A busy port city, nightlife hub, and a burgeoning foodie destination—Amsterdam manages to pull off an extraordinary high-level plate spinning balancing act, being everything to all visitors (except boring). Its history from humble origins as a fishing village in the 13th century through its Golden Age zenith 400 years later has moulded the Netherlands’ capital into the modern international city you’ll find today.

Text by Dayna Camilleri Clarke

A busy port city, nightlife hub, and a burgeoning foodie destination—Amsterdam manages to pull off an extraordinary high-level plate spinning balancing act, being everything to all visitors (except boring). Its history from humble origins as a fishing village in the 13th century through its Golden Age zenith 400 years later has moulded the Netherlands’ capital into the modern international city you’ll find today.

When many hear the word Amsterdam, it is very hard not to imagine misty cafes and scantily clothed women moving provocatively in windows with red lights. Many travellers from across the world return to this ultimate city of “sin” because of these sights alone. Most of them are bursting with tales of the unexpected, and if you get a chance to visit the place, we’re sure that you will also have your own tales to tell.

Well, first things first, Amsterdam isn’t just about late-night parties; it has all the great things that a vibrant contemporary city has to offer. In fact, the Netherlands has the most amount of great museums per square foot than anywhere else in the world. If you take a tram ride 10 minutes from the heart of the city, you can overwhelm yourself with those narrow streets occupied with nothing else other than the cyclist and the odd car now and then.

Amsterdam at night

The city has long been considered as the “Venice of the North” because it was built on a cobweb of canals. The footprint and plan of the city is an incredible design feat. You can see most of the city from a canal boat, and from there, you’ll surely appreciate the unique architecture that Amsterdam has long been proud to offer.

Furthermore, Amsterdam is brimming with culture. It has a whole host of museums and libraries. An abundance of audacious architecture have shot up around the city edges. However, the cobweb of gable-lined canals is still at its heart, with funky stores in the crisscrossing alleys of Negen Straatjes, new galleries to the west in the Jordaan, world-class museums and chic boutiques south around Museumplein. Of all the fascinating museums in the city of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Museum, and Van Gogh Museums are names not to be missed on any weekend itinerary.

Foodies do not despair; Amsterdam has plenty to offer. If you delve further into the city, you can find the Damstraat, the street on Dam Square, entirely littered with eateries. Further down again towards Leidseplein, the Leidsekruisstraat and Leidsetraat have their fair share of great restaurants too. However, note that these streets mentioned are located in some of the city’s most touristy areas. So, if you wish to steer clear of such commercial hubs, visit the Jordaan, as many of the city’s hippest restaurants can be found there.

If markets are your thing, head to the De Pijp neighbourhood.  This area lies just beyond the southern limits of the city’s historical canal belt and runs downwards along the river Amstel.

Amsterdam Netherlands dancing houses over river Amstel landmark in old european city spring landscape.

There’s no place like the Albert Cuyp Street market to discover Amsterdam’s typical sense of humour and remarkably laid-back atmosphere. The Albert Cuypmarkt is the largest and most popular outdoor market in the Netherlands, with 260 stalls operating six days a week selling everything from Vietnamese spring rolls to freshly made stroopwafels. Don’t leave without a handful of those gooey waffles! It’s worth mentioning there are two breweries and dozens of excellent restaurants in this area.

After a day of trawling around the city sights, it’s always a great idea in any city to find an urban park, and Amsterdam has no shortage of parks. The city’s most famous park, Vondelpark, is conveniently close enough to all the main tourist sites, so you can go here late on a sunny afternoon and take advantage of the excellent weather alongside tourists and locals alike. If it’s flora and fauna you’re after, head to Amstelpark. This fairytale park is bursting with wildlife and colourful flowers. It was created in 1972 for Floriade, a festival which saw gardeners from all over the world create magnificent floral displays, of which many were preserved. There’s also a petting zoo and playgrounds for children – keep your eyes peeled for the chickens and rabbits that run free.

Of course, no roundup of parks goes without mentioning Rembrandpark, located in the east of Amsterdam. Rembrandtpark is one of the most original parks in the city. As the name implies, it’s dedicated to the artist Rembrandt. Several statues of him are scattered around the park, so you can pick and choose where you want to take photos with the famous Dutch painter. Oh, and those beautiful canal boats you’ll find along your way- why not book one as a truly unique accommodation?

Article taken from the June 2021 edition of Il-Bizzilla. Read more here.