Nicknamed the “Venice of the North” Amsterdam has romantic, clean canals that are perfect for touring by boat or just sitting at any of the many cafes and watching the people and boats go by. A visit to Amsterdam from now or until October has an added bonus, the nearby Floriade Expo. Floriade is a horticultural extravaganza with something for everyone that only happens every 10 years. This year’s theme involves going green and countries from around the world showcase new technology and what they are doing to maintain an ecological balance. There’s more information here — Floriade 2022. Interested in Amsterdam? Travel advisors at GetAway Travel can help plan your trip and make sure you don’t miss a visit to those locations and events you’ve been dreaming about.
Clean, friendly and diverse
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and it’s pretty impressive for a lot of reasons. It has an amazing place in artistic history, there’s its elaborate canal system, strangely attractive narrow homes with gabled facades and museums that literally will appeal to everyone on earth.
Its 84 square miles are crammed with art, history and cultural attractions.
It’s a peaceful place with 170 distinctive nationalities co-existing in one place which makes it one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world.
It’s a city that is big on cycling with bike paths everywhere. With 58% of city residents either biking or walking to work, the paths are needed. Amsterdam has been dubbed one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.
It is also famous for its cleanliness from its actual appearance to its eco-friendly status. It ranks fifth in the world when it comes to being environmentally friendly.
Canals, tulips and culture
Four 17th century canals wind their way around the center city of Amsterdam. Take a boat tour to enjoy the buildings from Amsterdam’s Golden Age. They are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Or, sit at any of the wonderful cafes around the canals and watch the world and the fascinating tourists and city residents walk by.
The city is all things tulip from late March through April. The Tulip Festival runs through April and if you aren’t there during prime tulip time, visit the Tulip Museum. You can buy bulbs at the world’s only floating flower market in Amsterdam. Look for bulbs that are large and firm to make sure you get blooms when you get home.
Let’s talk museums. The Stedeliijk Museum has artwork dating from the 1800s to the present including pieces by Picasso, Warhol, Monet, Matisse and De Kooning to name a few. Temporary exhibits change, but there are 90,000 pieces in the permanent collection.
The most popular and prominent museum in the Netherlands is the Rijksmuseum. There are 80 galleries in the museum featuring masterpieces from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh, but the galleries hold something for everyone from vintage swords to dollhouses to ship models. There is a Michelin-star restaurant on site. The Anne Frank house as well as the Holocaust Museum offer powerful and poignant experiences.
The Van Gogh museum has 200 of his paintings, about 1500 of his drawings which encompasses the largest collection of Van Gogh art in the world. There are also pieces by his contemporaries including Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Culture can be fine, too. There’s the House of Boys which is a museum dedicated to jenever or Dutch gin. Explore all aspects of this spirit and perhaps you’d also like to take a tour of the Heineken Experience. This historic brewery closed in 1988, but you can go through the brewery, get some family history, see the stables and see Heineken commercials from all over the world.
Then there’s Micropia, a museum dedicated to micro organisms. Impress your friends at the next party with your knowledge as you learn hundreds of fascinating facts in this interactive museum. For more on the museums, see our next blog post!
Other attractions and food!
Vondelpark is the city’s most popular green space with areas to walk, cycle and picnic. Enjoy the manicured lawns as well as the ponds, paths, cafes, playgrounds, an open air theatre and an outdoor art gallery with more than 69 sculptures including a Picasso. De Oude Kerk (Old Church) is Amsterdam’s oldest building. It is a backdrop for new art exhibits, but it also contains the city’s oldest bell, four organs, spectacular stained glass windows, gilded ceilings and brocaded pillars.
ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo is Europe’s oldest with more than 900 animals species as well as a planetarium and aquarium. The Royal Palace, which is sometimes closed for royal events so plan ahead, has fabulous marble work including a floor of inlaid marble depicting maps of the world. Albert Cuypmarket is the city’s largest and busiest market with more than 260 stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables but also flowers, herbs, clothes and home goods with great prices!
Amsterdam has food vending machines every where and you can get kroket which are crispy filled pockets of goodness containing lamb, beef or ragout fillings. Gouda is the “king of Dutch cheeses” and you can find it everywhere as well as Edam cheese. There are stroopwafels which are crispy, round syrup filled waffles, cream-filled chocolate profiteroles (a sort of round eclair), patatje oorlog a fast-food dish of French fries covered in mayonnaise, raw onions and a spicy peanut sauce and some of the best artisanal chocolate in all of Europe.