Top Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

Top Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

One of the most popular travel destinations in Europe, Amsterdam is a compact, charming and cosmopolitan city that invites exploration. Known as the “Venice of the North” for its more than 100 canals, the capital of the Netherlands offers easy sightseeing adventures by foot, bike and boat. Amsterdam’s well-preserved and appealing 17th-century architecture provides a quaint if incongruous backdrop for a city famous for its modern, progressive attitudes. From the city’s fine art museums to its colorful flower markets, from cannabis-selling “coffeeshops” to the red light district, there’s something exciting and unique to discover in Amsterdam at every turn.

10. Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam

Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam

 

One of three royal palaces in the Netherlands, the Koninklijk Paleis in Amsterdam is located on the western side of Dam Square in the center of the city. The 17th structure began life as the city’s town hall, but was converted into a palace during the Napoleonic Wars when Napoleon’s brother Louis was crowned King Louis I of Holland. Although the exterior was constructed by Jacob van Campen with sandstone to mimic the public buildings of Rome, the interior is a premier example of the elaborate Empire style of the early 1800s. The palace is still used by the Dutch Royal House for Royal events but is open to the public for most of the year.

9. De Wallen

De Wallen

 

De Wallen is Amsterdam’s infamous red-light district, the city’s designated area for legalized prostitution. The neighborhood covers several canals and side streets to the south of Central Station. More than one hundred one-room apartments are rented by sex workers who entice onlookers from behind windows illuminated with red lights. A strong police presence keeps the neighborhood safe. Although taking pictures is not allowed, visitors are welcome. As the oldest section in Amsterdam, the district is also home to several historic buildings, including the city’s oldest church, the Gothic-style Oude Kerk.

8. Scheepvaartmuseum

Scheepvaartmuseum

 

Artifacts from Amsterdam’s rich nautical history are housed within the Scheepvaartmuseum, or National Maritime Museum. Formerly a naval storehouse constructed in 1656, the museum features 18 rooms of exhibits and artifacts. Sea trade made Amsterdam the world’s wealthiest city during the 1600s, and this multi-story museum demonstrates how the Dutch dominated the seas with exhibits that range from depictions of historical sea battles to artfully drawn maps and 17th-century weapons. The museum’s collection of carvings also gives visitors an up-close look at how sailors passed their time while at sea. Moored outside the museum is a replica of the Amsterdam, an 18th-century ship which sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies.

7. Vondelpark

Vondelpark

 

Named Nieuwe Park when it opened in 1865, Vondelpark is located in the Oud-Zuid, or Old South district of Amsterdam to the west of the city’s Museum Square. The park earned its current name after a statue of the Joost van den Vondel was placed in the park in 1867. Designed and crafted by sculptor Louis Royer, the statue of the famous 17th-century Dutch poet and playwright became such a familiar landmark that people began to call the park Vondelpark. The park serves as a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists. It’s a place where people can relax, play sports on the grass, bike along pathways and enjoy a herring sandwich or Dutch beer at one of the park’s horeca facilities.

6. Bloemenmarkt

Bloemenmarkt

 

Located between Muntplein and Koningsplein on the south bank of the Singel canal, the Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market. Seven days a weeks, flower sellers load stands and floating barges with all of the flowers and bulbs for which the Netherlands is famous. Founded in 1862, the Bloemenmarkt includes more than a dozen different florists and garden shops as well as souvenir stalls. Although locals shop here too, the market is primarily designed to cater to tourists. The bulbs offered for sale have been designated as ready for export, so visitors can purchase tulip, daffodil, narcissus and other bulbs as a lasting memento of their trip to Amsterdam.

5. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House
Amsterdam’s most visited attraction, the Anne Frank Huis is situated along the Prinsengracht canal. The structure that once hid Anne Frank, her family and four other Jewish people from the Nazi authorities during World War II has been viewed as a memorial to the Holocaust since 1947, when Anne’s father published the diary that Anne wrote while they lived hidden within the building. A plan to preserve the building was hatched in 1955 when developers were planning to demolish the structure. The building opened as a museum in 1960. Visitors can view the rooms where Anne lived as well as exhibits that chronicle her all-too-short life.

4. Begijnhof

Begijnhof

 

The district of Begijnhof, or Beguines Courtyard, occupies the center circle of land in Amsterdam’s circular canal system. In the 14th century, the area was an enclosed courtyard that served as a residence for the sisterhood of Catholic Beguines. The Begijnhof wasn’t a convent in the traditional sense because the women were free to leave the order if they chose to marry. When the sisterhood’s chapel was confiscated during the Reformation, they began to worship secretly at the Begijnhof Kapel, a charming structure fitted with marble columns and stained-glass windows. Begijnhof is also home to the English Reformed Church, built around 1392. The city’s oldest preserved wooden house, which dates from around 1465, is located within the Begijnhof as well.

3. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

 

Located on the northwestern side of the Museum Square, or Museumplein, the Van Gogh Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of the artist’s paintings and letters. Housed in a four-story building designed by Gerrit Rietveld in the 1970s, the museum is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Two hundred paintings from the Dutch Post-Impressionist occupy the second story of the museum. Displayed chronologically, the artwork offers viewers an intimate look at Van Gogh’s evolving style. The third story contains information about the artist’s troubled life and about the efforts taken to restore his paintings. Works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries, including artists like Millet, Gaugin and Daubigny are exhibited on the top floor.

2. Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

 

Occupying the northeastern section of the Museum Square, the Rijksmuseum is arguably the most important of the nation’s arts and history museums. The total collection numbers more than one million artifacts dating from the 13th century onward. For decades, the collection was housed in buildings all over the country until 1876, when the architect Pierre Cuypers won a design contest and the construction of the Rijksmuseum began. Opened in 1885, the museum currently has around 8,000 objects on display, the most famous of which are paintings by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vemeer. Rembrandt’s masterpiece Night Watch is worth the price of admission alone.


How to Decide Between Budapest and Amsterdam

Category : Amsterdam , Budapest

It’s a situation that every traveller hates: being forced to choose between two incredibly unique European cities, and in this case, it’s a little worse since you’re choosing between Eastern and Western Europe, two starkly different regions within one remarkably beautiful continent. I won’t lie: the fact that you’re having to choose between Amsterdam and Budapest is unfair. It means either you or the person in charge of the itinerary has to take a long, hard look in the mirror, and ask themselves who they are. What do they want to see? What kind of traveler are they? What speaks to them?

Anyway, enough of making you feel bad. That’s not going to help anyone. After all, being in the position to choose between Amsterdam and Budapest isn’t exactly torture.

So what separates these two great cities aside from East and West? What makes Amsterdam a seductive fairytale and Budapest, a vibrant vixen? And most of all, if you had to choose, which is more your style? Here’s an honest comparison from someone who’s been to them, collectively, 10 times over….

Amsterdam

The Dutch capital is Europe’s cool kid: a charming, active party animal with a rich history and super liberal lifestyle.

Active?

By active, we mean that everybody rides bikes here. No, really, everyone rides bikes here. Bikes rule the roads so all you weekend lycra warriors will be in your element, especially since the terrain is relatively flat and the scenery, gorgeous. Riding over canals decorated with colourful flower pots will lead you past quaint cafes and cool bars. The Dutch love to be out and about, so no matter which end of the spectrum you sit on–social butterfly or bonafide people-watcher–Amsterdam is the perfect place to sit back with a top-notch beer and a handful of bitterballen. And the nightlife you ask? Of course you’re curious, you’ve heard so much….

If you’re a party reveller who loves hopping between a series of hole-in-the-wall bars and the occasional joint, then bohemian Amsterdam is your kind of place. If drinking expertly-crafted Dutch beers in the sun outside an old windmill brewery sounds a treat, and you’re a cheese-lover, then the Dutch capital is sure to delight.

If you decide on Amsterdam, you’re likely to end up passing through the infamous red light district, where scantily-clad women stand in windows, weed-haven coffee shops are abound, and crazy bars fill to the brim. It isn’t all that seedy and there are plenty of people around, so don’t expect some dodgy, back-alley commune of pimps and thugs; instead, you can expect a hedonistic carnival of adult vices where almost nothing is off the table.

Top 3 Quintessential Amsterdam Experiences

Anne Frank’s House: No matter your reason for coming to Amsterdam, Anne Frank’s House is a must not only for history buffs, but for all of us. It serves as a haunting reminder of the Holocaust as documented by a young Jewish girl named Anne Frank, who hid from 1942 until her capture in 1944 by the German Nazis. Tickets are only 9 euros, but if you’re travelling independently be prepared for very long lines and waits. Get there early before the museum opens to beat the crowds.

Hire a bike: On the list of epic things one can do in any given city, hiring a bike sounds like a bit of a lazy cop-out by a budding travel writer, doesn’t it? But rest assured, this is how the Dutch get around and given that Amsterdam is a beautiful, sprawling city of canals, bars and cafes, this is exactly how you want to explore the town when venturing off the beaten path. You never know what you’re going to find around the next corner, and trust me – there’s a lot! Bike rentals are around 9 euros per day.

Brouwerj ‘t IJ: This brewery is located next to the De Gooyer windmill, and serves world-class beers and traditional Dutch finger food and cheeses. When you want to leave behind the hedonistic bars and loud music (which, of course, can be incredibly fun), this is the place you want to head to with friends to enjoy the sunshine and green outdoor area. Prices start at around 2.50 euros, and they serve everything from Ambers to IPAs, as well as several seasonal beers. Brewery tours are also available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for 4.50 euros and include a free beer.

Must eat:

All the cheese in the world.

Must drink:

Amstel beer.

If Amsterdam was a song, what would it be?

Three Little Birds, by Bob Marley.

If Amsterdam was a celebrity, who would it be?

Emma Stone.

If Amsterdam was a fruit, what would it be?

An orange.

If Amsterdam was a colour, what would it be?

Crimson red.

If Amsterdam was a feeling, what feeling would it be?

Sunshine and smiles. Hip and relaxed. A party of positive vibes in a welcoming atmosphere. You’ll never want to go home, and will probably end up moving here.

Budapest

Hungary’s capital is the Beast From The East: a good-looking, tough hipster with old world charm and a wicked sense of fun.

Anyone heading to Europe and not going to Budapest is making a grave mistake: This spellbinding city is rich in history, a culinary treat (chicken paprika, anyone?), and has an underrated nightlife that allows travellers to experience something unlike anywhere else on the continent. It’s off the map enough to have unexplored secrets within its wide, leafy boulevards, and the imposing, faded grandeur of its historic architecture will leave you marvelling.

Make no mistake: there are no prizes for originality when it comes to Paris and Rome–these cities have seen a billion tourist feet, and yours are just a billion and one. Budapest is a dark horse beauty that attracts visitors, not guests: Unlike the aforementioned travel behemoths, Budapest won’t tart herself up to suit your every need. She’ll simply present her real self, and leave the rest right up to you.

If you prefer chic nightclubs and dystopian, cyberpunk ‘Ruin Bars’, plus a vibrant street atmosphere reminiscent of Barcelona, then Budapest is your best bet. Szimpla bar, for example, could be the set of Blade Runner or a hangout of Angelina Jolie’s in Hackers. Hit the bars, restaurants and merchant stalls in lively Gozsdu Udvar, a remarkably long alley-slash-walkway that houses Vicky Barcelona, a must-see Spanish tavern serving up tapas as good as any in Spain. If you’re into clubs, the ones in Budapest are dazzling with signature interior designs and fancy flair.

The outdoor game is also strong: Hungarians love to congregate in parks and outdoor bars with a few drinks, as the music pumps and the sun shines bright. If you can’t decide between drinks, swimming, relaxing in the sun and say, playing chess, you can do it all at one of Europe’s most iconic outdoor thermal springs: Szechenyi Baths.

Top 3 Quintessential Budapest Experiences

Szechenyi Baths: One of the largest bath complexes in Europe, this is the ultimate place to come and relax in the hot, natural thermal baths, or the ice-cold pool, and unwind. There are 21 pools in total, including the iconic outdoor palace, as well as saunas, gyms, and an on-site cafe and bar. The grand building was built in 1913, and also houses the occasional “Sparty” (Spa Party) which is a lot of fun for those looking for an alternative nightlife experience. The water has medically-proven health benefits and can be drunk from the Drinking Well. If you’re up for it, you can also play chess in the pool. Entry with a locker is 4,900 forint on weekdays, and 5,100 forint on weekends.

House of Terror: A museum dedicated to the memory of the Hungarians tortured and killed by two oppressive regimes, backed by Nazi Germany and the Soviets during the 20th century. The House of Terror details the history of what happened during the course of the regimes, both at a political and a social level, and also highlights the spiritedness of the Hungarians in the face of adversity. Entry is 1000 forint for EU students and seniors, and 2000 forint for adults.

Szimpla Kert: Legendary cyberpunk nightspot for a casual drink or a good night out, the old factory-turned-pub-slash-open air cinema, is an art haven providing creative talents the chance to sell their products to revellers. This place has everything. It’s beyond rad. It’s the type of bohemian venue that every bar owner should aim to have. During the day, there are farmers’ markets promoting sustainable eating, recording studios where many-a-great LP has been produced, and weekly non-profit showcasings where those fighting for worthy causes have the chance to raise awareness and funds.

Must eat:

Chicken paprika with nokedli dumplings.

Must drink:

Palinka.

If Budapest was a song, what would it be?

Hey Porsche, by Nelly.

If Budapest was a celebrity, who would it be?

Charlie Hunnam.

If Budapest was a fruit, what would it be?

A strawberry.

If Budapest was a colour, what would it be?

Gold.

If Budapest was a feeling, what would it be?

Funk and lively. Historic parties of faded grandeur and pretty people. Lovable grunge with a touch of street. If this is your first time in Budapest, I guarantee that it won’t be your last.

So will you choose Amsterdam or Budapest?

Experiencing Amsterdam and Budapest will allow you to create a bridge between East and West, and in a world where every blogger and media outlet has an opinion, you’ll finally have the chance to form your own. Amsterdam will open your eyes to just how cool this world can be. Budapest will reveal its hidden charm in the most random of corners. Both, however, will become the colourful splash on your travel canvas, the brightest, most revealing of all travel hues. Most of all, you’ll have the chance to dispel a tired travel myth: that Eastern Europe is unfriendly to newcomers, and that Amsterdam is a stoner’s hangout.

So, while both cities are equally remarkable and dynamic, if you could only choose one, which would it be?


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