Amsterdam- What To Do and See, and How

Unlike what a LOT of people think, Amsterdam is not just a place to get high. This capital of The Netherlands is full of history, culture, and beautiful sights. Below is a list of the places I visited on my trip and ones that I highly recommend, as well as the best ways to go about exploring the city and all its attractions.

Heineken beer was started from within Amsterdam and the first factory is still in the city. However, it doesn't function as a factory now but is instead a museum/ experience/ entertainment place. You get to learn all about the history of Heineken through demonstrations from the staff and of course, how they make the beer. The demonstrations are very interesting, interactive and fun. Even if you're not a beer drinker like me, it's still a fun place to visit.

One of the oldest museums in Amsterdam, this museum is located in Museumplein, or Museum Square. The building itself is enormous, situated inside a beautiful compound with adjoining gardens. It has several works of art and history, all the way from the year 1200. I enjoyed the dollhouse collection and the special display of jewelry through the ages the most.

Bloemenmarkt is Amsterdam's famous floating flower market. There are beautiful flower shops all along the road that's on the side of the canals, selling colorful tulips, bulbs and lots of souvenirs The backs of the shops are on the water. Perfect photo ops!

Originally built in 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, the Royal Palace is a massive, beautiful building in one of the main square's of Amsterdam, the Dam Square. It's used by the Dutch royalty but is also open to visitors. Unfortunately when I visited, the palace was closed as the President of Argentina was visiting. {I caught a glimpse of the Queen and the First Lady getting into their cars from the palace}. Still, the building is gorgeous from outside and is a must-see. In fact, the entire square, called Dam Square, that has the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk, which is a 15th century church, and the War Memorial, is a must-visit.

This is small, private museum, but if you're interested in fashion, it's a fascinating place. It has a collection of bags and purses dating all the way from the 14th century to the 21st century. The museum is laid out very well, so you start from the oldest bags, and make your way to the most modern, designer bags of today. It has simple and interesting descriptions of the purses, how they were made and used, which makes for a very interesting read. The beaded bags were an item of complete fascination to me, knowing that one bag would take up to two full weeks to make!

The De Gooyer Windmill is the only working windmill that's left within the city of Amsterdam. It dates back to the 16th century, and is now a National Monument. It's a behemoth in size, and though the blades don't grind anything anymore, they're still functional. You can only see this from outside, so it's a quick stop to have a look at the giant windmill and take a few photos.

The Waag, or the 'Weigh house' is a beautiful old castle-like building in Nieuwmarkt Square in Amsterdam. It used to be a city gate before, and now is a restaurant. I didn't go inside, but it's a beautiful piece of Dutch architecture.

HOW to see these places:

You can always explore the city on foot, walking around the streets and looking at all the old buildings, go shopping on Kalverstraat, check out Centraal Station, and discover other beautiful buildings, courtyards and churches. However, to visit the places I mentioned above efficiently, saving time and money, I recommend the hop on-hop off bus and boat tours.

Centraal Station

The best way to see most of the sights and museums, is to book a 48-hour hop on-hop off bus and boat tour with City Sightseeing Amsterdam. The double-decker bus takes you around the city, provides headphones and a running commentary about the city, and you can get off at any stop, take your time, visit it, and come back to the bus stop to get on another City Sightseeing Bus and continue your journey. I took the boat tour as well, and after visiting the Heineken Experience, Rijksmuseum, De Gooyer Windmill and a few other places, the next day, I got on the boat tour. Since I had already seen all the places on my list, I didn't get off at any stop and just enjoyed the tour around the gorgeous canals of the city. The information about the city and the country on the canal boat tour is much better than the bus, and I got to stare at all the beautiful buildings of Amsterdam to my heart's content as the boat moved slowly on the water. Look out for the houseboats and the intriguing details about them in the commentary.

Transport within Amsterdam:
The tram system in Amsterdam is efficient and user-friendly, not to mention cheap. I used trams to go around, especially to the City Sightseeing tour bus stops and back to my hotel. You can buy a 1 hour ticket, 24 h, 48 h as well as a one-week pass. 

Tours outside Amsterdam:

If you were dreaming about seeing tulips in Holland, this is the place to go to. Keukenhof is one of the largest gardens in the world, and it's situated in Lisse, outside Amsterdam.It's open roughly for only 7 weeks a year, during Holland's springtime, and mid-April is the best time to visit as all the flowers will be in bloom. To visit, you can book a bus with Tours & Tickets, which takes you directly to the garden, and let's you spend the whole day there before bringing you back to Amsterdam. Tours & Tickets have shops all over Amsterdam, and you can also buy the tickets from most hotel receptions.

This was one of the best tours I booked for and went to, as you get to see a whole lot of the Netherlands, learn about it's history, and you get to visit 3 different places. You get to see the inside of a working windmill in Zaanse Schans, watch clogs being made in a clog factory in the fishing village of Marken, and visit a cheese factory in Voldendam, where they take you by ferry. The bus provides you with headphones which you can plug into in the bus and listen to intriguing history and facts about the Netherlands, the places the bus is driving through, as well as your destinations. You also have fun, lively guides, {our bus's guides were the lovely Fosca and Savanna} who make you laugh and give you more information about the places you're visiting. 
The only downside of this tour was that there wasn't enough time at each town, as the bus is on a schedule and you hardly get time to explore the beautiful little villages and towns. But still worth a visit through the bus tour, and if you'd like, you can make a trip to any of these towns later to spend more time there. Don't forget to have the Kibbeling, a local fried fish dish, at your last stop at the guide's recommended restaurant, as well as fresh waffles from Woltje's Backerij next door.

Rotterdam is a modern city located in South Holland, perfect for a day trip. I went by the Intercity Direct train, which took only 40 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal to reach Rotterdam Centraal. Rotterdam is a beautiful city with modern architecture. If Amsterdam is all about historic buildings, Rotterdam is the opposite.The city centre was destroyed in WWII, and rebuilt using avant-garde designs. There are many attractions in the city, including the Stadhuis or City Hall, the shopping streets around it, and a ten-minute walk away you come across Laurenskerk or St. Lawrence's Church.
A little further away is the Rotterdam Eye and the De Markthal, a horseshoe shaped indoor market that has loads and loads of food stalls inside, and luxury housings on top. Opposite it are the most fascinating houses I've ever seen- the Kijk-Kubus or Cube Houses of Rotterdam. These are tilted cube-shaped houses, with three sides facing the ground and three sides facing the sky. There are lots of these houses within the compound, or the 'Blaakse Forest', as the architect calls it, with the houses as trees within the forest. You can explore the entire place, going through to the waterfront where you get a scenic view of the harbour with lots of pretty boats. After getting my fill of the city, I caught a train back to Amsterdam. There are lots of frequent trains so you can be flexible and relaxed.

Those were all the places I visited and loved. There are many more attractions to see, such as the Anne Frank House and Rembrandt Museum. But I don't like being cooped up indoors too much of the time when I visit a new place, I'd rather be out and about, exploring the city. But if you like museums, there are plenty to see in this history-rich city.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Are you planning a trip soon? What would you add to this list?

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @thesilverkickdiaries to see more photos and videos of The Netherlands.

Until next time,

Shabana Feroze


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