Amsterdam, capital of The Netherlands, is one of the most preferred tourist destinations in Europe, welcoming more than four and a half million visitors annually.
With its elaborate canal network, scenic parks, 17th-century architecture, interesting museums and progressive living, it is easy why many travellers are enamored by this charming city of 7 million.
Whether you are in Amsterdam for business or leisure, there are always exciting places to check out and fun things to do in and around the city. So here are 6 activities that you should find time for while visiting the culture capital of The Netherlands.
Immerse yourself in the arts, history, and local culture
Rijksmuseum’s vast collection showcases more than 800 years of Dutch and world history. It houses many of the priceless works of Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt.
At the Van Gogh Museum, you’ll find more than 700 paintings and drawings as well as 700 letters written by the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter.
Whatever your interest is, Amsterdam has museums and galleries that will stimulate your mind and pique your interest.
Explore Amsterdam’s Canals and Parks
Amsterdam’s intricate canals span more than 100 kilometers. The three main ones, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, form concentric belts around the city, and are collectively referred to as the Grachtengordel.
In 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the 17th-century canal ring area, encompassing the three main canals and Jordaan, as a World Heritage site.
This Dutch city is also home to over 30 scenic parks, with the 47-acre Vondelpark being the most popular. The park features an outdoor theater, restaurants and bars as well as a number of other attractions.
Other must-visit parks in Amsterdam include Westerpark, Sarphatipark and Rembrandtpark.
Sample the local cuisine
A trip to any foreign country would not be complete if you didn’t grab a bite of the local food.
So when you’re in Amsterdam, don’t go home without trying the raw herring. Yes, raw.
Eating uncooked fish may sound scary, but this Dutch specialty is a must-try, especially if you’re visiting between the months of May and July. Locals say it is when the red herring tastes the best.
Cheese is also big in the Netherlands, so don’t leave the country without tasting some Geitenkaas, Gouda, or Maasdammer. You can find them at many of Amsterdam’s “kaas” shops.
To sample many of the most popular Dutch cheeses, drop by the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, which is just a few steps away from the Anne Frank House by the Prinsengracht.
Chill with the locals at Amsterdam’s bars and cafés
Amsterdam has many cafés and bars. Whether you’re looking for small and cozy café for a quiet night cap or a large and modern bar to party the night away, there will always be an option that suits your taste. That is how diverse and vibrant Amsterdam’s café and bar scene are.
The two main areas popular with tourists are the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein.
Visit Amsterdam’s old and historic churches
Many of Amsterdam’s ancient churches with storied pasts dominate the city’s distinct skyline.
These towering places of worship, many of which were built more than 500 years ago, reflect the the country’s religious heritage as well as its diverse architectural background.
Notable churches that you should definitely visit include Basilica of St. Nicolas, Oude Kerk, Zuiderkerk, Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Zolder, and Westerkerk.
Shop, shop, and shop
There is no shortage of choices when it comes to shopping in Amsterdam, whether you are on the hunt for high-end luxury goods or on the lookout for local crafts and fun souvenirs. The bargain hunter in you will never be disappointed in the world’s 2nd most livable city with its numerous boutiques, perfumeries, galleries, and flea markets.
You can start your shopping at Kalverstraat, the city’s busiest and most popular shopping destination.
For the most most unique finds, you’ll never go wrong with the Vlooienmarkt, Amsterdam’s famous flea market, which has been in existence since 1886. If you want a visual and olfactory treat, ask your guide to take you to the Flower Market where you will find a cornucopia of colours and fragrances.
Do you want to make the most of your first trip to The Netherlands’ culture capital? Spice up your Amsterdam itinerary with these private tours and day trips.
By: Brendelyn Balaga