About Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a great place to visit in June and July. With an average temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (65 to 77 Fahrenheit) it is the right weather to take a look around and see all the sites, museums, canals and the inner-city which was constructed during the 17th century, the Dutch “Golden Age”.

With 178 different nationalities Amsterdam is very diverse. It has a multi-cultural society and different languages from all around the world can be heard throughout the entire city.

It is especially a good place to travel by bike. Almost every place within the city limits can be reached by bike within approximately 45 minutes. It has a lot of bike paths and it is known as a bike friendly city. Other transportation exists of trams and buses that cover the whole city.

There is also a subway, which is especially handy when visiting the Bijlmer in the South East, a predominantly black part of town with a lot people from African, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Surinamese descent. The Amsterdamse Poort in the main market and shopping area in the Bijlmer and is definitely worth visiting on a Saturday. The same subway can be used to visit West Amsterdam where a lot of people from Arabic and North-African descent reside.

Amsterdam has a broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sights that range from fascinating old buildings to oddities such as the Hash Marihuana Museum. The main tourist attractions in Amsterdam are museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. The city has over fifty museums which attract many visitors every year.

Some of the popular sites

The Dam square is the very centre and heart of Amsterdam. It is fascinating and worth taking the time to appreciate. The impressive history of the square is well documented in the Amsterdam Historical Museum. The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which dominates the square was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city of Amsterdam and its government.

A narrow, vaulted passageway leads to the Begijnhof. This charming garden is surrounded by old houses. The houses in the courtyard were once occupied by devout celibate Béguine nuns and are still home to single women today. In the centre of the lawns is a medieval church and at No.34 stands the oldest house in Amsterdam. The entrance is on the Spui and is indicated by a carved sign.

A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without seeing the canals. A canal tour can be both fascinating and relaxing by day and enchanting at night when many of the houses and bridges are illuminated. The four main city center canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel. There are also numerous smaller canals in the neighbourhood of Jordaan, of which the Brouwersgracht, the Bloemgracht and the Leliegracht are especially worth visiting.

Of Amsterdam's 1280 or so bridges, the Magere Brug, or “Skinny Bridge” is the most famous. It is a traditional double-leaf, Dutch draw-bridge connecting the banks of the river Amstel. Approximately every twenty minutes, the bridge opens to let boats through. The original bridge was built in 1670, but as the traffic on Amstel increased, a wider bridge was built to replace the narrow one.

Once a working class area, Amsterdam’s Jordaan has become greatly sought after. The converted warehouses are especially popular, and the Jordaan is now inhabited by a colourful mixture of students, well-to-do businessmen and creative professionals. The Jordaan oozes atmosphere with its narrow streets, picturesque canals, brown cafes, art galleries and unique shops.

Rembrandtplein is lined with pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels and is thus a tourist magnet. In June and July, the terraces are packed with people enjoying a drink and watching the world go by.

The Leidseplein or Leidse-square is one of Amsterdam's most popular centres for nightlife. With many restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, cinemas and theatres in the area, the Leidseplein is a vibrant place to visit. On warm summer evenings, tourists and locals alike take advantage of the pubs’ outdoor seating. Street musicians, jugglers, fire-eaters and other performers liven up the square, often till the early hours.

Around the Leidse-square you can find the Melkweg and Paradiso which are the largest and most famous venues in Amsterdam to see live music. They also have a regular programming of dj nights with music ranging from Reggae to Dancehall and from Hip Hop to Dubstep. Jazz, experimental and traditional music can be found at the Bimhuis nearby the central train station (centraal station). For classical music the Stadsschouwburg is good place to go to.

Not far from the central train station you can find the new public library (openbare bibliotheek Amsterdam). It is a gigantic building which offers a great view over the city from the top floor.

The Albert Cuypmarkt is arguably the best-known and busiest outdoor market in Amsterdam. It attracts thousands of visitors every day, and is especially popular on Saturdays. There are over 300 stalls and goods which range from fresh produce to clothes. The market is located in the Pijp district, surrounded by many pleasant cafes and small shops.

The Vondelpark is located in the south of Amsterdam, just five minute walk from the Leidseplein and in walking distance from the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. The Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam has a big and attractive botanical garden called Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest in the world (est. 1632). It has more than 6000 plants and some of the plants are really unique as 2000 years old agave cactus. Located in a short walking distance from the Rembrandts House, very close to Artis – Amsterdam ZOO and the Resistance Museum, Hortus Botanicus remains a pleasurable oasis of peace in the busy and crowded Amsterdam centre.