The Netherlands’ capital was developed constructed upon millions of pilings, creating a wonderland of olive-green canals lined with trees and townhouses topped with decorative gables. A city with cozy cafés, great art, street-corner jazz, stately history, and a spirit of “live and let live.” Amsterdam has a unique charm and small-city feel with all the key attractions within easy walking or biking distance. Amsterdam is a beautiful place to take your time and enjoy life with its bustling markets, magnificent art galleries, and uncomplicated foods.
Top Things to Do
1. Take your pick of museums – With over 50 different museums within easy walking or biking distance, you are sure to find something that piques your interest. For fine art, visit the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, or Rembrandt House Museum. Be sure not to miss the Anne Frank House (advanced reservations recommended) and the Holocaust Museum. For more specific interests, there is the Film Museum, the Houseboat Museum, or the Cat Cabinet, which is entirely dedicated to cats’ role in art and culture throughout history.
Suppose plants and flowers are of interest, a trip to De Hortus Botanicus – Botanical Garden will not disappoint. The Hortus was opened by the city council in 1638 – initially as a medicinal herb garden to help combat plague-type illnesses that gripped Europe.
2. Visit the Floating Flower Markets – The Netherlands is the center of production for the European floral market, so it’s no surprise to see the wide variety of flowers available floating along Amsterdam’s canals. Situated on the Singel canal, the floating flower market dates from 1862 when flower growers would sail their wares on barges up the canals to the city center. Now, these markets sit on fixed barges, each with a glasshouse built atop it. You’ll be surrounded by stunning flowers like tulips, violets, peonies, narcissus, and orchids.
3. Take a Canal Boat Tour – A memorable and unique way to view this city is by floating through its canals on a boat. Relax for the entire tour, or try a hop-on-hop-off service to get to your favorite attractions. This perspective allows you to take in the sights in a calm, relaxed manner.
Food & Drink
Herring – This delicacy holds a special place in many Dutch people’s hearts and has been a staple dish of the Netherlands since the Middle Ages. The brined fish is typically served with diced white onions and sliced pickles and eaten by holding it up by the tail and eating it all at once. You can find street stalls selling “Haring” all over Amsterdam.
Stroopwaffels – Gooey syrup smashed between two wafer-thin waffles, what could be better? This sweet, delicious treat is perfect with a cup of hot tea or coffee. Simply place the Stroopwaffel on top of your cup for a few seconds to melt the syrup and then devour it quickly.
Rijsttafel (Rice Table) – With a history that dates back to the 17th century when the Dutch colonized Indonesia, Rijsttafel is a veritable feast that spans the gamut of Indonesian cuisine. A Rijsttafel meal involves a colorful parade of little plates that adorn your table and will delight your culinary senses. Gather friends to savor dozens of dishes with flavors that hit all notes from sweet to spicy in a feast filled with meat, fish, or vegetables. Just don’t expect to eat Rijsttafel in Indonesia. This 20th-century incarnation is decidedly Dutch.
Jenever – Amstel and Heineken are well-known beers produced in Amsterdam, but Jenever is a lesser-known clear, botanically rich, malted, grain-based spirit that can only be made in Holland or Belgium. Sometimes referred to as Dutch Gin, Jenever’s malty flavors are more reminiscent of whisky than gin as it has an entirely different base – malt wine (a distillate of rye, corn, and wheat). Jenever can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or used in cocktails to bring out its unique botanical flavors.
The Nine Streets (or Negen Straatjes in Dutch) ranks among the city’s best shopping spots. Whether you’re searching for high-end cosmetics or scouring for vintage clothing, you’re sure to find somewhere that suits your preferences in Amsterdam’s Nine Streets.
For a more luxurious shopping experience, head over to P.C. Hooftstraat. This high-end shopping area has become one of the most expensive shopping streets in the Netherlands. Over 40 luxury brands have shopfronts on the P.C. including Prada, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and Dolce & Gabbana. Each store is expertly curated and employs a team of experienced sales assistants.