The Dutch city of Amsterdam provides a host of activities including fine art museums, bustling shopping streets and cozy cafes. Experience traditional Netherlands charm from windmills to flower markets, cheese markets and more.
Situated in the province known as Noord Holland, which translates to “northern Holland,” the city of Amsterdam offers an inspiring blend of the modern and classic. Set against a backdrop of picturesque buildings and intertwining canals, the city flows with a warm and open vibe. To get acquainted, take in the city’s best sights with a canal tour aboard a glass enclosed boat! The Blue Boat Company takes you out on the water to marvel at the bridges and magnificent merchant buildings along the canal. Their insightful tour is offered in several languages.
To gather an appreciation of the Netherlands historical background, a visit to some of the best museums is in order. The Rijksmuseum will enlighten you about history through its vast collection of historical artifacts from the Netherlands past including archeological items, early Dutch paintings, historical photographs, documents and model ships. The museum houses an equally impressive art collection with paintings from renowned master artists Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. For art aficionados, a visit to the Van Gogh Museum is an unforgettable experience. Here, you can see a chronicle of the artist’s life through the largest collection of his works and letters.
Soak in the scenery and spend some time outdoors. If you are an avid cyclist, you are in luck; traveling by bicycle is a popular means of getting around the city. Watch the daily activity at Dam square, and stroll through beautiful Vondelpark, which was created in 1864 and has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike for its scenic views and natural charm. Visit the Magere Brug, a white wooden drawbridge in classic Dutch style that spans the Amstel River. It is a particularly stunning sight in the evening when its arches are illuminated. Walk or bicycle around the circle of canals and see one of Amsterdam’s remaining original windmills, the Molen Van Sloten, a circa 1847 windmill that is open to visitors for guided tours. The Sloten Mill is located on the edge of the city at Akersluis 10.
If you love to shop, taking to the streets in Amsterdam’s most popular shopping districts will put you right at home. From open-air markets selling bulbs and flowers to eclectic shops brimming with antiques and collectibles to the more posh designer stores, Amsterdam has it all. Pay a visit to Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam’s famous “floating flower market” that sells a variety of seeds and bulbs throughout the year including tulips, many of which can be packed to travel with you.
If you enjoy antiques, a visit to Spiegelkwartier, also known as “the mirror quarter,” offers an abundance of shops dealing in the most interesting and unique antiques, as well as classic blue and white Delftware pottery from the southern Holland city of Delft. If you prefer browsing boutiques for the latest in designer fashions from big names like Gucci, you’ll want to stop in the Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat strip of shops or drop into the oldest, most extravagant department store located in Dam Square, De Bijenkorf or “the Beehive.”
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop into a classy café for a light lunch or cappuccino at a table for two on the terrace. Brasserie de Joffers, located at Willemsparkweg 163, is one of the most stylish and delightful places to enjoy a meal at any time of day.
To relax, take the time for a half-day train trip out of the city on the sophisticated Netherlands Railway System – start with an early morning visit to Alkmaar. The town is known for its Alkmaar Cheese Market, which features a ceremonial enactment of traditional cheese market workings with porters bringing large wheels of cheese to the sellers as in days of old. This market takes place in the town’s central square at the Waag (weighhouse), Fridays at 10:00 A.M. spring through fall.
After the day’s escapades, you’ll want to return to a restful retreat. Amsterdam offers a number of luxury hotels and charming boutiques. For a more personalized stay, check into the Dylan Amsterdam hotel on the Keizersgracht. With classic ornate architecture, this unique hotel is nicely detailed throughout its 41 individually styled private suites. If you prefer a first-rate luxury hotel on a larger scale, it doesn’t get any better than the Inter-continental Amstel Amsterdam when it comes to prime location and magnificent style.
For more information on visiting Amsterdam, go to www.amsterdam.info/netherlands.