Although the Secret Annex, where Anne Frank and her sister, parents and four other fearful Jews lived from 1942–1944, is both a testament to human courage and a reminder of wartime horrors, hordes of camera-toting tourists outnumber ghosts of times past these days. Arrive after 8:30—a bit early if you’ve enjoyed Amsterdam’s nightlife the eve before—and you’ll wait in line for hours. Fortunately, you can avoid wasting time by purchasing an e-ticket. For non-planners, there’s free WiFi for playing on your smartphone or tab while queuing up. If you lose patience, buy Anne’s diary and other accounts of the Holocaust at the English Bookshop in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district.
Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum—repositories of Golden Age art, iconic sunflowers and tormented starry nights. While our destination museums are rife with artistic treasures, they’re also chock full of tourists, especially in high season (May–September), when millions descend on the Dutch capital. Avoid the queues with an e-ticket or Museumkaart, or make use of free WiFi while waiting in line. Once in, don’t count on marveling at the work of Dutch masters in solitary reverence at either of these popular tourist attractions, especially if you visit in summer or during school vacation time.
If you hang around Dam Square, Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein long enough, you’re bound to come across talented musicians, jugglers, mimes, break dancers and comedians who come from around the globe to perform in public squares for free. Many are aspiring stars and this is their livelihood, so be sure to throw a few euros their way if they’ve inspired a belly laugh.
Or even someone who just wants to have fun! The Heineken Experience is a trip to the Heineken Brewery and Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is not a working brewery but an old one which has been converted into a museum and is open for everyone. The whole experience is just full of wonder and fun and excitement. You need to go there just to feel like a kid who is given the pass to sit on those 4ft and above rides in an amusement park.
Return to Amsterdam in the evening and spend sometime at the Jordaan, Amsterdam's most famous neighbourhood. Touristy and commercial, it starts from Centraal station and arches around the Canal Ring before ending it Leidsegracht. With plenty of cafes to choose from, decide whether to indulge in traditional or trendy food. Hope across to an art gallery after to soak in the Dutch art scene.
Anne Frank House
Many people come to Amsterdam with a bucket list—a compilation of tips gleaned from guidebooks, friends, family, curiosity and a little classroom history. Topping many lists is the Anne Frank House, one of the city’s most famous museums. Long deserted by its last residents, it’s where Amsterdam’s most famous teen writer vented daily frustrations in her world-renowned diary while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Although the Secret Annex, where Anne Frank and her sister, parents and four other fearful Jews lived from 1942–1944, is both a testament to human courage and a reminder of wartime horrors, hordes of camera-toting tourists outnumber ghosts of times past these days. Arrive after 8:30—a bit early if you’ve enjoyed Amsterdam’s nightlife the eve before—and you’ll wait in line for hours. Fortunately, you can avoid wasting time by purchasing an e-ticket. For non-planners, there’s free WiFi for playing on your smartphone or tab while queuing up. If you lose patience, buy Anne’s diary and other accounts of the Holocaust at the English Bookshop in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district.
When in Amsterdam - this is a must visit place. Most of us wouldn't have ever seen anything like this before - so be prepared to be amused and surprised :) Beautiful women standing in skimpy clothes in Windows, like an exhibit. You can see these in many of the lanes around this area. If you are lucky you will catch a negotiation or two happening. €50 for 15 min No photography allowed :)
Finish Day 1 indulging in the best french fries Amsterdam offers - at Manneken Pis. Located near Amsterdam Centraal, it's a small fries shop and extremely popular with the tourists. One pack is more than enough for dinner. As you eat the fries dripping with sauces, reminiscence about your first day in Amsterdam.
Built in 1408, this soaring church has been the stage for royal weddings and coronations, including King Willem’s marriage to Maxima and his crowning as Holland’s first king in a century in 2013. Now used for major art exhibitions, it has a gift shop that leads to a free display about the church’s turbulent history.
After the glitz of the previous excursion, find respite in this hidden courtyard protected from the madness of central Amsterdam. Beyond the Begijnhof’s humble doors, an oasis of 14th century houses, gardens and relic-filled churches provides quiet escape from the buzz of the city. Once a residential sanctuary for the Bengijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood comprised of women who took no monastic vows but dedicated their lives to educating the poor and taking care of the sick, it’s now a place where people still gather to worship, marry and reflect.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Across the way, the Stedelijk Museum , also now up and running after a 10 years hiatus, brings Matisse, Chagall and Bruce Nauman into the fray, as well as video art, performances, an exceptional collection of De Stijl, and designs including Ettore Sottsass teapots and the famous Gerrit Rietveld chair.
Walk through Central Station, turn left and hop on the free ferry to NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam-Noord. On the ride across the Ij to what was once a derelict shipyard, take in the low, village-like skyline. In 15 minutes, you’ll arrive in an artsy community and cultural hot spot peppered with recycled-junk sculptures, a giant tiki head, and numerous funky restaurants and night spots. Throughout the year, festivals, performances, exhibitions and IJ Hallen, Europe’s largest flea market, are held in Amsterdam-Noord.
Amsterdam’s floating flower market is a fine source for high-quality flora. Pick up a bag of tulip bulbs for the folks back home and they’ll thank you when they receive the gift, then think of you again in spring when the blooms come up. The thoughtful souvenir will cost you a few euros, but it’s free to smell the roses and photograph the stunning blooms at this fragrant open flower market lining Singel Canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein.
Sandeman's Free Walking Tour
Get your bearings in a sometimes confusing city and gain insight into Amsterdam’s its evolution from a muddy village on the Amstel into Europe’s most powerful trading city on this three-hour, whirlwind adventure. Tour the Red Light District, Jewish Quarter, Jordaan District, widest bridge, narrowest house and other top sights. Daily tours in English and Spanish are given by entertaining guides who work on a tip-only basis. Tours depart at 11:15 and 13:15 from the National Monument on Dam Square.
Tired of highbrow culture? Sample a lighter approach to art devoted to a single theme at one of Amsterdam’s quirkiest museums: Katten Kabinet. While professionally curated, this homage to all things feline has a humorous edge. The collection features two floors of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures by Picasso, Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec and other renowned masters, all with cats on center stage. There is a gift shop on the first floor proffers cat-themed posters and souvenirs. Even if cats aren’t your thing, it may be worth the €6 entry fee just for the chance to enter a posh canal house on the Herengracht, where Dutch gentry dwelled in Holland’s Golden Age. Even if cats aren’t your thing, Katten Kabinet may be worth a visit for the chance to enter a posh canal house. Built in 1667 as a residence for the wealthy van Loon brothers, the structure was restored several times before affluent Dutchie Bob Meijer turned it into a museum in 1990 dedicated to the memory of his red tomcat John Pierpont Morgan. In 2004 it served as a set for the Hollywood blockbuster Oceans 12. A-list guests have included former Amsterdam mayor Jan Calkoen and American president John Adams. The present owner still resides on the upper floor of the building with his family and several felines who wander through the museum at will.
Bazar Amsterdam had been on my list of places to visit for years. Ever since I had seen a small photo of the interior and caught a glimpse of the menu, I knew I had to eat there. What greeted me when I stepped inside, however, was a raw, sensory explosion that surpassed even my expectations. The cavernous space of the former Dutch Reformed church was filled with bright colours, Middle-Eastern music and tables with enough space around them to ensure you didn’t have your elbows in someone else’s food. Waiters carried metal serving trays that were almost bigger than they were and with good reason. Not a single main dish that left the kitchen was smaller than the average person’s head. The tavuk sis kebab that was delivered onto the worn wooden table in front of me was no exception. While I cut into the tender chicken that had been marinated in saffron infused yoghurt, I took in the fruit and vegetable crates behind me, the huge lamps hanging from the ceiling that no doubt had required more than a pair of hands and a ladder to hang and the decorative silverware in my possession. Everywhere you looked, there was something to admire. The bar in the centre of the restaurant, made out of tin cans, served my drink colder than the ice cold Heineken around the corner and just barely managed to outshine the canopy of fairy-lights in the hallway and the baklava that was served for dessert. Five moist and sweet pieces surrounded a Medjool date, all topped with something that could only be described as white sugar fur that had me doubting for a few seconds about its edibleness.