· What to do in Amsterdam, The Netherlands ·
Amsterdam has been a popular European destination for a few years now. And with its picturesque canals, open culture, and a population that speaks English almost as well as Dutch, it’s no wonder. Much like Rome, it can be hard to imagine the small city as once being one of the most important cities in the world (in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age), though its beauty helps remind of a time when Amsterdam was once the wealthiest city in the western world.
Though small, it’s rich with culture. From the infamous Red Light District (also known as De Wallen and one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city) to the coffeeshops, but also Anne Frank’s house and centuries of rich Dutch history woven into the architecture and landscape, there’s so much to do. Here are our top picks.
Where to go: De Wallen
It sounds cliche, but a visit to the Red Light District is well worth it as it is probably like nowhere you’ve ever been before. This historic district features windows with scantily clad prostitutes standing in red lights waiting for their next customer. A walk through is worth the cultural experience and people watching. As mentioned, it’s one of the oldest areas of Amsterdam. Walk through with the knowledge that to locals, it’s just another part of the city used to get from point A to point B, so any nighttime journeys require walking past the women and young men giggling as they pass through.
While it’s worth a walk through at night, be sure to walk through it during the day, too. The stigma lessens (though some of those windows are still occupied) and you’re really able to see that it’s just another part of the city – there are even some great brunch spots just around the corner from those famous red lights!
What to do: The Heineken Experience
So Heineken may not be your first choice of beer, but it’s one of Holland’s most famous exports. Touring the Heineken brewery is surprisingly elegant. Shiny brick walls and gorgeous copper vats harken back to days gone by and provide an experience unique from your typical brewery tour. You’re going have a Heineken at some point in Amsterdam, may as well have it at the source!
Where to eat: Winkel43
Thought apple pie was American? Think again. Winkel43 is famous for its massive slices of apple pie and they are heavenly. Head over for a mid-afternoon coffee and slice of pie but be ready to wait. Jump on a table as soon as you can because the pie secret is out.
Where to drink: Café de Sluyswacht
Just across the street from the Rembrandt House, this little house has been here since 1695. Originally housing the man controlling the lock (called the sluyswacht, hence the name), the little structure juts out into the canal and feels secluded from the rest. Order the Dutch favorite bitterballen, a special meatball eaten as an appetizer for an authentic experience. Stop in for a few pints and enjoy being on the canal in a nice, historic pub!
While these are some highlights not to miss on your trip to Amsterdam, one of the best things you can do is wander the streets and canals, soaking in the beautiful architecture. No house is the same and there’s not a single ugly house along the picturesque canals. No matter the weather, a stroll through AMS will make you fall in love.