What to do in Amsterdam

Jane has always wanted to visit Amsterdam and she knows there’s loads to do and see, but she doesn’t know how long she should spend there. Lee Mylne offers her some advice.

Q. Jane
I’ve seen a great deal on flights to Europe and Amsterdam has really grabbed my imagination. Realistically, how long could I spend in this city. And, if I was looking to move on to somewhere else and fly back to Sydney from this destination, where would you suggest?

A. Phew… how long have you got? Jane, I could spend a week or more in Amsterdam, there’s so much to see! For a start, it has so many fabulous museums and galleries and that’s even before you start getting onto the canals or bike paths.

Top of the list is the Rijksmuseum, Holland’s national museum. It’s easy to get lost in here for hours, as you learn about the art and history of this country, including such famous paintings as Rembrandt van Rijn’s Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.

If you’re an art lover, the Van Gogh Museum must be in your plan. The museum has more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 documents that tell the story of Vincent Van Gogh. Among his masterpieces are Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, and The Bedroom, and his self-portraits. Go in the morning or the late afternoon (and it’s also open on Friday nights) – it will be less crowded.

van gogh museum

Not far from the Van Gogh Museum is the Anne Frank House. As someone who read Anne’s diary when I was a teenager, I found this a very moving experience. You can see the secret annex where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II, and the original diary along with some of her other notebooks are on display. There are also other exhibits that focus on the wartime persecution of Jews, contemporary fascism, racism and anti-Semitism.  

If you’re like me, when you think of Amsterdam, you probably think of the canals, the flower markets, fields of tulips and the red light district. Getting around the city is easy and there are plenty of gorgeous parks such as Vondelpark, the Hortus Botanicus and Amsterdamse Bos.

You should definitely visit the Amsterdam flower market, which is one of the city’s biggest attractions (and rightly so). It is on the Singel canal, between Koningsplein and Muntplein squares.

Spring (from late March to late May) is a great time to visit Holland if you want to see the vast fields of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in flower. The main bulb region is around Leiden. If you are visiting the flower-bulb region in spring, take time to visit the beautiful Keukenhof estate, which dates from 1642 and has 32 hectares of flowering bulbs as well as some lovely pavilions.

As for where to go next, Europe is your oyster! Everywhere is so close, so I would be basing that decision not only on what appeals to you, but also on the destinations from which your chosen airline will fly back to Sydney. I’d certainly be tempted by Rome … but doing a bit of research on flight routes might help cement that decision.

More information:

Related articles:
Be awed by Amsterdam
Tips from an insider: Amsterdam
Insider’s guide: Europe now

Written by Lee Mylne


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