Amsterdam is often seen as a seedy city. Many tourists head to the Netherlands’ capital for its relaxed laws, but Amsterdam has a different side, one of beautiful architecture, rich culture and great food and drink. With its proximity to the UK, air travel is very cheap, making Amsterdam an ideal location for an alternative city break this autumn.
The sights and attractions Amsterdam has to offer are plentiful and there is something different at every turn.
Starting in the city’s lively, central Dam Square you are confronted on both sides by the Royal Palace and the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). The stunning exterior of the 15th century New Church is only compounded by the breathtaking neo-Gothic architecture of the interior. The Royal Palace, or Koninklijk Paleis, once dubbed the 8th wonder of the world by Dutch poet, Contantijn Huygens, is a wonder of architecture. Designed along classical lines, the palace was built in the 17th century and is still used by the Dutch royal family today. The magnificent palace is open to visitors who can discover the rich history of the building. Amsterdam’s architectural attraction does not end here; the city centre is littered with beautiful churches and other historical features to attract building buffs.
Amsterdam is connected by a series of concentric canals which sprawl out from the city centre. These picturesque canals are lined with classic gabled canal houses which remain intact to this day. A canal tour is a must for any visitor to the city. Another tip, when looking for cheap hotels in the Netherlands, see if you can find a property overlooking the canals – you can’t beat those views!
Museums and galleries
Something for all ages here, from galleries of great Dutch artists Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Escher to the Pixar animation exhibition and NEMO Science Centre. Amsterdam’s plentiful museums offer visitors the chance to explore the life of Anne Frank, Amsterdam’s maritime history and some of the more adventurous works of the avant-garde art movement at the city’s Cobra Museum of Modern Art. Amsterdam also holds seemingly the world’s widest variety of quirky museums. For those who like to venture off the beaten track there are museums dedicated to cats, spectacles, houseboats and bags and purses.
For the slightly less cultural, but no less intriguing, Amsterdam has on offer a variety of attractions including tours of the Heineken brewery, Ajax football club, Amsterdam Dungeons or the city’s famous botanical gardens which have entertained visitors to the capital for four centuries.
Amsterdam for Free
Even if you are travelling on a shoestring or have run out of spending money, Amsterdam still has plenty to offer. From the Civic Guards Gallery containing a large collection of portraits of Amsterdam’s famous residents, past and present, to the extensive network of parks and gardens featuring hours of walking through beautiful botany and the free classical or jazz concerts which can be discovered most days of the week. Amsterdam is a treasure trove of budget activities; you can even download a free guided walking or cycling tour of the city.
The city’s quarter known as the Pijp was a former working class area of the city, a cultural melting pot of cultures and nationalities as immigrants began moving to Amsterdam. It is now, as a result, a vibrant area full of fantastic little cafes, bars and restaurants, a must-visit for any traveller.
Amsterdam is a world of hidden charm and a city with something for everyone and any age.