Is your bucket list full of places where you would like to go as soon as COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted? Let us be honest, whose is not?
Then, if you have never been to the Netherlands, you should totally go having a look!
Amsterdam is a perfect place to start travelling again from!
What makes me so sure? Probably the fact that not only I have been there, but I also live there for a year.
Back in 2017, I indeed chose Amsterdam as a place to live without even having been there before. I took a risk that over time turned out to be a good choice in many respects.
So, the first time I visited Amsterdam, I was already living on a 15-minute-train-ride from its city centre.
At first, having visited Venice a couple of years before, this idea of a city built over canals and bridges did not excite me. Once there, though, I was utterly hooked. Not only its charm has indeed nothing to envy Venice, but it also has a magically unique beauty and atmosphere.
Besides, Dutch people are great! They are always willing to help you out if you ask. Otherwise, they are perfectly able to mind their own business so that you will never have the sensation of being on trial and locked down.
Another reason why I love Amsterdam and the Netherlands, in general, is because of the extreme attention its people pay to preserving the environment and being at the forefront in promoting innovative and alternative solutions.
Besides, in the Netherlands public transport reliable and on time, people have great respect for all people’s thing.
In light of all this, I decided to write this article to help you get the most of the delightful city of Amsterdam in 2 wonderful days.
But first, as always, I will answer a couple of FAQs about the city to make sure you have an as-complete-as-possible idea of the city, its main highlights and all its must-see places.
Disclaimer 1: In this article, I will deliberately not cover the Red Light District nor any particular Coffee Shop, as I believe Amsterdam to be such a stunning place that those two are not essential to get one of the most incredible time of your life.
Disclaimer 2: as I intend to write a complete piece about Amsterdam in 2 wonderful days, I had to split this article into two parts for the sake of comprehensiveness.
What is Amsterdam famous for?
Amsterdam is famous for the following things:
Canals and bridges
The over-400-year-old concentric canal system in Amsterdam is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. These canals are visited by millions of people each year and have played an important role in the development of Amsterdam. The city’s unique layout is created by the water-filled canals, which are followed by the streets, giving Amsterdam an artistic design.
Within the city, there are over 165 canals that stretch for over 100 kilometres. The inner canal rings of Amsterdam were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Red Light District
Another feature that makes Amsterdam popular is the Red Light District, where prostitutes advertise and sell their “services” through windows. Aside from that, there are numerous live sex shows, brothels, sex shops, and strip clubs in the area.
Thousands of so-called sex tourists visit the city each year exclusively for these purposes.
The numerous coffee shops are another of Amsterdam’s most notorious features. You may be wondering why coffee shops are so decisive to a city’s identity. These are indeed not your run-of-the-mill coffee shops, as selling and smoking marijuana is also a routine business practice in these latter.
There are nearly 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam, which contribute significantly to the city’s tourism industry. A total of 1.5 million tourists visit the coffee shops each year.
Amsterdam is also known for having more bicycles on the roads than vehicles. Taking a stroll through the streets will allow you to note the numerous large bike garages. Long, infinite cycle paths abound in the area, and bike tours of the city are readily available.
For about 7/10 € ( 8/12 $) a day, you can rent a bike from several locations.
It is not shocking that many locals have taken up permanent residence on Amsterdam’s waterways, given the city’s extensive network of canals and restricted residential space. Besides, spending a night or two on a houseboat in Amsterdam is a unique way to see the city and get a sense of its history as a fishing village.
Houseboats can be rented not only on the canals but also on the Amster River and in the docklands. They come in all shapes and sizes, with some renting whole boats, some only rooms, and many offer optional bed and breakfast. They are not the cheapest, but they are genuine and well worth the money for a couple of nights.
Narrow houses by the canals
The Dutch capital is also known for its narrow houses, and there are several contenders for the title of “Amsterdam’s narrowest.” However, there is a reason why Amsterdam’s houses are so cramped, and it has to do with money. Locals were taxed based on the width of their lands in the 17th century, which, ironically, ignited a lot of interest in narrow-fronted buildings. Many of these homes were cleverly built to be wider at the back, giving the impression of being smaller.
Spectacular flower scenes can also be found in Amsterdam. The tulip season heralds the start of spring in the Netherlands. As millions of tulips bloom in and around Amsterdam each year, the city’s rising temperatures and colourful flowers attract a broad number of tourists.
Even though tulips bloom in the spring, Amsterdam provides a colourful flower experience all year, as many flower museums allow you to see Dutch tulips even if it does not spring yet.
What is the best time to visit Amsterdam?
If there is one season of the year that brings out the best in Amsterdam and its surrounding countryside, then spring must be it. As the city awakens from its wintry spell, trees along the canals burst with greenery, tulips come into colourful bloom, and parks and terraces fill with people seeking out those first rays of sunshine.
Besides, in spring you can enjoy Keukenhof Gardens (between March and May), Amsterdam’s annual Tulip Festival (April), King’s Day (27 April), when over a million revellers spill out onto the streets and canals to paint the town orange with boat parties, street parties, house parties, bar parties and every other sort of party imaginable, film, music and culinary events (every weekend throughout April and May), dance, music, cabaret, comedy and children’s events at the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre (every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until September) and Liberation Day (May 5) with a selection of festivals, concerts and special events including public banquets known as Freedom Feasts and a huge floating concert on the River Amstel, attended by the King and Queen.
Is Amsterdam an expensive city?
Amsterdam is pretty expensive for tourists compared to most European countries.
What is the typical drink of Amsterdam?
The national drink is called “Jenever”, a forerunner of gin. This juniper-based spirit has a malty flavour similar to whisky and was once used for medicinal purposes. It is often served with a beer in a tulip-shaped glass, a combination known as “kopstootje”, which means head butt.
What is the traditional food in Amsterdam?
Most traditional Dutch salty dishes comprise a combination of vegetable and meat, such as in Snert (a thick, hearty split pea soup with pork sausage, celery, onions and leeks), Hutspot (potato, carrot and onion mash with meat on the side), Stamppot (potato mash and leftovers or other ingredients like kale, endive, cabbage or sauerkraut, meat on the side (smoked sausage) and gravy), Hachee (meat, fish or poultry and vegetables, stewed into a thick gravy with vinegar, cloves and laurel leaves) and in the brown bean soup (brown beans, vegetables and various meats and spices like cloves, juniper berries and thyme).
Snacks usually involve deep-fried meat or fish, such as in Bitterballen and Kroketten (deep-fried balls and tubes filled with ragout or, sometimes, vegetables, and served with mustard), in Frikandel (deep-fried, skinless sausage), and in Kibbeling (battered and deep-fried morsels of white fish, usually cod, served with herbal mayonnaise and lemon). Other snacks include thick-cut french fries, called “patat” or “frites” on menus, traditionally served in a piping hot paper cone slathered with any manner of tasty toppings.
They also have their version of a Russian salad, made with eggs, potatoes, pickles, vinegar and mayonnaise, called Huzarensalade, and served cold as a side dish, and a huge variety of cheese, such as Gouda, Geitenkaas or Maasdammer. Besides, the notorious Hollandse Nieuwe, or raw herring, often served in a small sandwich with onion or pickles.
They also have the Dutch pancakes (broader than the American ones) often served with various fillings, ranging from syrup, powdered sugar and apple to cheese, spinach and bacon, and usually eaten for dinner rather than breakfast.
To appease their sweet tooth, they have Stroopwafels (two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup), Poffertjes (tiny, puffed up pancakes served with butter and powdered sugar), Eierkoek (soft, round egg cake), Vla (a milky dairy product made with egg and sugar, traditionally with a vanilla flavour), Oliebollen (deep-fried sweet dumplings, sometimes containing fruit pieces), Ontbijtkoek (ginger cake in loaves spread with thick butter) and Tompouce (the Dutch variety of the mille-feuille, rectangular, with two layers of puff pastry and the icing on top coloured in pink, white or orange on Koningsdag (King’s Day) or when the national football team plays in large international tournaments).
And lastly, they have Drop, a liquorice candy, usually black or brown, in both sweet and salty variants.
What to see in Amsterdam in 2 days?
As usual, if you want to save up some money I recommend buying a 48h I Amsterdam City Card for 85€/ 100$ and starting your visit with a cruise of the canals from Amsterdam Central Station.
The UNESCO-protected canal belt of Amsterdam, built in the 17th century to hold the sea at bay, is the quintessential postcard-perfect view of Amsterdam. It is an incredible sight, particularly after sunset, when the bridges are illuminated by fairy lights and the entire area takes on a magical aura. Besides, taking a guided boat tour along the canals is a perfect way to get under the skin of the area, and you will learn a lot of interesting facts along the way. There are a variety of canal cruises available, ranging from hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tours to candlelit night cruises with food and wine.
With the I Amsterdam City Card you can get a cruise for free, otherwise, the ticket price starts from 12.5€/ 15$.
Once at Central Station again, take Damrak, and reach Dam Square (approximately 750 m/ 2,500 ft south of Central Station).
1. Dam Square
Dam Square most prominent features are, on its west end, the 17th-century Royal Palace (“Koninklijk Palace”), former home of the Dutch royal family and present-day venue for royal functions; New Church (“Nieuwe Kerk”), dating back to the 14th century (though rebuilt in 1645 after a fire) and today used as an exhibition/function space, in the north-western corner; Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in the south-west side; Beurs van Berlage, an old stock exchange building now used as a concert hall and an exhibition space (located behind the Bijenkorf department store), and NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel, one of the city’s most well-known hotels, in the eastern part; and the National Memorial Statue, which is dedicated to Dutch soldiers who lost their lives in World War II, on the south end.
In the 13th century, to prevent the sea from flooding the city, they built this place as a dam across the river Amstel.
The dam eventually expanded to the point that it was large enough for a town square, and became the focal point of the town that grew up around it.
Dam Square emerged from two squares: the actual dam, known as Middeldam, and Plaetse, an adjacent plaza to the west.
Ships moored at the dam to load and unload goods grew into a huge fish market.
As the location of Amsterdam’s town hall (the current Royal Palace), the city became a hub of not only commercial activity, but also the government.
In the 19th century, the Damrak, or former mouth of the Amstel River, was partially filled, and Dam square has been surrounded by land on all sides since then. The new ground allowed the construction of the Beurs van Zocher, a stock exchange that opened in 1837. De Bijenkorf department store took its place in 1914.
At the end of World War II, on May 4 1945 (today celebrated as the national day of remembrance), when the Netherlands was still invaded by Nazi Germany, for unknown reasons, some members of the German Kriegsmarine began firing at the crowd gathered in Dam Square, dancing and cheering after the German capitulation. They injured 120 people and killed 22.
Amsterdam’s main square became a “national” square in the 19th and 20th centuries, known to virtually everyone in the Netherlands. It has frequently been the site of various protests and festivals, as well as a gathering place for a large number of people.
Dam Square is now a lively meeting spot for many arriving tourists and shoppers. Tourists mill around taking pictures and feeding the pigeons as street performers set up on the square’s cobblestones, and trams drive by regularly. On a sunny day, the northern flanks’ cafe terraces are packed with coffee and beer drinkers.
2. Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam (“Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam”) was built during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century as a Townhall to become years later the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon, and later of the Dutch Royal House. Today it serves as the King’s residence when he is in the city.
The exterior is purely classical, while the interior is magnificently furnished, its apartments adorned with a wealth of reliefs, ornamentation, marble sculptures, and friezes, as well as ceiling paintings by Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck, Rembrandt’s pupils.
Other highlights include one of the world’s finest furniture collections, the City Treasurer’s room, which features a marble fireplace and Cornelis Holstein ceiling paintings, and the Hall of the Aldermen, which also features paintings by Bol and Flinck. The Council Hall is the largest and most significant room, lavishly decorated and one of Europe’s most beautiful staterooms.
The Royal Palace is open to the public most of the time. Visitors can admire the marble floors, magnificent paintings, delicate sculptures, gigantic chandeliers, plus an annual exhibition.
Admission fee: 10 €/12 $ (not included in the I Amsterdam Card).
3. The National Monument
The National Monument (“Nationaal Monument op de Dam”) is a spectacular 22-meter-high obelisk, erected after the Second World War as a memorial for its victims and a symbol of Liberation.
It depicts War (four male figures), Peace (a woman and child), and Resistance (two men with howling dogs). Embedded in the obelisk there are urns containing earth from the 11 Dutch provinces and a 12th urn encloses soil from the cemetery of honour in Indonesia (Dutch East Indies).
Every year on May 4, the national day of remembrance, wreaths are laid here, and all the Netherlands observe a two-minute silence.
From there, pass over the Royal Palace and, once arrived at the Sigel banks, turn right, and you will see Torensluis.
The Torensluis (“tower lock“), built in the mid-17th century and measuring about 40 m/ 131 ft in width, is the city’s broadest and oldest bridge. The monument, also known as Brug 9 (or the “bridge with the Multatuli statue“), is located on the Singel at number 165a in the beautiful canal belt district.
Its height and name come from the Jan Roodenpoortstoren tower, which stood on the site until it was demolished in the mid-19th century and whose foundations can still be seen in the bridge’s paving and the dungeon below.
It has also acted as a jail in the past, and barred windows from the dungeons can still be seen underneath. The tower’s prisons have recently been restored and are now open to the public.
A statue of Dutch writer Multatuli (one of the most influential men of letters in the Netherlands and an anti-colonialist), as well as the large, sunny terraces of Villa Zeezicht and Café van Zuylen, are the main attractions on this bridge, aside from the stunning and panoramic views.
Brug 9 is now a prominent jazz setting, as well as a venue for art exhibits, documentary screenings, debates, and even fashion shows.
From there, cross Torensluis, take Oude Leliestraat, cross another bridge and continue onto Herengracht. Cross another bridge, continue onto Leliegracht, and then turn left onto Prinsengracht. You will find Anne Frank House on your left.
5. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a biographical museum and writer’s home devoted to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank.
During World War II, Anne Frank, her family, and four other people found shelter in the Secret Annex, hidden rooms at the back of a 17th-century canal building. Although she did not live to see the end of the war, her wartime diary was published in 1947.
The Anne Frank Foundation was established ten years later to defend the property from developers who wanted to demolish the house.
The museum first opened its doors on May 3, 1960. It houses a permanent display of Anne Frank’s life and times, as well as an exhibition space dedicated to all types of persecution and discrimination.
Admission fee: 14 €/16.5 $ (not included in the I Amsterdam Card). Upfront ticket booking is strongly recommended (booking fee: 1 €/1.2 $).
From there, continue onto Prinsengracht, pass over Westerkerk and cross the bridge on your right. You will then arrive at the Jordaan district.
Wandering through the Jordaan, which is often pointed out as Amsterdam’s most charming area, feels like going back in time. Originally a working-class district, Jordaan’s narrow streets and charming buildings are now one of Amsterdam’s most desirable neighbourhoods, with independent art galleries, antique shops, inner courtyard parks (“hofjes”), lively markets and atmospheric bars and restaurants dotting the landscape.
Drop the map and get lost in the maze of narrow streets known as the 9 Streets, which extend eastwards from the Prinsengracht canal and offer one of Amsterdam’s most rewarding shopping experiences. You can take beautiful pictures from the many bridges that span the canals and see why Amsterdam is known as the “Venice of the North“.
Jordaan was founded in the early 17th century to meet the demands of Amsterdam’s increasing population for more working-class housing. Amsterdam was one of the wealthiest cities in the world during the 1600s. However, because of the low rents, Jordaan became a shelter for refugees, emigrants from France, England, Spain, Portugal, and other nations, as well as workers. Large families typically crowded the tiny homes, and starving artists made their home here as well. The most famous was painter Rembrandt Van Rijn, who moved to a house on the Rozengracht when his home in the city centre became too expensive.
Jordaan deteriorated into a slum over time, reaching a low point during World War II. Consequently, many suggested the complete demolition of the area and its replacement with new apartment buildings. Eventually, they decided to rescue Jordaan, giving it a second life, thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated people, with real renewal starting in the 1970s.
The name Jordaan is thought to be derived from the French word “Jardin”, which means “garden“, as many of the streets in this neighbourhood are named after flowers and plants. Others, on the other hand, claim that it was named after the Jordan River because of the large number of Jews who fled to Amsterdam and settled in the city.
Fun fact: Many stone tablets on the houses in Jordaan show the occupation or family sign of the original inhabitants. A butcher, for example, had a pig on his tablet, while a baker had a loaf of bread.
From there, go back to Rozengracht, and cross the bridge again. Continue onto Westermarkt and, then, turn left onto Keizersgracht. You will find the Homomonument on your right.
7. The Homomonument
This massive, symbolic monument, unveiled in 1987 to honour and help LGBT people persecuted by government regimes worldwide, is so well incorporated into its surroundings that it is possible to walk right through it without realising it is there.
It is a 36-metre equilateral triangle with three smaller pink granite triangles in its corners, laid out on the cobbles of Westermarkt. One of the triangles juts out into the canal, pointing to the Anne Frank House. Another pink triangle (in front of the church) aims to the Dam Square war memorial, which commemorates the persecution of homosexuals during WWII. The final triangle points to the “Centre of Culture and Leisure Activities” (known as COC Amsterdam), the Dutch gay and lesbian community founded in 1946.
It was created to “inspire and support lesbians and gays in their struggle against denial, oppression, and discrimination“. It was the world’s first memorial to honour gay and lesbians killed by the Nazis. Similar monuments were later built in several cities around the world, but it remains the largest monument in the world dedicated to homosexuality and remembrance. Wreaths are placed on the memorial to remember LGBT victims of persecution during the Netherlands’ annual Remembrance Day ceremony on May 4. On Liberation Day (May 5) the monument becomes the site of a street party.
From there, cross the bridge to reach the opposite bank of the canal. Take Raadhuisstraat, cross the following canal, and, then, turn right onto Sigel. Go all the way down to Sigel, and in less than 1 km/ 0.6 mi, you will find the Bloemenmarkt on your left.
Founded in 1862, Bloemenmarkt was the only floating flower market in the whole world, as in the old days, the flower stalls stood on the houseboats, and it was supplied by boat. The modern-day market, though, consists of 15 fixed barges but is no less a spectacle.
Rain or shine, this market, a renowned icon on the Singel canal, serves every Monday to Saturday tourists and locals alike.
Each barge has a glasshouse built atop, like a mini version of the greenhouses found throughout the countryside that ensure Holland is an international hotspot for flowers all year round. Be it tulips, narcissus, snowdrops, carnations, violets, peonies or orchids, you are sure to find your favourites at the Flower Market, no matter the time of year.
If you like to take home some typically Dutch souvenirs, this is the right place to strike a bargain. In the Flower Market, you can indeed find not only seeds or flower bulbs to add some colour to your garden but also a great variety of Dutch cheese, keychains, clogs, wooden tulips, postcards and almost every kind of gift. Besides, all Christmas lovers can find a little piece of paradise in the Christmas Palace, open every day of the year.
If you are coming to Amsterdam in December, you will see the flower market also sells green Christmas trees of all sorts and varieties.
However, the summer months are arguably the best time to visit Bloemenmarkt as the famous Amsterdam tulips make an appearance in all their glory, and the market explodes with colour.
From there, make a U-turn, and, right after the beginning of Bloemenmarkt, turn left onto Koningsplein. Cross the bridge, turn right onto Herengracht, and then left onto Leidsestraat. After crossing two more bridges, you will arrive at the next stop, Leidseplein. In total, it will take you around 10 minutes to get there.
Besides being one of my favourite squares, Leidseplein (“Leiden Square”) is the throbbing heart of Amsterdam.
Historically, the square was the end of the road from the town of Leiden and in the 17th century served as a gathering place for carriages, carts and horses that provided transport.
Today, it serves as a transport hub in the city and a centre for nightlife and shopping. Cinemas, discos, theatres and a casino are located right on the square or within easy walking distance. If you want to go clubbing or feel like a nice meal, this is the place to come to. The square boasts Holland’s best-known coffee-shop, The Bulldog, and music temple De Melkweg (“The Milky Way“). Another music venue Paradiso is just a stone throw away.
Street performers can almost constantly be found on the eastern side of the square. From acrobatic break-dancing to freestyle jazz on the double bass, there is always something to see.
During the summer months, the other side of Leidseplein is taken up by the large terraces of the bars lining the square. Here, tourists and locals sit back and relax with a drink while taking a break in their shopping trip or on their way to the nearby Museumplein to take in more sights. During colder times of the year, the terraced area is covered by an outdoor skate rink, while hot food stalls appear throughout the square.
For all the Art Deco lovers, do not miss the Café American, on the ground floor of the American Hotel (on the south-eastern side of the square, facing the canal).
From there, take Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen, continue onto Lijnbaansgracht, and, then, turn right onto Spiegelgracht (crossing a bridge). Continue onto Weteringschans and cross on Museumbrug. Cross the street, and you will find yourself at the main facade of the Rijksmuseum. The entrance is almost in the middle of the tunnel.
The Rijksmuseum (“State Museum”) was established in Amsterdam in 1808 by decree of the King of the Netherlands Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, as the Royal Museum. A couple of years later (in 1815), it received its present name from the Dutch King Willem I.
It was only in 1885, though, that Rijksmuseum moved to its beautiful Dutch neo-Renaissance style building. It consists of two squares with an atrium in each centre. A tunnel extends around the central axis, with entrances on the ground floor and the Gallery of Honour on the first floor.
The Rijksmuseum underwent several upgrades over the years that followed, including a massive refurbishment from 2003 to 2013.
It is a rijksmonument (“national heritage site”) since 1970, and it was listed in the Top 100 Dutch heritage sites in 1990.
The Rijksmuseum’s collection illustrates more than 800 years of Dutch and global history, from the Middle Ages to the present. It hosts indeed many masterpiece paintings of Dutch and world art, such as “Night watch” by Rembrandt, several paintings by Vermeer, van Dyck and Jan Steen, an exceptional collection of antique objects of the Dutch culture, a vast collection of prints, drawings and classic photography, and a gorgeous collection of Delft Blue pottery ranging from tea sets to vases.
Admission fee: 20€/ 23.5$ (included in your I Amsterdam Card).
Fun fact: Only in Amsterdam would a national museum allow cyclists to speed right through it! A passageway links the two halves of the atrium of the museum, with glass panels allowing visitors to see into its grand interior. The passage is prominent among street musicians due to its excellent acoustics.
From there, reach the back half of the atrium, and cross Museumplein, the cultural quarter of Amsterdam, to get to the Van Gogh Museum.
11. Van Gogh Museum
A must-visit for art fans and historians, the spectacular Van Gogh Museum has been one of Amsterdam’s top attractions since it opened in 1972.
The most extensive collection of Van Gogh paintings and artefacts, most of it donated by his brother Theo and other family members, is housed in this new building dedicated to the often troubled life and exceptional artistry of one of the most admired Dutch painters.
The collection, which includes 200 paintings, 500 etchings and sketches, and 700 letters written to (and by) friends and relatives, is divided into two sections: realistic works (1880-1887), which include the popular “The Potato Eaters”, and Impressionist works (1887-1890), which include “The Sunflowers”, perhaps his best-known work.
Besides, it features the artwork of other artists, his contemporaries, including Paul Gauguin, Auguste Rodin, George Seurat, Claude Monet, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others.
The museum had 2.3 million visitors in 2017, making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands and the world’s 23rd most visited art museum.
“Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience“, a fascinating immersive exhibition of the painter’s life and times through vibrant visual reproductions of his work, premiered at the Van Gogh Museum in 2019 and has since toured around the world.
Even if you have an I Amsterdam City Passport, you must pre-book a time-slot ticket online as the Van Gogh Museum always attracts long queues.
Admission fee: 19€/ 22$ (included in your I Amsterdam Card).
From there, pass over the museum and turn right onto Van Baerlestraat. Cross the bridge over Vondelpark and, then, turn right onto Roemer Visscherstraat. There you will find the so-called Zevenlandenhuizen, our next stop, from number 20 to 30 of this street.
Zevenlandenhuizen (“Houses of Seven Countries”) is a row of seven houses representing the typical building style of seven different European countries, and commissioned in the 1890s by a wealthy and well-travelled Dutch politician and philanthropist.
The result was a fascinating and eclectic architectural tour of 19th-century Europe that mirrors the desire to venture far into the world that has always been a huge theme for the Dutch.
These seven houses are each built according to the historical architectural style of the countries they represent. Germany has a Romantic style with pointed arches (n.20), France has the design of the Loire castle (n.22), Spain depicts a villa inspired by the architectural style of Granada with Moorish influences (n.24), Italy has the shape of a neo-classic Palazzo (n.26), Russia mirrors a cathedral with an “onion” dome (n.28), the Netherlands has the architecture of a renaissance residence (n.30), and England is an English cottage house (n.30A).
In case you struggle identifying each house, the names of the countries are also displayed above their front doors.
The houses are private residences (except for England House that has become a hotel) and can not be visited.
From there, reach Vondelpark, our last destination for this first day of “Amsterdam in 2 wonderful days”.
Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest and most visited park, is home to a beautiful rose garden with over 70 different varieties, as well as several sculptures and statues, playgrounds, other recreational facilities, including rollerblade rental, and the Vondelpark Open Air Theater.
It also houses several iconic café bars, including the picturesque Groot Melkhuis (“Large Milkhouse”) with its waterside terrace, the 1930s modernist Blauwe Teehuis (“Blue Tea House”), which is shaped like a giant flying saucer, and the popular summertime spot Vondeltuin, which features a whimsical beer garden.
The grand 19th-century Pavilion, located in the northwestern corner of the park, formerly home to the city’s Film Museum, houses the elegant restaurant Vondelpark3.
The park, known as “Nieuwe Park” (“New Park“), first opened in 1865 as a fashionable leisure spot for Amsterdam’s middle class. Visitors were only allowed inside after paying an entrance fee. It was renamed Vondelpark a few years later, in honour of Joost van den Vondel, a 17th-century playwright and poet, whose imposing 3-meter-high bronze statue stands on the northeast side of the park.
Almost in the middle of the park, you can bump into an original Picasso’s. Created in 1965 as part of an outdoor sculpture exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the park, the “Figure découpée l’Oiseau” (also known as “The Bird”) was donated to the city by Picasso after the exhibition and has remained in the same spot ever since.
Vondelpark received the status of rijksmonument (“state monument“) in 1996.
The park receives about 10 million visitors per year and is well-liked by both visitors and locals.
This first day of sightseeing through Amsterdam closes with Vondelpark. Click here to go to the second part of this article.
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