Amsterdam isn't exactly full of iconic sights like you can see in Paris, Rome or Barcelona, even though it is one of the four most visited European cities. Why? Because it is a city with rich history, famous museums, pictorial crooked houses and water canals. And also, because it has its unmistakable magic – it tempts visitors by its cosmopolitan atmosphere with a hint of something exotic, something that is not really tolerated anywhere else...



Going to Amsterdam for a weekend trip or for longer

Amsterdam got its name after river Amstel, which runs through the city and flows into IJ bay. However, the river gets lost in a maze of water canals – grachten – which 'coil' around the central square Dam. First water canals were formed in 1612 and today they create a historical center of the city with countless narrow streets, bridges and houseboats. Streets are lined with miniature romantic houses as well as large city mansions built by the rich. And because the whole city is built on a swamp-like surface where every house stands on wooden pillars, you can notice that a lot of them are a bit crooked.

Amsterdam Amsterdam

The center of the city is focused around the square Dam and in its upper corner is a gothic style station Centraal. On the right side of the square lies the Old Side with the oldest church in the city Oude Kerk [together with a famous Red-light district] and on the left side is the New Side. Historical quarters are dominated by busy squares and if you're looking for a bit of peace, it can be easily found in local green parks. If you chose a leisurely pace, joined with visits of museums, coffee shops and restaurants, you can spend an unforgettable weekend here in Amsterdam.



When and how to travel to Amsterdam

Even though you can travel to Amsterdam all year long, the best time for a trip is between start of April and end of October.

Schiphol airport is located 15 kilometers from the city and the best way to get to the center from there is by train. It takes 15 minutes to get to Centraal station, ticket costs 5.2 Euro and can be bought in an automatic machine on the airport. The other choice is to take a taxi, but in this case, you'd have to pay the driver 50 Euro to get to Dam square.

It is easy to travel from Centraal station all around the city by either tram or metro. You can buy tickets at any newsagent or in the tram itself. One-hour ride costs 2.9 Euro, day ticket costs 7.5 Euro and two-day ticket is for 12.5 Euro.

JAs soon as you get settled, you can rent a bike and join the race with locals. You can rent a bike in a rental shop or from stands around the city, one of them is straight on the central train station and it usually costs around 10 Euro a day. Although I would say, that it's better to explore Amsterdam on foot.

Amsterdam Amsterdam

There are over 10 million visitors in the city every year and hotel owners know this very well. Because of this, accommodation in the center of Amsterdam is a bit dearer, sometimes even dearer than accommodation in other European metropolises. Also, Amsterdam is a city of fairs and expositions, so if you're planning a trip, I would recommend checking, so you can see if there is any fair or meeting of congress going on - it can help you avoid astronomical prices. Cheaper accommodation can be found in hostels, via private owners or on



Local curiosities

There is a bunch of things that are very specific to Amsterdam...first of all, bikes – which form a whole different lifestyle for the locals. The minute you get in front of the main station Centraal, the first thing you see is a huge number of parked bicycles. Amsterdam has a wide net of cycling routes that are constantly used by locals. You can even see mothers on bikes with their child in a special 'basket' attached to the front wheel. If you're walking on the streets, you should be careful, as cyclists always have right of way. If there is an accident with pedestrian, it's usually blamed on them.

Amsterdam Bulldog Coffeeshop Amsterdam flower market singel

Coffee shops are another little rarity in Amsterdam – they are licensed to sell cannabis in small amounts for personal use. Typical smell of marijuana can be noticed on your first steps in Amsterdam.

Red light district – even though this street of red lights is a big tourist attraction of Amsterdam, it is mostly used for its purpose. Prostitution is legal in Netherlands [apart from street prostitution] and there are over 300 prostitutes offering their services behind red curtains.

Everyone who visits Amsterdam is bound to bring a piece of Gouda cheese back home and maybe even a few seeds of Holland tulips.



Ten stops on a walk through Amsterdam – what to see and visit

Amsterdam can be easily explored on foot with the help of signposts that are on every step you take. Prepare yourself and download to make your route around the metropolis even easier. To make it more organized, next ten stops are connected with Google routes...


1st stop – main station Centraal, the Basilica of Saint Nicholas

Station Centraal is a traffic artery of the city. It was built on three artificial islands in 1889 on upper end of Damrak avenue.

Basilica of Saint Nicholas is located on the left side of Centraal station and is one of the most important historical sight of the city. The church's dome is 58 meters high.


2nd stop – Zeedijk, Oude Kerk, Red light district, De Waag, The smallest house

When you pass the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, you'll get to the oldest part of Amsterdam – Zeedijk – from where the city started to spread in the past. Not far from there is the oldest church Oude Kerk, which was built in 1213.

You walk around the water canal which is lined with the oldest brick houses in Amsterdam and you start passing windows with red curtains and there is the ever-present smell of cannabis from local coffee shops. Yes, right here in a close distance from Oude Kerk church is where the famous red-light district starts. If you walk through here in late afternoon or in the evening, the curtains would already be opened, owners of the windows would try to seduce you with their dancing and peep shows, sex shops and sex theaters start getting busy. It is really crowded over here and the safety of everyone involved is strictly guarded by police. I have to say that Red light district really is a big tourist attraction.

Walking from Oude Kerk, you'll get to De Waag – city scales which were used in the past for trade in the docks. Then you continue along Kloveniersburgwal water canal and the first bridge across leads you to Oude Hoogstraat street. In its right part you can peek into a yard of the Oostindischhuis house, which used to belong to East India company. Today it's a residence of a university. Few meters from there is the smallest house in Amsterdam [Oude Hoogstraat 22]. It's two meters wide and it has extra two floors these days.

Amsterdam Zeedijk Amsterdam Amsterdam Oude Kerk

Zeedijk, Oude Kerk


3rd stop – Rembrandtplein, flower market Singel

If you cross Kloveniersburwal canal at the end and cross the street, you'll get to Rembrandtplein. Busy square, which is full of restaurants and clubs is dominated by a sculpture of the famous painter with a scene from his well-known painting Night Watch.

Near Rembrandtplein square is a smaller square Muntplein with a mint tower, which stands in a place of former city walls. On the street Singel is a floating flower market.


4th stop – Leidseplein

Yet another busy square, that is filled with pubs and restaurants. A coffeeshop Bulldog is now in a place of former police station. Not far from there is a city theater Stadtschouwburg, built in a renaissance style.

Amsterdam Rembrandtplein Amsterdam Stadtschouwburg

Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein - city theater Stadtschouwburg


5th stop – Vondelpark

It's close from Leidseplein to the biggest Amsterdam park – Vondelpark. It was built in English style in 1865 and today is a place of rest and recreational sport.


6th stop – Museumplein, Stedelijk, Vincent Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum

he route continues from Vondelpark towards a museum filled promenade on Museumplein. Here is a famous city museum Stedelijk, where you can see modern art and also Vincent Van Gogh Museum [tickets for 17 Euro]. National Museum with the biggest art treasures including Rembrandt's Night Watch is in a nearby Rijksmuseum [tickets also for 17 Euro].

Amsterdam Vondelpark Amsterdam Rijksmuseum

Vondelpark, Rijksmuseum


7th stop – Begijnhof, Rokin street

If you walk through the arch of Rijksmuseum palace and continue straight across six grachtens, you'll get back to the center to the Singel flower market. From here it's near to Begijnhof – home of nuns. Begijnhof is a quiet catholic village hidden in the middle of a busy city. The inside yard, founded by catholic church is formed by 41 houses and you can enjoy really serene atmosphere here.


8th stop – square Dam, Royal Palace, New Church, Madame Tussauds

You can walk from Begijnhof to square Dam through a busy Rokin street or through a shopping street Kalvenstraat. On the square you find Madam Tussauds museum, Royal Palace and New Church Di Nieuwe Kere.

Royal Palace was built in 1655 on 13 659 underlying logs and was formerly used as guildhall and courthouse.

New Church was built in 15th century and even though it's called 'New', it is the second oldest one in Amsterdam. New Church is a very important place as it is used for Dutch royal investiture ceremonies [most recent in 1980 – queen Beatrix].

Amsterdam Begijnhof Amsterdam Královský palác

Begijnhof, Royal Palace


9th stop – Western Church, Anne Frank's House, Tulip Museum, Cheese Museum

If you walk through the street between New Church and Royal palace, past gothic style shopping center Magna Plaza and across three water canals, you'll get to the Western Church - Westerkerk. It's the last place of rest of famous Rembrandt, who was placed in a ditch for poor people and it was also a place of a royal wedding of Beatrix and Claus.

Not far from there is Anne Frank's House, interesting Tulip Museum and Cheese Museum.


10th stop – Damrak avenue

By turning around and walking back you'll get to Damrak avenue and Dam square – place where it all happens. In the upper part of Damrak avenue is the main station Centraal and in the lower part is a former stock exchange palace Koopmans Beurs and National Memorial - Monument op de Dam.

Amsterdam Westerkerk Amsterdam Damrak

Západní kostel Westerkerk, třída Damrak

If you have more time, you can visit the National Maritime Museum, which holds an exact replica of East India company's ship Amsterdam, or you can explore local grachtens from a boat ride [, 15 Euro/hr]. And where to go for a pint? Evening pint tastes the best in Old Sailor bar in red light district. And you know how it goes, what happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam...




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