Fly to Amsterdam
Amsterdam has a range of attractions to offer, with a little something for everyone to enjoy. Being such a culture-rich and history-rich city, it will be a pleasant and fun place to explore. There are some great museums, vibrant squares and beautiful parks and sights just waiting to be admired.
In particular, a trip to Dam square is essential as it is the heart of Amsterdam. Dam Square is an important historical site for Amsterdam for numerous reasons, one of them being the reception area for when Napolean and his troops entered to take over the city. To find out more about its impressive history why not take a trip to the Amsterdam Historical Museum located close by. Once at the square you can’t miss the remarkable and classical Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which originally served as a town hall and now more commonly used for official state functions.
Also be sure to gaze up at the National Monument, erected to honour the victims of world war II. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the square as you come across the various food stalls, cafes, shops, buskers and entertaining demonstrations. During the summer especially, Dam Square is heaving with tourists and not to mention pigeons!
Curious? Have a look at the map of Amsterdam
Leidseplein is another popular square in Amsterdam but more so for its nightlife. With restaurants, coffeshops, theatres and cinemas in the vicinity, Leidseplein will keep you entertained. You will also come across some great shows by jugglers, street musicians, fire eaters and other performers that light up the night until the early hours.
For those who love street markets, Amsterdam won’t disappoint. Amsterdam is home to one of the biggest and well known street markets in Europe, the Albert Cuyp market, situated in the Piip district of Amsterdam. With over 300 stalls, you can buy anything from clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, spices, cheese, fruit and vegetables, you name it. With prices being cheap the Albert Cuyp market attracts thousands of visitors per day with Saturdays being the most busiest day. After a long shopping trip make sure you rest in one of the numerous lovely cafes nearby.
Amsterdam is also known for its museums, with the most popular being the Rijksmuseum, the biggest museum in the Netherlands. Here you will find several beautiful exhibitions to admire, from intricate doll houses to the museum treasury to famous pieces of Dutch art from the 17th century (in “The Masterpieces” exhibition). Over at the more modern Van Gogh Museum, you can find several hundred paintings and sketches by Van Gogh as well as collections of the hundreds of letters he had once written.If you are in the mood for light-heartedness why not visit some world-famous and local celebrities at Amsterdam’s Madam Tussauds Wax Museum in Dam Square – it will be well worth the trip! In the centre of Amsterdam you will also find the Anne Frank House in which Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during World War II, here you can view the hidden annex of the house and the original diary.
If you would like a glimpse of the past be sure to visit Begijnhof, an enclosed courtyard dating back to the early 14th century. Nothing survived of the earliest dwellings except those in Begijnhof. In this lovely courtyard you will find a beautiful garden surrounded by old houses, with house no.34 being the oldest surviving in Amsterdam. A medieval church also stands on the lawns of Begijnhof. The Begijnhof was originally built as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns. Today the houses are still occupied by single women and the sanctified environment remains and so out of respect visitors are asked to be silent and to respect the privacy of the residents.
Amsterdam is also known as “The Venice of the North”, named because of the numerous canals that run through it. In fact, the old city centre is formed by canal rings, giving a feeling of serenity as you walk or cycle through the canal streets or event better as you ride along the canal in one of the tourist boats. The main city centre canals include Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, and Singel. Be sure to catch one of the canal tours- you won’t want to miss it, especially at night when the canals along with their bridges are illuminated, producing an enchanting picture. If you wish to see more bridges, River Amstel has a traditional draw-bridge named Magere Brug, originally built in the 1670. Within every half hour you will be able to witness the opening of the bridge as boats sail through.
After a busy day of exploring the museums why not relax in one of Amsterdam’s beautiful parks. There are several parks to choose from such as Amstelpark, Frankendael and Westerpark but the largest and most popular of them is Vondelpark having 10 million visitors per year and within walking distance of the Rijksmuseum Museum. Or if you fancy something a little more adventurous how about visiting the oldest zoo in Holland, the Artis Zoo. The Artis Zoo is located in the centre of Amsterdam and consists of four main aspects to enjoy; a zoo in which all kinds of animals from all over the world can be found, a Planetarium which allows children to explore the universe, beautiful and peaceful Botanical Gardens to relax in, and last but not least, a Geological museum.
Most importantly don’t forget to visit one of the eight magnificent windmills at the centre of Amsterdam. Your trip will be incomplete without it!
As a bonus, with summer on its way, Amsterdam will be alive with various entertaining festivals making it the perfect place for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
Petra Vaškových, May 3, 2011
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