Are you going to Amsterdam? Here are some tips published by our partners, Context Travel.
Already an incredibly popular tourist destination attracting visitors from all over the world, Amsterdam has seen a boom in 2013, thanks to a hugely successful campaign by Iamsterdam, as well as the reopening and birthday celebrations of a number of key venues. The Rijksmuseum opened after a 10-year hiatus, and the Van Gogh Museum reopened after a shorter break to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Plus, the famous UNESCO World Heritage Canal Ring turned 400 this year. But with such fanfare and success, it can be hard to know what to prioritize, so we’ve put together a guide to help you get the best of the Venice of the North.
1. Rijksmuseum - Okay, we’re not exactly suggesting you skip the mighty Rijksmuseum, but be prepared! Crowds in certain areas can more resemble a football match or concert than an art gallery, and there are a number of ways to avoid the worst of the crowds. Firstly, go early. The museum opens at 9am, so get there a few minutes before to slip in before the queues start forming. Once in, go straight to the Gallery of Honour and see the world famous Vermeers and Rembrandt’s Nightwatch before heading to lesser-known treasures like the ship model collection in the basement. To skip the queue at any time of day, take skip the line tour.
2. Canal Cruises - Canal cruises are ten-a-penny in Amsterdam and in many ways epitomise the tourist trap mentality, and, according to one of our docents “the best way to miss everything the city is about”. Instead, seize the bull by the horns and hire a bicycle for a true taste of local life. It’s easier than it looks!
3. Damrak - The partially filled canal running from Central Station to Dam Square is for many unavoidable, but once you’ve used it to get from A to B, don’t go back to Damrak. The dirty, bustling thoroughfare is a hotspot for pickpockets and other crime, and does Amsterdam no favors as a first impression. To get a feel for the real city, we suggest heading out to Zeeburg, an area to the northeast of the centre, devoid for the most part of traditional canalhouses and home to a brand new housing project of floating islands called IJburg. Better still, go off the beaten track to explore Amsterdam’s reputation as a model city.
4. Anne Frank House - Many people make a beeline for this museum, the house where that tragic story of the spirited young raconteur unfolded. Unfortunately, the famously small space is practically always overcrowded, with queues reaching around the block. Consequently, the meaning and atmosphere of the space can feel diluted, but thankfully there are plenty of lesser-known but equally moving sites across the city, such as those explored in Jews in Amsterdam walk.
5. Torture Museum - Places like the Torture Museum, Amsterdam Dungeon and–for fear of stating the obvious–Madame Tussauds remain hugely popular, and charge high admission prices. But such venues don’t portray anything authentic about Amsterdam. For a free and fascinating insight into the city, check out the Amsterdam Museum’s glass-topped walkway, which features a fusion of historic and modern art and design, pulling together past and present in a unique exhibition.