Amsterdam has got most of it’s characteristics during the golden age in the 17th century when the city was a trading centre in a colonial empire and rich merchants built wealthy gabled houses along the canal networks and over thousand bridges like Venice. The city today is known to be very liberal with coffee shops allowing marijuana and licensed prostitution in the red light district becoming tourist attractions in their own rights.
On board the glass topped tour boats cruising the picture-book canals you will get the best view of the traditional elegant merchant mansions, carillon-crowned churches and the warehouses from Amsterdam’s golden age. Along Amsterdam’s 165 canals are more than 2500 houseboats and many other things to watch. A cruise is a definite must when in Amsterdam.
2. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum is the Dutch national museum with paintings from the Dutch Golden age by artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and Steen. It is here you find the famous “Night Watch” by Rembrandt and Vermeers “The Milkmaid”.
Address: Stadhouderskade 42
Opening Hours: Every day from 9:00 to 18:00
3. Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of the artist’s paintings. It’s an excellent place to follow the painter’s development and study other painters from the same era. The Van Gogh exhibition is organised chronologically into five periods, each representing a different phase of his life and work. The museum is undergoing a Renovation October 2012 – March 2013
Location: Paulus Potterstraat 7
Opening Hours: Museum: daily 10am – 6pm
4. Anne Frank House
Most people have heard about, or read the diaries of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. The family hid in an annex behind a movable book case in the very same house her father had his business. The hiding place was betrayed and the family sent to the concentration camps. Only the father survived. Today the house is made in to a museum and you can still get the atmosphere from the time they were hiding. The 1600-century house accommodates the family’s history, but also interesting exhibits on persecution of the Jews, on racism and neo-Nazism. The house is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Come early.
Location: Prinsengracht 263
Opening Hours:March 15 to September 14: from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm (till 10pm on Saturdays)
July and August: from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
September 15 to March 14: from 9:00 till 7:00pm.
5. The Red Light District
Along with the Museums the Red Light district is Amsterdam’s biggest tourist magnet as a fact. Centraal Station, Nieuwmarkt and Dam are the outer corners forming a triangle where you will find strip bars, porn clubs and brothels. The states attitude towards the sex trade is to control a trade that still is going to be there. Sex workers pay taxes and have the right to social services. Behind red-lit storefront windows half naked women are moving. Prostitution has been legal since 1911, brothels since 2000.
Where other countries have banned the use of cannabis Holland has legalised it under supervision in so co called Coffeshops. Dutch law make a distinction between “hard” drugs and “soft” drugs and in a coffeshop people can legally choose from a weed menu if they so wish. This is a part of the established traditions in Amsterdam since the 1970s and one of the city’s tourist attractions.
7. Diamonds in Amsterdam
Diamonds has been highly associated with Amsterdam since the Sephardic Jews started to cut them in the city in the 1600s. Many of the diamond factories offers free guided tours daily between 9am to 5pm where you get to so how a diamond is cut.
Rembrandtplein is a real tourist magnet with pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels. Here you will find traditional Dutch music in traditional Dutch Pubs. In the Summer the terraces are packed with people enjoying an outdoor drink.
Visit the floating flower market located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein. You will find there all sorts of tulips, narcissus and other bulbs and flowers all year around.
10.– Amsterdam Windmills
The Windmill is a Dutch icon and no trip to Holland would be complete without a visit to a windmill and you don’t have to go far when you are in Amsterdam. In the heart of the city you find 8 fantastic windmills waiting to have their photo taken.