Various stereotypes draw in our imagination an absolutely vicious and weird city of Amsterdam. However, you understand they are false after the first time you get acquainted with it. Amsterdam miraculously manages to become your city no matter who you are. Van Gogh’s creations are already waiting for all the fans of art; the floating flower market “Bloemenmarkt” and the renowned Keukenhof park will delight all the fanciers of flowers; Museum Quarter gives a cordial welcome to all the inquisitive tourists; Gassan Diamonds factory and museum can’t wait to meet the connoisseurs of diamonds. There, you shall learn and see the secrets of jewellery. No wonder, Amsterdam is called the city of diamonds. Needless to say that Amsterdam is a genuine paradise for cyclists. It’s bright, modern, and free – you should definitely meet it!
Districts of Amsterdam
According to the administrative division, Amsterdam consists of seven districts. The titles of each of them depict the geographical location. Center, South, North, West, South-East, New West - it’s a piece of cake to find them on a map. As far as tourism is concerned, these districts are the most interesting for travelers:
- Center - it has the highest concentration of the city’s attractions. This district has plenty of cafes, restaurants, has a well-developed system of public transport. The main railway station of the capital is also located here. If you consider the Center for staying during your trip, take into account crowds of tourists who often have fun till morning. This mainly concerns the Red Light District that never sleeps. The atmosphere in such quarters as Jordaan, Plantage, and Jodenbuurt (the Jewish Quarter) is much calmer.
- South - it is located not far from the Center but offers lower prices on hotels and apartments. The nights and evenings are calm and quiet. It is easy to reach the major city attractions on public transport from this district. Some quarters are even situated within a walking distance from tourist destinations. For example, the Museum Quarter definitely deserves your attention. It offers the most renowned museums in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum are two of the most popular ones. The quarter is perfect for staying with children. They will enjoy a walk to the Vondelpark. De Pijp is another famous quarter. Locals and travelers love it for its diversity of cafes, bars, shops, markets, and never-ending merriment.
- West - it is not the best district in Amsterdam as immigrants from Africa set their hearts on it. If you still select this part of the city, pay attention to the Oud-West quarter. It’s located nearby the Museum Quarter and the historical part of the city. Besides, De Baarsjec and Westerpark are also considered to be pretty worthful.
- North - locals don’t like this district and don’t even consider it to be a part of Amsterdam. It’s a different town for them. Tourists may find this district quite attractive. It offers an underwater tunnel, an enormous leisure area called Het Twiske, and the base of the famous football club Ajax.
East - this part of Amsterdam is frequently compared to a patchwork quilt as it manages to combine absolutely diverse quarters. If you are looking for cheap apartments or hotels and don’t care about a lack of greenery, consider Zeeburg. Are you dreaming of staying in the expensive quarter with fascinating attractions? Consider Plantage. However, we would highly recommend you to keep away from such quarters as Indische Buurt, Oosterpark Buurt and Transvaal Buurt.
Amsterdam is a real paradise for inquisitive tourists who love attending various attractions and walking. The famous dancing houses, a wide range of museums picturesque parks, palaces, squares – this city knows how to make people stare. Add canals and marvelous bridges to all of the above mentioned, and we guarantee you will fall in love with Amsterdam!
The history of the city
At the cusp of the XIII and XIV centuries, Amsterdam received the status of a city. It became a part of the County of Holland in 1317. Even back then, it was a center of maritime commerce, and the city’s economy was growing rapidly and flourishing. New canals were built and fortified in the XIV-XV centuries. This did not only provide new trading opportunities but also protected the city from enemies.
Amsterdam had been the largest trading and cultural center until the middle of the XVIII century. Gradually, the trading was declining. However, Amsterdam became the capital of the Batavian Republic in 1795. Later, in 1806, it was proclaimed to be the major city in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1810, the Netherlands became a part of the French Empire. Amsterdam regained its status of the capital only in four years.
The city was invaded and occupied by the Germans in World War II. A wave of immigrants from Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia swept the city in 1950. Nowadays, trading and commerce still prevail over other activities in the city. Amsterdam also develops its service sphere. It’s considered to be one of the most important tourist centers in the country.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit Amsterdam
Summer brings hot and damp weather to Amsterdam. Thermometers show up to +30 °C, and the level of humidity can reach 80%. Almost empty streets during the daytime are the main advantage of this period. It’s also the season of musical and dancing festivals. Autumn in the capital of the Netherlands offers more pleasant weather and not less cultural events: Jordaan Festival, a marathon, Arrival of Saint Nicholas. You won’t be bored.
Winter is a special time when Amsterdam resembles a fabulous kingdom. For sure, Christmas is the brightest event. The weather is not too frosty. It’s actually more humid and foggy, with frequent rains. The average temperature is +2…+5 °C. It almost never goes below zero. The prices for hotels and apartments decrease by 30 % or even 50 % from November till the middle of December, and from the middle of January to March.
Thus, experienced travelers say that spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Amsterdam while a winter trip is not the best idea.
There are several places in Amsterdam where shopaholics’ dreams can come true. First of all, it’s an ancient, atmospheric, and marvelous district of 9 streets (De 9 Straatjes). There are plenty of fascinating shops where designers themselves sell their creations, stores of Holland brands, and vintage stalls. But if you are not looking for the diversity of exquisite and unique things and just want to buy something average, head to the shopping malls. De Bijenkorf shopping center is located at Dam Square. You can also visit Kalverstraat street. Sales in Amsterdam are usually in January, February, and July.
Treacherous weather is probably one of the main peculiarities of Amsterdam. You can hardly suffer from cold here but you can easily get soaking wet. Locals advise installing an app called Buienalarm on your phone. It will help you to track the forecast for the rain in various districts of the city. And don’t forget to fetch an umbrella and a raincoat if you are going for a walk.
There is a special tourist card that can assist you in attending various attractions and using public transport. You can purchase it at the VVV service. It offers discount prices for both public transport and entry tickets to the museums. There are special group tickets at affordable prices for those tourists who come to Amsterdam with a group of friends and plan to use the train. You can buy these group tickets on the official website of the railway station.
If you are hungry but don’t want to spend a fortune on your lunch or snack, head to the self-service restaurant called La Place. It offers delicious and affordable options. The restaurant is located on the top floor of the central city library. Besides cheap prices, you can enjoy a wonderful city view for free.
It’s not typical to leave lots of tips in Amsterdam. It’s a great advantage for all travelers. And if you still want to thank the waiter for the service, you can round up the check or leave a couple of euros.
Amsterdam is a city of liberty where adults can have fun with almost no limits. Such entertainments and amusements are waiting for the tourists at the worldwide known local bars and coffee shops. Experienced travelers advise not to visit both places in one day. You will regret it.
What should a tourist do in Amsterdam?
Clearly, every traveler has his or her plans for Amsterdam. They depend on personal interests and preferences. However, there are things in the capital of the Netherlands that every tourist should do.
- Admire Amsterdam from the water. The city is called the second Venice not without a reason. It has over 1500 bridges and 90 islands. Amsterdam looks stunning from the water. Tourists can choose from organized group tours or rental ships and catamarans.
- Throw a museum day! Amsterdam offers more than 40 museum displays to its guests. The themes are diverse: Museums of Van Gogh and Rembrandt, the Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank House, Heineken Experience with beer tasting, and even the Erotic Museum. Believe us, there are enough tours for more than one day!
- Buy flowers. Tulips are one of the symbols of Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general. However, you can also find other flowers here. The floating flower market Bloemenmarkt works on the Singel canal daily, except Sunday. There you can purchase both bouquets and bulbs of various plants.
- Rent a bike and cycle around the city. Bicycles are another symbol of the city. There are special cycleways, and rental services are almost at every corner. A bicycle tour around Amsterdam is your chance not only to see the city but also to have an excellent workout.
- Drop by a cheese shop. There are plenty of such shops around the city and there’s nothing surprising about this. The Netherlands takes the second place (after France) in cheese production. Every place will offer you a diverse assortment, interesting sauces, friendly salesmen, and free tasting. It will be delicious!
- Pamper yourself to some junk food. The national cuisine of the Netherlands does not have a wide range of dishes. French fries are considered to be a popular food in Amsterdam. You can find the most delicious one on Damrak Street. Be ready to stay in long lines. But don’t worry, the french fries here are worth the time wasted!
- Try the Dutch herring. This is the second gastronomical attraction in Amsterdam after the french fries. There are various ways to eat it. You can eat the entire herring as the locals do. They usually throw their heads back, hold the herring above it and try to take a big bite. You can also choose a traditional way: in the form of a sandwich or a salad with the herring, onion, and pickled cucumbers. No matter what method you choose, it’s a real must-try! The herring here is incredibly mouth-watering.
- Stroll along the Red Lights District. It’s important to remember that this is an amusement for adults only. The street was named after the red lights that were put into the windows of brothels. These establishments are still functioning here. Besides, there are sex shops on every corner where you can purchase original and exquisite presents for your friends. Try not to take pictures here. Locals don’t like it.
- Step by a coffee shop. It’s another attraction for adults. Of course, you can just enjoy a cup of coffee at the coffee shop. However, people come here to taste “magical” cupcakes, cookies, and other sweets. Don’t forget that Amsterdam is the city where cannabis is legalized. Just make sure you keep those “goodies” away from children.