Finding your way in Amsterdam can be difficult, especially if you’re visiting for the first time. Maybe it’s not Rome but it has a lot of small streets as well, not to mention that remembering names of them can be very confusing. Why then not follow locals and find some kind of keywords on the map? Sounds good to me. Now let’s only think what to choose.. squares! Yes, let’s walk through the city keeping in mind near which of the many famous squares are we at the moment.
Probably the most famous of mentioned above squares is Dam Square (called by locals simply De Dam). It’s situaed within 10 minutes walking distance just straight ahead from the Central Station in Amsterdam. It has The Royal Palace located on it, as well as Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). You can memorize it also as the address for Madame Tussauds Museum. From time to time it turns into a funfair, you can meet some street entertainers there and if you’re a fan- you can start your horse carriage tour over there.
The only thing you should be aware of, that Dam Square is home to an enormous number of pigeons, so watch out for you head or give them some bread!
Further on, just around 10 minutes walking from Dam Square you arrive at Het Spui. It is a very small square surrounded mainly by many cafes, restaurants and an American Book Center. Finding yourself there may be a perfect chance to get a little rest from walking down the shopping streets or simply sightseeing. Just choose one of benches around and sit for a moment to enjoy the view. Don’t get surprised- it’s a small square hoewever every Friday between 10.00-18.00 it turns into a market with old books, posters or some silverware. Sure thing is that you will also notice a sculpture on ‘t Spui called ‘Lieverdje’ (‘Sweetie’) which reminds visitors about youth movement in the 60-ties.
Moving forward from Het Spui we have 2 options- walk down the Kalvestraat or turn right into the Leidsestraat. For now, let’s choose the first option.
When the shopping street ends we will arrive at Muntplein. It is named after Munttoren, a tower which makes this small square an orientation point. If we meet there, it means that we are probably going to the Flower Market or one of the cinemas as they are located very closely.
But we already visited the Flower Market so we will move on from there to the next of the very important squares- that would be Rembrandtplein. Well, here for sure we will go for a quick bite and then hit a party at one of the surrounding clubs. Nightlife goes on at Rembrandt Square until early morning hours. However if you’re not a party animal- you have to visit this place anyway. There is a fantastic monument of Rembrandt located just in the middle of the square, you can catch a breath and admire the architecture, or walk straight on to find yourself arriving in a while at the Waterlooplein, which as you can guess.. is another square!
In the past Waterloo Square had been the biggest city market. Now it is dominated by the buildings of Opera and City Hall, with a very small space left for a local, tourist- orientated market.
We wandered quite far, didn’t we? Good, let’s go back to Het Spui now and take the turn to Leidsestraat.
At the very end of it you will find perhaps the busiest square in the city- Leidseplein. It is home to many local artists and performers. You will find here any kind of cusisine you seek for, bars and pubs, clubs and coffeeshops. There is as well the Schouwburg Theatre. You are going to get confused by the amount of languages from the people passing by. It’s too busy for you? Let’s go left from Liedseplein and walk slowly straight ahead.
At some point, after around 10 minutes, you will notice the building of recently renewed Rijksmuseum on your right. If you’ll follow the path that leads through it you will arrive at Museumplein, the most relaxed of all of the squares. It has a lot of green areas, it is surrouned by the great Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh’s Museum, Stedelijk Museum and at the other end by Concertgebouw (Music building). During summertime there is a wonderful wading pool which in the winter turns into an ice-skating venue. Through-out the whole year there are many festivals that are hel at Museumplein (for example ”Uitmarkt”). In the neighborhood you will find the most fancy shopping street in the whole city- P.C. Hooftstraat. If you’re not interested in expensive brands I simply recommend you to take a moment of relaxation sitting on the grass at the Museum Square (not recommended during winter period).
It’s not easy to find your way in Amsterdam. There are a lot of streets, turns and ways to choose from. But depending on what are your plans for the day- you can make your way by using our ”key words”.
Don’t you feel like feeding some pigeons and posing for a picture with Darth Vader? Meet me at the Dam Square!