Hi, how’s your life going?
In my life things have been great so far, I even got a chance to try being a guide in Amsterdam! How cool is that, right? In this article I want to show you my ultimate tour around this beautiful city: nice, extensive and inexpensive; since I’ve never done this before, I’ve just dedicated some time to particular activities and seasons. So let’s begin!
Starting our tour by the Amsterdam Centraal station, an enormous Gothic building designed by Pierre Cuypers, who is also known for his design of the Rijksmuseum.
First things first, you gotta see where you’re actually heading to, no? So now that you’re standing in front of the station, turn over and head to IJ lake on its other side. You’ll get there easily by an underpass. You need to get to the other bank, and that’s what free ferries are for! You’ll eventually arrive right under a high mast: the A’dam Lookout. From its top you’ll be able to see the entire country if the weather is friendly enough, and you can even swing over the “nothing” under you! However, you have to buy tickets in advance: one entry is 12,50€, with swing counted it’s even more expensive.
Now hurry up! Get back to the other bank and if you feel like seeing Amsterdam from a different perspective, now’s the best time to hop on the sightseeing boat (tickets must be booked in advance as well). One tour usually takes around 1,5 hours, and it’s worthy if you’re visiting the town for the first time. If you don’t fancy such tours, simply follow the largest street of A’dam, Damrak, head to the famous Dam Square, where you’ll find the Koninklijke Paleis (Royal Palace), Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) & Madame Tussauds, plus it’s the best gauge point for any further sightseeing. The National Monument, a white stone pillar designed by J.J.P. Oud and erected in 1956 to memorialize the victims of World War II, dominates the opposite side of the square. Also overlooking the plaza are the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky and the upscale department store De Bijenkorf.
When you head right, you’ll get to De Jordaan district, where you’ll find e.g. Anne Frank Huis (House of Anne Frank) or Westerpark. If you head left, you’ll end up in De Wallen (Red Light District) and that’s where things can get very interesting! However, that’s not what we want to see right now. By the longest shopping street of the Netherlands, the Kalverstraat, and Begijnensteeg you’ll get to one of the most tranquil tourist places in Amsterdam. Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard dating from the early 14th century. Nothing survived of the earliest dwellings, but the Begijnhof, which is cut off from Amsterdam’s traffic noise, still retains a sanctified atmosphere. It was originally built as a sactuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns, although they took no monastic vows. Houses in Begijnhof are still occupied by single women, so respect their privacy and also be quiet.
Only a few steps away is located the famous Bloemenmarkt. The Amsterdam Flower Market is the only floating flower market in the world, and one of the most fragrant places of interest of Amsterdam – in all seasons. This unique market exists since 1862. The flower stalls stand on the houseboats and evoke the old days when the market was daily supplied by boat. The flower market of Amsterdam is a particularly colorful place in the city. You’ll find there all sorts of tulips, narcissus, geraniums and many other types of flowers. At the Amsterdam Flower Market you can either buy bouquets, single flowers or bulbs. The bulbs are ready for export, so you can enjoy them at home too. Now head to the very end of the market and turn left where the last stall is situated. Eventually you’ll come to three of the most beautiful canals in town: Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prisengracht. As you’ll be continuing forward, you’ll spot the Bulldog Palace on your left side. This place can be considered just a grand café, however, it is also the biggest and most supplied coffeeshop in the town. It’s very cozy and funky, so if you fancy experiencing such thing like having a coffee or a delicious cake in between the stoners…this is the right place.
Now head forward, and as soon as you another lovely canal, the Singelgracht, turn left and you’ll be facing my most favourite place in the town: the Vondelpark. It’s considered the most visited park of the entire country, however, you can easily find a calm place for yourself since it’s enormously huge and it provides you with hundreds of kilometres of paths. Free concerts are given at the open-air theatre or in the summer at the park’s bandstand. Two years ago I had a chance to experience Tiësto and Don Diablo this way! Other attractions are the statue of the poet Vondel, the cast iron music dome, the Groot Melkhuis with playground for children, and the historical Pavilion with its restaurant Vertigo, opening in summer a popular terrace. I particularly the ’t Blauwe Theehuis café, it makes me feel so comfortable!
Now, somewhere approximately in the middle between the initial entrance and the ’t Blauwe Theehuis café is situated an overpass. If you’re coming from the café side, use the exit on your right and then just continue right. If you’re coming from the entry side, use the left exit and go left. Continue until you see silhouettes of the three of the most famous Dutch museums on your left (it’s not too far, just a couple of minutes on foot): the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Here you’ll also find the popular IAmsterdam sign (the other one is located on Schiphol airport) and a smaller Modern Art (Moco) Museum.
Now that you’re standing in front of the Rijksmuseum, turn right until you come to the canal, then turn left, and when there’s nowhere to continue since a broad highway is in front of you, turn right, and go ahead until you see it: the Heineken Experience Brewery. Tickets must be booked in advance here as well. In this district you can find many inexpensive restaurants and fastfoods, so if you’re hungry, just look around yourself and I assure you you’ll find something interesting.
And that’s very our tour gets a little bit complicated, since we’re quite far from…well, basically everything. You can either walk down Vijzelgracht street and eventually come to Bloemenmarkt (takes about 20 minutes) and the Rokin Metro sign, or use the 52 Metro (initial station: Vijzelgracht) line and hop off on the next station named Rokin (direction Noord). As soon as you reach Rokin, turn right: and there’s it, the renowned Red Light District of Amsterdam. Leaving nothing to the imagination, some stereotypes about this area are really true… There are plenty of sex shops, peep shows, brothels, an elaborate condom shop, a sex museum and prostitutes in red-lit windows.
Eventually you’ll find yourself in an Asian district (if you do not turn anywhere), which is another amazing place to get some great meals in. The built-up area is now slowly beginning to thin out, and you’ll start recognizing buildings of Damrak on your left and the Centraal station in the distance. Then use any of the bridges leading over the water (don’t judge me for not knowing the exact name please, I’m lost in all those water areas around Amsterdam) and you’re almost back at the Centraal station where we began, hooray!
Now…ah, writing this article made me so “homesick”, I was literally there when I was explaining the route! I hope you felt like that, too, although….some of you may find it a bit complex at first, but when you arrive to Amsterdam, it’ll all start making sense since Amsterdam is rather easy to wander around, I promise!
I’ll keep you updated with how my very own A’dam tour turned out like and until then…
Have a great day!