Discover the top five attractions awaiting you in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is an attractive city break destination at any time of the year, but even more so when winter makes way to spring. Take a guided cycle ride along one of Amsterdam’s 165 canals, visit world-famous museums and breweries, enjoy a canal cruise among the waterways, sit and linger in the ubiquitous coffee shops, and haggle over bargains in one of Amsterdam’s street markets. Here are 5 top Amsterdam attractions to visit today:
1 Visit Amsterdam’s Best Street Markets
Amsterdam street markets are popular meeting places, as well as sources of quality organic food, antiques and collectables, fashion and household goods. Waterlooplein Markt is Amsterdam’s oldest market and open daily except Sundays. Head for this square near the national opera building and rummage for vintage clothing, jewellery, souvenirs, and even secondhand bikes. Flower lovers won’t miss the floating flower market on Singel canal.
Stalls housed in floating ‘barges’ sell fresh-cut flowers and bulbs. The largest outdoor market in Europe is Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp market located in De Pijp. Over 300 stalls sell anything from organic food to clothing and electronics. Visit the 17th-century Jordaan district for the famous Noordermarkt and savour delicious street food, artisanal bread and souvenirs. There’s an abundance of eco-friendly organic produce at ZuiderMRKT. Choose from 20 specialist stalls at this Amsterdam-Zuid location near the Museumplein.
2 Visit Amsterdam’s Breweries
The tradition of brewing in Holland began during the Middle Ages when every monastery created its own beer. Amsterdam is no exception being home to Amstel and Heineken. Craft beers and beer cafés are popular here, as are visits to Amsterdam’s breweries. The Heineken brewery transformed its premises into an interactive museum (the Heineken Experience) in 1991.
Learn about beer-making and sample a glass or two of ‘probably the best lager in the world.’ on the self-guided tour. A young pretender to Amsterdam’s brewing crown is the Oedipus Brewing company. From its snug taproom in the north of Amsterdam it serves 12 varieties of beer. You can’t miss the Brouwerij het IJ brewery windmill standing sentinel over its beer garden. Savour the Natte Dubble and Zatte Trippel, before making your way to the unique Brouwerij de Prael in the Red Light District.
3 Explore Amsterdam’s Canal District
Amsterdam’s 17th-century canal district around the city’s Binnenstad remains the city’s life blood and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The waterways between the Singel and Prinsengracht canals contain beautiful mansions built by wealthy merchants during the Dutch Golden Age. The best way to appreciate the canals is on an Amsterdam canal cruise. Take in the stunning architecture, iconic bridges like the Magere Brug, beautiful churches, and world-renowned sites.
Amsterdam has three main canals: The Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal) is regarded as the most prestigious and the Mayor of Amsterdam lives here at number 502. The Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) – named after Maximillian of Austria – lies in the middle of the main canals and is the widest in Amsterdam. Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal) is the longest canal, named after the Prince of Orange. Anne Frank House is here, as is the famous Noordermarkt.
4 Tour Amsterdam by bike
Amsterdam is just as famous for its love of two-wheeled transportation as its canals. Offering bikers of all abilities 250 miles of dedicated cycle lanes, Amsterdam is bicycle heaven. The special bike lanes, known as fietspaden, are marked in red and you’ll find them on the right-hand side of the streets. There’s usually a pictograph of a bike indicating it’s safe to cycle. Amsterdamers do not ride on the pavement, so stick to the roads.
The city’s biggest bike park is by the Ibis Hotel at Central Station. Around 2,500 bikes are parked here daily so make sure yours is easy to identify. The best way to see Amsterdam is with a guided bike tour along a 12km route, taking in many of the city’s sites such as the Museumsplein, Vondelpark, the Red Light district and Anne Frank House.
5 Visit Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum
Artistic genius Van Gogh sadly never received the credit due to him during his lifetime, but the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam surely makes up for it. It has the largest collection of Van Gogh artwork in the world including his famous Sunflowers, as well as over 500 drawings, more than 200 paintings and 700 letters. From 1 March until 26 May this year the museum is hosting a special Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature exhibition that explores the parallels between these two outstanding artists – indeed Hockney has often acknowledged the influence of Van Gogh on his own work. Many of Hockney’s much-loved Yorkshire landscapes will be on show. The Van Gogh Museum holds regular art workshops for children and every Friday remains open until 9pm with an invited selection of DJs and musicians to celebrate the space with visitors.
Whether you arrive in Amsterdam via international Schipol airport or by road or train, the city is a superb transport hub and getting around is easy. There is a good network of taxis, buses, trams, metro, ferries and bike routes. Buy an I Amsterdam City Card for unlimited free use of local public transport for periods of 24, 48 , 72, 96 or 120 hours. In addition, the I Amsterdam City Card provides free entry into more than 60 of Amsterdam’s museums and attractions – plus a free 1-hour canal cruise. Visit www.iamsterdam.com for details. And download the GVB Amsterdam travel app (available on Google Play or iTunes).
Plan the adventure via www.iamsterdam.com
Written by Gina Baksa