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things to do in amsterdam - top sights & their fascinating stories!

Amsterdam has a rich and diverse history that makes it one of the most interesting cities in Europe. Established and developed around a network of canals, it is steeped in history and only waiting to be fully discovered. Here are some of the top sights in Amsterdam and the intriguing stories behind them.

The Canals of Amsterdam
The canal ring area of Amsterdam is designed as semi-circular canals that were constructed in the 17th century. The canals provided an excellent avenue in which the city expanded as people increased in numbers, more buildings, and infrastructures could be developed. Cruising through the canals or walking along the picturesque quays is alone the best way to explore Amsterdam. While strolling around the picturesque gabled canal buildings, one can only envision the history of centuries ago when these canals were the streets of the city busy with trade and transport.

The Anne Frank House
Finding a suitable venue in Amsterdam, one can pinpoint the address of one of the most famous and touching museums of the city – Prinsengracht 263 – the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank a Jewish teenager who hid from Nazis with her family during WWII in this very house before being captured and taken to concentration camp where she died. Visiting the actual secret basement and hidden annex which the Franks and another family lived in for years, can be very mind-boggling, as you get to learn how Jews were treated during the Second World War. Though a sad visit, it was quite informative to get to learn about some history.

The Van Gogh Museum
It is a museum of modern art that is home to the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh paintings anywhere in the world. This pretty much continues through his whole lifetime with such masterpieces as the Sunflowers series and The Bedroom on display here. Vincent Van Gogh was a tormented artist who never knew good financial success and suffered from a mental illness. He infamously severed part of his ear during an episode that he described as one of extreme stress and then killed himself at the age of 37. After his death, his work began to get a lot of appreciation for what it had done to modern art, and walking through the galleries allowed one to experience his revolutionary and colorful artworks.

This large open space is widely used by people living in cities and those who arrive in cities for tourist visits. Vondelpark is most lively during the day when children are seen cycling, families are having a picnic, and people are seated outside cafés having meals or merely strolling around. In the 17th century, it used to be a private property reserved for the nobleman but was later turned into a public garden. Today it is visited by more than 10 million tourists and visitors annually to this famous park. Seeing the active social life is rather like getting a real sense of the feel of the city of Amsterdam.

The Red Light District
A walk through the said district known as the Red Light District is something that cannot be missed by anyone who visits Amsterdam. The city has always been liberal to some extent and there is no hiding the fact that the oldest profession in the world is legal here. Huslers in various attachment hairstyles and makeup, provocatively dressed in tight red attire, stand by the windows of their rooms with red-lighted signs for customers. What is more, nowadays many people visit the area to have a peek at the area which still feels rather rough. The location is also blessed with some great bars and good shopping between the strip clubs and stag shows.

This is one of the finest art museums in the world which is home to the largest collection of art in the Netherlands. There is also art dating from medieval times to recent artists which includes Rembrandt. Do not omit The Night Watch, a city guard portrait of a unique with stunning effects of light. The other priceless piece is the masterpiece painted by Vermeer; the Milkmaid painting shows fine focus. Visiting this museum you can see the greatest examples of Netherlands paintings of the XVII century strolling through the luxurious corridors with a collection of 8000 items.

The Begijnhof
Flanked by neatly arranged flowers and old houses, this lovely courtyard was first constructed in the 14th century for the Beguines, a Catholic order of celibate women who remained unmarried or widowed and dedicated themselves to providing care for the elderly. Leaving the noise and traffic of Amsterdam behind, entering the courtyard in Begijnhof is like watching a scene from the Middle Ages. Try the search for the Catholic church built in 1665, as the religion was prohibited in Amsterdam at that time. Take a stroll in this calm place in the middle of the concrete jungle and try to imagine the women who once sought refuge in it many years ago.

Floating Flower Market
This is almost like a one-of-a-kind market, which sits on houseboats docked on a canal. Stalls display colorful tulips that the country of Holland specializes in, selling bulbs and other flowers too. Admiring the vast array of colors on the screen and strolling around them with an occasional look at the flowers is a wonderful pleasure. The blooms also remind me of “Tulip Mania” whereby rare tulip bulbs were selling at tenfold the average annual income in the seventeenth century in the Dutch. Although the prices are not so high today, this market has all the features that attract people to Amsterdam associated with flowers in general and tulips in particular.

The Heineken Experience
Beer lovers can have a great time discovering the long history of the country’s most famous beer, Heineken, at the Heineken Experience. This auto-archaeological tour reconstructs the life of the Heineken drink from the moment when it was a local brewery in Amsterdam up to the present-day global brand. A very fun way to spend the time is to engage with the different forms of multimedia that are used to display the history of the Heineken Brewery and Brewery Museum; it also has historical items; while not all that scary, there are wax statutes of the Heineken family over the years. Enjoy the two free beers included in the price of the ticket and also get to know the right way to draw the perfect pint before sipping on your drink in the chic tasting room-like lounge.

Boat along the Canals
Taking a canal boat tour on the area’s famous UNESCO-protected and scenic waterways is also a must. Climb aboard for a leisurely ride and listen to a guided narration of the city’s history while enjoying the incredible architecture that passes by. The routes of the canals are different from the promenades, meaning that one gets to see places such as the famous Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) in a way that is not possible if one is walking. When it comes to Evening cruises watch the bridges of Amsterdam decorated in lights with cocktails also form part of the specialty. But, regardless of the type of trip on the water that you decide to take in Amsterdam, an appearance on the bridges and canals of the city guarantees a classic Instagram picture.

Thank you for watching this video guide dedicated to the top things to do in Amsterdam and hope to see you in the next episode. Starting with museums, going through the architecture, passing by the cafés, and shops, and not to mention the immense fun this place offers with its compact city center but with so much to offer than one can only imagine. Visiting Amsterdam is a trip that anyone will remember!