12 Most Chilled Out Reasons to Visit Amsterdam
I first visited Amsterdam through work and what a visit that was! We went to the red light district with my boss who had written a PhD thesis on prostitution — our discussion was both fascinating and saddening as we toured the city. We were also “nearly” mugged, when it turned out that one of my workmates had a military background and martial arts training.
Since then, I have been back to Amsterdam a couple of times and each time has bought something new… and thankfully far more peaceful and “chilled.”
Having undergone a renovation, this is Holland’s largest collection of art and artifacts — it holds many Rembrandts and Vermeers. It can be a little too much to handle in one visit so take your time and enjoy it!
2. Van Gogh Museum
There are 200 paintings and 500 drawings in this exhibition, including art works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries which give perspective to many of his paintings. This is another museum which has been renovated and on Fridays, it plays host to lectures, concerts and films.
3. Anne Frank House
Anyone who has read the diaries of Anne Frank will want to visit the house where she hid for two years during World War ll. Start early, as there are very long queues (or visit after 7 pm in the summer). There is an exhibition in the new wing about persecution and the fight against discrimination.
Home to a world famous orchestra and to many visiting big names, you can also go to free lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays. Cheaper seats are available if you arrive 45 minutes before a performance and if there are any seats remaining.
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without visiting at least one of the coffee shops noted for selling high class, legal Cannabis. This coffeeshop has won the Cannabis Cup over 30 times. The interior is well worth the visit, even if you do not intend to sample the weed.
6. Amsterdam Diamond Centre
I am not immune to glitter and a chance to glimpse the jewels at the diamond centre around the Jodenbuurt area is a tourist attraction not to be missed — diamonds are famous in Amsterdam.
7. Red Light District
Also known as De Wallen, this neighborhood has become famous for its apartments rented by sex workers who stand behind windows or doors illuminated by red lights. Personally, I found it sad rather than fascinating and its network of roads and alleys portraying legalised prostitution does seem voyeuristic (shoddy, too!).
8. Bezoekerscentrum de Molshoop
Take a leisurely stroll in the forest or rent bikes and enjoy the lack of hills, but don’t forget to visit the visitor centre and enjoy the woodland grotto which enchants children, as it turns from day to night as if flicked by a switch. There is also a climbing park, boat cruise, play islands, maze and paddling pools, farm and in the summer, an open air theatre to enjoy.
9. Circustheater Elleboog
Get the kids to take a workshop here in circus skills such as juggling, tightrope walking or clowning and enjoy a performance as well.
10. Canal cruises
Whether you buy a hop-on, hop-off ticket or book a tour, cruising along the canals in a boat is a must do in any trip to Amsterdam, looking from the water at elegant warehouses and mansions or churches in the old city.
11. Tulip Festival
Always a good place to buy a bulb or three, Amsterdam is particularly gorgeous in Spring when the fields outside are lit up by swathes of tulips in a psychedelic riot of colour. Catch the bus to the Keukenhof gardens and enjoy the most spectacular tulip and bulb show (March — May) when seven million bulbs are in bloom.
12. Lambiek and Magna Plaza
I confess to being a bit of a fan of graphic novels and Lambiek claims to be the world’s oldest comic shop. It also has an on site cartoonists’ gallery which hosts exhibitions every two months or so. If you are out shopping, also pop over to the Magna Plaza in order to enjoy the architecture and fine quality goods available.
As a whistle stop tour of what Amsterdam has to offer, I wonder if I left anything out that you would consider vital. If I did, please let me know in the comments below. If you are planning a visit and want to give a first hand account through different eyes, I would be honoured.
Featured image courtesy of Mar Valladolid via Creative Commons.