Best Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Museums

If you are day dreaming about a visit to Amsterdam, you may also be dreaming about visiting the best museums in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is home in fact to more 50 thought provoking and interesting museums. Here is a partial list of some of the very best museums in Amsterdam:


BEST MUSEUMS IN AMSTERDAM

Het Grachtenhuis Museum
This museum is located on the beautiful and upmarket Herengracht canal. The canal district itself is a UNESCO world heritage site, and its history is told with 3D animation, models, projections and an interactive multimedia exhibition. It’s a very modern look at Amsterdam’s history and a great way to start to your visit.

Tulip Museum
The tulip is synomous with the Netherlands, so this museum is quite popular with both Dutch people and tourists alike. If you love tulips, botany, or history in general, this is the museum for you.

Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is one of the world’s most thought provoking and popular museums. The main building of the museum is the actual hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her diary during World War II. As you walk through the rooms of the house, you’ll easily imagine how hard it was to live there during World War 2. The original diary is on display at this location. This is a must visit (I’ve been twice) but get there early because the lines can be long.

Amsterdam Museums - The Anne Frank House

NEMO Science Museum
NEMO is a hands on museum and is very popular among children. It’s a must visit if you’re on vacation with kids or adults who are interested in science and technology. The “I Amsterdam” City Card or Museumkaart will get you free admission.

Torture Museum
This place brings out the macabre in everyone. View a collection and learn about some of the oldest and cruellest torture methods of the past. Thankfully most of these methods are no longer in use. Most of the artifacts on display were actually used which makes this museum just a little more disturbing.

National Maritime Museum
The museum contains many artifacts associated with shipping and sailing and is dedicated to maritime history. The collection here contains world maps, models, paintings and weapons. A replica of the 18th-century ship Amsterdam (which sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies), is located in the waters just outside the museum.

Van Gogh Museum
The world’s largest collection of Van Gogh work is located here and needless to say is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam. In addition to seeing many of his works, you’ll learn about the man himself and his life story. You won’t be disappointed!

The Rijksmuseum
Dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam, this is the Dutch national museum. Over 800 years of Dutch history is showcased with national treasurers and artifacts. The museum is located in the Amsterdam South borough at the Museum Square, and is very close to the Van Gogh Museum. Again, a must visit!

There are of course more museums, including the Museum of The Canals, the Costume Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Houseboat Museum and more. They make for an interesting day and a way to quickly immerse yourself in Dutch culture and history.

Can you think of any other interesting or strange museums that are in Amsterdam?

11 European Cities For Foodies

The European culinary scene is ever-evolving with more European cities for foodies. Many of the cities on this list might not have been considered just a few years ago, which makes Europe such an exciting destination for foodies. Here are 11 cities in Europe that food lovers will surely enjoy exploring.

COPENHAGEN

Copenhagen was the city that spawned the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’ culinary trend back in the early aughts. Championed by Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer of Copenhagen’s now world-famous Noma restaurant, it revolves around using local ingredients and seasonal produce to create simple, elegant dishes, adapted from traditional Nordic techniques. A number of renowned and Michelin-starred restaurants opened following Noma’s lead, cementing Copenhagen as one of Europe’s great food cities.

There are a series of ‘must-have’ dishes to try during a trip to the Danish capital including smoked and pickled herring, Danish cheeses, and the classic Smørrebrød – a Danish open-faced sandwich. Classic examples of Smørrebrød include egg and shrimp, marinated herring, beef tartar, and cod roe all atop buttered rye bread.

LONDON

London’s food scene is an amalgam of traditional culinary vision and the modern innovation. No food-centric trip to London is complete without at least one afternoon tea. This light meal typically comes between lunch and dinner and is taken very seriously in upscale hotels and tea rooms all over the city. If you think this is an antiquated practice long out of style, take a look at the month-long wait to get a reservation in the tea rooms of the Ritz or the Savoy.

Visitors will leave full and happy with a Sunday roast at the neighborhood pub accompanied by a pint of bitters, or some takeaway fish and chips from one of the city’s many ‘chippies.’ Chicken tikka masala is ubiquitous at restaurants city-wide, and is even reported as being the U.K.’s most popular dish.

If you’re a veteran London visitor and have had your fill of the classics, the city offers a thriving contemporary restaurant scene with inventive dishes from Michelin-starred kitchens. Indulge in the deep-fried sea anemones at Barrafina in Covent Garden or roasted veal sweetbreads at three-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea.

BOLOGNA

Bologna is famous for many things, but its market scene is high on the list. Just off of the main square of Piazza Maggiore sits the ancient food market Quadrilatero. Here you’ll find nearly anything your heart desires including fish, pasta, cured meats, baked goods, and produce. A little further away lies the Mercato delle Erbe (vegetable market) where you’ll find more locals and fewer tourists. Fill your bags with fresh, seasonal produce and then head to Osteria Del Sole, a bar that’s been running since 1465! Order up a glass of local wine and nosh on your market purchases – they let you bring your own food.

No trip to Bologna is finished without at least one plate of tagliatelle al Ragù (pasta with Bolognese meat sauce) with a hearty topping of parmesan from nearby Parm. An even more authentic dish from this robust food scene is tortellini in brodo, meat filled pasta served in a hot broth or a plate of lasagna Bolognese.

BORDEAUX

Much more than just a famous wine in France, the Bordeaux food scene offers the many classic French dishes attracting crowds to France for generations such as duck confit, and foie gras, but its ocean-adjacent location adds a seafood element to the mix. Have your fill of the area’s oysters, langoustines, mussels, shrimp, and clams right along with your steak frites and glass of bold red wine.

TBILISI

Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi life revolves around food and there’s a thriving restaurant scene to prove it. You may not be able to picture Georgian cuisine off the top of your head but think warm, freshly baked breads, tender roasted meats, dried fruit leathers, ample use of walnuts, and roasted vegetable dishes to give ratatouille a run for its money. Georgia is also one of the oldest wine regions in the world, allowing for superlative natural wines to be found in eateries throughout the capital city. Taste unique dishes and fine wines at Tbilisi restaurants like Gabriadze Theatre Cafe or Purpur, both in the historic part of the city.

SAN SEBASTIAN

No food-centric list of Europe is complete without San Sebastian. Considered by many to be the continent’s food capital, this Spanish Basque city has the second highest concentration of Michelin stars per square mile in the world after Kyoto. Travelers come from all over the globe to take vacations designed around dining in San Sebastian. Known for its pintxos restaurants, the Basque-equivalent of tapas or small plates are found primarily in the old quarter of the city. Don’t forget to throw your napkins on the floor when you’re done, though! It is a tradition and the dirtier the pintxos bar, the better it is.

The city’s molecular gastronomy has caused quite a stir among food enthusiasts in recent years. San Sebastian restaurants like Arzak and Mugaritz serve dishes that play with the physical forms of the ingredients they are comprised of. Each patron receives edible art, ensuring a thought-provoking dining experience.

When you’ve had your fill of being served, try a Basque cooking class at the hotel Maria Cristina followed by a night cap of txacoli, the region’s dry, sparkling white wine.

BERLIN

Berlin is a city soaked in history but it would be a mistake to visit just for the walking tours. The last couple decades saw a boom in Berlin’s restaurant scene elevating this German city far beyond the classic soft pretzel and beer pairing. Fans of German food will probably be familiar with the Berlin street dish of currywurst, or sausage with ketchup and curry powder, but the city is teeming with refined and inventive eateries renowned the world over. Those chasing Michelin stars will find their happy place at restaurants like Facil, Reinstoff, and Weinbar Rutz. More recent additions to the scene include the Berlin chapter of Soho House’s the Store Kitchen, sophisticated Nordic offerings at dóttir, and an upscale carbohydrate heaven at Standard Pizza.

Beyond the classic and the modern, Berlin features food from all over the world. Visitors will find large offerings of Turkish, Vietnamese, Indian, and Thai restaurants, to name just a few.

AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam features foods all over the price spectrum. You could visit for a week and subsist solely off of street treats and market fare. Get a fast introduction to the Amsterdam food scene with a plate of cured herring from one of the city’s many herring carts or haringhandels. If it’s cooked fish you crave then try kibbeling, battered and deep fried white fish served with an herbed mayonnaise sauce. Add a cone of thick cut French fries known as patat or frites covered in mayonnaise and curry ketchup and you’ve got yourself a complete, albeit nutritionally void, meal. For dessert treat yourself to a stroopwaffelcomprised of two thin waffles sandwiching a gooey layer of caramel, or some oliebollen, deep fried sweet dumplings dusted with powdered sugar.

THESSALONIKI

Greece’s second largest city is second to none when it comes to dining. Known as the country’s culinary capital, part of Thessaloniki’s success lies within its proximity to fertile land producing top notch produce including olives, grapes, beans, and grain. Quality ingredients are of the utmost importance when your gastronomic scene is known for its simple, straightforward cuisine in the city’s many mezedopola, casual eateries serving small plates (meze) to accompany alcoholic drinks. There are many nearby wineries producing excellent varietals to pair with your meze, or sip on ouzoretsina (resinated wine), or tsipouro(pomace brandy) if you prefer.

PARIS

Even if you’ve been to Paris a dozen times, you can always find another brasserie, patisserie, or boulangerie to explore. If you’re looking to dine in a Parisian institution however, Benoit is an excellent choice. The only Parisian bistro to receive a Michelin star, this restaurant dates back to 1912. Experience classics like pâté, escargots, and boeuf bordelaise.

If you want to encounter the more contemporary direction of Parisian gastronomy you may be interested in the Korean fried chicken at Hero, or the upscale-but-not-stuffy Franco-Chinois cuisine of Yam’Tcha.

When the multitudes of dining options overwhelm you, why not pack a gourmet picnic in the park? Stop into Claus, a beloved Parisian gourmet grocery and cafe on rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then make your way over to the gardens at the Palais Royal for an open air brunch.

ROME

A foodie’s trip to Rome is akin to a pilgrimage to Mecca. Among all the grandeur and ancient architecture of the city lie restaurants combining simple fresh ingredients into dishes that far surpass the sum of their parts. Nowhere is this more evident than with the classic Roman dish, Cacio e pepe. Translating to ‘cheese and pepper’ the dish is made solely with black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta (usually spaghetti). A certain gastronomic alchemy takes over when the ingredients are combined to create a dish that has been consumed since ancient times.

Another distinctive quality of Roman food is their adept ability to use the ‘poor man’s’ ingredients known as the fifth quarter, or quinto quarto. These are the offal of animals that are often thrown away elsewhere including the tongue, tripe, brain, and liver. If you’re an adventurous eater you’ll be in dining heaven and if you’re a picky eater why not say ‘when in Rome!’ and expand your horizons with quinto quarto.

Pin it and start planning your next foodie adventure!

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Exploring Amsterdam’s Undiscovered North

Once overlooked by travelers, the borough of Amsterdam Noord has developed into a thriving artistic community, a spot for dance and music festivals, and an escape from Amsterdam’s chaotic and touristy center.

The borough was once the industrial site of one of Europe’s largest shipyards. From 1922 until 1984 — when the Nederlandsche Dock Company went bankrupt — supertanker, cargo, and passenger ships were meticulously built and carefully launched into the IJ Lake to sail around the world. Now visitors can explore the repurposed buildings and forests for an eclectic Amsterdam experience many tourists haven’t yet seen.

Getting There

The borough is only a short free ferry away on the opposite side of the IJ Lake, directly behind Amsterdam Central Station. Five ferries, with three directly behind the station, transport commuters to different parts of the borough 24 hours a day. Trip times range from three to 15 minutes. As bikes are allowed on the ferry, rent one from one of three bike rentals near Central Station: Mac Bike, Star Bikes, and Amsterbike. Or, rent one once in Amsterdam Noord from Velox Classic Bikes, which is near the drop off port of the Buiksloterwegveer-bound ferry. By car, take the IJ tunnel to the east of the station to cross the lake.

Eye Film Institute

Amsterdam Noord’s architecturally impressive Eye Film Institute, designed by the Viennese Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, is a short walk from the Buiksloterwegveer ferry stop. The Institute is a play on words, as “Eye” is also the pronunciation of the IJ Lake. The institute features an impressive archive of 37,000, 700,000 photographs, 60,000 posters, and 20,000 books. Part of the collection was previously housed in the now defunct Filmmuseum in Vondel Park until 2012, when the Eye opened. The Institute regularly screens Dutch and foreign films and holds exhibitions. Patrons may also enjoy a coffee or meal and the views of the IJ harbor at the institute’s restaurant. After exiting the Eye, stroll or bike through Oeverpark just outside the museum.

Noorderpark

A half hour walk from the Buiksloterwegveer ferry stop lies Noorderpark, a beautiful combination of two older parks (Flora and Volewijks parks) that were merged in 2014. It’s nearly the same size as Vondel Park (45 hectares or 111 acres) making it a good distance to cycle, walk, and picnic. Noorderpark is split by the lovely North Holland Canal.

Vliegen Forrest

Want to get closer to Mother Nature? Cycle east of Noorderpark where Leeuwarderweg merges into Meeuwenlann to reach W.H. Vliegenbos, a forest named after 20th century journalist and social democrat Willem H. Vliegen. Or take the Zamenhofstraat-bound ferry from Azartplein (Azart Plaza), on the peninsula housing Java and KNSM islands in the East Borough of Amsterdam. The forest is a 15 minute walk from the ferry and features a campsite spanning 25 hectares (61 acres), and it includes space for caravans, campervans, or tents, along with a hotel and cabins for rent.

Cultural Hubs

Looking for a post-industrial experience? Near the ferry resides the trendy yet laid back IJ Kantine (IJ Canteen) with reasonably priced soups and sandwiches and pristine views of the IJ Harbor. Like many of the buildings in the borough, the IJ Kantine’s building, previously called the Baanderij, has a rich shipbuilding history. It served as an office, assembly hall, and canteen when the wharf was in full swing. Now it’s a favorite for creatives to work and organize brainstorming sessions in the dining area or in one of two boardrooms available for rent. The kantine also holds exhibitions, live music and craft nights.

Just southeast lies Pllek, a self-described creative hangout, offering a multitude of activities from yoga to dancing to circus to sex classes. In Amsterdam, not many subjects are taboo. In the summer, an artificial beach provides a spot for dancing and sunbathing. The center also boasts organic and sustainable food with seasonal vegetables sourced locally whenever possible.

Where to Stay

The DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Amsterdam is near the NDSM ferry stop, making it a convenient and luxurious stay. For a more atypical experience, stay at the Amstel Botel, a floating hotel moored near the NDSM ferry. As Amsterdam Noord is easy to get to from Central Amsterdam, staying at the NH Amsterdam Barbizon Palaceallows for quick access to Amsterdam Noord as well as the rest of the city. Amsterdam is a small city with a big-city feel, so make a day trip out of Amsterdam Noord or commute to the center. Either way, make sure to rent a bike for the most convenient and efficient experience.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 10, 2015.

The Amsterdam Series (Part 4) – The Canals

Amsterdam is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North”. The canals of Amsterdam date back to the 17th century and the “Golden Age” of the Netherlands. Canals were dug and built for defense and water management and actually fill a full quarter of Amsterdam’s surface area. Just imagine walking through the constant mud streets back in the 1600s prior to the canals! With more than 100 kilometres of canals, 1,500 bridges and 90 islands, there is a lot more to the canal system than meets the eye. The original and main canals, the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.

Some not so good Amsterdam canal facts. Early in 2012, Radio Netherlands reported that 51 people had died in the canals over the last 3 years. One had died as the result of crime. The other 50 deaths were believed to be the result of carelessness. The victims apparently fell into the water and were unable to get out. Exit stairs and flotation aids are few and far between. It is widely believed that the vast majority of those 50 were actually urinating into the canal; fell in and were just to drunk to swim to safety and climb out (as evidenced by their open zippers). The canals are constantly dredged by city crews who find every form of garbage possible (and the occasional corpse).

A good canal fact. This was the first time in 15 years that the canals actually froze in winter. The Dutch invented the modern ice skate in the 13th century and have loved ice skating ever since. The almost mythical Efenstedentocht “11 Cities Tour” 200 km. ice skating marathon last ran in 1997 with thousands of participants. (It did not run in 2012 but there was a national ice skating event that drew 70,000 skaters). Winter spirits were lifted and Amsterdam was a buzz in February when it was time for a skate.

You can feel and see the Dutch enthusiasm and spirit on this great You Tube video:

To truly appreciate the canals, you really need to take a cruise. It’s big business here. Over 3 million people take a cruise every year on a variety of different boats. Locals naturally cruise too- they are the ones eating, drinking and having a great time. Like a picnic on the water. The locals could cruise all day in their own boat; for the rest of us, it’s normally a 60 – 90 minute trip. Unlike a canal cruise in Venice, this is not a slow moving boat with a gondolier. The boat moves quickly- there is a lot of Amsterdam canal to see. Our boat captain tells us his boat is the oldest in operation- about 200 years old with a large rudder for steering. He knows every turn, every canal and water levels. The route for today’s cruise is totally dependent on the water level. Most canals are narrow and bridges are low. As I’m speaking with the Captain on the aft deck, I duck several times as we pass under low bridges. There is so much to see along the way- the canals themselves, bridges, house boats, historic buildings, people. Life in Amsterdam.

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As a first time cruiser, and return visitor to Amsterdam, I have to say that an Amsterdam canal cruise is a must. Until now, I feel that I missed half of the city. A cruise gives you a unique and complete view of Amsterdam life. It’s a masterful blend of history and modern day life here in this vibrant city.

The Amsterdam Series (Part 3) – “The Dark Side”

Amsterdam is well known and for good reason – its history; its great museums, its extensive canals and of course, the “Red Light District” and “Coffee Shops”. In my previous visits, I’ve walked past a few “Red Lights” (waved at some girls and said “hello” much to the amusement of a Dutch friend) and walked past coffee shops looking for an actual cup of coffee.

I’m at a dinner/dance at the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. It’s a good time but the music is starting to wind down. A local friend says “it’s time to explore the dark side of Amsterdam”. “What? The dark side”? What can that mean in Amsterdam? Trouble can’t be hard to find past midnight (as in any large city) but with “red lights” and “coffee shops” already in the open, what is “the dark side”? Where is “the dark side”? I’m curious and naturally tag along with a small curious group. We wind our way deep into the “Red Light” district looking for a “special Bar”. We go down a dark alley (that you wouldn’t go down in a group of less than 12) and end up at “the Bar”. It’s jam packed at 1:30 a.m. and we can’t get in. It’s protected like Fort Knox and has many CCTV cameras. No worries.

We make our way back down the street to a small bar called “San Francisco”. It’s just opening- it’s only open from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Our group of 12 enters and it’s like a private lounge- a dirty, beer soaked odd private lounge. We’re told that it is owned by “the mob”. The doorman “Mike” is the toughest guy I have ever seen. Not terribly tall but broad- like the Hulk. My friend quietly says “he looks like a cross between a baboon and a pit bull”. He looks everybody up and down and then declares whether or not you can enter the bar. Most are not allowed entrance. “Mike” starts talking and softens up after a cigarette. He’s wearing body armour and hates his job. “San Francisco” defies description – it’s a Euro weird, Wild West Saloon just waiting for trouble.

It’s the turning point. Another drink (I don’t need one) or is it time to head back?. My local friend is ready to leave so it’s time to leave. I have absolutely no idea where I am. Time to return from the dark side.

The Amsterdam Series (Part 2) – The Anne Frank House

There are a whole lot of reasons to visit Amsterdam but this should be at the very top of your list – The Anne Frank House. The actual house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family were in living and hiding during World War 2.

The Diary of Anne Frank was written within these very walls. Anne was born in Germany in 1929 and emigrated with her family to the Netherlands in 1933 to escape Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany. In 1940, the Netherlands was invaded by Germany and the Frank family went into hiding shortly thereafter. Anne collected her thoughts within the diary while in hiding but never finished her work.

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful and bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!” Anne Frank.

In 1944, everyone hiding in the Secret Annex was arrested. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived the war and internment. The hiding place and annex have been preserved as a museum that visitors discover room by room with audio and short video. The hidden staircase, artifacts, and the actual diary are all here. You are taken through her short life- the early years in Germany; emigrating to Holland; the German invasion; the hiding place; the arrest; the return of Otto Frank; and the publishing of the diary. It’s a moving experience that will bring tears to your eyes!

 

The Anne Frank House should be on your travel bucket list (and you get the vibrant city of Amsterdam as a bonus). It is very much a pilgrimmage- there are approximately 1 million visitors per year. A wait of 3 hours is entirely possible. Go early in the morning and/or when raining- the line may be short. You will never forget the experience. http://www.annefrank.org/en/