We know the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Amsterdam is that it’s a great 420 spot for travelers who enjoy mind-blowing brownies, or it’s an exceptionally liberal city for pedestrians to go “window shopping” in the Red-Light District. However, there are so many other aspects of the city you really should explore.
Aside from the reasons listed above, Amsterdam is also a great destination if you like to geek out over architecture, history and art. This city is an exciting contrast of centuries-old buildings paired against modern skyscrapers speckled with amazing art, zooming bicycles and a live-and-let-live culture. Here are four ways to immerse yourself in Amsterdam’s culture and experience the city as a local.
Practice Your Hand Signals!
Bikes are the preferred method of transportation in this capital city. It’s not uncommon to see city leaders and even the king commuting by bike. New visitors to the city might get a little nervous navigating around the massive number of cyclists. So, instead of dodging the bikes, join a bike tour to see the city on land like a local. Guides give you a crash course in bike etiquette, including hand signals, before they safely show you around town, hopefully after rush hour. You’ll be a pro before you know it! And if the city scene is still too much, opt to go on a country ride and enjoy the iconic windmills and tulip gardens.
Navigating Amsterdam’s Canals
Get stoked for an amazing ride on the canal that provides unparalleled views of quirky canal houses mingling with house boats and romantic arched bridges that stand over the waterways. It’s worth booking a tour just to see it, and perhaps pick up a few fun facts from your guide along the way. There are so many different canal tours, from romantic dinner cruises and family friendly tours to hop-on-hop-off boats. Tours usually take about an hour, but the views stay with you for a lifetime. And in case you didn’t know, the canals are central to the city’s transportation, and because the Canal Ring is seen as an exceptional advancement in town planning, it’s also listed as a UNESCO protected World Heritage site. Pretty cool, huh?
Adventures in Art
Amsterdam’s Golden Age produced some of best known artists of all time. Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh all called the city home, and many of their works still reside here. If you’re looking for the classics, look no further than the Van Gogh Museum. It’s an art lover’s dream! True to its namesake, this museum displays the world’s largest collection of his paintings. Visit the Rijksmuseum for a vast collection of Dutch art, starting from the Middle Ages and stretching through modern times. For modern art fans, Stedelijk Museum is a can’t miss. Their comprehensive 90,000 object collection features pioneers of the Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism and Expressionism movements.
For an authentic experience, belly up to the counter of a local bar, known as a bruin café.
To fuel your exciting Amsterdam experience, stop and enjoy some local specialties. Patat are
essentially French fries smothered in mayonnaise, served in a paper cone, and sure to please any palate. Dutch cheese is another can’t miss, since the Netherlands is the largest cheese exporter in the world. We suggest a stop by the Reypenaer’s Tasting Room to enjoy wine and cheese samplings. For an authentic experience, belly up to the counter of a local bar, known as a bruin café. These traditional Dutch pubs that serve snacks and beers are spread throughout the city, but Old Centre is a great place to find one.