Amsterdam is a city with an 800-yeared history that captivates at first sight. It is located in the north of the country at the confluence of the Amstel and Ey rivers into the North Sea. Despite its small territory, Amsterdam is not inferior to major European capitals in terms of sights. Magnificent ancient architecture, picturesque canals and bridges across them, museums, parks, restaurants - this is only the cultural part of this old European city. At the same time, Amsterdam appears to tourists as a city of free morals, where noisy nightlife is seething and entertainment, prohibited in other countries, is legally allowed.
In this article, we will talk about Amsterdam: what to see and where to stay. Rent bikes, as is customary here, and go sightseeing!
Amsterdam is located in Northern Europe. There is a sharp change in weather throughout the year. In summer, the warm period is short - only 3-4 weeks. But the winter is quite warm, with an average temperature of +5°C. In the middle of winter in the capital of the Netherlands, you can see green grass, flowering trees and shrubs. Take a raincoat and waterproof clothing with you on your trip to Amsterdam.
- The Netherlands is a country of cheeses, tulips and herring.
The country has a very large selection of cheeses. You can buy them anywhere - from ordinary supermarkets and markets to specialized cheese shops.
Tulips are the symbol of the country. But in fact, the floral assortment here is not limited to them. A special floating market Bloemenmarkt and parks are devoted to flowers and gardening.
Herring is another visiting card of the country. There are also many other types of fish and seafood caught in the North Sea and immediately brought to the shops.
- It is not a problem if the tourist does not know Dutch at all. Almost every resident of the country speaks at least English. Most of them also speak German, and around 40% of people can communicate in French. All these languages are taught by the Dutch at school and they can speak them at an advanced level.
Top 15 most visited places in Amsterdam
State Museum (Rijksmuseum)
Luxurious and art items from the royal palaces of Europe are presented here: famous paintings by Dutch artists from Frans Hals to Jan Vermeer, porcelain, jewellery made of precious metals and stones, period costumes and antique furniture.
Van Gogh Museum
In honour of the outstanding and controversial Dutch artist, a huge 4-story museum has been opened in Amsterdam. Paintings by Van Gogh are presented on the first two floors, the third floor is dedicated to his biography, and works by artists of the 19th century are exhibited on the fourth floor.
Canal cruise in Amsterdam
The canals penetrating the whole city have become its hallmark - Amsterdam is also called the "Venice of the North". They were built in the 17th century to control the floods of the Amstel River. Nowadays a small cruise along the stately mansions of classical architecture is one of the most popular excursions among tourists. Most boats depart from the pier near the Central Station.
National Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum)
The Maritime Museum is dedicated to the centuries-old history of shipbuilding and navigation in the Netherlands. Artefacts and exhibits occupy 18 spacious halls here.
Anne Frank House Museum
This is a memorial to the holocaust during World War II. Jews hid in this house from the Nazis. In 1960 a museum was opened here. Visitors can see the original diary of the Jewish girl Anne Frank and her personal belongings, manuscripts from those times and interactive installations on the topic of human rights.
Royal Palace in Amsterdam
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is one of the three residences of the Dutch royal family. It was built in the 17th century and at that time was considered the eighth wonder of the world. The royal family still holds major events in the palace. It is also open to the public almost all year round.
The features of Amsterdam become almost the main purpose of arrival for some tourists. Beautiful architectural buildings and parks can be found in almost all cities of the world, but the famous coffee shops are a special Dutch feature that brings the country a profit of more than 100 million euros a year. In the Netherlands, everywhere, except Amsterdam, it is forbidden to sell drugs to foreigners. Therefore, tourists have an opportunity to try cannabis and products from it only in the capital. The buyer’s documents will be checked before purchasing.
Smoking on the street and in hotels is prohibited, so you can immediately use the purchased substance in a cosy and safe coffee shop.
The park is named after the Dutch playwright Joost van den Vondel. This is the largest and most beautiful park in Amsterdam. Both tourists and the locals like to visit this place. Some people go for a picnic to this place. During the summer, you can find an open-air theatre in the park. Despitethis this theatre is free of charge, its performances are breathtaking.
Red light district
For adventurers and thrill seekers coming to Amsterdam, it will be interesting to visit some special places. We are talking about the most original sights of the city - the Red Light District. Here you can walk along the shop windows with red illumination, from which prostitutes temptate their potential clients. There are also theatres for adults and numerous sex shops in this district. You can look at the women in the windows for free and even chat with them. But any form of aggression and attempts to photograph them are immediately suppressed. Often the camera flies right into the canal. Despite such features of the Red Light District, it is quite safe to visit, as it is constantly under police control.
Floating flower market Bloemenmarkt
Right in the city centre on the banks of the Siegel Canal, vendors on barges sell flowers, plant seeds and bulbs. The floating flower market is primarily aimed at tourists, although locals also visit it. Most of the goods here are sold ready for export, so that it is convenient for city guests to transport tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowers with them as a remembrance of Amsterdam.
Tulip Park Keukenhof
Keukenhof is devoted to the flower symbol of the Netherlands - colorful tulips. Here you can see flower installations, admire huge flower fields from a helicopter and a boat, buy bulbs, listen to classical music, learn a lot of useful things about gardening, and take a lot of breathtaking photos.
The NEMO Center is focused on practical science. Here visitors are explained the phenomena of nature, occurring around us, from the point of view of the laws of physics. In summer, there is a beach on the roof of the museum.
Royal Zoo "Artis"
“Artis” is one of the oldest zoo in Europe, which has been open since 1838. Now it is home to 700 species of exotic animals that are on the verge of extinction. There is no feeling of captivity here, because many open-air cages are protected from visitors only by small moats. “Artis” also has a zoological and geological museum, a library, a planetarium, a terrarium, an aquarium, a greenhouse and a mini-farm.
Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam
In the wonderful world of Madame Tussauds, you will meet and even take photos with queens, Hollywood stars and world-famous sportsmen.
Damrak Street is the main street and the hallmark of the city. Along it are the 300-yeared gingerbread houses that are so often printed on postcards in the Netherlands. You will find many cosy old shops, souvenir shops and cafes here. Photos taken against the backdrop of Damrak Street are very original and convey the atmosphere of the city.
What else is worth visiting in Amsterdam
- Ancient churches and basilicas are one of the main architectural sights of the city. The most prominent of them:
- Basilica of St. Nicholas is a Roman Catholic church built in the 19th century. It is one of the largest and most beautiful religious buildings in the capital.
- Noorderkerk (Northern Church) is a 16th century Protestant church located in the Jordaan district.
- Obrechtkerk is located in the south of the city and has unusual architecture.
- Posthoornkerk is a cross-shaped brick basilica built in the 19th century. It is situated not far from the Anne Frank House and the North Church.
- The Westerkerk (Western Church) is one of the largest Protestant churches in the Netherlands, located in the historic city centre next to the Anne Frank House.
- The Zuiderkerk (South Church) is the first Protestant church in Amsterdam, built in the 17th century.
- Oude Kerk (Old Church) is the oldest Gothic-styled church in the Netherlands, built in the 14th century.
- Oosterkerk (Eastern Church) – the Protestant church, built in the 17h century.
Amstelkerk is a wooden church, built in the 17h century.
Basilica of St. Nicholas
- Windmills are a symbol of the Netherlands, some of them were built in the 17th century. You can admire the windmills in the suburbs of Amsterdam.
- The Coin tower is a medieval building from the 14th century. In the 17th century, it was used for the mint. Now the tower has a carillon of 38 bells that sound every hour.
- Trompettersteeg is the narrowest street in Amsterdam (its width is only 1 m). It is located in the centre of the Red Light District.
- Spiegelkwartier (The Mirror district) - this is the world of art and antiques. On its historic streets, there are thrift stores and designer boutiques where you can buy art items and rarities.
- Old wooden houses at Zeedijk 1 and Begijnhof 34 - despite the fact that most of the buildings in Amsterdam today are brick, in the 15th century the city was wooden. During the fires, all wooden houses burned down. Only two of them have survived to our time: on Begijnhof 34 and on Zeedijk 1. The house on Begijnhof, 34 was built in 1425 and is the oldest one in the city.
- The narrowest house on Singel 7 is only 1m wide and looks like an outbuilding between two neighbouring houses. In Amsterdam, you can often see similar old houses with narrow facades on the streets along the canals. This architecture is explained by the fact that earlier the amount of taxes directly depended on the width of the house facade.
- Bridges across the canals - Amsterdam is not only a city of canals but also a city of bridges. There are more than 1000 of them here. The most famous are:
- Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) is one of the most beautiful bridges in the capital, built in the 18th century. In the evenings, lights are turned on here and a romantic atmosphere is created. That’s why it is so popular among the photographers and couples in love.
- Torensluis is the widest bridge in Amsterdam. It was built in 1648 and is the oldest bridge extent in its original state.
- Python is the most unusual bridge in the city, shaped like a snake.
- Nescio is the first suspension bridge in the Netherlands and one of the longest structures of its kind in the country.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
In what district it is better to stay depends on the preferences of the traveller and the budget of the trip. In the winter months of 2022, prices start from 55 euros for two adults for one night in a hostel.
- The centre of Amsterdam is the most attractive for tourists from a logistical point of view because there are a lot of sights, shopping centres and the Central Station, from which you can easily get to the airport. This district is crowded and noisy even at night.
- The Red Light District (De Wallen district) is the cheapest and noisiest district in the city. There are small budget hotels and hostels here. But keep in mind that your room may be right above a brothel or coffee shop.
- The quiet centre of Amsterdam (Jordaan, Grachtengordel, Plantage and Jewish districts) - these districts are located in the centre of the city, each of them is famous for its sights. They are quieter and more respectable than the districts near Central Station and Dam Square. Walking along the old narrow streets near the canals, you will see many cosy cafes and interesting shops. But keep in mind that apartments here are the most expensive in the city.
- South Zuid is located a little further from the city centre, so prices are lower here. Regardless, the apartments are very comfortable.
- The Museum District in Amsterdam is also located in the South Zuid, a 30-minute walk from the city centre. There are a lot of cultural sights and the famous Vondelpark in the Museum District. This district is quiet and peaceful, so it is the perfect place for families with children.
- De Pijp District (Latin District) - there are many hostels and inexpensive small hotels in this part of the city. A food market of Albert Cuyp, many cafes and restaurants are located here. In the Latin District, there are not so many tourists as in the city centre. It is suitable for those who love fun, modern fashion, design and music.
Popular budget hotels in Amsterdam
- easyHotel Amsterdam (De Pijp district) - from 55 euros
- Hotel Flipper Amsterdam (Berlage district, near the city centre) - from 60 euros
- Sphinx Hotel Amsterdam (city centre) - from 60 euros
- Hans Brinker Hostel Amsterdam (city centre) - from 55 euros.
Plan your trip in advance and take into account the rules for entering the country, which may change due to the pandemic. Amsterdam is suitable for visiting at any time of the year. Among the large selection of different excursion programs, everyone will find the perfect one for himself.