A week in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of those brilliant places that has absolutely no shortage of things to do. And how ever you like to spend your time - be it soaking up the culture, browsing the city’s many museums and art galleries, checking out the local eateries or shopping until you drop - there’s something for everyone in this quaint but cosmopolitan city.
Just a five-minute walk down the Damrak from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station you’ll find this jam-packed square, jostling with locals and tourists day and night. It’s really the centre of it all, and the perfect spot to take some pictures (particularly with the I Amsterdam sign as your backdrop - you shouldn’t leave without a picture here!). Museumplein Square is directly translated as Museum Square and here you can find the Van Gough Museum, the Rijksmuseum arts and aistory museum, Stedelijk Museum of contemporary art and the Concertgebouw concert hall.
The Van Gough Museum
Van Gough’s works are so iconic that even those not particularly into art wouldn’t want to miss visiting this museum. Rustic and bright, all of the work on display is sat within a stunning contemporary building, and walking around the museum is simply delightful. Enjoy the contrast of old and new, and view the works that tell a story of this artist’s amazing but tragic lifetime.
The Rijksmuseum is also located in Museumplein Square and is known as ‘The Museum of the Netherlands’. On display are over 8,000 objects of art and history, some dating back to the year 1200 and among which are world-renowned masterpieces. If you love culture and history, this is a must-see in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Artis Zoo
Heralded as one of the most pleasant zoos in the world, the Artis Royal Zoo offers a delightful day out and is the perfect place to take a wander - whether the sun is shining or not. The convenient layout means that you can easily stroll from one animal enclosure to the next, and with the displays showcased brilliantly and the animals well-looked after, there’s nothing to dislike for an afternoon of spotting all kinds of exotic lifeforms.
Amsterdam’s canals are its pride and joy – and the best way to fully appreciate them is to take a canal boat tour and soak up the scenery. The canals of the city rank the area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can see why, with the quaint colourful Dutch terraced houses, pretty little bridges laden with bikes and cobbled streets so typical of this fantastic city. Take a whistle-stop boat tour and get in the top sights, or while away a few hours on one of the tour boats and enjoy the evening twilight with a few drinks and nibbles.
FOAM Photography Museum
For those that don’t see the enjoyment in browsing endless ancient pieces of art, the world of photographs poses a completely different attraction entirely. Take a look at quirky and thought provoking pictures that really make an impact, all of which are contemporary and best-in-class. There’s always plenty of exhibitions on offer, as well as free guided tours if you really want the low down. The FOAM Museum café also has a great array of light bites and homemade cakes – sure to be needed after a long day of digesting such thought-provoking art!
Do it like the Dutch and explore the city on bike – you’ll fit in with the locals and see three times as much of the city than you would on foot! Bikes are simply a great way to get around, and there are plenty of places around the city from which you can join such as We Bike Amsterdam, Joy Ride Tours, and Sandeman’s New Europe bike tours.
The Anne Frank Museum
Not all of Amsterdam’s history is joyous – but deeply interesting nonetheless. See where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding and she wrote her famous diary. This little house is open every day for visitors and truly tells a story of her families’ time there during the Second World War. This is a must-see.
Simply looking for a picturesque spot to picnic and chill when the weather is nice? Then the VondelPark is Amsterdam’s beauty spot to head to. With the river nearby and plenty of open space to sit and relax, this is a delightful place to go if you want to take it slow in Amsterdam.
Although the city centre has more than enough to explore, it’s worth taking a trip to one of the nearby Dutch villages to experience a snapshot of rural life. The village of Zaanse Schans is just a 45-minute train journey away, and has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and quintessentially Dutch houses. Discover this 18th century village, maintained in just the way it once was with the windmills turning, fresh bread baking and clogs being made. There’s even a cheese factory, and pewter foundry in the various windmills. Pay a visit and take in the history, cycle around the area, or just enjoy the local pancake restaurant!
There's even some life sized clogs in the village of Zaanse Schans, totally worth taking a picture in!
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The very best of... Amsterdam 29 July 2015