The historic city of Amsterdam has many attractions that draw tourists from around the world. The city is filled with picturesque canals, museums, cafes and art galleries. But Amsterdam is more than just beauty and culture. The nightlife is second to none.
There are many things to see and do in Amsterdam, but here is a list of the top 10 attractions:
1. Cruising the Canals
The city center of Amsterdam is criss-crossed with 165 canals, some of them dating back to the 13th century. You can walk or bike through this part of Amsterdam, and explore the canals and more than 1,200 bridges. Traditional canal houses are common along the tree-lined waterways. It is a peaceful area, mainly because the narrow lanes don’t allow for much automobile traffic.
2. The Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is the place to visit for an unparalleled look at the Dutch Golden Age of artwork. The entire museum is under renovation, but there are still many open exhibits for more than 400 of the Dutch Masters. Paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Jan Steen are on display. The museum is one of Amsterdam’s largest tourist attractions.
3. The Begijnhof
A 14th century court of houses surrounding an open garden is a lesser-known Amsterdam attraction. There is a Roman Catholic chapel in the compound that is also open to tourists. As a religious site, people are asked to be respectful when visiting Begijnhof, and even refrain from speaking while on the grounds.
4. Brown Cafés
What the Dutch call a “café”, others might refer to as a “pub”, and there are more than 500 of them in the downtown area of Amsterdam. These cafés are not fancy, and their name comes from the dark wood outside with cigarette stained walls inside. Some well-known ones are the Café Welling and the Café de Pels.
5. Anne Frank House
More than a million people a year come to see the house made famous by the ordeals of Anne Frank’s family who hid from the Nazis here during the Second World War. The home is in it’s original state, and is too small for any guided tours. Visitors can explore the house along with guidebooks instead.
Known in the past as a hangout for hippies, Vondelpark is still a popular place for anyone wanting to get outside. On a sunny day, the park can be packed with people enjoying the sun, having picnics or reading by the pond. Inline skates are available for rent, and there are several places to get something to eat while you are there. During the summer, there are free open-air theatrical performances too.
7. Oude Kerk
In the heart of the racy Red Light District, is the oldest church in Amsterdam. Oude Kerk was built around 1250 AD and many famous Amsterdam residents have either been buried or married there. It’s open to the public in the afternoons, so you can enjoy the beautiful Gothic architecture.
For a fun shopping experience, visitors to Amsterdam must find the Waterlooplein market. It’s open Monday to Saturday during the daytime and is behind the City Hall (Stopera) building. You can find an array of vendors selling unusual items that include art, clothing, jewelry, and used goods. It’s basically a huge outdoor flea market.
9. The Red Light District
A popular spot for nightlife in Amsterdam, where prostitution is legal. This part of the city is filled with all forms of adult entertainment, often advertised by scantily clad women in red lit windows. Though prostitutes stroll the streets, the area is actually quite safe and many people are just tourists checking out the unusual part of town.
10. Coffee Shops
These particular coffee shops in Amsterdam are the ones that sell marijuana and hashish, as well as actual coffee. There are over 200 such coffee shops in the city, and they are very popular with tourists simply because they are so unique.