Once the wealthiest city in the world, Amsterdam can still boast of its rich culture, huge concerts, tall people, and many canals. If you’re looking for an authentic Dutch experience, here are a few things to do and look out for while visiting:
For cruising around town two wheels are the way to go. With over one million eco-friendly bikes, ample parking racks and lots of designated bike paths, Amsterdam is considered the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, and boast three times as many bikes as cars.
Admire the unique architecture, with many of the buildings that border the canals lean slightly due to shifting foundations. Which isn’t surprising, as over one fourth of the Netherlands is below sea level, and many of these canals, buildings and foundations are centuries old.
If you like some water features in your cities, this is the place for you. Amsterdam has 165 canals, 1281 bridges, 70 cruise boats, 8 wooden drawbridges, 2500 houseboats, and 120 water bikes (give or take a few). No surprise that it’s considered “The Venice of the North.”
Poffertjes (pronouced poffer- ches) are a traditional Dutch treat that is a must. Similar to mini pancakes, they’re usually served with butter and icing sugar. It’s hard to have just one!
Green grass, shaded paths, and a picnic lunch are part of the everyday routine here. Vondelpark (pictured here) welcomes 10 million visitors a year and is the most famous park in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is always a great city for entertainment and hosts 300+ festivals throughout the year from EDM dance festivals to food to film festivals, so you have lots of options. Check out more on the Festival page at iamsterdam.com.
Considered one of the greatest painters in European art history, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) was born in Leiden, Netherlands, and moved to Amsterdam in 1631. His home in Amsterdam is now the Rembrandt House Museum. It’s one of a number of world class museums worth a visit. We’ve also enjoyed the Rijksmuseum the country’s main museum for arts and history, and the nearby Van Gogh Museum on a couple of occasions.
A visit to The Anne Frank House is a still a powerful experience that for cultural context, although long tourist lineups can sometimes be a deterrent if you’re on a tight schedule. The house is situated in the centre of the city, and a guided tour allows you to physically step into the space where Anne wrote her famous diary during World War II .
AMSTERDAM STATS & QUICK FACTS
Including the surrounding area: 1.5 million
Official Language: Dutch is the national language of Amsterdam, Holland. However English is spoken by almost everyone.
Currency: Euros (1 Euro = $1.40 CAD)
Climate: It is warmest in June-August with temperatures ranging between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius.
Size: 207 square kilometers
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +1. So if it’s noon in Berlin, it is 4am in Vancouver, 5am in Calgary, 7am in Toronto and 8am in Halifax.
The Amsterdam Flag
The name Amsterdam is a combination of the words, Amsteland dam: in early times a dam was built at a fishing village on the River Amstel.
As the story goes, the city was founded by two fishermen, who landed on the shores of the Amstel in a small boat with their dog.
NOW YOU KNOW…
- The 17th century is considered Amsterdam’s Golden Age when it became one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network.
- Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is some times called “Holland” after its provinces of North and South Holland.
- The Dutch are the tallest people on Earth. The average adult is 6’1” (1.85m), and experts say they’re still growing!
- In 1667, the Dutch exchanged New Amsterdam (now called New York City, USA) for the British South American colony of Suriname.
- Historically, windmills were used as a source of energy in the Netherlands, especially for drainage.
- Cullinan, the world’s largest diamond, and the famous Koh-I-Noor were cut in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has been a centre for the diamond industry for over four hundred years.
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT
Eurail (a great way to get around Europe) – www.eurail.com