Among the countless reasons to visit Amsterdam, we have rounded up the top 10 incentives for travellers to stop by the city at least once during their voyages abroad. Besides bikes, canals and museums, the following list also features certain less represented facets of the Dutch capital, such as its superb breweries and world-leading design sector.
Bikes actually outnumber humans in Amsterdam and the city is fully adapted around urban cycling. Exploring Amsterdam’s diverse cityscape by bike is always rewarding and allows visitors to quickly navigate between its many iconic neighbourhoods, including the city’s picturesque canal belt, charming museum quarter and beautiful residential areas.
Considering its diminutive size, the Netherlands has produced a surprising number of groundbreaking artists, including Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh. While many museums in Amsterdam display artwork created by these legendary figures, the Rijksmuseum’s collection is unrivalled and famously features Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch.
The canal belt
Amsterdam’s central canal belt was mainly built during the 17th century in order to accommodate the city’s burgeoning industry and create space for residential projects. Due their historical and cultural significance, these picturesque waterways are now collectively protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Dutch beer is prized throughout the world and many of these delicious brews originate in Amsterdam. In fact, there are numerous breweries inside the city which range from international powerhouses such as Heineken, to smaller, independent enterprises like Brouwerij het IJ or Gebrouwen door Vrouwen.
Finding unique or innovative design products in Amsterdam is rarely difficult thanks to the large number of excellent, specialised stores and studios inside the city. Droog, for example, is easily among the most famous design initiatives in the world, and Amsterdam is home to many other similar, product-orientated enterprises.
Amsterdam’s Pride celebrations kick-off in late July and continue for a full week until early August. Hundreds of events happen throughout the city during this time, including street parties, solidarity marches and an elaborate waterborne parade which streams through Amsterdam’s iconic canal belt.
As Amsterdam is almost 1,000 years old, it contains an impressive range of medieval, renaissance and modern architecture. Buildings from each of these successive periods are located throughout the city and many neighbourhoods in Amsterdam feature a charming mix of architectural style, due to constant urban developments.
Contemporary and modern art is exceptionally represented in Amsterdam, partly due to the presence of several world-leading cultural institutes such as the Stedelijk Museum, FOAM and many other smaller, independent galleries. There are also several art and design schools in the city, most of which frequently organise exhibitions and events.
Despite being highly urbanised, Amsterdam is among the greenest cities in Europe. Almost every neighbourhood is within walking distance from a park and the city’s centre is surrounded by several green belts such as Westerpark, Vondelpark and Plantage.
Koningsdag (King’s Day)
Every year, on Thursday April 27, Amsterdam’s population doubles as thousands of people head to the city to celebrate Koningsdag. During this national holiday parties erupt throughout the city, turning Amsterdam into a gigantic carnival, complete with outdoor concerts, impromptu canal parades and other alfresco events.