The capital of the Netherlands is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations with visitors arriving from all over the world and its location on the Dutch-Belgian Waterways, which in turn join the mighty Rhine, makes it a river cruise natural. Whether you’re visiting on a voyage which explores the waterways exclusively or one which is part of a longer Rhine itinerary, Amsterdam is a port with so much to offer. It’s home to over 60 miles of canals and is actually divided into around 90 islands, earning it the nickname the Venice of the North. Like that most historic of cities, it has its fair share of beautiful architecture and of course the opportunity for a canal boat ride.
Amsterdam’s aforementioned canal network is indeed one of its primary tourist draws, with Prinsengracht, Herengracht and Keizersgracht being the three largest and most popular waterways in the city. Though you’ll have just stepped off your river cruise vessel and getting on another one may not seem like the most obvious thing to do, you’ll be glad you did. An Amsterdam canal cruise is a great way to see the city and some of its most picturesque scenery and historic architecture.
As far as individual attractions go, Amsterdam boasts two very popular ones which are must-sees for any first-time visitor. Get there early if you want to avoid the queues to enter the Anne Frank House, which tells the utterly moving story of the celebrated Second World War diarist. As well as being a museum, this was the very place where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis for over two years. The Netherland’s most celebrated artist is also honoured in fitting style in the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of works from the Dutch master. The life of another legend of the canvas can be explored with a trip to Rembrandt House, the 17th century dwelling where the artist lived and worked.
If this compelling period of the city’s history interests you or if you simply want to soak up the atmosphere in Amsterdam’s most traditional surroundings, then be sure to head to The Jordaan; a neighbourhood of quant alleyways, period dwellings and bespoke boutiques guaranteed to delight. Or to escape the streets altogether and find time for a little reflection, head to Vondelpark, which dates back to the 1850s and offers tourists and locals alike some secluded, leafy respite.
Amsterdam also boasts one of the most celebrated concert halls in the world, the Royal Concertgebouw, which is home to an exceptionally talented orchestra and some equally exceptional acoustics. The good news for classical fans is that a free concert is held weekly but even if you’re just curious, it’s worth going along to see for yourself one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
Bicycles are a way of life in Amsterdam so be careful not to walk in a cycle lane while seeing the sights. Be sure to try some Poffertjes pancakes at a café during your visit as they’re a local delicacy and remember, chips are always served with mayonnaise here.