A city built on the water, a floating flower market, narrow and bent houses, an international place-to-be. Talking about the Dutch metropolis seems to be quite hip right now. Everyone wants to feel the vibes of this buzzing city. As a Netherlands expert, I want to recommend a few places absolutely worth seeing. But the Netherlands is not only Amsterdam. There are lots of other places to see, especially the beautiful and endlessly stretching beaches of the North Sea.
Get refreshed after arriving
Amsterdam is easily accessible from all over Europe and overseas. With its international airport Schiphol there are lots of flights from all over the world and it is a popular distribution point for overseas flights. When arriving at the train station Amsterdam Centraal, you should head directly into the city center. Just cross the street and the canal and you’re in one of the main streets. On the right you find one of the FEBO snack bars, where you can get typical Dutch fast food such as fries, kroket (a fried roll from pureed meat) or frika(n)del (a soft sausage). My favorite is frikandel and frites speciaal – order this to get mayo, ketchup and fresh onions with it. Don’t be afraid of the vending machines – the products are fresh and will be replaced every few minutes!
A first stroll through the inner city
After being satisfied with yummy Dutch food, stroll through the city and walk to the Nemo Museum which is great for kids, or just enjoy the view from the rooftop. If you have lots of time, you can even visit Madame Tussaud’s or Body World, but I would not recommend these as typical for Amsterdam. Better go to the Albert-Cuyp-Market (tram stops Stadhouderskade or Albertcuypstraat), the biggest street market in Europe where you can get almost everything. Or book a tour organized by the Prostitute Information Center (PIC). They’ll tell you lots of interesting facts about this industry and show you around in the red light district. You also shouldn’t miss the floating flower market at the Singelgracht. In this street there are loads of flower shops where you should get a few bulbs for your home garden or balcony (plant them before winter and they’ll bloom in spring!) and other souvenirs such as magnets or bags. The market is not actually floating anymore but in former times there were arriving boats in this place and flowers were sold from the boats. There are also several cheese shops in this street where you can try extraordinary flavors of Dutch cheese such as coconut Gouda or vanilla goat cheese. These also make a great souvenir! Dutch people are utterly friendly and will help you with your choice. Don’t worry, English is spoken all over Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general.
What to visit – museums
Art is also a great feature of Amsterdam. Lots of hipsters and extrovert artists have gathered here since ever. A few suggestions for places to get inspiration are the Stedelijk Museum (Museumplein 10) of modern art, the famous Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1) with pieces from the middle ages on and of course the Van-Gogh Museum (Museumplein 6), yes you will see one of the original sunflower pictures there. Also visit the gift shop for special products such as scarfs with van Gogh flowers printed on it or even art-themed Playmobil sets. Here you can take pictures with the famous “I amsterdam” letters. The quarter called Jordaan is famous with artists and all over the city are countless museums and exhibitions.
Anne Frank House
A place where people from all over the world tend to rush to is the Anne Frank house (Prinsengracht 263-267) This place bears quite a sad history as it was the house where two German Jewish families hid during German Nazi time but were eventually revealed. Stories like this happened all over Europe but due to the daughter Anne’s diary that was found by an employee and published later by her surviving father the heartbreaking story of Anne and her family has become public and tangible. It’s historically interesting but also a bit depressing and bearing down so I would not recommend it before plans of going partying. And you should also read Anne Frank’s diary to really feel what happened in this place. Also read it if you don´t go there, please.
A further recommendation is the Museum of the Canals (Het Grachtenhuis, Herengracht 386) what is a great experience also for kids. In this interactive museum you’ll learn about the history of the city and how it was possible to build it on the water.
Take a trip to the Sea
When in Amsterdam, the beautiful beaches of the North Sea aren’t far away. So plan a day trip to see one of the wide beaches stretching along the west coast of the Netherlands. When it comes to beaches, the most popular place is probably Zandvoort. In summer times it’s a small town full of people coming to enjoy the waves and the sun, the coffee shops and the closeness to Amsterdam (about 30 min by train). Sure, at the North Sea the weather cchange quickly and there is no guarantee for warm temperatures even in summer. But the Zandvoort promenade is quite long and you can stroll along and choose the best beach bar. During the cold seasons they get really cozy and have open fireplaces inside. All the bars basically offer the same on their menus, I recommend trying the famous Dutch appeltaart, an apple pie with cream and the bittergarnitur, a mixture of small krokets and puff pastry filled with cheese. Other recommended Dutch foods are poffertjes, a type of very small pancake with confectioner’s sugar, stroopwafels, soft waffles with honey or syrup in between and kibbeling, fish fillet pieces fried in beer batter. Dutch food is far from low fat but on holiday I guess it’s worth it. At least there are some unfried fish options such as rolls filled with crab. The most famous Dutch breakfast is possibly toast with butter and chocolate sprinkles, called hagelslag. Take home a package as a souvenir! The biggest supermarket chain Albert Heijn offers a wide variety of all type of foods and also a huge section of takeaway and ready-to-eat meals.
I hope you’ll enjoy your trip to Amsterdam, let me know what you liked best in the Netherlands!