Why There's More To Amsterdam Than Tulips, Clogs And The Red-Light District

Why There’s More To Amsterdam Than Tulips, Clogs And The Red-Light District


As a city, when you say ‘Amsterdam,’ often the first response is a joke about the red light district, clogs or tulips. However, the Netherlands’ capital city is much more than just a few dodgy sex shops and some wooden shoes. As well as being one of Europe’s most impressive art hot spots, the city is awash with history and culture and has a restaurant scene and nightlife that goes well beyond the confines of its reputation. If you want to really make the most of a trip to Amsterdam then steer clear of the traditional clichés…

…all except one that is – the bicycle. There’s really no better way to see picturesque Amsterdam than by getting on your bike, as it’s exactly the kind of city that lends itself to a peaceful trip on two wheels. Whereas in London you might get mown down by a bus, or in Paris cursed at by the locals, in Amsterdam you can wile away the hours gently peddling along the streets and canals. Bike hire is available in the city and, as long as you follow the sensible rules of the road, you should be able to avoid any accidents.

Historically, Amsterdam has much to offer, with a broad selection of museums opening a window to the past – some of it not altogether pleasant. Anne Frank is probably one of Amsterdam’s most famous residents and you can visit her house here, complete with the rooms in which the family lived and the original diary.

The Jewish Museum opens the door to Jewish religion, history and culture in a way that few other institutions do and the Dutch National Maritime Museum is also worth a visit, particularly for the replica of the Dutch trading ship that sits behind it. If you’re interested in art then Amsterdam is a dream come true, from the reams of excellent graffiti on the street corners, to the plethora of museums and art galleries.

The most famous locations to see art here are probably the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum which, between them offer an enormously wide selection of masterpieces, from Warhol to Van Gogh. And speaking of that famous Dutch painter, there is an entire museum dedicated to his work here, which is definitely worth seeing if you have any interest in the man and his paintings, as such classics as Sunflowers are on show. Art aficionado’s should also check out the impressive video art display at the Andaz hotel.

For anyone who think’s Amsterdam’ residents spend all their time in coffee shops (actually you’ll rarely find a local in these places) think again – Amsterdam is one of the busiest and most vibrant business centre’s in Europe. The main business district can be found in Zuidas around the  RAI Exhibition and Convention Center and World Trade Center while business travellers often converge around the out of town Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with this area growing in popularity (Hyatt are opening another new hotel near the airport in 2013)

Nightlife in Amsterdam barely includes the city’s red light district, although it is worth strolling around, just so that you can say that you’ve seen it and to experience the oddly convivial atmosphere. There are wider options than just bars and pubs, as most cafes open in the morning and don’t shut again until the early hours. For live music, the Melkweg and Paradiso are two of the city’s hottest venues and for a wide choice of everything from classical to jazz, the impressive Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ is a high tec space with great line ups. Club-wise, Amsterdam is fully equipped with large-scale nights at Trouw, the electro vibe of Studio 80 and the infamous-for-its-beautiful-crowd Supperclub providing a great range of after dark entertainment.

Amsterdam is an exciting and adventure filled city that has so much more to offer than just its clichés. Whether you’re looking for nightlife, culture, or just a quiet cycle down a pretty street, you’ll find options for everything here.


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