Amsterdam, founded as a fishing village on the Amstel river around the thirteenth century, is one of the most unique cities in the world. Considered the “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam has more than sixty miles of canals. The city of windmills, wooden shoes and gourmet cheese shops is an extraordinary tourist attraction. Here are some things to do and see in this fascinating city.
Start your visit by booking a city walk with Sandeman’s New Europe walking tours. Well-trained guides will share Amsterdam’s history as they guide you through the streets of this unique city.
The beautiful canals of Amsterdam have been given World Heritage status by UNESCO. A cruise through the canals is a must for visitors. There are a number of canal cruise companies from which to choose. Select day or evening dinner cruises to see a special side of the city.
Rijsttafel is a specialty in Amsterdam. It is the Dutch version of a traditional Indonesian feast that pairs dozens of side dishes (chicken satay, spicy beef and curry pork) with bowls of rice. PuriMas is one of the city’s best rijsttafel restaurants. Try it! You’ll like it.
A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a must see. The museum features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art along with biographical data about the artist. The museum is laid out in chronological order starting with his earliest works. Paintings by other famous Impressionist artists like Monet, Manet, and Matisse are also part of the exhibit.
The tulip was introduced into the Netherlands in the middle of the 16th century from the Ottoman Empire. This lovely flower is a Dutch favorite and is one of the symbols of the country. The Tulip Museum is a small museum just across the bridge from the Anne Frank House. It shows the history of the Dutch fascination with the tulip. You will view videos and exhibits relating to the evolution of the tulip in Amsterdam.
Everyone’s heard about Amsterdam’s Red Light District. It’s an interesting peek into a different lifestyle. Women sit in brightly lit windows displaying their “talents” to would be customers. It’s interesting to note the district is one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city with its long winding narrow, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14th century architecture. The Red Light District is a novel side trip.
Just a short distance outside Amsterdam is the village of Zaanse Schans, a town of traditional Dutch crafts and architecture, with six windmills, a wooden shoe workshop and a cheese farm. It’s worth hopping on the Alkmaar-bound train to Koog-Zandijk (a twenty-minute ride) to visit this interesting town for a tour of the functioning windmills, a visit to the cheese farm, to see demonstrations of the craft of creating wooden shoes and to explore the traditional craft shops.
Amsterdam is a walking, sitting and eating city. Explore all it has to offer.