Set around a ring of picturesque canals, Amsterdam has a magnetic aura that attracts millions of visitors. The city is renowned for its tolerant culture and hedonistic streak and it is probably one of the most eclectic locations in the world, offering something for anyone, from lovers of fine art to cycling enthusiasts. The elegant architecture and the laid-back atmosphere combine with a unique bustling nightlife and a cosmopolitan attitude. Amsterdam’s contrasting features only add to its immense appeal and here are the top things to do in the city.
Visit the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is a massive Dutch national art and history museum and the most popular cultural institution in the Netherlands. The collections include thousands of works of art and historical artifacts that showcase the richness of the Dutch culture. Here you can find the works of famous Dutch artists, including Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Vincent Van Gogh, among many others. Thousands of masterpieces make this place an art’s lover paradise. As one of the world’s finest art museums, Rijksmuseum also houses events, open-air exhibitions, and markets on a daily basis.
Take a Canal Cruise
The canal ring in Amsterdam creates a unique urban setting and due to its importance in the development of the city, it is now part of UNESCO’s list of protected heritage sites. Created in the 17th-century, the network of canals with their charming bridges gives a magical feel to the city, both during the day and at night when the bridges are brightly lit. Taking a boat tour on the canals is a great, relaxing way to experience the most enchanting aspects of Amsterdam. The hardest part will be to choose a type of cruise because the options are plenty, from romantic night time cruises with dinner to guided sightseeing tours and hop-on-hop-off canal buses.
Relax in Vondelpark
The largest park in Amsterdam, Vondelpark attracts over 10 million visitors a year. Until recently, it was the only public park in the world where one could legally barbecue and smoke joints. This makes it a vibrant social place and also a refreshing escape, especially on sunny days, when locals like to retreat amid the lush greenery, enjoying the ample cycle paths, winding footpaths, quaint bridges, and charming cafes. In the spring and summer, many come to the park to have a picnic, soak up sunlight and relax. The vast green open spaces offer plenty of opportunities for all kinds of activities, from drinking to cycling. A popular free open-air theater operates in the summer months.
Visit the Anne Frank Museum
The Anne Frank House is a 17th-century canal house where 14-year old Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years during World War II. Now a historical museum and educational center, the place offers a permanent exhibition on Anne’s life and also features other exhibitions on related historical themes. The cramped secret annex where the family hid is open to visitors as well. Although this is a somber experience, the Anne Frank Museum is definitely worth a visit as it is an essential part of the worlds’ historical legacy. Visitors can see Anne’s bedroom and have a look at her actual diary.
Take a Bike Tour
Bicycles are a big part of Dutch culture. Not only that the Dutch love cycling but for them, cycling is the primary means of transport in the city. The number of bikes in Amsterdam is astounding, which means that if you want to experience the best of the city and fit in among the locals, a bike tour is an ideal way to do that. There are many different tours available, some including unique visits or demonstrations of typical local experiences. Renting a bike is extremely easy and the number of bike lanes will allow you to roam the city freely.
Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most influential painters in the history of art and probably the most famous Dutch artist. The museum dedicated to his life and works is housed in a modernist building near the Rijksmuseum, right in the cultural heart of Amsterdam. The museum traces Van Gogh’s personal life and artistic career, showcasing both famous masterpieces and less known pieces. The collection is comprised of hundreds of works of art and hundreds of personal letters that Van Gogh sent to family and friends. The displays tell the story of Van Gogh’s evolution as an artist from the early amateur stage to the incredibly bold and expressive works known worldwide. The museum also includes paintings by Van Gogh’s contemporaries, such as Paul Gauguin and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.