn. The Rembrandt House Museum is where you can come to find paintings and sketches by the magnificent artist. It is within the walls of this house that “De Nachtwacht” was painted, also, this 17th century house is where Rembrandt’s son was born and his wife’s life ended. Today, this museum is one of Amsterdam’s major tourist attractions. Visitors come from all corners of the world to embrace the works of this artistic genius.
1. Anne Frank’s House
Our number one suggestion may not be for everyone. For those who have a desire to truly embrace history, culture and human behavior, this is something you’ll want to experience. Anne Frank is a name synonymous with the Holocaust.
She was an innocent teenager, forced to go into hiding with her family to avoid being captured by Nazis. Her family went into a hidden annex on July 6, 1942. Anne was a mere 13 year’s old. The family survived with several others in the annex for 25 months, when they were found. They were transported to Auschwitz and then split up and sent to various other concentration camps. Otto, Anne’s father, was the only one of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. He passed away many years later in 1980. Today, you can visit the Anne Frank House, preserved as it was left to depict the conditions that were lived in. Inside the house you can see the original diary kept by Anne along with other belongings that were left behind and preserved. To visit this house is an emotionally moving experience.
Amsterdam has a great variety of history, culture, nightlife and art. A trip to this fantastic city will certainly be one that stays in the memory bank for years to come. There are activities in Amsterdam to appeal to all travelers and all senses.