A Weekend in Amsterdam

January 26, 2017

A Weekend in Amsterdam – What to do

One may, if inclined, refer to Amsterdam as inspiring gezellig. Whether you’re walking the canals at dusk or tucked into a corner of a ‘brown café’, chances are you’re feeling gezellig. This delightful Dutch word roughly translates to mean a sense of friendly cosiness, a feeling that permeates every cobbled street and glassy canal.

Partly because of the more human scale of its architecture, as well as the warmth and friendliness of its inhabitants, Amsterdam’s cosy atmosphere makes it a unique place to spend a weekend.

You’re spoilt for choice if you’re an art lover, and well catered for if you appreciate good food, or good beer. History and modern culture seem to meld perfectly here, in a city that feels very comfortable in its own skin.

 

Wander Jordaan

Once amongst the rich, diverse culture of Amsterdam, just pick a direction and start wandering. You’re guaranteed to find something interesting down narrow streets and hidden squares. The Jordaan district is the ideal place to explore. Once a staunchly working-class neighbourhood, Jordaan has become one of the city’s flashiest areas, filled with art galleries, boutiques, and cafes.

Its streets are perfect for aimless meandering, but there are some sights worth seeing, such as the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. This unassuming museum provides a neat overview of the Netherlands’ love affair with the tulip, including a collection of fantastically intricate tulip vases.

 

Browse Bloemenmarkt

After the scholarly appreciation of tulips in the museum, head to the famous flower market to see beautiful blooms in their natural habitat – floating in barges on the canal, naturally. The Bloemenmarkt gives a glimpse of the old days of flower selling in Amsterdam, when barges of blooms and bulbs would arrive into the city every day. Even if you’re not buying, it’s worth a look in the springtime when the tulips are in season.

Next drink in the aromas and colours of the Albert Cuypmarkt instead, Amsterdam’s largest outdoor market. You can find all manner of items on offer, including clothes, household trinkets, and souvenirs, as well as local produce and snacks, such as the ubiquitous (and delicious) stroopwafels.  

 

Discover historic houses

There are many famous names that will always be attached to Amsterdam, but few are as well-known as a young girl named Anne. The Anne Frank Huis draws in incredible numbers of visitors every year, and for good reason. It’s a uniquely moving experience to see the tiny space where Anne Frank’s family lived in silence, along with her actual diary on display. It’s best to book in advance on the website to avoid the long queues.

Another famous resident of Amsterdam was Rembrandt van Rijn. You can find many of his paintings hanging in the city’s main galleries, such as the Rijksmuseum, or you can just pop round his house on Jodenbreestraat. It appears almost as though the Dutch Master has gone to the corner shop for milk. We are given the impression that his studio has not changed much since he created his paintings and drawings there in the 17th century. The Rembrandthuis Museum also allows you to peruse the artist’s collection of personal, and often peculiar, possessions.

 

Drink in the atmosphere

Once you’ve had your fill of history, you can sample a bit of culture in one of Amsterdam’s ‘brown cafés’. Don’t enter thinking you’re going to get a cup of tea and a damp sandwich, however, as a café in Amsterdam usually means something more akin to a pub.

You’ll find a decent selection of beers available, as well as hearty food, in De Zotte on Raamstraat, or if you fancy something a bit more colourful try Getto in the Red Light District, where the burgers are all named after the drag queens who perform there.

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