Amsterdam is the Dutch capital, a city of canals and tulips, museums and palaces, and a well-known European tourist destination for more reasons than you can imagine. The first is its strategic location on the continent’s map, which makes it a stopover for most Asian and American flights flying via Europe.
This means that visitors will have at least a half-day in the city before boarding their next flight to their destination. This one-of-a-kind feature has boosted tourism in Amsterdam for decades. No, you are not required to have a layover here at all times. Instead, you may plan a relaxing vacation in Amsterdam.
The city of Amsterdam was constructed on the Amstel, which had been dammed to manage flooding; the name of the city comes from the Amstel dam. Amsterdam began as a modest fishing village in the late 12th century and grew to become one of the world’s most important ports during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, as well as the major financial and trading center.
The city grew in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and numerous new neighborhoods and suburbs were planned and created. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes the 17th-century canals of Amsterdam as well as the 19th–20th-century Defence Line of Amsterdam. The oldest portion of the city, Sloten, dates from the 9th century and was absorbed by the municipality of Amsterdam in 1921.
The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw, the Anne Frank House, the Scheepvaartmuseum, the Amsterdam Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Natura Artis Magistra, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, NEMO, the red-light district, and many cannabis coffee shops are among Amsterdam’s main attractions. In 2014, it attracted more than 5 million worldwide visitors.
The city is also noted for its nightlife and festival scene, with several of its nightclubs (Melkweg, Paradiso) being among the best in the world. The city is well recognized for its cultural legacy, extensive canal system, and narrow buildings with gabled facades, all of which are well-preserved remains of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age.
These traits are arguably responsible for the city’s annual influx of millions of visitors. Cycling is an important part of the city’s identity, and there are numerous bike trails and lanes throughout the city.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is often regarded as the world’s earliest “modern” securities market stock exchange. Amsterdam is rated an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group since it is the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of Europe’s top financial centers.
The city is also the Netherlands’ cultural capital. The city is home to many significant Dutch companies, including the Philips company, AkzoNobel, Booking.com, TomTom, and ING.
Furthermore, several of the world’s greatest corporations, such as Uber, Netflix, and Tesla, are headquartered in Amsterdam or have established their European headquarters there. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) named Amsterdam as the second-best city to live in in 2012, and Mercer listed it as the 12th-best city in the world for quality of living for environment and infrastructure.
In the Savills Tech Cities 2019 study, the city was placed 4th globally as a leading tech centre (2nd in Europe), and 3rd in innovation by Australian innovation organization 2thinknow in their Innovation Cities Index 2009. The port of Amsterdam is Europe’s fifth largest. Schiphol, the KLM hub and Amsterdam’s main airport, is the busiest airport in the Netherlands, as well as the third busiest in Europe and the 11th busiest in the world. With at least 177 countries represented, the Dutch capital is regarded one of the world’s most multicultural towns.
Painters Rembrandt and Van Gogh, diarist Anne Frank, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza are just a few of Amsterdam’s famous residents throughout history. Amsterdam is in the Western Netherlands, in the province of North Holland, whose capital is Haarlem rather than Amsterdam. The river Amstel flows through the city center and connects to a network of canals that go to the IJ. The city of Amsterdam is approximately 2 meters (6.6 feet) below sea level.
Because the surrounding area is made up of massive polders, it is flat. The Amsterdamse Bos, a man-made forest, is located in the southwest. The lengthy North Sea Canal connects Amsterdam with the North Sea. The city of Amsterdam, as well as the Amsterdam metropolitan area around it, is densely populated. The city proper covers 219.4 km2 (84.7 sq mi) of land and has a population density of 4,457 people per km2 and 2,275 dwellings per km2. Amsterdam’s parkland and natural reserves account for 12% of the city’s total land area.
Amsterdam boasts almost 100 kilometers (60 miles) of canals, the majority of which can be navigated by boat. The Prinsengracht, Herengracht, and Keizersgracht are the city’s three principal canals. Amsterdam was once encircled by a moat known as the Singel, which now forms the city’s innermost ring and gives the city center a horseshoe shape.
A seaport is also available in the city. Due to its separation into around 90 islands connected by more than 1,200 bridges, it has been compared to Venice. With prevailing westerly winds, Amsterdam has an oceanic climate influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west.
The city of Amsterdam, as well as the majority of North Holland, is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b. Frosts are more common with easterly or northeasterly winds from the European continent’s interior. Even yet, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by huge bodies of water and has a strong heat-island effect, nights rarely drop below -5 °C (23 °F), although Hilversum, 25 km (16 mi) southeast, may easily be -12 °C (10 °F).
Summers are warm but not oppressively so, with several hot and humid days every month. In August, the average daily high temperature is 22.1 °C (72 °F), and temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher are only recorded on 2.5 days on average, putting Amsterdam in AHS Heat Zone 2. The temperature extremes range from -19.7 degrees Celsius (-3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) to 36.3 degrees Celsius (97.3 degrees Fahrenheit). On average, there are 133 days a year with more than 1 mm (0.04 in) of precipitation.
The average annual precipitation in Amsterdam is 838 mm (33 in). Light rain or short showers account for the majority of the precipitation. During the cooler months of October to March, cloudy and damp days are typical.
From the Amsterdam Centraal station and Damrak, the main street off the station, Amsterdam spreads out to the south. De Wallen is the town’s oldest neighborhood. It is located east of Damrak and is home to the city’s well-known red-light district. The old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein is located to the south of De Wallen. The grachten, or canals, of Amsterdam, encircle the city’s centre, where homes have fascinating gables from the medieval and colonial periods.
The former working-class districts of Jordaan and de Pijp are located beyond the Grachtengordel. Outside the Grachtengordel are the Museumplein, which houses the city’s major museums, the Vondelpark, a 19th-century park named for Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel, and the Plantage neighborhood, which has the zoo. Polders can be found in many regions of the city and the neighboring urban area. The suffix -meer, which meaning lake, is used in names like Aalsmeer, Bijlmermeer, Haarlemmermeer, and Watergraafsmeer.
The canal system in Amsterdam is the outcome of careful municipal planning. When immigration was at its pinnacle in the early 17th century, a comprehensive plan was devised based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ bay.
The Herengracht (where “Heren” refers to Heren Regeerders van de stad Amsterdam, ruling lords of Amsterdam, and gracht means canal, so the name can be roughly translated as “Canal of the Lords”), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal) were the three canals that were mostly used for residential development.
The Singelgracht, the fourth and outermost canal, is rarely included on maps because it is a collective name for all canals in the outer ring. The Singelgracht should not be confused with the Singel, the city’s oldest and deepest canal. Defense, water management, and transportation were all served by the canals.
The fortifications consisted of a moat and mud dikes, with gates at key crossing places but no stone superstructures. Because the original drawings have been destroyed, historians like Ed Taverne must make educated guesses about the original intentions: the layout is regarded to be primarily functional and defensive rather than aesthetic.
Construction began in 1613 and moved from west to east throughout the pattern, like a giant windshield wiper, as historian Geert Mak describes it, rather than from the center outwards, as popular belief has it. By 1656, the southern segment of the canal had been completed. The construction of residential buildings slowed down as a result.
The eastern section of the concentric canal design, which covers the territory between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, was never completed. The area was used for parks, senior citizens’ homes, theaters, other public facilities, and canals without much design in the following centuries. Several canals, such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Spui, have been filled in over time and have become streets or squares.
For two centuries after the building of Amsterdam’s canals in the 17th century, the city did not expand beyond its bounds. Samuel Sarphati designed a concept in the 19th century based on the opulence of Paris and London at the time. Just outside the Grachtengordel, the plan called for the construction of new residences, public facilities, and streets. However, the plan’s primary goal was to promote public health.
Despite the fact that the plan did not enlarge the city, it did result in the construction of some of the world’s largest public structures, such as the Paleis voor Volksvlijt. Following Sarphati’s lead, civil engineers Jacobus van Niftrik and Jan Kalff constructed a ring of 19th-century neighbourhoods around the city’s core, with the city retaining ownership of any land outside the 17th-century boundaries, thus restricting development. The working class moved into the majority of these areas.
In reaction to overcrowding, two plans were created at the turn of the century that were unlike anything seen in Amsterdam before: Plan Zuid and Plan West. These designs called for the creation of new neighborhoods with housing blocks for people of various socioeconomic groups.
Large new neighborhoods were created in the western, southeastern, and northern areas of the city after WWII. These new neighborhoods were created to alleviate the city’s housing scarcity and provide people with inexpensive homes with modern amenities.
The neighborhoods were mostly made up of huge house blocks surrounded by green spaces and connected by wide roads, making them conveniently accessible by automobile. The Westelijke Tuinsteden are a collection of western suburbs established during that time period. The Bijlmer, which was built around the same time as the city, is located to the southeast of the city.
The city of Amsterdam features many parks, open spaces, and squares. The Vondelpark, the city’s largest park, is located in the Oud-Zuid neighborhood and is named after Joost van den Vondel, a 17th-century Amsterdam author. The park receives roughly 10 million visitors each year. There is an open-air theatre, a playground, and various restroom facilities in the park. The Beatrixpark, named for Queen Beatrix, is located in the Zuid borough.
The Amsterdamse Bos (“Amsterdam Forest”), located between Amsterdam and Amstelveen, is the city’s largest recreational area. The park, which spans 1.000 hectares and is roughly three times the size of Central Park, attracts nearly 4.5 million visitors each year. The Rieker windmill, which originates from 1636, is located in the Zuid borough’s Amstelpark.
The Sarphatipark in the De Pijp neighborhood, the Oosterpark in the Oost borough, and the Westerpark in the Westerpark neighborhood are among the other parks. Nemo Beach, Citybeach “Het stenen hoofd” (Silodam), and Blijburg, all in the Centrum borough, are the city’s three beaches.
There are numerous open squares across the city (plein in Dutch). Dam Square, the city’s namesake as the location of the original dam, is the main city square and home to the Royal Palace and National Monument. The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum are all located on Museumplein. Rembrandtplein, Muntplein, Nieuwmarkt, Leidseplein, Spui, and Waterlooplein are among the other squares. The Nekkeveld estate conservation project is also located near Amsterdam.
The Rederijkerskamer (Chamber of Rhetoric) in Amsterdam organized contests between several Chambers in the reading of poetry and theater in the late 16th century. The Schouwburg, Amsterdam’s first theatre, was erected in 1637 and opened on 3 January 1638. The Ballet of the Five Senses gave the first ballet performances in the Netherlands at Schouwburg in 1642. French theatre became popular in the 18th century.
There were few national opera productions when Amsterdam was under the influence of German music in the 19th century; the Hollandse Opera in Amsterdam was constructed in 1888 with the express purpose of promoting Dutch opera. The Nes district in Amsterdam was the epicenter of popular culture in the nineteenth century (mainly vaudeville and music-hall). Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel invented an improved metronome in 1812.
The Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum were erected and opened in 1885 and 1895, respectively. The Concertgebouworkest orchestra was founded in 1888. The twentieth century brought with it cinema, radio, and television. Despite the fact that the majority of studios are in Hilversum and Aalsmeer, Amsterdam has a significant influence on programming. In Amsterdam, there are a lot of people that work in the television sector. Amsterdam is also home to the Dutch SBS Broadcasting Group’s headquarters.
Toneelgroep Amsterdam is based at the Stadsschouwburg on the Leidseplein. The existing structure was constructed in 1894. The Grote Zaal hosts the majority of the plays (Great Hall). The regular schedule of activities includes a variety of theatrical performances. The Stadsschouwburg is being rebuilt and enlarged right now.
The third theatrical venue, which will be run in collaboration with Melkweg next door, will debut in late 2009 or early 2010. The Dutch National Opera and Ballet (previously known as Het Muziektheater) was founded in 1986 and is home to both the Dutch National Opera and the Dutch National Ballet.
The Royal Theatre Carré, which opened in 1887 as a permanent circus theatre, is now primarily utilized for musicals, cabaret shows, and pop concerts. More commercial plays and musicals are performed in the newly reopened DeLaMar Theater. In 2014, a new theatre opened in Amsterdam, joining existing well-established venues: Theater Amsterdam is located on the Danzigerkade in Amsterdam’s west end. It is housed in a contemporary structure with a spectacular view of the harbor. The theatre is the first purpose-built facility to feature a single production, ANNE, based on the story of Anne Frank.
How To Reach Amsterdam
The beautiful capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam conjures up images of windmills and canals, never-ending rows of golden tulips, and mind-boggling museums.
Yes, all of these flashes are Amsterdam, but Amsterdam is so much more. Are you excited to discover all Amsterdam has to offer? So, purchase your tickets and fly there as soon as possible. Amsterdam is easily accessible from every location on the globe. So, here’s our guide to assisting you in selecting the most cost-effective means of transportation.
1. By Air
The Amsterdam Airport, also known as Schiphol Airport, is located 9 kilometers southwest of the city and serves as a significant destination and stopover for flights arriving from all over the world. Regular flights to Amsterdam depart from New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai on a daily basis, with a frequency of 2-3 each day.
KLM, Lufthansa, and Aeroflot are the most prevalent carriers on these itineraries. The majority of these aircraft make a stop in Europe or Russia and take between 10 and 26 hours to arrive in Amsterdam. You may simply take the metro or hire a cab from Schiphol Airport to the city or other major Dutch cities.
2. By Rail
If you’re in Europe and want to travel cheaply and scenically, trains are a terrific way to get to Amsterdam. These trains are rather quick, clean, and even luxury. Regular direct trains connect Amsterdam with cities such as London, Manchester, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, and a Eurail pass may be purchased to make travel even cheaper. With each passing mile, the undulating European hills and hamlets endear the continent to your heart a bit more.
3. By Road
Apart from railways, road excursions in rented vehicles are also very popular in Europe at the moment. Imagine driving in a convertible while being serenaded by fields of tulips and sunflowers on both sides of a brilliantly smooth road… bliss, right? Amsterdam is easily accessible from neighboring countries such as Belgium, Germany, and even the United Kingdom. If you have an international driver’s license, you can rent a car or hire a chauffeur-driven car.
4. Getting Around
Cycling to your destination is the finest way to get about the Netherlands. That’s how they do things in the Netherlands. The vast majority of them. Because most touristy alleys are too narrow for vehicles, you’ll need to rely on either their excellent public transportation or hired bicycles in Amsterdam. The OV Chipkaart smart card, which works everywhere, may be used on their buses, trams, ferries, and metros.
Weather In Amsterdam And The Best Time To Visit
Amsterdam, a city of freedom rather than sin, is one of the most artistically stimulating experiences available, not simply a city. The weather in Amsterdam is incredibly pleasant on the mind and body, with a landscape fashioned out of canals and tulip gardens. If you appreciate the cold, you’ll enjoy the springs and summers here, as well as the autumns and winters.
What’s not to like about that? Even if the rains are unpredictable and you can’t tell a sunny day from a cloudy one since the weather changes frequently, Amsterdam is a delight all year. Nonetheless, we have highlighted each season in Amsterdam so that you can choose the best time to come.
1. The season of spring (March to May)
By March, winter has been forgotten in Amsterdam in favor of longer, warmer days. The sun shines brighter and the clouds don’t cast as many shadows on the streets, with temperatures climbing from 10°C to 17°C at the conclusion of the season.
Rain or light hail/snow is still possible, but it will not stay long enough to ruin your day. The month of April is the ideal month to visit Amsterdam since it is the finest time to see the city’s tulips in full bloom. The reds, yellows, pinks, and whites of the Keukenhof gardens spring to life like a fantasy field.
2. The Summer (June to August)
Summer arrives in all its splendour in Amsterdam, with infant leaves darkening and sunshine becoming the day’s highlight. This is an excellent time to visit Amsterdam and see everything it has to offer, from the canals to the museums, the windmills to the gardens, the palaces to the shows.
Picnics in parks and canal boating are popular activities, with temperatures reaching a balmy 22°C at the end of the season. The days are 15 hours long, with plenty of sunshine, even when there are showers. As a result, always have an umbrella on hand. Many food and art festivals are also held during this season, and tourism is at an all-time high. This could also be an expensive period.
3. Autumn (September to November)
Summer comes to an end in September, and autumn creeps in, with temperatures dropping into the 15s and 10s. There’s a nip in the air, and the scent of drying autumn leaves lingers on your tongue.
On the one hand, the change of seasons is a lovely time, but on the other hand, you can definitely feel a reduction in tourism around you. The city is calm due to the chilly air, frequent rains, and reduction in temperatures. If you’re a budget traveler or a nomad at heart, autumn is the best time to visit.
4. The season of winter (December to February)
Due to the effect of the North Sea, Amsterdam does not become severely cold in the winter, but it does get some freezing days. It is snowing lightly, but not deep enough to stick most of the time.
November is usually rainy, with occasional snow in December and January, interspersed with bright days. Canals may freeze over in some years, allowing locals to ice skate on them. The typical winter temperature in this area is between 0 and 6 degrees Celsius.
Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a dream, with its masterpieces by Van Gogh and Rembrandt, a city pierced with magnificent free-flowing canals and houseboats, windmills on the side, and tulips floating down gardens.
Not just for visitors, but also for locals who are accustomed to the beautiful landscape but are said to be awestruck from time to time. When you visit Amsterdam, there are so many places that you simply must see. Here’s our list of things to do in the ‘Venice of the North,’ whether it’s museums or palaces, canals or footbridges.
1. Amsterdam’s Canals
Amsterdam is recognized for many things, but perhaps most notably for its gorgeous constructed canals, which were built through the city in the 17th century for trade and transportation and to manage the flow of the Amstel River.
However, today’s canals serve a variety of functions, including anchoring houseboats, accommodating gondolas and cruise trips, and providing a particular beauty to the city, to name a few. You must see these Dutch waterways, the most captivating of which are Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Singel, and Prinsengracht. Capture a cruise down these canals and then take a hundred shots while strolling along their banks.
2. Rijksmuseum (Dutch Museum)
Rijksmuseum, a tongue twister that also happens to be one of the largest museums in Amsterdam’s Museum Square, is a must-see for history and art fans. The museum houses a million items dating back to the 13th century, all housed in a splendid structure designed by Pierre Cuypers in 1885. There are almost 8000 exhibits here, including works by Rembrandt (including his masterwork ‘Night Watch’), Johannes Vemeer, and Frans Hals.
3. Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh is one of Europe’s most famous poets, and his bizarre art is as fascinating as his bizarre life story. Another feather in the Museum Square’s cap is the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of the painter’s sketches, personal correspondences, letters, and important works.
This is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 200 Post-Impressionist paintings on the second floor. The Van Gogh Museum is unique in that it shows his works in chronological sequence, allowing you to see how he evolved as an artist and as a person, as well as what formed his tastes and how his talent polished through time.
4. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a prized addition to Amsterdam’s remarkable museum collection. The Anne Frank House, which is part museum and half refugee camp for Anne Frank during her Nazi German captivity during World War II, is another popular tourist destination. Anne, her family, and four other Jews were successfully hidden in the house, which has subsequently been turned into a memorial.
After Anne Frank’s diary was published in 1947, it became famous, and the exhibits here became much more valuable. For the uninitiated, Anne Frank was a young girl who witnessed directly the Holocaust and Jewish genocide that raged throughout Nazi Germany, and lived to write about it in her diary. It is now a well-known book.
Bloemenmarkt, one of the world’s largest and most attractive floating marketplaces, is located on Amsterdam’s Single Canal. It is the world’s only floating flower market, and it is set up seven days a week on the south bank between Koningsplein and Muntplein. From daffodils to tulips, sunflowers to narcissus, the quality and diversity of flowers on the boats and floating garages will astound you.
There are also a lot of souvenir shops, gardening businesses, and nurseries floating around. This location offers a one-of-a-kind experience and has been around since the 1800s.