Amsterdam

Amsterdam by CC user inyucho on Flickr Introduction Though it is primarily known by travelers as being a Venice of the North, or as a place to partake in activities that might be considered less than legal back home, Amsterdam is a city filled with culture and beauty for those that actively seek the finer things in life. While we recommend that you don’t ignore the canals, and while we won’t judge you if you choose to indulge in a certain plant, the following attractions should be given plenty of room in your itinerary as well, so that you might properly appreciate what the Netherlands‘ largest city is truly about. Rijksmuseum by CC user Reinoud Kaasschieter on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

Being the most important city in the Netherlands, it makes sense that a facility of the caliber of The Rijksmuseum exists here.

Serving as the country’s national historic and cultural museum, those wishing to learn more about this nation’s backstory will want to spend some serious time strolling its hallways.

8,000 pieces of art and artifacts stretching back about 800 years can be found in its exhibits, which contain pieces by Rembrant and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles among its highlights.

Those who only have their taste for fine art awakened by visiting the Rijksmuseum will want to have the Van Gogh Museum next on their list of attractions.

As the name implies, this institution is devoted to the life works of Vincent Van Gogh, who was another one of the many talented artists that this nation has produced over the centuries.

In addition to holding 200 paintings and 400 drawings that he had completed over the years, there are over 700 letters in this museum’s archives, which shed light into his personal life.

The Second World War was a horribly tragic event that affected much of Europe and the globe, but in Amsterdam, a teenage girl encapsulated the story of this grim time within the pages of her diary.

She and her family failed in their bid to remain concealed from the Gestapo, and Anne ended up dying in the concentration camps, but her father managed to survive.

Upon recovering her diary, he had it published, turning into one of the best selling books of all time. The building in which they hid in a Secret Annex is known today as Anne Frank House, and is operated as a museum that chronicles the Second World War as her family experienced it, as well as numerous forms of persecution and discrimination that people still suffer in our modern world today.

Amsterdam canals by CC user Bert Kaufmann on FlickrOther Attractions If walking amidst the streets of Amsterdam has begun to wear you down, take a break to relax at Vondelpark, one of this city’s best loved parks. Many come here to enjoy live theatre through the summer months, as well as picnics and BBQ in the pits scattered throughout the grounds of Vondelpark. If you’d rather have someone else do the hard work instead, there are four restaurants that are tastefully blended into the calming greenery that dominates in this urban oasis. For those that are unaware, one of the biggest beer brands on the planet was founded in Amsterdam, as Heineken brewed its first batch of beer for sale in 1873 after buying out the owners of what was once the Haystack brewery. 140+ years later, the Heineken Experience details the journey that got them to where they sit in the global beer hierarchy today, as this interactive museum details its path from a microbrew in 19th century Amsterdam to one of the world’s giants. Old and present processes that create this brew are explained, and at the end of the tour, two free glasses of its trademark pilsner will be served to every adult above the age of 18. As fun as it is getting lost amidst the streets of Amsterdam, it’s even more fun to do it in the complicated network of waterways that crisscross this metropolis. There are many tour operators that offer canal cruises to some of the most scenic parts of this historic Dutch city, but if you really want a unique travel experience, take advantage of self-hire options that will allow you to explore the canals by yourself. Don’t fall in – the water can be a bit on the murky side…!

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