The capital of Netherlands – the beautiful and magnificent Amsterdam – is one of the most intriguing places, full of hidden treasures and secrets worth of exploring. The nature, the architecture, the art, the people, and their opinions make this city absolutely unique and exclusive. Still, no one really seems to know what Amsterdam is really all about. Paris is to many almost the synonym of ‘love’ and ‘romanticism’. New York is the capital of coffee and long sleeves. London is the home of British accent-lovers. Los Angeles is the epicenter of luxury life, Moscow is a daydream for those who live in the night, and Saint Petersburg is the symbol of grandeur and beauty. Well, what does Amsterdam represent? How can you cheer yourself when traveling to Amsterdam? Read more to find out.
A good way to see Amsterdam is with a local to show you around. Don’t know anyone in Amsterdam? Not a problem – for very reasonable rates, you can experience Amsterdam with a local as they show you the aspects that they are passionate about. You can see the real Amsterdam with a city-insidercity-insider and avoid the tourist traps. You can also check out 365Tickets opinion of the best things to do in Amsterdam and get advance tickets whilst at it.
A classical thing to do on a journey to another country is to walk through the biggest museums and historical monuments. This gives you a general understanding of the history and culture of the place. Check out the former Historic Museum of Amsterdam (known as Amsterdam Museum now) to dig into the past of the country. Priceless artifacts and treasures are gathered together in the Amsterdam Museum to represent the history and cultural value of the Netherlands. And as we all know, another strong point of Amsterdam is modern art. The galleries of Jordaan district such as Edouard Planting Art Photographs, presenting the best pieces from the Netherland’s oldest photograph-contest, and Gallery Fons Welters – the epicenter of fresh blood in art- are one of the best places in the world to look for modern art. And, of course, what a tragedy would it be to miss the Van Gogh Museum! This place is filled with hundreds of works of the mysterious genius, who, though troubled a lot, was one of the greatest creators throughout human history.
Coming from the Past
Another thing to delve into in Amsterdam is the architecture. The city’s oldest church – Oude Kerk, is a brilliant exposition of religion in the Netherlands. Though the furniture and other accessories of the church’s brightest days were destroyed during the Reformation, people were able to preserve the construction, including the façade of the church, which contains a dazzling mixture of Gothic and Renaissance elements. And while speaking of churches, let us mention another ground-breaking masterpiece of architecture –Our Lord in the Attic. It’s a hidden church in the Red Lights District, full of beauty, history, and inspiration. Basically, it is a heaven for those who enjoy Gothic architecture. One more exciting building in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank Museum. This is the place where Anne Frank and her family hid themselves for two years, after fleeing from persecution during World War 2. You should totally visit it if you are into history.
Amsterdam has something special for nature-lovers and urban-haters too. At the Begijnhof, there is a secret courtyard, which seems to be far away from the noise of the traffic and the worries of the city. A sudden feeling of enlightenment thrills you once you get there. EngelseKerk – the Amsterdam’s major sanctuary for the English community, towers right at the center of the courtyard. And no matter your own beliefs and religion, you are eager to step inside the building and appreciate the beauty designed by Mondrian himself. Oh, and the Vondelpark! The largest green area in Amsterdam is the perfect pitch for a picnic. Plus, maybe when you get there on your own, you will get to know what is the bond that connects the name of the park and the name of the devil – Lucifer.
Catch that Beat!
The music in Amsterdam is varied and satisfies a number of different tastes. Paradiso, which previously was a church, is now a home for pop and rock fans. In contrast, the Melkweg is the place where you can listen to any sort of music. The Musiekgebouw, the new music theater of Amsterdam, is not only an impressive building constructed by Danish architects 3xNielsen, but the perfect place to listen to classical and jazz music. Another place definitely to visit is MaloeMelo. This family-run blues bar has greeted blues icons and legends throughout the decades like Joe Cocker and the Blasters. This is not just a bar; this is a part of blues, part of its spirit.
River on the Street
And, of course, what a waste would it be to go to Amsterdam and to pay little attention to the Canal Belt. The 165 canals, which spread all over the city, enclose it into a web of river-streets. The belt encircles the most charming and arresting views. It is worth getting on one of the boats (you can easily find one) and enjoying a short trip through the canals, passing by the magnificent sights and breathtaking constructions. Do not forget your camera! We mean it when we say ‘breathtaking’.
Yet, another typical Amsterdam thing is riding a bike. There are many places where you can rent a bike, like MacBike and Rent-a-Bike. So, rent one and hit the road, taking joy in the classical Amsterdam activity. You can also take a bike tour guided by a local to visit neighborhoods away from the city center, see amazing houses, experience Amsterdam’s countryside and places where you probably would not go by yourself.
For those who love adrenalin and speed Amsterdam has the Race Planet – a carting place with the newest and fastest cars to get you maximum joy. But do not get upset if you are with your little child or easy-frightened wife. If everything is OK, boat traffic is usually stopped so the water can freeze. This means only one thing – ice skating. Ice skating is an ideal thing to do with the whole family without frightening anyone or getting bored.
Eat on the Street or Feel Indonesian
Oddly enough, the street food in Amsterdam is not unhealthy, as you might expect. And if you try some fish on the streets at the right time of the year (May-July) you might be utterly dazzled by the experience. You can get a local to take you on hunt for the best Dutch Street Food in the City.
The Indonesian restaurants are a good alternative, though a more expensive one. But once in a while, you can cheer yourself up. The delicious scent of these restaurants is an amazing appetizer itself. Have a flavorsome extravaganza at Kantjil& de Tjiger, and we guarantee you this – you won’t regret!
And for those who appreciate alcohol – Heinekin opens its doors for you. These guys recently added a brewery tour to the to-do list of a tourist visiting Amsterdam. You can help to grind the beer, learn the right way to drink it, and, of course, you get to try a bit in the end.
Amsterdam is also a dream for vintage-maniacs. Wini Vintage is full of exciting dresses and skirts from 1970s and accessories that the melancholic people love so much. Beethovenstraat, though small, yet is a treasure for those who like being exclusive. It might not be really affordable, but it is worth visiting anyway. You can simply do window-shopping and enjoy how fantastic fashion gets these days. In contrary, the Coster Diamonds is not only an expensive shop, but also another place for a thrilling tour. The free tours, which demonstrate the process of cutting and polishing diamonds, are led by the accommodating stuff. You actually get to see some of the best craftsmen of jewelry in world during the process of creation!
Oh Mama Mia…
Eminem says lose yourself in the music, we say lose yourself in the Red Lights District. Being the oldest part of the city, it is filled with sex shops and bars. Of course, you can do window shopping with the sex-shops, but you simply must visit the bars. Whether you are a hard-drinker or a connoisseur, these bars have the drink for you. Still, not only this is a weird place by its design, but it is also strange how the prostitutes, cops, and junkies interact with each other in here. Oh, and dear men, this is the place where everything that was illegal in your country is perfectly legal. So, take a breath, smile, and go ahead! You might want to get the help of a local to discover the hidden highlights of Amsterdam.
Then, when you need to cool off, visit the Amsterdam Ice Bar. It recreates the world of Willem Barentsz, a Dutch explorer whose ship was stranded on the island of Nova Zembla. The crew lasted for 9 months! The bar is made completely from ice – with frozen furniture, walls and even glasses! You’ll be given special thermal clothing and gloves to wear before you step into the frosty bar with a temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 10 degrees Celsius)! And you can take part in a 3D ride experience over icebergs and along steep cliffs in a frozen landscape. Click for Amsterdam Ice Bar special deals from 365tickets.com.
My Lovely Body
If you are seeking for a relaxation time, the luxurious Sauna Deco is designed with historical Art Deco pieces. The Sento Spa offers an amazing panoramic view of the historic part of the city and lets you experience the most relaxing massage, Jacuzzi, or rain shower you have ever tried. Take your time and enjoy, but don’t forget – many of these places have a no-clothes policy and are mixed-gender. So, if you feel uncomfortable, you can escape the awkwardness by seeking for ‘ladies-only’ days.
The Aveda Dayspa, the Chill Out Spa, and the City Spa are highly recommended for those obsessed with their beauty and skin. Good news for boys, the S.Y.U. Grooming Center is the first men-only salon to pamper the gentlemen. Not only can you get a shave or a haircut here, but you can also receive a relaxing facial or indulge in a foot massage.