Top 10 Attractions in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the open-minded cycling capital of Europe, with beautiful canals and many intriguing alleyways to explore this friendly Dutch city can be perfect for a weekend break or a longer stay. No matter your staying duration here are ten attractions that you should certainly look for...
1. The Redlight District
However controversial the Red Light District situated in De Wallen is certainly a cultural experience and display of open mindedness of Amsterdam. Best seen by night when the alleyways and canals are awash with the red glow of the brothel windows the nighttime entertainment district of Amsterdam is well worth exploring. Whether just a curiosity for the eyes, a few drinks in the bustling bars or to catch one of the famous shows, the Red light District offers a vibrant atmosphere and all kinds of entertainment.
The parks of Amsterdam are perfect for summer lounging or winter strolls, with parks located to the east (Flevopark), west (Westerpark) and south (Vondelpark) of the city centre you are never to far away from a green retreat. Vondelpark is Amsterdam's most popular park being just a five minute walk from the busy Leidseplein Square it offers a range of cafes, an open-air theatre and a rose garden. Having been awarded national heritage status it is definitely a must see however do expect it to be very busy so for a quieter picnic Flevopark and Westerpark offer just as pretty scenery minus the tourists.
Amsterdam's famous Flower Market located along the Singel canal boasts being the only floating flower market in the world. Open seven days a week it offers a range of colourful tulips, bulbs which are conveniently ready for export and tourist souvenirs, this colourful market is certainly one to explore. Other markets worth a browse include the Noordermarkt flea market on monday mornings which sells a quaint mix of second-hand antiques, books and clothes, and the Westerpark Sunday market on the first sunday of every month offering a large range of handcrafted trinkets alongside delicious food and wines.
4. Cheese Shops
Found nearly on every corner Amsterdams cheese shops are always a filling visit and offers a great taste of the Dutch passion for cheese. Unmistakable by the wheels in the shop windows it is well worth nipping into these shops as they normally offer tasters of a variety of cheeses from traditional Dutch cheese such as their most famous Gouda cheese to the pesto and truffle cheeses.
The tranquil canals that encircle Amsterdam offer a unique way to see the city. Organised tour boats run regularly but it is recommended that you be your own captain by renting a pedalo or boat. Depending on the weather it is also possible to walk along the canals as they freeze over in the winter time allowing people to climb down and slide around town.
There are over fifty museums dotted around Amsterdam offering a glimpse back in time along a range of arts and histories. The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House are the most popular and it shows in their queue time but they are still worth a look if you're feeling cultured. For a more alternative culture tour visits to the Houseboat, Sex, Torture, Hash, Tattoo and Cat Museums offer an interesting education.
Probably the most famous attraction of Amsterdam liberal attitude, Coffeeshops and Lounges are scattered all over the city. They are extremely unique, interesting decorated and always a point of relaxation whether you're a smoker or not these pillow clad retreats offer a friendly social environment and the best Hot Chocolates around. The most famous coffeeshop The Bulldog Cafe in Leidseplein Square is a tourist hotspot so it is worth exploring others such as Barney’s, Dampkring and Green House Centrum to get a real feel for this notorious past time.
This neighbourhood forms the western third of the city with its narrow picturesque winding streets well worth getting lost in. Among these charming streets a rich culture can be found at every turn, with many galleries, quirky cafes, hidden bustling bars and street markets, exploring this neighbourhood by day or night will always lead to interesting discoveries.
One of the most dangerous but authentic ways to explore the city is by bicycle which can be hired from numerous rental shops. The cycle paths of Amsterdam are speedy highways and not always for the faint hearted but are a great way to get about just as the locals do. However be sure to verse yourselves in the rules of the road before heading out to the 400 kilometers of bicycle paths as the locals do not make allowances for tourists. Lastly remember what your bicycle looks like and where you locked it up as there are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam.
10. Noordwijk Beach
Often forgotten is the rest of the country when it comes to Amsterdam, so it is nice to get away from the bicycles and Noordwijk Beach is certainly a great escape. This sandy beach is only an hour away and can be reached using a shuttle bus service that runs between the best hostels in town, The Flying Pig Downtown/Uptown and The Flying Pig Beach Hostel. By booking in advance you can get to their shuttle bus between the two far cheaper than the train, and if you wish to make it only a day trip there are morning and evening services running both ways. The beach offers surfing, suntans, cafes, amazing views and for the more scientifically interested the European Space Agency is only a stones throw away.
By Freddie Clarke