From its canals to its world-famous museums and historical centers, Amsterdam is one of the most romantic and beautiful European cities. There is nothing quite like this small capital and its deep cultural heritage. Not only is Amsterdam colorful, serene, and romantic, it is also exciting and sophisticated.
Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city and is visited each year by over four million people. Visitors can enjoy Amsterdam’s outstanding architecture, musuems, art galleries and other tourist sights. Amsterdam is just 9.5 miles from Schiphol Airport, the fourth largest airport in Europe, is also close to the continental motorway network, and is a major port used by ocean-going liners.
Amsterdam is a cultural, historical, and architectural marvel. The city is laid out in concentric rings of canals around the old center, crosscut by a network of access roads and alley-like connecting streets. Most of the museums are clustered at the edge of the canal district and are among the best in Europe.
In addition, visitors will want to see Europe’s first stock exchange, which now serves as a grand concert hall and exhibition space, and pause for coffee at one of the first coffee houses in Europe. There is also the Anne Frank house, where the famous diaristís family hid during World War II. The Museum of the Resistance provides educational and historical information about the Holocaust.
Artis Zoo houses over 6,000 animals, most of whom live in outdoor enclosures that provide surroundings representing their natural habitats. The adjoining aquarium boasts one of the world’s largest collections. Interactive exhibits at the Science and Technology Museum provide children and adults with hours of educational fun. Other highlights of Amsterdam are its Floating Flower Market, where the merchandise is displayed on barges, and the Diamond District. Many of the city’s diamond polishers give free demonstrations of diamond cutting and offer sales of set and un-set stones.
Amsterdam’s amazing energy, vitality and vibrancy extend throughout. Dam Square is the real heart of the city. The markets and streets are full of organists, peddlers, vendors, and performers of all kinds. Many important buildings overlook this vast and bustling open space, including the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk and the War Memorial. Primary uses of the square include ceremonies for the royal family, political demonstrations, street performers, remembrance day celebrations, and social gatherings.
As one might guess, the nightlife in Amsterdam is truly amazing! The Red Light District is world-famous. Clubs everywhere are open until the wee hours of the morning, as are many coffee houses and bars. The Holland Casino Amsterdam, one of Europe’s largest casinos, provides entertainment to guests 18 and over.
Looking at a map of Amsterdam, the city appears too large to explore on foot. It is actually possible to cover the entire flat expanse of the city during a four- hour walk. Trams and water taxis are available when youíre ready for a rest or prefer to travel at a more leisurely pace.
Amsterdam is city of incredible beauty and charm in a land of canals, windmills, dikes, and picturesque countryside. Its museums house some of the world’s masterpieces, and its history is an important part of the story of Europe itself. This is a city in which culture, commerce, ambience, and romance combine with a proud and lively sense of humor and vitality. It is not to be missed!
Things to do
Amsterdam’s Historisch Museum
The museum is located within what was a former convent and orphanage dating back to the sixteenth century. Various sections of the museum, however, date back to the thirteenth century, a time when the city development was booming. The exhibits portray the sequence of events in Amsterdam’s history from early times to the present day. The Begijnhof, a popular courtyard, might be the perfect place to take a break and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
Guided tours by prior arrangement. Quite possibly Amsterdam’s most often visited site, this was the place where Anne Frank, her sister Margot, her parents, and four other Jews went into hiding in 1942. Anne Frankhuis is a central fixture of remembrance for the persecution suffered during the war. The museum not only stands as a symbol to combat prejudice, discrimination and oppression; but it also works against current developments in racism, Neo-Fascism and anti-Semitism. A statue of Anne Frank, as well as a display of different editions of the diary, is featured within the museum.
Plantage Middenlaan 24
During World War II, the theater was used as a collection ground for Jews who were to be sent off to the camps. Standing as a small structure amidst the streets of Amsterdam, this building embodies a large portion of the tragedy that befell this era.
Universiteitsmuseum de Agnietenkapel
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231
Amsterdam is a city of outstanding architectural style. The Agnietenkapel, built in 1473 and part of the university since its foundation in 1632, is a wonderful representation of the Gothic style that once filled the chapels of Amsterdam. The chapel combines the effect of an austere interior with the beauty exquisite craftsmanship of its lovely stained-glass windows. The showcases the history of education, research and student life.
Plantage Kerklaan 61
The Museum of the Resistance includes collections of artifacts and interactive displays that represent the resistance movement within Amsterdam. The museum focuses attention on such themes as sabotage, espionage and the February Deportation to Birkenau. An interesting feature within the museum is that visitors can hear authentic replicas of wartime broadcasts as they examine the space designed to replicate a wartime family hideout.
Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art
Paulus Potterstraat 13 (at Museumplein).
Amsterdam’s contemporary art museum showcases the works of not only modern Dutch painters such as Karel Appel, Willem de Kooning, and Piet Mondrian, but the museum also has a section to illustrate the works of French artists: Chagall, CÈzanne, Picasso, Renoir, Monet, and Manet. American modern artist also have a section of their own. In fact, the museum features one of the largest collection of paintings by the abstract Russian artist Kasimir Malevich.
Stadhouderskade 42 (behind Museumplein, halfway between Leidseplein and Wetering-plantsoen)
Phone: 020-673-2121 or 0900-8898-1212
The Rijksmuseum includes a magnificent collection of works by Dutch artists, including one of the most famous works, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt. A great feature for visitors is the museum’s touch-screen interactive information center. The new system provides visitors with information on over 700 of the museum’s exhibits.
Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7 (at Museumplein)
Van Gogh’s paintings were defined by seven distinct periods, and this is the way the museum is laid out. The Van Gogh collection, which consists of more than 200 pieces, is arranged in chronological order, allowing visitors to glimpse the 10-year career of this great artist.
New Metropolis Science and Technology Center
A great outing for the family! This science and technology hub, features of hands-on interactive displays, a museum, demonstrations, workshops, and theater and film show. The museum is a port for learning, and the technology provides Internet-linked computers on every floor.
Heineken Reception Center
Stadhouderskade 78 (on the Singelgracht, near the Rijksmuseum)
Dating back to 1868, these former Heineken brewing facilities now offer visitors the chance to tour the brewing process, as well as learn about the company’s history. Guides will lead you past the fermentation tanks and a multiscreen video wall showcases 5,000 years of brewing history. The impressive brewery show, and the two complimentary glasses of Heineken, draw visitors in year round.
The Netherlands Experience
The Netherlands Experience offers visitors just that – a complete tour of the Netherlands. The multidimensional film and theater show provides scenic views and historical stories of the development of the Netherlands. An impressive feature of the Netherlands experience is the simulated display outlining what would happen if the 80,000 liters of salt water were to penetrate the dikesí system of defense.
Madame Tussaud’s Amsterdam
1012 NP Amsterdam
The glory of the Netherlands’s Golden Age is the focus of this unique wax museum. Moving wax figures depict a historical journey through the Netherlands. The special effects help to create a vivid impression of life in Holland.
Holland Casino Amsterdam
Holland Casino Amsterdam is in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands and is open 1:30pm-3am daily, closed May 4th and Dec. 31. The 92,664 square foot casino features 576 slots and fifty-five table games. The property has one restaurant.
Damrak by Central Station, and Rokin by the Spui
While visiting Amsterdam, donít miss out on a boat tour. The canal trips offer visitors a unique view of Amsterdam from the water. The tours take visitors around the city and through the harbor.
(Westerkerk, Leidseplein, Leidsestraat, Rijksmuseum)
Canal Bikes provide a challenge to brave the waters and create your own tour through Amsterdam’s canals. Canal bikes can be rented from most locations, and they allow visitors to choose their own route of travel, as well as provide a unique experience of riding over the water.
Electrische Museum Tramlijn Amsterdam
Haarlemmermeerstation, Amstelveenseweg 264
The Electrische is unlike most ordinary museums. This one offers children a ride through history! Visitors can take a closer look at the antique electric tram carriages as well as embark on a 60-minute round trip in one of the antique trolleys.
Archeonlaan 1, Alphen aan den Rijn
Phone: 0172- 447-744
The Archeon offers visitors of all ages a trip through ancient times. Visitors can stroll through the dinosaur era or take a take a tour of the ancient Rome. The museum specializes in interactive and hands-on exhibits.
Europalaan 1, Kaatsheuvel, Noord Brabant
Phone: 0416- 288-111
Efteling is an enormous fairytale forest where children and adults alike can venture into Grimm’s fairytales and the Tales of the Arabian Nights. The village is full of dwarves and witches, enchanted and haunted castles. Efteling also provides its visitors with thrill rides in this state-of-the-art amusement park.
George Maduroplein 1, The Hague Den Haag
Madurodam features scale models of some of the Netherlands’s most famous sights – everything from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to Schiphol Airport. The miniature village is built on a 1:25 ratio.
Museum van Speelklok tot Pierrement
Buurkerkhof 10, Utrecht
Museum van Speelklok tot Pierrement showcases a unique antique collection of mechanical music boxes, circus, fairground and street organs. There is also a large selection of featured toys that children can enjoy.
Maliebaanstation 16, Utrecht
The National Railway Museum is located in an historic station, where visitors can examine more than 60 locomotives. At the museum, children can hop aboard one of the miniature Intercity and TGV lines.
This core area around the Dam and Centraal Station, and through the neighborhood known as De Wallen (The Walls), which contains the Red Light District, is the oldest part of the city. It includes the main downtown shopping areas and attractions such as the Royal Palace, the Amsterdam Historical Museum, Madame Tussaud’s, and many of the canal-boat piers. It is a busy part of town, filled with traffic, noise, and social whirl.
The Canal Belt
The semicircular, multistrand “necklace” of waterways called the Grachtengordel in Dutch, was built around the old Center during the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. Its vista of elegant, gabled mansions fronting long, tree-lined canals forms the image that’s most often associated Amsterdam. It includes many hotels, both large and small, restaurants, sightseeing attractions such as the Anne Frankhuis and the canal-house museums, and antiques shops.
The city’s liveliest nightlife square and its immediate surroundings cover such a small area that it could have been included under “The Canal Belt.” It is so distinctive that it deserves to be highlighted. In addition to performance venues, movie theaters, bars, and cafes, there are many fine hotels and restaurants in this busy area.
Like Leidseplein, but on a somewhat reduced scale, this square is the focus for a grouping of hotels, restaurants, cafes, and nightlife venues that’s lively enough to feature on its own.
This group of small streets and canals lies west of the City Center, beyond the major canals. Once a working-class neighborhood, it’s become fashionable, like New York City’s SoHo, with a growing number of upscale boutiques and restaurants.
Museumplein & Vondelpark
Gracious and residential, this area surrounds the three major museums on Museumplein: the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum: and hosts the Concertgebouw concert hall, with its many restaurants. It contains Amsterdam’s most elegant shopping streets (Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat and Van Baerlestraat), and its best-known park. The U.S. Consulate is here, too.
A residential zone on the far bank of the Amstel River that is the location of sightseeing attractions like the Maritime and Tropical museums, and also of Artis, the local zoo. It’s an area of Amsterdam that is rich in ethnic minority groups.
This prestigious modern residential area is the site of a number of hotels, particularly along Apollolaan, a broad avenue which the locals call the Gold Coast for its rows of expensive houses.
The district west of the Singelgracht canal is extensive, but contains no major tourist attractions.
On the north bank of the IJ channel, this district has begun to change with new dining and entertainment possibilities opening up.