Cycling in Amsterdam
Biking is one of the top forms of transportation in the Netherlands and for good reason. The country is relatively flat and fairly small making it easy to cycle from place to place. The Netherlands has many great bike trails that are well maintained and typically paved. Amsterdam, in particular, is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
Thanks to the many cycling paths throughout the city, a bicycle is all you need to explore the highlights of the city. Cycling is typically faster and cheaper than public transport so it is obvious why it is the preferred method of travel of Amsterdam locals.
The basis of the old joke that 'God created Earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands' can best be seen in the horseshoe-shaped old center of Amsterdam where the early inhabitants reclaimed much of their city from the sea and built the perfectly straight canals to keep the new land dry.
Most of the picture-perfect gabled houses still retain their winch beams and hooks for hauling goods to the attic. These days its most renown historic buildings share space with Amsterdam's famous Red Light District. You can easily spend a day wandering the cobbled streets and canals taking pictures and inspecting the houseboats that line the canals and admiring the townhouses and their gabled rooftops.
Arranged in a tight knot on the aptly named Museumplein, Amsterdam's premier world-class museums is arguably the cultural hub of the city, offering a kaleidoscope of activities and attractions. It is home to the three major museums including the Van Gogh Museum (pre-booked tickets required), the Rijks Museum with its collection of Rembrandts, and the Stedelijk Museum of modern, and contemporary art.
The Amsterdam Diamond Museum is nearby as well. Without a doubt, any culture vulture will be in their element in this recently renovated quarter.
One of Amsterdam’s most well-known neighborhood’s is filled with plenty of local activities if you want to step away from the commotion of the city center. What started out as a poor and working-class neighborhood is now a trendy neighborhood filled with farmer’s markets, art galleries, local boutiques, and quaint cafes.
On the border of the canal district and Grachtengordel are two of Amsterdam’s most famous sites Anne Frank and Westerkerk. Within the district, they have many local markets on Westerstraat and Lindengracht that sell everything from brand name items to a variety of local products.
Old Jewish Quarter
Starting around 1600, Jews from across Europe came to Amsterdam to live in relative freedom, and most settled in the section of the city named Jodenbuurt, translated to the Jewish quarter. Before WWII there were approximately 75-80,000 Jewish people living in Amsterdam and not many of them returned.
This district now memorializes that and the current population of Jewish people throughout The Netherlands. With one ticket, you can attend the Jewish Historical Museum, Portuguese Synagogue, Holocaust Museum, and the Dutch Theater and Holocaust Memorial.
The Eastern Districts of Amsterdam hold a wide array of museums and activities that are great for all ages. The districts include the Eastern Docklands, Weesperbuurt, and Plantage. Families and children can have a blast at ARTIS Royal Zoo or NEMO Science Museum.
Both boast plenty of hands-on exhibits for families. Anyone can enjoy a leisurely stroll through Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Culture aficionados will appreciate the National Opera & Ballet and the Hermitage Museum.
In the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, the old city located within the Singel canal was bursting from its seams. The Dutch set out to create an ambitious city layout that would connect the Brouwersgracht canal to the Amstel River further south by a set of parallel canals. Thus, the Herengracht, the Keizersgracht, and the Prinsengracht were constructed.
In 2010, this neighborhood and their canals became a UNESCO World Heritage site as they demonstrated “a masterpiece of human creative genius.” Today higher-priced homes, businesses, banks, and hotels take up the canal-side properties. You can visit Westerkerk or the Anne Frank House on the western side of the neighborhood or explore the southern part of the canals where many nightlife and entertainment squares exist.