Home Destinations The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam

The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam

The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the place to go if you’re thinking of a destination where all the attractions are close to one another. About 40 museums in Amsterdam, 3 major theatrical institutions, 10 shopping hotspots, and numerous pubs, bars, and restaurants.

Boats allow you to see the beauty of Amsterdam too. These float at the waters of the canals within the city. Due to the presence of the canals, many call Amsterdam “Venice of the North.”

Amsterdam offers a wonderful balance between fun and an educational tour. Read this article and discover the grandness of this city.

Amsterdam was originally a fishing village founded in the 13th century. River Amstel encouraged the first settlers to come. It played a central role in the lives of the people. For example, the river Amstel provided the water that was necessary for raising vegetables, fruits, and livestock.

Due to the dependence of the fishing village on the river Amstel, people decided to call it Amstelledamme.

But Amsterdam won’t stay as a fishing village for long. As time went by, more settlers from nearby areas continued coming. Eventually, other livelihood started to emerge. For instance, trading and millwork. By the 15 century, Amsterdam became a major trading center and granary in Europe.

The 17th Century is the golden age of Amsterdam. Trading grew so healthy that foreigners came to visit. This pushed the wealthy traders to invest in shipbuilding and sailing. Amsterdam played a crucial role in building the foundation of European international trade. For example, the Dutch East India Company wouldn’t have existed without it.

World War 2 placed a heavy toll on Amsterdam and other areas within the Netherlands as well. The Nazis persecuted a lot of Jewish migrants and left some parts of the city devastated.

Fast forward to the present, Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ cultural symbol. Within its museums are collections that speak for the glory and turmoil of its past. The locals are always ready to tell a story or two. Finally, the pursuit of knowledge for making a better future is never-ending. The academies, universities, and research institutions in Amsterdam attest to this.

What Makes Amsterdam Famous?

The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam
  1. Smoking cannabis in Amsterdam is as normal as smoking cigarettes.
  2. The DeWallen District is Amsterdam’s most famous red-light district. Prostitution is very rampant here.
  3. Biking is another famous attraction in Amsterdam. It is so famous that the number of bikes exceeds the number of residents. Sources state that Amsterdam 881,000 bikes that traverse about 1,000 kilometers of bike paths in total.
  4. Amsterdam is one of the countries with the tastiest beer. One of the major beer producers in the world, Heineken, originally started a business in Amsterdam.
  5. Last but not least are the people. Locals in Amsterdam are so hospitable that they’ll give you advice about where to go, which foods to eat, and what scenarios to avoid.

Top Activities In Amsterdam That You Can Do Without Spending

  1. You can explore the Amsterdam canals. There are about 160 of these that feature various sights. Walk around and look at other tourists riding on boats. Amsterdam canals are also a good place to cool off because the trees provide a wonderful shade.
  2. If you’re in Amsterdam in September – June, go to the Concertgebouw or Amsterdam Concert Hall. It offers free theatrical performances at noon on Wednesdays. Performers come from notable musical institutions in Amsterdam.
  3. You can also go to the Amsterdam Flower Market. You’ll find the most attractive tulips here. Be sure to visit when all of the vendors have arrived to see the rainbow-like display of tulips.
  4. The Amsterdam City Archives is another free attraction. It displays old documents, photos, and other antiques.
  5. Go to Bimhuis to listen to free jazz music. In here, you’ll find a lot of people (pianists, drummers, saxophonists) who – aside from giving a fantastic jazz performance – can teach you a thing or two about jazz music.

Top Things To Do In Amsterdam

  1. Ride the boats at the Amsterdam canal
  2. Visit the Amsterdam City Museum
  3. Shop at Amsterdam’s cheese stores
  4. Avail of the Heineken VIP tour and see how Amsterdam’s largest beer manufacturer makes beer
  5. Rent a bike and explore Amsterdam the whole day
  6. Party and hook up with locals at the red light district
  7. Play a tune on Amsterdam public pianos or watch the public performances of professional pianists
  8. Eat the different versions of bitterballen in various Amsterdam restaurants

Which Museums To Visit In Amsterdam?

There are 40 museums in Amsterdam, as I said previously. You’ll miss a lot of you to try to visit all of these unless the museums are the reason why you decided to come. But if not, I suggest that you don’t visit all of them. Other activities are as enjoyable as visiting the museums.

Only visit the best museums to make the most of your time. Try visiting these:

Amsterdam City Museum

Administrators established the Amsterdam Museum in 1975 on Kalverstraat street or the cattle market street. This museum currently has 8,000 displays. However, if we include those that are not accessible by the public, the Amsterdam Museum has 1,000,000 historical possessions in total.

Amsterdam City Museum provides guided tours, interactive educational programs for kids, and picture taking sessions.

Venus Tempel Museum

The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam

Many say that those living in Amsterdam are very open-minded. But how open-minded really? Well, their open-mindedness reached the point that the administrators decided to open a sex museum.

Yep, you heard it right! There’s a sex museum in Amsterdam that features explicit displays. This museum opened to the public in 1985 and is approximately 36 years old.

I don’t know how many displays are there. But I’m sure that what you’ll see are figurines, sculptures, ceramics, photos, paintings, and other ancient artifacts that provide an idea about the intricacies of the most prevalent human desire – sex.

Out of the displays, I find the wax figures of Mata Hari and Marilyn Monroe very iconic. Here’s a quick trivia by the way. Mata Hari isn’t an Arab. She’s actually a European.

Van Gogh Museum

Amsterdam also has possession of Vincent Van Gogh’s works. They’re housed in the Van Gogh Museum that was built in 1973.

You’ll get a glimpse of Van Gogh’s life by coming here. Within the museum are some of Vincent Van Gogh’s clothes, letters, and art equipment.

The Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world. I think there are more than 20 of these here. My favorite ones are the vibrant Almond Blossoms, the captivating Bedroom in Arles, and the Wheatfield.

I don’t want to disappoint, but you won’t see the Starry Night painting here. That painting has the Museum of Modern Art, which is in New York.

Where To Spend The Night? Best Amsterdam Hotels

NH Krasnapolsky

The NH Krasnapolsky one of the oldest Amsterdam hotels. It’s also the most iconic. Built-in 1883, this hotel provides a wonderful view of the nearby King’s Palace. NH Krasnapolsky also provides quick access to Van Gogh Museum. It’s famous for a very hospitable service, well-maintained suites and rooms, and luscious food.

This hotel can accommodate 1200 guests. Amenities are the Krasnapolsky Grand Car, Bar the Tailor, and Restaurant The White Room. The parking space is expansive and can accommodate 150 vehicles.

Conservatorium Hotel

The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam

The Conservatorium Hotel is Amsterdam’s grandest hotel. On the outside, it features a building that has a facade having magnificent Noveau architectural elements. This hotel also provides quick access to most Amsterdam museums because it stands at the core of the Museum Square.

The interior of this hotel follows a minimalistic Art Noveau design. Some of the most aesthetically pleasing spots are the restaurant, the spa, and rooms. A stay here feels very bucolic.

Where To Find The Best Nightlife In Amsterdam?

As dusk comes, try going to the Amsterdam Canals. On the bridgers are trees and LED lights and lanterns for a dreamlike walk. Also nearby are restaurants that serve the occasional Dutch dinner consisting of baked, fried, or boiled potatoes, salads, fish, pork, chicken, or beef.

Boat cruises in the Amsterdam Canal are also better done at night. Cruising feels very romantic due to the lights beside the canal. Close your eyes, for you’ll hear the violinists. Most play romantic Dutch songs, and these are very discernible as the boat travels.

After an evening to the Amsterdam Canal, try the shopping centers. The Negen Straatjes is a shopping center that’s filled with jewelry, boutiques, and vintage stores. The P.C Hoffstraat is for fashion, and the boutiques sell authentic Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurette, Victoria Secret, and Ralph Lauren apparel. For shopping souvenirs, go to Spiegielkwarter as it has cheap artworks and antiques.

As midnight nears, head to the red light district. The De Wallen has all the bars, clubs, and pubs. Staff is always ready to talk with tourists. And other customers are as eager too. You’ll have a wonderful time spending the night here while taking or dancing with others. You’ll be enjoying your time in De Wallen till 4 a.m.

The Best Coffee Shops In Amsterdam

The complete beginners guide to Amsterdam

Paradox Coffee Shop

The paradox coffee shop serves coffee with its 90s inspired interior. The usual norm here is to drink coffee while consuming weed. Be careful of the space for it might get you really high

Dampkring Coffee Shop

The Dampkring Coffee Shop has a vibe that’s similar to the scenes of Ocean’s Twelve. Aside from serving savory and nutty coffee, this location also provides breakfasts that will make you come back for more. Unlike other coffee shops in Amsterdam, weed isn’t allowed here.

420 Cafe

This is another coffee shop that allows clients to try to weed themselves. The coffee here has a strong after taste and very agreeable to the taste of middle-aged adults.

Bulldog Palace

This coffee shop looks more like a club than a cafe. The coffee here has a very rich taste and somewhat taste too much for the delicate tongue. Operating since 1974, the Bulldog Palace is one of Amsterdam’s oldest coffee shops.

Attractions Near Amsterdam

The Town of Lisse

In the Town of Lisse is the Keukenhof Flower Garden. This area serves as a major supplier to the flower market of Amsterdam city. Keukenhof accepts tourists and provides an educational tour about the varieties of flowers that it grows.

You should also come to the Tulip Festival on April 17. The Tulip Festival features the best tulips that grow in the town of Lisse. There’s also a lively float parade for you to see.

Alkmaar Cheese Market

Head 40 kilometers north of Amsterdam, you’ll arrive at the Alkmaar Cheese Market. This is the place where you can buy all the best cheeses in the Netherlands at a low price. The most expensive cheeses that stores sell in Amsterdam and very affordable here.


Seventeen kilometers away from Amsterdam is the historic city of Haarleem. Here, you can explore churches and residences that date back to the 15th century. There are also 14 museums that you can visit.

You may also like