Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

By Kevin Leland

The personality of Amsterdam reaches outside of the border. The surrounding area is a thriving metropolis that leaves quite a bit to see and do. Would you like to escape the bustle of the city? If so, you should roll on out and enjoy the country charms of the surrounding towns. Do you want to stay in the city and catch a buzz? Then here is a list of famous coffeeshops and other sites throughout the city, where you can kick back with your first cup of coffee in one hand and a corker in the other for an early morning wake-n-bake.

Note: Where this “coffee” is quite enjoyable, care should be taken not to over-indulge. Caffeine has been proven to be physically and psychologically addictive, and it would be considered scandal to encourage the abuse of this potentially unhealthy drug. Any beverage containing caffeine should be enjoyed with care and moderation.

Free Adam Coffeeshop

This is a comfy-cozy little place, with good reggae theme. The staff actually serve you as if it was a restaurant, so you can have your drinks and herb brought to you without leaving your seats! However it’s highly recommended to get up and walk around now and then because there is a certain white widow that you will find there that will rob you of the ability, without you ever realizing it, until the lady drop kicks you into the horizontal position. Be careful! You can purchase 2.5 grams, the perfect amount to roll a blunt, of world famous White Widow for about what potent weed costs in the US, which is about 20 euros. This amazing herb is properly crystalized, and smells amazing! It’s fluffy to the touch and just crumbles to dust in your fingers! -But use a grinder, so as not to waste the abundant tricombs that cover this bud like snow on mountaintops.

There is a sublime Rasta feel to this place, with a massive mural of reggae superstar, Bob Marley, and all sorts of other rasta-colors splashed all over the walls. Reggae music fills the room like the sweet aroma of Strawberry Haze. Seating is very comfortable when you take into account the quaint, but small size of this quintessential Amsterdam Coffeeshop. The bud-tenders are warm and friendly and will have no objections to filling a bong with water for you, and might even come over to your table and engage in conversation for a while. Because in the Netherlands, gratuity is always included in the check, tipping isn’t customary, so it’s pure friendliness at work with the staff at this establishment -it’s not like folks are just pandering for a tip.

The Doors Coffee Shop this links to their mad-cool Website

People are strange, when you’re a stranger. But strangers are welcome…even strange ones -at the Doors Coffee Shop. You’ll find this haven for the weary traveler at Singel 14. The psychedelic feel of this popular hangout will cause you to relax, sit back, inhale and exhale, to the sites and sounds of the stoner scene. In 1990, while listening to Jim Morrison, and smoking some herb, the enterprising founders of this Amsterdam coffeeshop, had a dope idea, and the doors coffeeshop was born! The walls look ablaze with bright red-orange orbs covering the walls. Zone out on them while Jim sends out his invitation: C’mon Baby, light my fire! Okay, will you at least light my spliff? What do you mean, tobacco is banned here? Isn’t that kinda straining out the gnat, and swallowing the Camel?

The Bulldog Coffeeshop

This is where it all got rolling, back in 1975. It’s on Oudezijds Voorburgwal in the Province of Noord. They are open from 8:00 am to 1:00 am. You’ll have to walk down a flight of stairs to get your hands on an herbal menu, so don’t be confused if all you can get at first is a cold, delicious orange juice. Get that blood sugar level up, before you send it plummeting into the munchie zone. You’ll find a picture of Steve-O from Jackass, signed “Thanks for the free weed!” There’s plenty of seating, with ample variety of cannibis on the menu.

Coffeeshop Get Down To It

In the southwest of the Grachtengordel district of Amsterdam, the Leidseplein has been closed because it was too close to a school. This Internet coffeeshop, will provide you with a way to facebook your friends to make them jealous. There are spacey scenes painted on the walls. The address is Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 77-79. You’ll see some graffiti around these shops, that make it hard to call this hooligan form of artistic expression “vandalism” anymore than you would call the equally colorful, impressionist works of Van Gogh “graffiti”… There is a hot-line you can call when you find it happening…yeah, right, get right on that!

Abraxas Coffeeshops

This place has the Bohemian vibe going on. It’s been open since 1992, and quickly gained the same amount of respect by the more tenured coffeeshops in the area. It has a wide, expansive layout, with some of Amsterdam’s infamous graffiti, painted directly on the tables! If you feel like some low tech entertainment you can grab a board game. They have everything from Scrabble to Chess. If you would rather play online, WiFi is in the house! Sip a hot chocolate, nibble a space cake, and “check mate!”

The Rookie Bar

This coffeeshop, located at Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 145-147, is smack-dab in the middle of this euphoric city. The centre of Amsterdam is very compact. Many tourists never venture beyond the innermost “Centrum” district, where one will find the main railway station (Central Station) and over 100 shops in this small area, and among them you will be happy to find the Rookie Bar. Around the perimeter of this area are the symmetrically laid out semi-circles of the famous grand canals.

You can step out of this wonderful coffeeshop, after partaking of some of the finest bud in the world, and enjoy a high-ride like no other -in a water taxi, or on one of the canal buses. These are aimed mainly at tourists, as this waterway system has earned Amsterdam the title of “Venice of the North.” these are segmented into three main zones. To the west, zone B includes the canals and the pleasant Jordaan area beyond. The southern canal zone, zone C, contains the important tourist centres around the two squares, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. East of the centre, zone D is the old docks area, and the Artis zoo.

Artis Zoo

Natura Artis Magistra invites you to enjoy nature in the center of this beautiful city. You can stroll among the shady trees as you study the diversity of plants and animals that are exhibited at this popular zoo. If you look closely at the sites around you, you will appreciate the heritage and pride of Amsterdam. The Artis Royal Zoo has been a crown jewel of this city for almost 200 years. The zoo is open every day, year round, including New Year’s eve and New Years day, which is a huge celebration in this city, every year… You can visit from about 9:00 am until sundown, or, various other closing times, depending on the time of year. Admission is less than 20 Euros per person, and discounted rates are available to seniors and children.

Go ahead and take in this wonderful oasis in the middle of the busy city. You can see over two hundred species of trees and almost one thousand different species of animals. The gardens are equally beautiful during the different seasons with their flowering bulbs in spring, and especially during Summer’s full bloom. The Royal Zoo displays some of the most striking 19th century architecture in Amsterdam. The expansive Aquarium is a perfect example. Marvel at giraffes strolling beside wildebeasts, zebras, and other animals from around the world. If you are in an astronomical mood, the zoo also boasts a Planetarium where you can study the stars and planets, right below the water of an Amsterdam canal.

Albert Cuyp Market

Beyond the center of the city a traveler will find more modern suburbs, but there are outer districts with longer histories, where you will find the Albert Cuyp Market. This Market place is named after famed eighteenth century Netherlands painter, Albert Cuyp. This market began trading in 1904, and grew to include over 300 stalls, lining each side of the street in the neighborhood of De Pijp. Stalls sell everything you could imagine! The market gets thick with people especially on days of agreeable weather, and on Saturdays.

You will find plenty of traditional Dutch refreshments to satisfy an appetite built up by hours of strolling and shopping. Sample delicious cheeses and fresh fruit. The sounds, smells, sites and tastes will captivate the senses, and keep you occupied all day. The streets running parallel, but behind Albert Cuyp Street, have more shops where you can buy a new laptop, or even get a haircut.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District

Sexually charged images come to mind when thinking about the Red Light District in Amsterdam. You may have heard all about it, but taking it in for yourself will change here say into memories. A traveler will be mingled in with hoards eager young men as well as dirty old ones. You will be among couples holding hands, with jaws dropped by the shock of it all. Groups of woman enjoying a “hen night” which is the American equivalent of “girls night out” will be giggling and wagging their heads as bus loads of camera carrying Japanese tourists are admonished to not point them in the direction of the entertainers. This is strictly forbidden…However, not much else is forbidden!

From sex shops selling adult novelties, to brothels, the Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. You have surely heard of this place, and to be frank, it’s all true. But why take everyone else’s word for it? You have got to see this place for yourself. The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike anywhere you have ever been. That’s for sure! Certainly, ambitious young prostitutes present their goods in window parlours, trimmed in red. Many of these ladies stand ready to offer much more than just a peep-show. Private cabins are available for all sorts of decadent adult pleasures.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam

Seeking forgiveness for …? There is a huge, and monumental church called – De Oude Kerk (The Old Church) It hovers over the infamous Red Light District, like a Nun, with arms crossed, gazing down sternly at the incorrigible parochial school student in her midst. Although it was originally built as a Catholic place of worship, now-a-days, the Oude Kerk is one that reflects the national character of Dutch Protestantism. Through its exceptional architecture, towering stained-glass windows filled with colorful light, throw hues of heavenly radiance on the masterfully sculpted misericords in the choir. You can look down at impressive old granite gravestones on its floor, getting a feel for it’s history as well as the culture of the Amsterdam of modern times.

Juxtaposed to the sacred majesty of this old church, you will be shocked to see the Princess Juliana Nursery School on one side of the church on the Oudekerksplein and sex shops on the other, making it a very unique site to visit while in Amsterdam. The Oude Kerk is also known for a famous and historical 17th century pipe organ, accompanied by two others — a smaller transept organ and a modern cabinet organ. The church is a popular venue for organ music concerts and has been a long-time home for The International Organ Festival, held each year from July through September.

The Home of Anne Frank

This house which served as a hideout for the Frank family during the Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, still stands as a constant reminder of human cruelty. Cramped in small quarters behind Mr. Frank’s offices, with another Jewish family, Anne Frank wrote her famous diary. This house has been a museum since 1957. You can discover the poignant remnants of the families’ refugee status in the claustrophobic rooms still covered with blackout screens over the widows to the secret hide-away. Behind a revolving bookcase, etched into the trim molding, you can see where parents marked the childrens’ height. If Anne had not written her famous journal, that has been translated into over sixty different languages, we may never have known about these families, and their suffering which was tempered by a desire to survive, then they may have just remained like most other Jewish victims of this terrible period history -anonymous. This museum is one of Amsterdam’s “must-sees.”

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is situated in the Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter, between the Rijksmuseum museum and the Stedelijk Museum. It can be reached by tram number 2 and 5 from the Central Station, and is completely accessible for disabled visitors. This museum contains the largest collection of van Gogh’s paintings in the world. This tortured artist, famed for cutting off his own ear, due to quasi-insanity brought on by lack of sleep, probably brought on by hyper-intellectualism, affected an dgreatly influenced the entire art-world before taking his own life, as he said “for the good of everyone.” The artwork displayed will provide the museum’s visitors a way to trace this talented artist’s evolution into a widely known master. The museum exhibits other holdings that allow one to compare Van Gogh’s work to other artists from the 19th century.

The museums permanent holdings, feature the works of Vincent van Gogh, displayed along side the works of other well known artists. Van Gogh’s work is assembled chronologically, separated into five periods, each representing a phase of Vincent’s life and work. There are: The Netherlands, Paris, Arles, Saint-Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise. Renovation’s of the museum are planned for October 2012 – March 2013, so check availability, and plan accordingly so you won’t be disappointed. The museum will be closed for six months or more, starting in October of 2012. Museum Curator, Axel Rüger, says that the renovations are necessary, and the museum will be getting spruced up in order to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary in 2013.

The Rijksmuseum Museum

Translated into English, this means – The State Museum. It has been around for over two hundred years and is now  considered one of the most awe-inspiring museums in the world. It has gone though many a metamorphosis in it’s life time, spanning two centuries. The museum opened its doors to the world in 1800, and moved a few times before finding its permanent home in Amsterdam in 1808, by a mandate from the King, Louis Bonaparte who was Napoleon’s brother. In 1815, Dutch King Willem the First, gave it the name it is known by today. It’s final move, to a striking building designed by architect Petrus J.H. Cuypers, occurred in 1885, and it remains there to this day. It has been built in the then fashionable Dutch neo-Renaissance style,

The unique renown Rijksmuseum gained throughout the world is attributed to the possession of many masterpieces from Dutch painters like the masterworks of Rembrandt, and his piece titled: “Night watch.” There are also paintings by Jan Steen and Vermeer. In addition to the Dutch masters, it also has in its possession an exceptional collection of Asian art. The immense collection of the Rijksmuseum overflowed it’s walls, so since 2003, it has been under reconstruction. This project should end by 2013, so look forward to a ribbon cutting that will reveal a refurbished Dutch landmark, that will hold these awesome works for centuries to come. During the work, there is a smaller display called “The Masterpieces” which although not the full amount of what the Rijksmuseum has to offer, it will still take your breath away. These are exhibited in Philips Wing of the Museum located at the corner of Jan Luijkenstraat and Hobbemastraat.

Vondelpark

“Gezellig” is a Dutch word that means “a feeling that makes a place cozy, warm, and welcoming.” At Vondelpark you can get that feeling as you lay with your lover, holding hands, on an expanse of green grass, soaking in the sunshine, at peace with the world. Watch some ducks float by followed by their hatch-lings, while birds are singing -you feel marvelous -you feel gezellig…

This park was formerly called by another name. However, the name Vondelpark was adopted in 1867 after the statue of Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel was installed on it’s base, here in the park. The park’s committee soon raised enough money to enlarge the park in 1877, when it reached its current size of 45 hectares. Since then it has become central to Amsterdam. Vondelpark was designed with vistas, ponds and pathways to create an ambiance of a natural area. It is the biggest and most famous park in the Netherlands. About ten million visitors a year come to this park to hang out, picknic, and toss a Frisbee around on the lush green grass that carpets the acreage set aside for Southern Amsterdam’s citizens as well as their tourists. It is located very close to the museum district.

Free concerts are held at the open-air theatre. During the summer you can enjoy concerts as bands of musicians performing at the bandstand, five days per week, from June to August. And on Wednesdays, the Filmmuseum offers shows that are performed especially for children…not that adults won’t enjoy them as well. Vondelpark has plenty of play areas and one large playground near Groot Melkhuis, so there is plenty of fun for the kids to enjoy. The whole family can rent skates, and in the same spot, enjoy some pancakes smothered in butter and syrup.

Dam Square

Dam Square is home to all the top designer shops. In this place luxury rules and a large bank account is needed to make the smallest of purchases. The diamond emporium displays tiny and vastly valuable glittering stones that sparkle and twinkle like miniature stars, causing the light that passes through them to get up and dance.

This jam-packed square, stuffed shoulder to shoulder with locals as well as tourists, was created in the 13th century. It was built around a dam that was needed on the river Amstel to prevent the Zuiderzee sea from flooding the city. During the Hippie era, this square was renowned for these laid back and relaxed characters, who made it so even to this day, it is a far-out place to hang out. The Hippies have since been replaced by a dense but equally peaceful population of pigeons. Here you will find food stalls, shops, eateries, and the world famous Amsterdam Diamond centre.

Dam Square is such a “hot spot” you might even find yourself needing to wait for a seat at one of many cafés or bars. No matter what the time of year, there is always something going on here — so expect no shortage of entertainment! In the Summer, you will see mimes and other very entertaining street performers jumping out to surprise unsuspecting passersby. In spring, there will probably a carnival going, where you can get a birds-eye view of the city from a seat on the colourful, brightly lit Ferris wheel.

Royal Palace 

(Koninklijk Palace) is a jewel in the crown adorning Dam Square. Even though it isn’t the residence of the Dutch Royal family today, this expansive 17th century Royal Palace is still used to hold official Royal receptions. Directly across from the square, you can set eyes on the controversial, phallic National Memorial statue, which was “erected” in memory of Dutch soldiers and the other members of the resistance who gave their lives in World War II. Presented to the Dutch in 1956, this monument houses soil from all over Holland, and the Dutch East Indies. Etched on the opposite side of the monument, you’ll find the provinces’ crests. One other “must-see” in Dam Square is Madame Tussauds.

Madame Tussaud’s Amsterdam

This wax museum, famous from New York to Amsterdam, is worthy of a visit and well worth the price of admission, which is under 20USD. If you want to save a couple bucks on your ticket, you can purchase it online. If you are not sure when exactly you will be visiting, you can get an undated ticket. This is the way to go, if you want to keep a visit to this museum as a back up plan in case of inclement weather. Pose with photos of all sorts of famous folks…or actually their life-like, life-sized images sculpted in wax! It’s hard to tell the difference between paraffin and person in a photo, when these figures are standing next to you, posed like you’ve known them for years.

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One response to “Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: Tourist Attractions in Tokyo, Japan | Bangari Content Gallery

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