Holding the title of the largest city park in Amsterdam, it is clear to see why over 10 million visitors are welcomed here every year. The Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands and is popular with both locals and tourists. Whether you enjoy picnics, a gentle stroll in beautiful surroundings or just simply lazing on grass, this park is open to all. Throughout the months of June, July and August, the Open Air Theatre performs many concerts and dance performances at the bandstand. Other attractions include the statue of Dutch poet Vondel, the Groot Melkhuis (with a playground for children) and the Vertigo restaurant with its historical Pavilion. Covering 120 acres, this historic park has many attributes to build a fantastic day out.
Despite popular belief, the Van Gogh museum isn’t the only contemporary art scene to be visited in Amsterdam. Throughout the city, there are small independent galleries that are easily accessible and perfect for those travellers on a budget. Hidden away in the picturesque neighbourhood of Jordaan, you’ll find many smaller galleries situated in and around the town. Taken from the French word for garden, many of Jordaan’s streets and canals are named after trees and flowers, whilst also being famous for being the home to modern art galleries. Three of the more prominent galleries are Radar, Galerie Fons Welters and Kochxbos. Whether you are looking for architecture, urban inspiration or colourful artwork, you’ll find it all amongst the leafy streets.
Exploring an unfamiliar city can sometimes prove to be a daunting task. No one wants to miss out on hidden gems for simply not knowing the area, however tour buses charge for their service. Introducing Sandeman’s Tours. With over 100 tours offered daily and English speaking tour guides, it is clear to see why Sandeman’s are overtaking the usual bus tours. With tours lasting around 3 hours; and visiting many of the famous sites of Amsterdam, it couldn’t be easier. Booking isn’t needed however you can book your tour online or simply turn up at one of the many meeting points and enjoy!
If history is more your interest, then the secret garden of Begijnhof is where you need to go. Bosting as one of the oldest inner courts in Amsterdam, Begijnhof is home to an oasis of 14th-century houses and gardens. Many of the houses are now private dwellings, however tourists are welcome to find the humble wooden door that takes you back in time.
Why not add a bit of sparkle to your city break? Amsterdam has been known internationally as the ‘City of Diamonds’ for over 425 years. At Gassan Factory, you can watch their diamond cutters at work whilst your guide tells you all about the process. You can also polish up on your diamond knowledge. Did you know the brilliant cut is also known as the ‘Amsterdam Cut’, having originated there? See for yourself how a rough stone can transform into a stunning diamond. The tour is available 7 days a week in over 27 languages, and naturally there is a jewellery shop at the end of the tour.
If books are your passion, a visit to this beautiful building is a must. This library is unlike any library you have ever seen. With thousands of books, newspapers and computers, there are hundreds of sofa beds to relax on and lose yourself in words. Fancy yourself as a pianist? Why not practise your skills on the free-for-all piano! However don’t stop until you reach the top. The top floor balcony shows views of the town, whilst also having a bar and restaurant there. If books aren’t of interest to you, the Centrale Bibliotheek isn’t just a library. A museum, culture centre and library rolled into one, spread across seven architecturally unique floors. It is impossible to see everything in there, but if you have a few spare hours why not give it a go!
If you want to soak up the sun while in Amsterdam, make sure you walk through some of the famous streets to get a real feel of the city. Albert Cuypmarkt is the city’s largest street market. Become a local and enjoy haggling over exotic cheeses, beautiful fabrics and interesting sandwiches! Amsterdam is known for its colour and brightness and has specialised in flower markets since the 17th century. It is home to some of the most breath-taking flower markets in Europe. Bloemenmarkt is right in the centre and offers you bulbs galore. You’ll have to pay for the flowers but it’s free to smell the roses!
With a permanent exhibition at Amsterdam City Archives, this is an ideal place to learn everything you want to know about the history of the city. The building, a former bank, has notable impressive geometric brickwork, designed by ADN van Gendt. Discover the history of the city through unusual and quirky treasures. The collection includes Anne Frank’s bike and a police telegram regarding Karl Marx’s visit to the city in 1872. All the artefacts are contained within a majestic tiled vault in the basement of the Bazel building.
Amsterdam is surrounded by water. The views of the numerous canals are beautiful, but why not get a view from the water? Tour boats traffic the canals daily however they aren’t the best way to see the city.
Anyone wanting a gratis boat trip should try one of the free ferries across Amsterdam’s waterfront, IJ, then travel on to Amsterdam- Noord. The ferry enables you to see both the leafy countryside and the historic villages in the area, whilst also dropping in at NDSM Wharf – a regenerated shipyard, now home to Berlin-esque cultures and creative entrepreneurs.
Whether you play chess or simple want to know the history behind the game, a trip to Max Euwe Plein will feed your urges. The museum is named after the Dutch chess champion, Max Euwe. At the museum there is an exhibition dedicated to his life and works. You can learn how to play chess or study how the game was found. You can even test your skills out on a giant chessboard situated outside the museum!
Images: telegraph.co.uk, mydestination.com, nationalgeographic.nl