Amsterdam is the capital city of The Netherlands which is located in the EU and Schengen community. Amsterdam offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Anne Frank House
- Red Light District
- Coffee Shops
- Heineken Experience
- Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the I Amsterdam sign
- Dam Square and Royal Palace
- Singel canal, reflection and Dutch bike photography
- Bloemenmarkt – Flower market
You have 3 main ways of getting around Amsterdam, on foot, by bicycle or by tour bus / boat. The hop on hop off bus service in Amsterdam is part bus and part boat which makes it a more interesting service than in most cities (above). There are also lots of places to hire bikes in Amsterdam if you have a desire to bike like the Dutch! I chose to walk around the city which is very possible when the weather is reasonable.
Dam Square is the the center of the city of Amsterdam and is a short walk from Amsterdam train station. The square gets its name because it was originally a dam of the river Amstel. This is also how the city got its name, Amstel + Dam = Amsterdam. You may have heard of the name Amstel, not because of the river but because it’s a famous Dutch beer. Dam square is often the meeting point for walking tours and pub crawls of Amsterdam.
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is the prominent building on Dam Square. This building was originally the city hall during the Dutch Golden Age, nowadays it is at the disposal of the Dutch royal family.
Museum lovers will love Amsterdam due to the high concentration of museums. There are museums of many different genres in Amsterdam, some quite surprising! The most popular museums are;
There are also a few unusual museums unique to Amsterdam such as;
- Museum of bags and purses
- Hash, marihuana and hemp museum
- Sex museum
- Museum of prostitution
- Tattoo museum
Imagine being locked up in a small room for 2 years. This is the house which Anne Frank and 7 others were hiding from the Germans in (above). The house is now a popular museum devoted to the diarist, Anne Frank. Inside you’ll see her living conditions and how she survived here before sadly being discovered by the Nazis and taken away towards the end of the war.
During her time in the house, Anne Frank wrote a diary of how her life was. This has since become a top selling book known as The Diary of Anne Frank.
A walk through the red light district of Amsterdam is a must, this is probably the most famous (or infamous) part of the city. As you walk through the red light district you’ll see lots of almost naked women in rooms with curtains. I was visiting on a quiet rainy day so the women were knocking on the windows trying to attract attention and potential business. Also in the red light district, you’ll find lots of bars and nightclubs which makes this area a good night out.
Amsterdam is famous for it’s coffee shops where you can legally smoke marijuana. You’ll walk past countless coffee shops whilst passing through the streets of Amsterdam and the smell is very identifiable. Because of this coffee shop culture, Amsterdam receives a lot of tourists from all over Europe visiting for a weekend of smoking. There are other interesting items you can buy in some of the specialized marijuana Dutch marts which are called head shops. In these head shops you can buy marijuana in the form of cookies, cake (known as space cake), smoking equipment, t-shirts and souvenirs as well as many specialized Amsterdam Red Bull energy drinks.
Coffee shops are not only in Amsterdam, they are in found in all major towns and cities in The Netherlands. There is also a marijuana culture in Christiania, Copenhagen in Denmark.
Remember to act sensibly and responsibly whilst enjoying the entertainment in Amsterdam!