Amsterdam is often dismissed merely as a city that focuses on life’s great excesses; sex, drugs and, most controversially, massive wheels of cheese. But it doesn’t take long to discover that the place has so much more to offer than its reputation gives credit for. Museums and exhibitions of pretty much every kind are more than enough to keep you occupied for a few days alone, while the fantastic mixture of architecture that lines the innumerable canals make it a perfect city for just wandering around and exploring.
If you’re only visiting for a short time then some forward planning is a must. The major museums and exhibitions are hugely popular and the queues for tickets on the day are not even worth contemplating. Luckily buying tickets in advance online is fairly easy; although it’s worth keeping in mind that while some allow you to use your ticket anytime, others require you to book a specific time slot.
After a 10 year renovation project, the Rijksmuseum is a real must-see. It is home to artwork by some of the world’s most famous artists and is absolutely huge in scale; we’ve heard it said you shouldn’t even attempt to see everything in one go. The building itself features some beautiful open spaces and mixes modern architecture with it’s 19th century structure really well. If like us you have a bit of a thing for photographing abstract architecture then you’ll have an absolute field day.
Just outside the museum is the famous I Amsterdam sign which is a real haven for selfie sticks and peace signs. We’re pretty certain that photobombing is obligatory here, which makes it the ideal opportunity for you to forever be ‘that kid’ in the background of hundreds of instagram selfies; go on, you know you want to.
If the museum junkie in you is not satisfied with just the one there is plenty more to see and do. Although we’ve yet to make it there ourselves (it really is a challenge to get tickets unless you plan in advance), Anne Frank’s house is the obvious choice, while the Van Gogh museum and Heineken experience are just a short walk from the Rijksmuseum. Should you feel particularly daring and in need of an eye-opening encounter, the sex museum in the city centre has to be seen to be believed. No, really.
Aside from all the tourist traps, Amsterdam is a fantastic city to get lost in. The maze of canals and tiny side streets mean unexpected detours are an essential part of any walk and you may well stumble across a hidden treasure if you’re prepared to cast your guidebook to one side and go with the flow. When all else fails, the city is dotted with scores of cafés, pubs and coffeeshops (depending on your personal preference) to while away the day and watch the world go by.