Beyond the brownies and the girls in the windows lies a fascinating and strangely welcoming city. Amsterdam’s unity, its hospitality and colourful locals, and the surrounding waters define this “Little Babel.” It is multicultural, intimate and warm as a woman who knows how to soothe your worst pains.
The cheerful houses with narrow, uncovered windows allure you into peeking at the locals’ lives. Amsterdam is the city where the ladies on bikes unveil languorously their legs, the packed trams cluster on the bustling streets and the drivers rarely honk as the cyclists – either locals or frenetic tourists –have priority regardless of the colour of the traffic lights. It seems hectic, but the city helps you adapt in a few hours.
Hire a bicycle, hop on it and start paddling. It’s the best way to see the city up on a saddle. Amsterdam has miles of safe bike lanes on flat, canal-skirting roads. The city is home to almost as many bikes as people and the locals use their bikes for every occasion. It is a chance to experience the cutting-edge and hedonistic Amsterdam on two wheels. And you have to take a picture with your bike on a bridge. This will be a sweet memory.
2.Take a boat cruise
The number of canals have led Amsterdam to become known as “The Venice of the North”. You can’t leave Amsterdam without taking a boat cruise. By day, it will be fascinating and relaxing, and by night it will romanticize the entire city with its illuminated houses and bridges. The four main city center canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel.
But you can even hire a private, smaller boat that will take you on the numerous smaller canals in the area of Jordaan. This is hot on contemporary art – Torch Gallery on Lauriergracht is a small, family-run mainstay with a host of loyal international artists on its books. You can take a glimpse of the neighbourhood on the Bloemgracht and the Leliegracht, which are especially pleasant.
Create your own sightseeing tour. Hop on and hop off as often as you like with the Canal Bus. The stops are located near museums, shopping districts and tourist attractions.
3.Walk and Stop
There are lots to see, taste and smell in Amsterdam, from the famous Albert Cuyp Market – the best-known and busiest outdoor market in Europe – where the odor of fish combines with the scents of chocolate and spices, to Museumplein, where you can discover Van Gogh’s secrets, fall in the history of the Dutch fleet in Rijksmuseum and then stroll on the streets of Damrak.
The Dam is the very centre and heart of Amsterdam, vibrating with history and tourists. You can find more about it at the Amsterdam Historical Museum or pay a visit to the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which dominates the square. It was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city of Amsterdam and its government.
Enjoy a hot coffee in the Vondelpark also known as the lungs of the city, the green space in the nearby of Rijksmuseum, which hosts one of the most impressive collections of Old Master paintings in the world.
Scream ‘Action!’ at the newly relocated EYE Institute, Amsterdam’s film museum. Explore the bohemian art spaces of the huge NDSM wharf on the north side of the city and play with physics at the Nemo Science Centre.
Being in Amsterdam will offer you the chance to see how beer is made at Freddy Heineken’s factory. It will whirl you, splash you and let you taste ‘a few’ glasses of beer. You can also visit Anne Frank’s house and read her personal diaries, or enter the world of the most famous Bags and Purses (Museum).
Indeed Amsterdam’s reputation is the first that comes to people’s mind, but there is more to this city than the Red Light District. So you can have a decadent time without falling into an ocean of smoke, booze and, er, other stuff.
The nightlife can mean a fancy dinner in the Old Centre, a glass of wine and a juciy steak on a ship restaurant, a beer on the deck of Hard Rock cafe just on the Amstel river bank or pushing your adrenaline up in Dam square by riding various G-force rollercoasters.
However, we have to admit that you must visit the Red Light District, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein squares to catch the ‘popular’ spirit of Amsterdam: pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, gay venues, souvenir shops, cinemas and theaters.
Talking about sex is tabu in some countries, but in Amsterdam is something that everyone can do, watch or…sale. Which is not really very pleasant and you should be aware of any attempts of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The Red Light District is somewhat of a very busy sexual amusement park, but it has its unique canals and bridges under which geese, swans and ducks have their night rest, ironically, at the watch of the sex shops, erotic museums and porn booths.
5.Visit the tulips
In the spring you should head to the tulip fields a short drive outside Amsterdam around the town of Lisse, in Keukenhof (“Kitchen garden”). Only 35min by bus from Amsterdam, this could be a one-day trip that will fill you with happiness and colour.
The fields represent the world’s largest flower garden. Approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park, which covers an area of 32 hectares. Check out the website to find a list of possibilities or how to get there.
You’re mistaken if you see Amsterdam as a promiscuous chaos, this capital is more about common sense and knowing your own limits. Give it a chance and let us know how it was!