To the Land of Canals and Cycles: A Tour Guide to Amsterdam
Famous for its many canals, its marijuana- dispensing coffee shops and its red light districts, Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands is an interesting and unique destination for travellers from all around the world. Being one of the most watery cities in the world, Amsterdam has a quarter of its surface area taken up by canals and harbours, which not only serve as areas of recreation, but also facilitate legitimate transport across the city via the multitude of pleasure boats registered in the city.
Besides canals and boats, Amsterdam has an abundance of bicycles; so much so that the bicycles here outnumber the human population of the city! In fact, cycling in Amsterdam is a way of life made easier by the city’s unbeatable network of cycle routes and flat landscape.
Places to Visit
- Canal Ring: Surrounding the Old Centre of Amsterdam, the medieval heart of the city, is this famous 17th– century district, the whole of which has been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO for being the world’s most unique urban landscapes with its distinctive cultural and historical value. The Canal Ring of Amsterdam is also a hub for fantastic cultural and sporting events all throughout the year.
- Van Gogh Museum: Dedicated to the works of the renowned Dutch Post- Impressionist painter Vincent Willem van Gogh and his contemporaries, this art museum has been identified as the 2nd most visited museum in the Netherlands and the 31st most visited art museum in the world. With such credits under its name, it is a must- visit place for lovers and connoisseurs of art.
- Civic Guards Gallery: For those willing to explore a city’s secrets, a small gate just off the bustling shopping street Kalverstraat and down a tiny square lies the Civic Guards Gallery (Schuttersgalerij). Officially a part of the Amsterdam Museum, the Gallery displays fifteen enormous golden- age paintings depicting the civic guards, the members of the citizen militia of medieval and the early modern Netherlands intended to protect the town or city from attack and act in case of revolt or fire.
- Madame Tussauds: The Amsterdam located wax museum of the renowned Madame Tussaud is more of an interactive venture in an indoor amusement park than a mere cabinet displaying wax figures. Modernized and equipped with multimedia effects, the city’s Madame Tussauds addresses itself mainly to children and teenage visitors.
- The Heineken Experience: The beer giants of Amsterdam provide tickets for booking an interactive tour through their history in their former brewery which is signed off with a beer tasting finale.
- XtraCold Icebar: This unique bar in the heart of Amsterdam can be rightly called the coolest bar on earth. And quite literally. Inside the place are two bars: one, a lounge where you can sit and enjoy your free welcome cocktail or a large Heineken; at the back of the lounge is the Icebar. Before stepping into the Icebar, you’ll be provided with thermals and gloves to keep you warm at a temperature as low as – 10 degrees Celsius! Inside you’ll be astonished to find a staggering 60 tons of natural ice sculpted to imitate an actual bar!
Public Squares in Amsterdam:
- The Dam Square: Also known as simply the Dam, it is the main town square and is considered as the very centre of the city. On its western edge is the Royal Palace, which is one of three palaces in the Netherlands which are at the disposal of the monarch. The Dam Square links the streets Damrak and Rokin, which run along the original course of the river Amstel. Within a few miles beyond the Dam’s northeast corner lies the city’s main red- light district: de Wallen.
- Rembrandtplein: If you’re looking for clubs and cafes that will entertain you even way past midnight, Rembrandtplein is the square to go! Named after the famous painter Rembrandt, whose statue you’ll come across in the centre of the square, the place will offer you hospitable and inviting cafes like The Escape, Café de kroon and Café de Schiller.
- Leidseplein: Located in the very heart of Amsterdam’s vibrant night life, Leidseplein is home to popular clubs like Jimmy Woo and De Kring. Besides, for an afternoon high tea at this square, you can always head to Café Americain at Hotel Americain.
- Nieumarket: With the market to scour during the day and with welcoming cafes aplenty during the evening, one never has a dull moment at Nieumarket. Also, just in its neighbourhood is Amsterdam’s Chinese District, where you can always head for to have some lovely Chinese food.
If you’re planning to use public transport in Amsterdam, you’ll need to buy the public transport chip card (OV- chipkaart) to travel on trams, buses and metros. The most convenient way would be to opt for a disposable one- hour card or day card (valid for one to seven days). One-hour tickets can be bought from the conductor or driver on the tram or bus. Day tickets can be bought on the tram or purchased in advance. Day cards cannot be bought from the driver on the bus. Tickets are valid across the whole network from the time of purchase, allowing you to take as many journeys as you choose within your chosen time-frame.
However, for a more up- close taste of the city, use what everyone uses here: the bicycles! Hire a cycle for rent and paddle your way through the charm of Amsterdam.
Where to Stay?
A hotel near Nieumarket would be a great choice. You’ll be in the city centre and and an excellent starting point for a great urban walk to visit beautiful squares and canals. You will also be close to Amsterdam’s Central Station.