With thousands of preserved renaissance buildings and numerous museums, Amsterdam is, without a doubt, a European cultural hub.
Concentrated on about 2,000 acres in Amsterdam are close to 7,000 buildings initially erected in the 16th to the18th century. The area is also home to the city’s grachten – a network of 160 canals connecting small islands within the city.
The connecting bridges have had their original charm largely preserved and are a sight to behold in itself. These eye-catching bridges would, of course, include the famed wooden Magere Bridge.
But that’s not all, of course. For any visitor spending some time in Amsterdam, the following cultural sights are must-visits.
Van Gogh Museum
For some 50 years, the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam has been a mecca of sorts for art lovers and tourists. Even the building itself is an excellent example of contemporary architecture.
It houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of the legendary painter’s works and personal artifacts, most of which came from Theo van Gogh, the brother of Vincent.
In addition to the 500 etchings and 200 canvases housed, you can also see Van Gogh’s personal letters. What’s more, all of the critical periods of Van Gogh’s works are on display.
You can also opt for the Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience while there. It’s an interactive presentation of the painter’s life and most iconic paintings.
Dam Square is a fixture on any given tourist’s Amsterdam map.
The main attraction here is the Koninklijk Palace, which is still the site of Dutch royal activities. On top of that, adjacent cultural attractions include Madame Tussauds and the Nieuwe Kerk (the New Church). And this is where you can see the National Memorial Statue that was built as a homage to WWII soldiers.
When you run out of energy, you can take a break at one of the restaurants and cafes nearby. There’s also a Ferris wheel on which you may acquire a unique perspective of the area.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the botanical garden is among the oldest in the world. It was a small garden of medicinal plants when it first opened in the mid-17th century. Fast forward almost 400 years and the botanical garden of today has an impressive collection of exotic and rare flora.
Of particular interest is the hothouse that contains several zones of tropical plants. Additionally, you may want to check out the garden’s old pavilion that dates back to the 17th century.
Want to see some rare plants? Keep your eyes peeled for the Persian Ironwood just for a start.
If the Amsterdam weather obliges, make sure to take a walk to the Begijnhof. This is actually part of old Amsterdam with historic homes and charming pathways and lanes.
You’ll see some of the oldest homes in the city, including an intact wooden building from the 1300s. Some of the most beautiful green lawns you’ll ever find are right here. The Begijnhof also has a small chapel erected by the original settlers that’s still operational and open to visitors.
A hideaway in the middle of the city, the best way to explore the area is to travel on foot and soak up its unique vibe.
Believe it or not, the Rijksmuseum collection encompasses a million artifacts that date back to as far back as the 13th century. The museum’s 250 rooms have 8,000 paintings on display, including those by the world’s most renowned artists.
Book lovers will also be delighted once they step foot in the Rijksmuseum. After all, it’s home to more than 35,000 manuscripts and books, and those on display ably demonstrate the evolution of Dutch culture and art.
Other notable collections include medieval sculptures, traditional handicrafts, and contemporary art. The museum even has a Michelin-starred restaurant where you can really treat yourself and your company.
Distinctly memorable, this district has a captivating mix of traditional architecture, high-street boutiques, and open-air markets.
When in Jordaan, know that you’re only a short walk away from the Woonboot Museum, the Anne Frank House, and the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. And if you’re visiting on a Saturday, you’ll want to check out Lindengracht street. Formerly a canal, the street turns into a market where you’ll find an array of local produce and crafts on that particular day.
As you might expect, this is a district where trendy cafes and restaurants abound. Some are even known to put on regional traditional folk music all day.
Anne Frank House
A monument to a WWII tragedy, Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam has been restored and preserved to the original state left behind by Anne Frank’s family. In fact, the original copy of the famous diary is on display.
Considering this is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions, tickets must be reserved well in advance. To be absolutely sure, you might want to book your tickets at least two months prior to your visit.
Covering 120 acres, Vondelpark is the biggest park in Amsterdam. It has an eclectic mix of cultural hotspots and captivating gardens but the rose garden may be of particular interest to those yearning to see a collection of the most fantastic varieties.
There are statues, sculptures, and cultural venues to be found here. The Vondelpark Open Air Theater is a highlight and, if you visit at the right time, you can see a show as it holds stage productions between the months of May and September.
You’ll also find that the locals often organize picnics at Vondelpark. But for the tourists, the plentiful cafes in and around the park may be a more convenient option if you get hungry.
Your Cultural Renaissance in Amsterdam
It’s safe to say that the cultural riches of Amsterdam put the glorious history of the Dutch on full display. From stunning works of art to one-of-a-kind public spaces, this city is bound to leave you breathless.
You can even walk to most of the attractions when in Amsterdam. Needless to say, you can discover so much about the city in such a short time.