For something different, here is a list of suggestions of the the top things to see and do in charming Amsterdam, from museums to the best apple pie in town! Enjoy the highlights of this little cosmopolitan city.
Where to stay? Try Hotel "The Grand" Amsterdam - a Sofitel Legend hotel with real history.
The Grand Amsterdam is an historical site. In quite a unique manner, the history of Amsterdam is reflected in the past and present of this building.There were originally two convents here, St. Cecily's Convent at the northern part of the property and St. Katherine's Convent to the south. The Grand was built in three sections, as is still evident from the two courtyards and central element, and in its design we can detect the basic structure of the two convents. The tiny tower perched so pertly on the north side of the rooftop is reminiscent of St. Cecily's Convent founded here in 1411.
Amsterdam was a city filled with monasteries and convents. On old maps of the city, you can pick them out by their courtyards and walled gardens, always marked by a chapel. Even in the twentieth century, their remains are still in evidence in the floor plan of The Grand, in the patterns of several other parts of the city, and in any number of street names in this vicinity.The Grand Amsterdam, an historical site. In quite a unique manner, the history of Amsterdam is reflected in the past and present of this building.There were originally two convents here, St. Cecily's Convent at the northern part of the property and St. Katherine's Convent to the south.
The Grand was built in three sections, as is still evident from the two courtyards and central element, and in its design we can detect the basic structure of the two convents. The tiny tower perched so pertly on the north side of the rooftop is reminiscent of St. Cecily's Convent founded here in 1411.Amsterdam was a city filled with monasteries and convents. On old maps of the city, you can pick them out by their courtyards and walled gardens, always marked by a chapel. Even in the twentieth century, their remains are still in evidence in the floor plan of The Grand, in the patterns of several other parts of the city, and in any number of street names in this vicinity.
This hotel offers some amazing services, a cut above the rest. The best Afternoon Tea in Amsterdam, Butler Service, 24hr Room service, romantic private dinners, a horse and carriage ride from which you can discover the city, your own bicycles to use, the exquisite Royal Breakfast, and Grand Boat tours departing from the hotel's own pier.
Some of the information below is from the local staff who operate this gorgeous historical hotel, and some of the suggestions are from my own personal experience.
We have to start with one of the most important museums in the world: Rijksmuseum. Its collection of the glorious Golden Age of the Netherlands is the highlight of the museum. Master pieces of Rembrandt including “The Night Watch” are definitely the most admired art works of this museum. The building itself is a piece of art of the Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers (1827-1921), who is also responsible for designing the stunning Central Station. If you are a gastronomy fan, try their excellent restaurant Rijks. High-end culinary, delicious food and the presentation is truly an art work! Another highlight of the city is also located in the same square: the Van Gogh Museum. The dramatic and bold strokes are impressive reflection of Van Gogh’s emotion. Make sure you see live the most famous “Sunflowers” of the world.
Talking about museums, one cannot visit Amsterdam and miss the most touching and historical sight of the city: the Anne Frank’s House. I npeak season the queues to enter the house are extremely long, so it is advisable to either buy your tickets in advance, or get in line nice and early. A place full of history seen on the walls of the building as well as through photos, videos, documents and of course through Anne Frank’s famous diary. The tragic story of this Jewish girl and her family during World War II is one to be forever remembered. A visit to this sight is a must. The house is located in one of the most interesting neighborhoods of the city: The Nine Streets. Famous for its trendy and unique shops, a stroll around these nine shopping streets is enjoyable for everyone. Nothing better than shopping while enjoying the picturesque view, the streets are surrounded my beautiful canals. The two most popular streets of this area are: Berenstraat and Runstraat. Shopping in Amsterdam is at some of the most reasonable prices in all of Europe.
The Dam Square is the heart of the city, only 3 minutes walk from The Grand hotel, the square has a few highlights. Our two favorites are: the Royal Palace(actively used by the Dutch Royal Family but open for the public) and De Bijenkorf (luxury department store). The square is also famous for being surrounded by its busy shopping streets with popular shops like Zara, H&M among others.
If you follow the street Rokin towards its end you will find another popular sightseeing: the Flower Market. Be prepared to deal with a lot of tourists in this area, however, the enchanting variety of colors and scents make a visit worthwhile. At the market they sell tulip bulbs packaged in a special way that one can easily bring abroad. This month Hudson Bay opened two stores nearby, 3 minutes walk from the hotel.
Talking about markets, a traditional one in Amsterdam is the Albert Cuypmarkt. Here is where the locals would buy their fruits, vegetables among other delicious treats. A long the years the market got more and more popular also for outside visitors. Therefore, if you are interested in the typical Dutch caramel cookie, visit the stand where they sell fresh Stroopwafels. You will want to bring the whole shop back home, the cookies are delicious and served warm (the best way to try them!). Moreover, it is a great souvenir and the packaging in Delft’s Blue porcelain style makes it even more cute.
When visiting a city getting to try its local food is one step closer to the culture of the place. Amsterdam has plenty of upscale and Michelin restaurants to offer. However, the Dutch are also fans of a good snack! The locals are known for their down to earth attitude and they really like to celebrate life. It is very common that right after work they would go for a beer and a snack. Here is a few of them and where to try them: “patat”, Dutch word for french fries, served with the traditional Dutch mayonnaise (Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx at Voetboogstraat 33); “broodje kroket” and “bitterballen”, both a meat-based snack of minced/chopped meat in a bread or served in small portions as finger food (Eetsalon Van Dobben, Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat 5-7-9). The ultimate favorite is the famous Dutch apple pie with whipped cream (Winkel 43, Noordermarkt 43).
Enjoy your fries with Mayonnaise while you are in Amsterdam, as it is almost impossible to recreate the experience anywhere else - the secret is in the mayonnaise. It is unique!
The last but not the least are the two most wanted to do thing in the list of every visitor: a canal cruise around Amsterdam and a bike ride adventure in the city! The touristic boat tours are available in two ways: hop on/hop off style or through an 1 hour canal cruise. My personal favorite would be the private boat tours, you can combine it with a dining experience and try three different restaurants without leaving the boat. This is a great culinary journey of approximately 3 hours.. When staying at The Grand hotel, one can use the hotel bikes to explore the city. We even prepare picnic baskets to make the experience even more memorable.
People often ask me about the safety of wandreing the streets or Amsterdam at night, especially in certain parts of town which have a "reputation". Taking a basic common sense approach you can feel as safe in Amsterdam at any time of day or night as you would in any major city. This is a city with an amazingly diverse range of expereinces on offer, and a city that you will never tire of visiting.
Remember when crossing the road....
Look Left. Look Right. Look Bike. Look Tram. Look Car, then its safe to cross. Half way. then look car, look tram. look bike and you are now safely across.
Enjoy this charismatic city - truly a jewel in Europe's crown.