Other major European capitals are defined by their ornate palaces and grand estates, but in Amsterdam, the joy is in the details. In the capital of the Netherlands, floating houseboats add even more character to the 160 man-made canals, elaborate gables welcome visitors and even the street names tell tales of naval heroes, national legends and Golden Age painters.
Nowadays, Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in Europe. The popular tourist destination welcomes more than 4.63 million international visitors each year. Over 16 million people enjoy one-day trips in the capital city of the Netherlands. What makes Amsterdam so attractive? The 17th-century historical atmosphere of the city, combined with a modern mentality creates a friendly and relaxed environment in the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is a city in which visitors can have fun, but also a place filled with cultural attractions. The atmosphere of the city is unique according to its visitors, the buildings and the intimacy of the streets, the canals and the squares, creating a great ambiance.
One of the most curious facts about Amsterdam is that this city has the highest museum density in the world. It homes famous museums such as the Hermitage Amsterdam and the Van Gogh Museum. Other places of interest in the city include the Palace of the Dam, the Artis Zoo, Rembrandt House, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Hortus Botanicus Gardens. Vondelpark should not be missed either.
You cannot walk a mile in Amsterdam without bumping into a masterpiece. In a city of so many museums, it is impossible to pick a favorite, but the Van Gogh Museum is definitely a highlight. The museum is as much a tour of the troubled painter’s mind as it is a walk through his body of work. Hundreds of Van Gogh’s works chronicle his short but astonishing life. Through the paintings and drawings, visitors go with Van Gogh from Holland to Paris and finally to Arles, and accompany him on his evolution as an artist. The permanent collection includes highlights like The Bedroom, The Yellow House in Arles and still lifes that depict sunflowers shimmering in intense Mediterranean light. Also on display are personal effects, like a milk jug from Van Gogh’s brother Theo that made an appearance in many paintings.
More than 200 masterpieces are on display at the Rijksmuseum, the country’s premier art museum. Inside are iconic pieces like Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, Rembrandt’s Night Watch and an array of world-famous masterpieces by Van der Helst, Steen, Hals, Cuyp and other Golden Age stars. The pride of the Netherlands, the museum is a must-see for anyone with an appreciation for fine art.
Anne Frank is one of the 20th century’s most famous authors, the writer of an optimistic diary detailing her experience as a Jewish girl forced to hide in a secret apartment with her family from the Nazis. The actual diary of Anne Frank sits alone in a glass case at the Anne Frank House, the annex where the family and others sat in silence, read Dickens, covered the walls with pasted photos of movie stars and outgrew their clothes for two years before they were betrayed and sent to their deaths. Moving, haunting and inspiring, the museum represents both the darkest and most beautiful aspects of the human experience.
Amsterdam’s parks are just as vital as its museums. There is no better place to spend a sunny day than Vondelpark. The sprawling green space has an almost party atmosphere as locals from all walks of life relax on the grass, read books, share beers with friends and pluck out tunes on acoustic guitars. An abundance of gardens, ponds, lawns and winding footpaths await visitors, encouraging them to explore one of the most beautiful places in the capital.
The city is ripe for rambling, and the atmospheric lanes and quarters are best explored by bicycle. Two-wheeling is a way of life for locals. It is how they get to work, meet dinner dates and go shopping. It is easy for visitors to gear up for a spin thanks to the many bike rental shops in the city center, but if you prefer a less strenuous tour of the city, hop on an open-air canal boat to feel the wind in your hair as you go past hidden gardens, cafes, houses painted in primary colors, tulips in every shade imaginable and charming steepled churches.
Other must-see sights in Amsterdam include the House of Bols gin distillery and museum, the Begijnhof former convent, the Heineken Experience, the 19th-century Waag house, Madame Tussauds, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, the Artis Zoo, the shining Diamond Museum, the archaeological Allard Pierson Museum, the flower-filled Amstelpark and the Oost-Indisch Huis, former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company.
Must-see attractions in Amsterdam
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House is a museum with an interesting story. Located in the center of the city, Anne Frank House is the place in which Anne lived during World War II. Anne Frank wrote in her diary all details regarding her daily life in hiding. This diary is on display in the museum’s collections. Visiting this museum is a moving experience, visitors say, as it will take you into another world, Anne and her family’s life during the German occupation.
Van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh is a renowned painter, whose works are exhibited in some of the most famous museums in the world. The Van Gogh Museum is the place that exhibits most works of this famous post-impressionist painter. It welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors a year. Van Gogh self-portraits, the Bedroom in Arles and the Sunflowers are just some of the masterpieces you will be able to visit here.
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the National Museum of Holland. Located at Museum Square, this cultural venue can easily be accessed by all visitors. Here, you will find a collection of Dutch art and history. One of the most famous exhibits of this museum is Rembrandt’s Night Watch.
These three museums confer a special charm to the city of Amsterdam. Still, the cultural life of the capital city is not limited to that. Major theaters located around the Leidseplein, more than 50 cinema houses, great symphonic orchestras, and ballet venues can be enjoyed during a vacation here.