Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, stated by International travel guides as one of the “greatest small cities” of the world. According to me, what sets Amsterdam apart from the rest of the cities is the presence of extensive canals which superimpose a unique air to this city.
These canals are an essential and obvious part of everyday life in Amsterdam.. and contribute in much bigger ways than just adding to its aesthetic value!
When I set foot on Amsterdam, I was alone and all I had was an address to a friend’s house, Phone-less and absolutely clueless about how I was supposed to get there. I slowly made my way from the Schipnol airport into the main city via train, tram, taxi and what not!
The city projects a strong carefree vibe, enough to establish an affinity with its canals, sun soaked wide lanes and eccentric alley ways filled with a characteristic aroma and corresponding enthusiasm of Amsterdam.
My first adventure in Amsterdam began when I lost myself in the vivacious city. I remember walking past gorgeous parks and beautiful restaurants, my enthusiasm growing by the second. This was a city which at first look excited you!
In my opinion, Amsterdam is one of the cities which must be on the bucket list of every traveler! This city has so many new things to offer, some of the most refreshing and unique experiences! People from all over the globe flock to Netherlands and Amsterdam is a unanimous favorite with families as well as those traveling alone or with friends. I have listed a few reasons why you must make a trip to this gorgeous capital at least once in your lifetime!
1. Amsterdam- the city of Romance!
Move over Paris- Time for some Amsterdam loving! Amsterdam according to me is the city of romance! its gorgeous setting by the canals and sun soaked parks make for excellent landscapes. One can spend countless hours walking along the gorgeous canals, evergreen parks, characteristic benches.. The city is so rich culturally that beauty has become an innate part of every nook and corner here. The people are laid back, good natured and very tolerant. More than anything, the beautiful background of whatever you do here makes any experience a romantic one. Whether you are romancing your better half or simply life, this is a great place to do it 🙂
2. 24 hour party circuits
Most important places are located around Dam square, a local and tourist hotspot perpetually alive with stage performances and all night parties! Such a dynamic place the Dam square leads in all different directions to “coffee shops” and multi cuisine delis!
3. Coffee, Cannabis and more
Coffee shops in Amsterdam are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis to anyone above the age of 18, and many of these sell them mixed with cakes, otherwise called space brownies. The first coffee shop I visited was Abraxas coffee shop, a quaint bright eatery in one of the alleys on the way to Madam Tussaud’s museum.
However, some of my favourite memories lie with “The Bulldog” cafe and hotels present across Amsterdam, my personal favourite being the one at Voorburgwal, Amsterdam 🙂
4. The Bulldog cafe
Located just a few minutes from the Van Gogh museum, This cafe is eccentric, beautiful and a serves some excellent coffee. A must visit for all caffeine addicts.
5. A hub of Art and culture
Amsterdam has over 50 museums, most of which are art houses holding famous paintings of artists like Van Gogh, modern art pieces as well as art relevant to the medieval ages.
The walk to the Van Gogh museum is short but one tends to get easily distracted with the smell of fresh waffles and roast chicken! Extremely picturesque , the road winds through the canal bridges, the Holland casino, Westerkerk and other old churches which add to the splendor of the city.
The Van Gogh museum is a well conceptualised collection of the paintings of Van Gogh. I remember it for the vast number of self portraits Mr. Gogh has attempted to make of himself and his famous “dab” style which is evident in almost all of his creations. Surely a must visit for all art lovers and anyone else who may be looking for a little inspiration in life.
6. The most authentic memoir of World war II- Anne Frank’s house
A visit to the Anne Frank house located along the canals was an overwhelming experience for me. The house is located in the attic of an ordinary housing building in Amsterdam, and the climb up the innumerable flight of stairs is enough to get you thinking about how hard it must have been for these families to live in hiding, their entire existence dependent on one book shelf which covered the doorway to the hiding place of the Frank family.
The Anne Frank house sums up “the diary of a young girl”, only this time you are actually there to let her walk you through the little things she did everyday, the things she could not do, the dreams she dreamed and the fears she and her family felt everyday of their lives. Truly a marvelous experience.
7. World’s Most unusual museums
Amsterdam as a city is rich in culture, nightlife and contemporary pleasures. It is an incredibly beautiful city with some of the most interesting people and places I have ever come across. For those who harvest the adventure spirit, do check out the hemp and marijuana museum to know the history of Cannabis in general and its connection to Amsterdam in particular.
Another place of interest is the Erotic museum, one of the only ones of its kind present here in Amsterdam. The Torture museum overlooking the Singel canal is located very close to the flower market and is listed amongst the most unusual museums of the world housing the instruments used to torture prisoners, witches and the like during medieval times.
I particularly enjoyed the tour of this museum. A very morbid theme, but a great place if you’re looking to do something different.
8. Largest flower market in the world!
The flower market is an epitome of a happy place! so many colours and choices, it is shocking to see the variety of plants, herbs and flowers which are available in this market.
The national flower of the country, tulips are sold here of every possible colour and family strain. buyers can buy flower seeds here and carry these back to grow their own backyard tulips as well. Another interesting commodity available here is “magic” mushrooms which are supposed to evoke hallucinations in those who consume them.
9. Oldest Red light district in the world
Having stayed in one of the oldest housing buildings of Amsterdam, thanks to incredibly hospitable friends, I can say with confidence that it is an absolute delight waking up to the sound and sight of the beautiful canal flowing by. I cannot begin to assert on how beautiful this looks by day and by night, which brings me to an important part of my tour- the red light area.
A group of about 8 girls, we spent hours in Amsterdam walking by the red light area which is mainly a beautiful arena comprising streets along both sides of a central canal.
The streets are lined with innumerable clubs, pubs and bars that host several above 18 shows, many of which are innovative and well planned. Famously called Rosse Buurt, the red light district of Amsterdam is a world wide tourist attraction, De Wallen being one of the oldest areas offering these services in Amsterdam.
9. Over 50 churches and cultural centers
Amsterdam is made up of old housing buildings as well as modern architecture projects by several famous architects.
There are several ancient churches and monuments like the Munterrot and the stock exchange building which is the oldest stock exchange in the world. There are over 50 churches and museums to pick and choose from for anyone visiting Amsterdam.
10. Amsterdam Eye
The museumplain is one the other squares of Amsterdam, and one of the most famous squares of the world. It is surrounded by three of the most important museums of Amsterdam, the Stedelijk museum of modern art, the Rijkskmuseum of dutch history and the Van Gogh museum.
At the centre of the three museums is the famous Amsterdam I, which offers amazing photo opportunities. One of my favourite spots of Amsterdam, It is a great place to spend a leisure afternoon sunbathing or simply reading time away 🙂
11. The canal civilisation of Amsterdam
What may strike you is the surprising number of cyclists and corresponding cycles in the city. Almost every second person here owns a cycle, and owing to a well knit system of trams and canals, road traffic is to a bare minimum.
It is an absolute delight to walk along the bilanes of Amsterdam, as every street leads to exotic monuments, world famous churches, heritage sights or extra-ordinary eateries.
12. Foodie delights
I highly recommend the Mennekin Pis fries to anyone travelling to Amsterdam. World famous “Belgiam” fries are available here with a variety of sauces to go with the huge portions! This place is always full and one has to stand in long queues to avail these super delicious fries! Another “must try delicacy” would be the dutch pancakes- My personal favorite 🙂
13. The Heineken experience
A must see attraction of Amsterdam, the Heineken factory is a museum of sorts of the world favorite beverage Heineken beer. The factory stands tall in the city center and is impossible to miss!
Whenever I think of Amsterdam today, I am immediately transported back to those evenings at Leidseplein square, surrounded by people of different ethnicities, music blasting from speakers, crowds chanting for an encore of the band that has just finished playing, overwhelming aromas and a laid-back, careless tune in the air..
What I wouldn’t give to be back in Holland again..