There’s a lot to do and take in in this amazing city, of course, the coffee shops are all part of the experience, but if you can resist the temptation to spend the weekend stoned and listening to reggae you will be richly rewarded! But it’s that liberal spirit that gives this city it’s character and unique atmosphere, from the oppression of the Nazi’s to the freedom of today Amsterdam has a real story to tell those who explore it’s streets and brave the bike lanes!
There’s a reason Amsterdam is referred to as “The Venice of the North” it has over 100km of canals and over 1,500 bridges! The city is built on canals, they form concentric belts around the city as part of 17th century city planning efforts. Three of the oldest canals are now UNESCO world heritage listed, a testament to their importance to the development of this city and also their beauty.
From walking alongside the canals, relaxing on one of the bridges at night or taking a cruise on an open top barge there are numerous ways to explore and experience these wonderful canals and the amazing architecture that surrounds them. Lined by stunning local flowers during the day and romantic lighting at night the canals are the perfect way to see Amsterdam in all it’s glory.
Red light District
Despite your opinions of the sex industry no one can deny that the red light district is one of the things that Amsterdam is most famous for. Now we are not encouraging anyone to partake in any of the services on offer but we also think that visiting this area at night is a unique and eye opening experience not to be missed.
The glowing red lights along the “De Wallen” leaves you in no doubt as to where you are, in some ways its fascinating to see something as taboo as sex on display in this way, but at the same time it’s unavoidable disturbing how matter of fact selling ones body has become here. Despite mixed feelings this is a major part of the culture and history of Amsterdam and one of the oldest areas of the city with much of the buildings and infrastructure dating back to the 14th century, as does prostitution in the city.
Whilst I visited with a group of “Football/ Soccer Girls” and so visiting this impressive and famous stadium was a given it is still one of the most imposing stadia in the world. As a sports fan or someone just looking for an alternative piece of legendary architecture in Amsterdam visiting the Ajax stadium won’t disappoint. The upper tiers of the arena are almost 37 degrees, one of the steepest in the world, this adds an intense and almost vertigo inducing view unlike any other stadium.
Built in 1996 it is the biggest stadium in Holland and hosts not only AFC Ajax games but those of the national team as well as live music, American football games, Euro 2000, Champions league final in 1998 and Europa league in 2013…There have been some truly memorable moments inside this colourful stadium! This cauldron like arena hosts intense games against rivals Feyenoord in De Klassieker and even has it’s own fenced off section and away end train station just for these rage fuelled encounters!
Now we don’t usually condone the use of drugs but when in Rome…or erm Amsterdam to truly experience all the city is about you can’t leave without visiting a famous coffee shop! Amsterdam is known for it’s liberal and open laws regarding many things other cities and countries are much more uptight about. This creates a much more open and relaxed atmosphere to the city!
Not all coffee shops are intimidating and overwhelming, like wise if it’s your first time many of the shops will advise you on how to get a taste of what they have to offer without going too far and being ill!! You could dive right in at the deep end and enjoy a joint in one of the chilled out rasta cafes or have a few bites of a space cake in one of the more tourist friendly venues! You can even go in and literally just have a coffee and just observe!
Just remember to bring some I.D and never take any drugs off the premises, pace yourself and have fun!
Explore the city on a bike
Ok, so you have the canals as one amazing way to explore Amsterdam, but not everything the city has to offer is canal side. Renting a bike out in Amsterdam is simple, cheap and safe with hundreds of cycle lanes all over the city as well as safe places to store your bike. This way you can really get a feel for what it is to be a local in this wonderful city and also explore in much more detail.
Recommended stops on your bicycle exploration are: Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank house, Vondelpark, Jordaan, Dam Square, Rembrandt house museum and The Royal Palace!
Cycling around Amsterdam and taking in these famous and impressive sights we guarantee will be one of the most unforgettable travel experiences of your life!!
Have you been to Amsterdam?
We are looking forward to going back in 2016 as part of our round the world trip! Stay tuned for more info!
If you are going, check out these holiday parks near Amsterdam for more accommodation options!
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