Amsterdam is renowned for many things, not the least of which is a liberal attitude to drugs and sex. But the city is so much more than a party destination for British students. Its architecture is unique, and its people beautiful. Beyond the red light district are amazing canals, parks, and eateries. If you’re limited on time, here is my pick of the must-do activities in this great city.
See the Anne Frank Museum
Starting with the obvious: the house in which Anne Frank hid during Nazi occupation has been transformed into a museum and memorial for Anne, her family and fellow holocaust victims. The diaries she wrote while in hiding here are now among the most popular published memoirs in history. This is perhaps Amsterdam’s greatest museum attraction, so expect lines. But arrive early, and don’t miss out on this important slice of history.
Hire a bike
When in Amsterdam, you must travel like a local. Your hotel or hostel should hire out bikes, but there are stations all around the city, if needed. Cycling in Amsterdam is a serious business. The locals have cycle-skills you have never seen before, and – being a clumsy tourist – you will undoubtedly get in their way at some point or another. I recommend practicing in a park before hitting the streets. Which brings me to…
Picnic in Vondelpark
This green eden in the middle of town is a great place to escape and just take in some nature. Take your bike for a ride in the wide open space, or pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Stroll through Jordaan
Jordaan is Amsterdam’s trendy burrough. It has a number of great boutiques, galleries and dining experiences, and is also quite easy on the eye, so even if you’re short on cash, you will enjoy a stroll through one of the loveliest parts of the city.
Visit a coffeeshop
Not to be confused with a coffee house or cafe, the coffeeshop is where you can buy your weed and related products. If smoking pot isn’t your thing, just go, keep an open mind, take a look at the menu, and chat to the helpful staff. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. Ironically, or perhaps not, coffeeshops also tend to offer the best coffee!