Amsterdam tops a lot of people’s travel lists for semi-serious reasons. Somewhat like Las Vegas in the United States or Ibiza in Spain, people hear a lot about the vices and luxuries and want to go. But have you actually considered what you’d like to do there if Amsterdam is on your list? Sure, the city is famous for its loose drug culture and red light district, but how would you actually spend a pleasant getaway there?
Here are some of the top things to consider putting on your list.
Stroll Through Vondelpark
That’s right—we’re starting off the Amsterdam attractions list with a park. It just so happens to be considered one of the best city parks in the world next to the likes of New York City’s Central Park and Park Guell in Barcelona (and even Phoenix Park in Dublin!). Relative to those other parks it’s a fairly small space. But it’s indescribably pleasant, with lush meadows, small ponds, an open-air theatre and paths for biking or roller blading. The park is also in close proximity to a number of other places you might want to visit. That includes the Van Gogh Museum, which features an impressive collection of works from arguably the Netherlands’ most famous artist.
The Van Gogh Museum is absolutely worth a stop, particularly if you’re out for a day in the Vondelpark already. But it’s probably not the very best museum in the city. That distinction, at least in many people’s minds, would more appropriately be assigned to the Rijksmuseum, which has been restored to incredible effect in recent years. The museum is packed with more art than any other space in the Netherlands, and includes work from some of the legitimate masters of art history like Rembrandt and Vermeer. And as much as there is to see inside the museum, just seeing the building from the outside has also become an experience. Rijksmuseum isn’t as legendary as the Louvre or the British Museum, but it’s been on same level ever since it was restored.
Check Out Holland Casino
Here in Ireland we’re not particularly used to in-person casinos. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but here and throughout the UK really this is a type of entertainment that’s migrated to the internet. There are countless gaming sites, and most are fully licensed these days. It makes for a safe environment where people can play most any games they’d like to, and has pushed actual venues by the wayside. But dotted around Europe and the rest of the world there are still some very cool brick-and-mortar casinos, and this is one that’s worth your time and attention. It’s a large, brightly lit venue in the middle of Amsterdam Centre that specializes in poker and slots. The casino also includes several restaurants, each run by chefs using seasonal menus and local ingredients. Whether you’re looking for a fine meal or a night out on the town the Holland Casino is a must-visit.
Take A Canal Cruise
This is something that’s considered more for tourists, but that’s why you’re visiting in the first place! The canals of Amsterdam are legendary—not quite as well known as the ones in Venice, but probably next on the list. They give the city a unique layout, and walking alongside them or bicycling over their bridges can be a wonderful experience. Booking a canal cruise gives you a fun way to experience the city from a different perspective. They run day and night, but I’d recommend opting for nighttime. It’s a beautiful city when its lit up, and you’ll also be able to enjoy some food and wine on your cruise.
Eat At The Bakeries
Amsterdam gets loads of attention for its coffee shops, largely because this is where a lot of tourists find cannabis. Some of them are actually pretty great, whether or not you’re into that sort of thing. They often serve legitimately fantastic coffee and nice food as well. If the coffee shops aren’t your scene, there are lots of terrific bakeries around the city. At any of them you’ll be able to treat yourself to (possibly) Europe’s best pastries outside of France. Lanskroon Banketbakkerij is a must because of its delicious local desserts and canal-side location, but it’s still just one of many to try to experience during your trip.