My husband and I recently spent a few days in Amsterdam after a river cruise. I had forgotten what a beautiful and delightful city it is. I was struck by the fact that there is something there for everyone and recommend a visit.
AMSTERDAM IS FOR LOVERS
Amsterdam is often called the “Venice of the North” because it is built around 165 canals. For a night of romance, stroll around the city admiring the canals or take a canal boat tour. Many are familiar with the love locks in Paris and around the globe, but few are aware that this trend started in Amsterdam. Though a lovely initial idea, I recommend against giving in to the trend as the locks in many cities are causing the bridge to collapse. But to take a photo, head over to the Groenburgwal with the Zuidekerk tower in the background.
AMSTERDAM IS FOR NATURE LOVERS
By far the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen is at Keukenhof. Only open for 2 months (March to May – check for exact dates each year). I planned our trip during this time to experience the tulip fields and numerous flower displays. This is the largest and most spectacular flower gardens anywhere in the world.
If you’re not there during that time, there are still over 30 beautiful parks to visit. The largest of these is Vondelpark, popular for jogging, dog walking and just taking in the view. Free concerts are offered during the summer in its open air theatre.
Amstelpark is great for families with its playgrounds, mini golf and pony rides.
With more bikes than people (1.4 million), Amsterdam is wonderful to explore by bicycleand rentals are readily available. There are even special bike lanes.
AMSTERDAM IS FOR ART
Art lovers must head over to the Museumplein where, again there is something for everyone. If you love the old masters, visit the world renowned Rijksmuseum. If you have limited time there, make sure to stroll down the Gallery of Honour, an extended corridor featuring masterpieces of famous painters of the 17th century. This culminates in the Night Watch Gallery where you’ll see Rembrandt’s famous masterpiece.
Next door is the Van Gogh Museum, featuring many of his most famous works of art including Sunflowers.
If you prefer something more recent, the Stedelyk Museum highlights Modern and Contemporary Art.
AMSTERDAM IS FOR FAMILIES
When my parents returned from their first trip to Amsterdam back in the 60s they came home raving about Madurodam and they couldn’t wait to go back to take me and my sisters, which they did years later.
Near The Hague, Madurodam is a mini-city on a 1:25 scale, which includes all the qualities of the Dutch culture, including the perfectly ornamented bridges, canals, windmills, and major landmarks from all around Holland.
Madurodam allows you to see an entire country in one day. Kids of all ages will enjoy the Madurodamers watching a football match in the stands, relaxing, working and just going about their lives. This miniature city features a fully functionally harbor, trains and airport. It even has carefully manicured gardens made with real flowers and plants.
If you’re in Amsterdam while Keukenhof is open (see above), there are wonderful activities there for children as well.
AMSTERDAM IS FOR EVERYONE
Amsterdam is safe for females traveling alone or together. It has always been tolerant of all religions since it is traditionally a city of immigrants. Jews from Spain as well as French Protestants found safe haven in Amsterdam centuries ago. Amsterdam is also one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the world today.