Visitor’s Guide to Amsterdam

Called the Venice of the North, Amsterdam boasts extensive waterways winding between its streets. In this capital city of The Netherlands, there is beautiful architecture to be seen on a boat cruise through these waterways. Although the canals are lined by sidewalks and bike paths and streets, they are a fundamentally beautiful and logistical part of Amsterdam. Originally constructed for defense, water management, and transport, the canals now serve as a delightful place for a boat ride for a date or a tourist visiting.

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Distinct to Amsterdam also are the miles of bike paths around the city. There are certainly at least as many bikes as residents here and the competition for spots to lock up the bike is high. Every fence, gate, post, and bench has bikes locked up to it. I have seen no other city where the people have taken such a liking to bike riding. And besides the fun of the ride, it’s healthy for the riders and the environment. It seems Amsterdam is on to something here!

Outside the city are the Keukenhof Gardens, where seven million tulip buds bloom from March to May each year in an unbelievable display of floral excellence. The Gardens are a fitting attraction in The Netherlands, which boasts the largest volume of floral exports in Europe. Beside The Gardens and throughout the country there can be found fields for miles filled with tulips and other flowers. Many of these flowers are brought to the markets in Amsterdam rather than exported, and as a result, every morning the markets in the squares and lining the canals are overflowing with flowers for sale in every color and variety imaginable. As if to decorate the streets, the flowers are put on display in the markets, but by days end they’ve all found new homes in the kitchens and dining rooms of the apartments around the city.

You don’t have to go beyond the city proper’s limits to experience the rich diversity of culture that Amsterdam offers. Once home to Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam is lucky to house many of his greatest works. The Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of his pieces, including Sunflowers and Almond Blossoms, among hundreds of others. Amsterdam was also home to Anne Frank and her family during WWII, when she kept the world famous diary of her experiences. Her house is now open to the public, where you can see where and how she lived during that time.

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While Amsterdam is known best to some for its marijuana coffee shops and raunchy Red Light district, there is much more to see beyond these cheap treats. The city offers lots of great museums, like the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House, as well as the Rijksmuseum which displays some of the best Dutch art. There are excellent breweries located throughout the city, like Brouwerij ‘t IJ which sits beside De Gooyer, one of the city’s many beautiful windmills. Amsterdam was also once a hub for diamond cutting, which is still now a part of the country’s economy. I suggest visiting Coster Diamonds for a free tour and chance to watch the experts hand-cut the diamonds into their final masterpiece!

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If you couldn’t tell already, Amsterdam is a city dear to my heart. I would highly suggest you visit if you’re looking to explore a beautiful city with rich history and culture. Between the canals and bike paths, museums and breweries, flower markets and diamond factories, there is so much to explore here and something to please everyone!

 

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