The vibrant, quirky and buzzing city of Amsterdam has so much more to offer than it’s urban attractions. This 17th-century old-world city is filled with mesmerizing canals, awe-inspiring historical sites and wonderful nature and man-made beauty. Famous for its legal usage of weed and prostitutes, I say, cruising on a boat or visiting the Van Gogh modernised museum is equally fascinating.
I give you 8 places of the sort that you must try out once:
1. Boat Tour/Canal Cruise
Started in the 16th century to navigate through the elaborate city for economic purposes. Boat rides definitely provide an unforgettable experience to know and enjoy the city’s sights. Besides offering gorgeous scenery of Amsterdam, you can also find out more about the town’s local history.
Most Canal tours take about an hour for you to discover UNESCO protected canal ring and tidbits of interesting facts of the city along the way. Apart from this, hop-on-hop-off services, romantic candle-lit tours, children friendly rides and intimate guided boat tours are the popular choices. You can also row your own boat or hire people for the job. A few popular operators include Stromma, Lovers and Blue Boat.
You can also order pizza, drinks audio guide and get free WiFi.
2. Swing on Europe’s Highest Swing
Hop on to Europe’s highest swing – Over The Edge. Located on A’Dam Tower at a height of 100 m, a treat for all adrenaline junkies and daredevils. Strapped to a red seat, you will be swinging whilst enjoying the view of the whole of Amsterdam.
A 360-degree lookout is also regarded as one of the best views. Even if you don’t want to go back and forth on the swing, the sky deck will be worth it. Look over the IJsselmeer Lake and Dutch ports to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity.
3. Coffeeshops/Ganja Tours
Not to be confused with ‘coffee shops’ or ‘cafes’. A licensed weed store is often referred to as ‘coffeeshops’. Introduce and educate yourself to the world of Cannabis in Amsterdam. Get an insight into the weed capital of Amsterdam and learn about the plant’s history, legalization and medicinal use.
The 2 or 2.5 hours guided tour begins with a tour of the oldest cannabis shops of Amsterdam. Visit 2 or 3 coffeeshops, pubs and medieval sites. Then, walk the legendary gay street, Reguliersdwarsstraat, and walk into the famous Irish pub, O’Riley’s. The tour ends near Rembrandtplein in central Amsterdam.
Visit the world-renowned Amsterdam museum. Learn how to roll your own joint with your instructor! You will also receive free Dutch snacks and treats on the tour. All in all, the trip is as fun as it is educational.
4. Red Light District Tour
Infamous for its streetside brothels, Red Light District Tours might not be for everyone but it’s narrow alleys and cobblestone walkways represent the laidback Dutch culture. Although a controversial town, the street presents scenic canals, busy restaurants and bars and lots of shopping.
Walking tours provide a deeper dive in the neighbourhood’s legends and cultures. Whereas bike tours give you a broader view of the city along with a trip to Van Gogh Museum or New Market District. Some tour options include admission to popular attractions such as the Sex Museum, the Red Light Secrets museum or Madame Tussauds Amsterdam.
5. Van Gogh Museum Tour
Never popular in his own time, Van Gogh had had a tough life. His artwork had a great impact on the 20th century. Today, his museum draws over a million visitors.
The collection boasts of 200 paintings, 500 drawings and over 750 written documents. His absolute masterpieces are his self-portraits, ‘The Bedroom’, ‘The Sunflower’ and ‘The Potato Eaters’. In addition to this, the museum has also displayed Van Gogh’s friends’ work or those whom he had influenced. The museum is also home to research facilities. It provides knowledge of his life, how he worked and who all inspired him.
Art Workshops for kids are held as extracurriculars. On Fridays, the museum stays open till late and invites musicians, DJs and other performers for the artists and tourists.
6. Windmill Tours
Ask any local about what they imagine the Dutch countryside as. Most people will reply with a vibrant centre, the tulip fields and the windmills! Somewhere among its exotic nightlife, beautiful canals and historical monuments, the colourful windmills are often overlooked. A short ride away from the city, windmills are a must-visit if you wanna experience Amsterdam’s authenticity.
The tour starts with a 3-hour bike ride along the canals from Amsterdam to the village of Zaanse Schans and Volendam. A boat ride of IJsselmeer Lake takes you further to Marken. Each of these astonishing windmills has a story of their own!
Engage yourself with the free, yummy cheese-tasting ceremony. With a local guide to help you through the tour, enjoy the tranquillity the Dutch countryside. Step in one of the windmills and witness the magic from the inside. A windmills tour from Amsterdam is a phenomenal way to enjoy the gorgeous view of the Holland landscape.
7. Spend a day in Haarlem
With its picturesque buildings, Gothic cathedrals and beautiful city square, Haarlem lies on the banks of Spaarne River. Haarlem is a quiet and laidback place to visit when you’re tired of the crowded Amsterdam.
Visit the ‘Grote Markt’ (Big Market) on warm days to enjoy meals and beverages outside cafes. The centuries-old Church of St. Bavo dominates the centre of the market with its Gothic architecture.
If you are interested in WWII history, don’t forget to check out the house of Ten Boom family. During the purge of Jews, this family saved over 800 Jews and refugees in their basement. The house in its original state is a must-see!
Explore the Molen De Adriaan windmill and learn about the history of Haarlem!
8. Keukenhof – Tulip’s Paradise
Every during spring, from mid-March to mid-May, Keukenhof Gardens bloom with some of the most beautiful flowers in the world. Keukenhof is the world’s largest flower park with over a million visitors every year. It has a different theme year meaning every year it is unique!
Just an hour away from the main city of Amsterdam, the garden has over 7 million buds planted every year. Divided among garden and pavilions, there are different flower types – tulips, daffodils, orchids, irises, roses, lilies, hyacinths and many others. Visit this garden to overwhelm yourself with fragrance and colours!
Keukenhof is especially popular among kids. With a playground, treasure hunt, maze and beautiful ponds – kids will have a blast here. A perfect spot for family’s day out!