Last Updated on April 30, 2021
Amsterdam was our first stop on our first trip around Europe. We found Amsterdam to be one of the world’s most intriguing, captivating and gorgeous cities. Just a short stroll along the winding, narrow streets along the waters will give you a sense of the magic this city has to offer.
10 Reasons We Love Amsterdam….
Amsterdam is referred to as the Venice of the North as the old city center is surrounded by canals lined by canal townhouses. The design of the facades of each building make each appear to have nothing behind them.
A stroll along any of the main canals is so romantic, especially at night with Amsterdam lit up.
Take a cruise around the canals, or rent a pedal boat. We were delighted to pedal around the canals, taking in a different view of the city and its main attractions.
The largest green space in Amsterdam, the park is named after its best-known poet Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), creator of the play Lucifer that caused much uproar regarding religion. We stayed at a hostel right beside the beautiful Vondel Park. We loved strolling thru Vondel Park and taking a picnic lunch. The park was fantastic to people watch and interact with locals, especially because it was summer and the park was crawling with people all day.
FRITES! FRITES! FRITES!
Or French Fries as us in North America call them. Frites are french fries served in a paper cone with many optional dips and toppings that can be slathered such as mayo, ketchup, curry sauce, relish, and onions . Don’t mistake Frites for our regular french fries. Frites are delicious and a definite must-try. Read more about Frites here.
TAKE A SNEAKY PEEK IN THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Amsterdam’s Red Light District is known around the world. Often, it is one of the first thoughts that pops into your mind when Amsterdam is mentioned. Visiting the Red Light District, it was different than we thought it would be…
“Window shop” as you walk the streets surrounding the Red Light District and you will find each “Wing” has a different featured “type of girl”.
Locals don’t think anything of it, and there’s a feeling of openness between those in the Red Light District and those surrounding it that can only be described as social cosiness.
EVERYONE RIDES A BIKE
We had never seen so many bikes in one place before. People wearing suits and women in dresses rode bikes. Mothers with children in baskets or in a seat on the back traveled by bike.
There is a specific lane for bikes, and it is much nicer than the bike lanes we have here in Vancouver. Riding a bike in Amsterdam,even without a helmet, felt safer than riding around Vancouver, with a helmet. Very few cars lined the streets of this pedestrian-controlled city. We rented bikes for an afternoon and saw the city from the seat of a bike. It really gave us a feel for how locals get around every day.
SMALL ENOUGH CITY
The city is small enough that visitors can get a real feel for its people, neighborhoods, sights and secrets. We loved how we spent more time making memories than trying to figure out how to get where we had to be next on our itinerary.
UNIQUE, WORLD- CLASS MUSEUMS
The Rijksmuseum features a magnificent selection of Dutch paintings and art from the Golden Age. We visited the Rijksmuseum on Mother’s Day, and although Debbie is not yet a mother, she was let in free of charge and told it was because “someday you will be a mother”. Such a nice gesture; it really made our day!
The other popular museum is the Van Gogh Museum where you can learn about the styles and secrets of one of Holland’s most famous painters.
VISIT THE HOME OF ANNE FRANK
Classified as a museum, yes, but we felt it deserved it’s own distinction. Take a walk through where Anne Frank and her family hid for two years during the Second World War after fleeing from persecution in Germany in 1933 for being Jewish.
A bookcase marks the entrance to the unfurnished area of the annexe where they lived, hid away through efforts of their friends. There is also an exhibit that outlines the prosecution of the Jews during the War. It is a sad, sad part of history that everyone should be educated about.
Avoid long lines by arriving early in the morning during peak travel times.
TAKE A NIGHT STROLL
Taking a stroll in Amsterdam at night is very romantic when the city is glowing from lit-up bridges and canals. The “canal belt” (grachtengordel) offers a shimmery scene to explore.
The Heineken Experience was closed for renovations during our visit to Amsterdam. However, we have heard many great stories from other travelers about the four levels of interactive experiences and had to include it here.