The first thing to do when you get to Amsterdam is walk. Everywhere. This is the best way to absorb the beauty and quirks that the city has to offer, and enjoy the slower pace of life. There is so much to love about the city!
If you get a chance, rent a bike – it’s Amsterdam’s best mode of transport (and much faster than the trams).
Cute cars and beautiful frontages provide perfect photo opportunities!
And not a straight house in sight…
Here are some interesting Amsterdam facts:
- Ever wondered why the houses are so narrow? There used to be a tax on the width of houses!
- Narrow houses means you need to find an alternative way to get your furniture to the top floors. This explains the wonky houses. The slight forward tilt reduces the risk of items colliding with the building as they are hoisted up from the outside of the building.
- Take a glance upwards when you walk along the streets, and you’ll see an arm and hook protruding from the houses. Don’t be alarmed next time you see furniture dangling from the front of a house!
Keukonhof – Flower Garden
The Netherlands is known for its flower production, and their appreciation of flowers is exhibited at Keukonhof. A beautiful park that has been lovingly designed to display the beautiful blooms. Mid April is the best time to go to see the flowers in full bloom, and we were lucky that the weather was good for at least half of the day as it makes all the difference. Being outside in the cold for hours is never fun. However, the park does have a massive indoor building where even more unique flowers are displayed, in case you need to hide from the weather.
Rijksmuseum is one of the largest and most beautiful museums in the Netherlands that is dedicated to the country’s art and history.
Did you know that the Dutch were considered to have established the first multinational corporation, The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) in 1602? The company monopolised trade in Japan from its trading post on the artificial island of Dejima, where this was the only place Europeans could trade with Japan for more than 200 years. VOC traded throughout Asia and profited from the spice trade among other goods, allowing them to amass huge fortunes. The Dutch were influential around the globe throughout the 17th century, a period referred to as the Dutch Golden Age.
The layout of the museum is so user friendly, allowing you to absorb all the key elements of Dutch history. Don’t miss Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” – just some of the most famous pieces housed in the museum that are more breathtaking in real life. Art is definitely better appreciated when you can see the details up close.
Red Light District
Walking around the RLD is a must for anyone visiting Amsterdam as it is a true eye opener. The tranquil, cobbled streets along the canals are transformed by the glaring neon lights and red lanterns, as women parade themselves in the red-fringed windows. The country has had a long liberal attitude towards prostitution and leisure drugs, where the practices have been legalised and controlled. Even as we walked around the district at 10pm as a party of three girls, I did not feel unsafe at any point. You can read more about the area here.
Other things to do in Amsterdam: Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Bloemenmarkt, Heineken Experience, Coffeeshops
Holidays always begin with my crazy, obsessive planning, so feel free to use the below map that marks the places (mostly restaurants/food) that I wanted to see.