For years, all I ever heard about Amsterdam was its red light district and drug scene. The city was not one of the travel destinations on my wish list. However, I have now experienced a change of heart. I recently had to research Amsterdam for a travel article, and to my pleasant surprise, I learned that there is so much more to Amsterdam that I never knew about, so much that now I really want to visit! If you are a world traveler, the following attractions may be old news to you. But, if you are like me, you may not know about the treasures awaiting you in Amsterdam.
One of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam is its picturesque canal system that dates back to the 17th century, with the three main canals being Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Herengracht. Adorned with a myriad of colorful flowers and art works, these beautiful, scenic water canals wind along through the city where you will see something new and exciting at every turn from gorgeous historical mansions and landmarks to charming gardens and courtyards. There are also plenty of quaint restaurants, cafes and shops for you to stop in at as well. Besides walking, you can also choose to rent a bike and cycle along the canals, or you can even arrange for a canal cruise.
Anne Frank House
I have to confess, I never knew that Anne Frank’s house was located in Amsterdam. Now a museum, the Anne Frank House is one of the city’s most visited sites. You can take a tour of the old building where Anne Frank and her family lived during the WWII era while they were hiding from the Nazis. You can see where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary, the pencil marks on the wall that recorded the growth of the children, and a bookcase that once concealed the doorway to the secret room of the family’s hiding place. You can also watch a film here to learn more about the history of the house and the era.
Spanning more than 120 acres, the Vondelpark is beautiful public park dating back to 1850. Popular among both tourists and residents, Vondelpark offers a scenic respite from the busy city. You can stroll among sprawling green spaces or meander along paths winding through picturesque gardens that feature a variety of flowers and plants as well as serene ponds and attractive sculptures. You can enjoy a quiet picnic or sit on a bench and read a book. Or, if you want some exercise, you can hike, cycle or jog along the trails. If you enjoy watching birds, the park is home to many different species. The park also offers a playground for children, an open air theatre and restaurants. Additionally, the park often serves as a venue for festivals, so if you are in the city during festival times, head over to Vondelpark.
You don’t have to be an alcohol drinker to love the Heineken Experience. This place is fascinating. You can take all the time you want as you tour this huge brewery, checking out all the exhibits that show you how the beer is processed. Throughout the tour, you will find many fun, interactive activities. For examples, you can sing in a music a video or make a postcard with your picture on it. At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a free sample of Heineken beer. Best of all, in my opinion, a tour of the Heineken Experience offers you a free boat ride down one of the lovely canals to a gift shop where you can receive a free gift.
Van Gogh Museum
If you love art, you can spend the afternoon at the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of art by the world famous artist, Vincent van Gogh. This museum showcases more than 200 paintings and 600 drawings by Van Gogh. If you have children, the museum offers fun art activities for them. If you get hungry, the museum has a nice cafe as well.