With just over million people, Amsterdam is the largest city in The Netherlands, a country most people know as Holland. This multicultural city warmly embraces tourists, with over million people visiting each year. The Dutch are very tolerant and fun to talk with, and everybody speaks English. The heart of the city is so picturesque that it is like an historical open-air museum. No wonder that the inner canal district is an internationally protected heritage site. In the 17th century Amsterdam was a center for world economy and many of the canal houses and old warehouses date from this Golden Age. Some landmarks, such as the Oude Kerk in the Red Light District even date back to the 13th century.
Just a short walk from the Central Station is iconic Dam Square, built nearly 750 years ago. Its purpose gave the city its name: Amster. Dam. A dam built around the river Amstel to protect it from an inland sea. The square is dominated by the Royal Palace. From its windows you can see the National Monument, dedicated to the many Dutch victims of World War II. The Dam also houses Madame Tussauds’ wax collection. The impressive wax collection combines humor with an insight into Holland’s gripping history. Listen to fragments of Anne Frank’s famous diary, or visit her old hiding place to understand what life was like for Jewish families during Nazi occupation. It’s not surprising that Europeans call Amsterdam ‘The Venice Of The North’: No less than 165 canals – crossed by a thousand bridges – divide the compact city center.
Forget about cars, the best way to see the city center is by foot, or, as the Dutch would say: “Just get on your bike!” Alternatively, take the tram across the city to the Museumplein. Art and history lovers insist that you haven’t seen Amsterdam if you haven’t seen the paintings by the Dutch masters that are on display here. The Rijksmuseum focuses on Dutch painters from the Golden Age. But don’t forget, there are over 1 million other artworks on display in this museum with 200 rooms. Located nearby is the Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to a poor but legendary 19th-century painter. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see his work become world-famous. Witness the fine art of transforming rough stones into sparkling jewels in the Diamond Museum. For centuries, Amsterdam was the diamond polishing center of the world. A gentle 10-minute stroll northwest brings you to the popular Vondelpark. On sunny days it bursts into life as locals and tourists alike come here to relax and people watch.
If you are a beer lover, make your way over to the old Heineken Brewery. It is the place to sample one of the world’s most popular lagers. Submerge yourself in the interactive Heineken Experience! From the tulip-filled stalls of the Flower Market, follow the broad canal northeast to the Nieuwmarkt. In the old days, Dutch traders used to come here to weigh in their butter and cheese. Leaving the Nieuwmarkt, you can walk through Chinatown to the Central Station, or take a short detour to ‘De Wallen’, one of the world’s oldest and most famous Red Light Districts. Today, coffee shops and adult emporiums keep the ‘anything goes’ spirit of this neighborhood alive.
As evening sets, head to the Leidseplein, a square that is buzzing with live music and nightlife. After dark, the canal district takes on a romantic air – the perfect backdrop for a moonlit walk before you retreat to your hotel. There is no other city like Amsterdam. With its seafaring history, charming gabled houses, remarkable art, and cosmopolitan people – it is a place that you won’t easily forget!
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Explore Amsterdam holidays and discover the best time and places to visit. | Golden Age canals lined by tilting gabled buildings are the backdrop for Amsterdam's treasure-packed museums, vintage-filled shops and hyper-creative design, drinking and dining scenes.