Now what makes Amsterdam so special? I'll tell you why!
1. Historic Architecture
The city of Amsterdam is built upon a network of semi-circular canals. Tall, brick houses lining the canals were once owned by wealthy merchants, but now serve as space for modern day businesses. You may find yourself admiring an old building, only to realize it's a McDonald's. I recommend taking a scenic walk along Prinsengracht canal to admire the houseboats and unique house gables.
Windmills are an iconic symbol of the Dutch countryside, which was once dotted with thousands of working mills. Today there are only a few windmills left near the city. A small network of windmills in Zaanse Schans is located just 15 minutes away by train. Entrance to the park is free, but some of the windmills allow visitors to go inside for a small fee. The village is a bit touristy, but it makes for a nice short day trip and some great photos!
2. Many Museums
The Anne Frank House invites people from all over the world to walk through the secret annex where Anne and her family hid for two years before they were discovered by the Nazi's. After the war Otto Frank published Anne's diary and preserved the house as a museum to remind people to work against prejudices and discrimination. Tip: buy tickets in advance online to avoid the long que
The Rijksmuseum is dedicated to Dutch art and history. Famous paintings to look for include Rembrandt's Night Watch, Van Gogh's self-portrait, and Johannes Vermeer's The Milkmaid. Other notable collections on display include Delft pottery, ornate furniture, ship models, and Asian art. Plan on dedicating at least half of one day here and go early in the morning to beat the crowds.
Our time in Amsterdam was short, but these museums made our wish list:
- Amsterdam Museum
- National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum)
- The Resistance Museum
- Van Gogh Museum
3. Shopping For Days!
4. Food, glorious food!
5. The Great Outdoors!
Did you know that Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of the world? Cyclists have dedicated bike lanes with their own set of traffic lights and multi-level parking garages. Biking is one of the best and fastest means of transportation in Amsterdam. Remember to watch out for bikers, avoid walking into the bike lanes, and always look both ways when crossing the street!
Only 30 minutes southwest of Amsterdam lies one of the most beautiful floral displays in the world! Each year 7 million flower bulbs are planted at Keukenhof Gardens and from late March until late May visitors can marvel at the colors in bloom. Early tulip usually begin to bloom outside in early April and reach their peak during the last two weeks of April. Even if the tulips are not in bloom outside many tulips varieties can be viewed inside the Willem-Alexander Pavilion. After a walk around the gardens, you can rent a bike and explore rows of flowers in the farmer's fields.