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Amsterdam – Dikes and Bikes

  • August 28, 2015
  • By 50 Shades
  • 8 Comments
Amsterdam – Dikes and Bikes

Amsterdam is one European city that should be on your bucket list. It not only a city of canals, historical buildings, windmills and ‘magic brownies’, but is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. Cycling in Amsterdam is a way of life for most Dutch people and is the best way of getting around. There are dedicated bicycle paths and cycle parking lots throughout the city and very few hills to conquer.

Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of The Kingdom of The Netherlands and is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The river Amstel terminates in the city centre and connects to a large number of canals. The surrounding land is flat as it is formed of large polders or embankments (barriers) known as dikes.

Amsterdam Cafe on the Canals

Amsterdam Cafe on the Canals

During a whirlwind three days in this Dutch city, we undertook several activities so that we could take in the best of what Amsterdam has to offer, and that was a lot! So here is what I would suggest you do:

Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam

1.  Canal Cruise

Amsterdam is home to more than one hundred kilometres of canals, most of which are navigable by boat. A canal tour is extremely relaxing and is a great way of seeing a lot of the sights of Amsterdam. By night the canal tour is very enchanting with many of the houses and bridges along the canals illuminated.

Amsterdam Canal Tour

Amsterdam Canal Tour

2.  Dam Square

The Dam is the very centre and heart of the city, and features the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which dominates the square. The palace was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city and its government.

Amsterdam City Sights

Amsterdam City Sights

3.  Bike Tour

One of the best ways to see the sights of Amsterdam is to take a guided bicycle tour of the city with an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide. The guides takes you around the city to all the points of interest for a half day and even into the large Vondelpark for a rest stop.

Amsterdam Bike Tour

Amsterdam Bike Tour

4.  Museums

The main Amsterdam tourist attractions are museums with over fifty in the city. The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and the Stedelijk Museum are the most popular choices.

For kids there is an impressive NEMO; a hands-on science and technology museum housed in the unique, boat-shaped building.

Amsterdam Museums

Amsterdam Museums

5.  Oude Kerk (Old Church)

This old church with little houses clinging to its sides, remains a calm haven at the heart of the frenetic Red Light District.

Old Churches, Amsterdam

Old Churches, Amsterdam

6.  Red Light District

The famous red window lights of the Red Light District are striking against the quaint, old canal houses and even the fairy lights that line the bridges at night are coloured red.The Red Light District is somewhat a sexual amusement park with bars, sex for sale, sex shops, sex shows and a party atmosphere. The ‘ladies of the night’ are displayed in shopfront windows scantily dressed, like shop mannequins. Once the customer enters the shop the curtains on the window close which indicates that the ‘lady’ is busy!

Red Light District, Amsterdam

Red Light District, Amsterdam

7.  Coffee Shops

In Amsterdam coffee shops, not to be confused with cafés, it is legal to purchase and smoke Cannabis or Marijuana and these establishments have been a part of the city since the 1970s. Official Dutch coffee shops have a green and white licence sticker in the window. Most coffee shops also offer cannabis-laced foods – brownies, cookies, shakes etc. Hence the term Amsterdam ‘Magic Brownies’!

Hemp Shop in Amsterdam

Hemp Shop in Amsterdam

8.  Leidseplein or Leidse-square

The most popular centre for nightlife attractions in Amsterdam, Leidseplein, has many restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, cinemas and theatres in the area. We sat at one the square’s pubs with outdoor seating and indulged in a long, lazy drink and some people-watching.

Leidesplein Square

Leidseplein Square

9.  Vondelpark

Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands. Free concerts are given at the open-air theatre or in the summer at the park’s bandstand. Other attractions are the statue of the poet Vondel, the cast iron music dome, the Groot Melkhuis with playground for children, and the historical Pavilion with its restaurant Vertigo, a popular terrace.

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

10. Street Markets

There are over 300 stalls at the Albert Cuypmark markets on a Saturday with goods ranging from fresh produce and flowers, to clothes, to odds and ends. The market is located in the Pijp district, surrounded by many pleasant cafes and small shops.

Amsterdam Street Markets

Amsterdam Street Markets

Amsterdam was one of the highlights of our European trip. Although we packed a lot into three days, we still kept it to a manageable itinerary and got around to most of the sights in the city. I was fascinated by a city that has licensed venues to smoke weed, legal prostitution and an eco-friendly transport system. It made me wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t take on some of these attitudes.

What do you think? Should Australia legalise Marijuana and prostitution and make our cities more cycle-friendly?

 

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By 50 Shades, August 28, 2015 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 8

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

8 Comments
  • Kim Acedo
    August 28, 2015

    I can’t wait to visit Amsterdam! Thanks for sharing – loved reading about your adventures :)

    • Kathy
      August 31, 2015

      Amsterdam was a very interesting place to visit. I loved that it was so cycle-friendly and easy to get around. :)

  • Johanna
    August 28, 2015

    Looks like you had some lovely adventures. I’d love to go biking around Amsterdam. The architecture is so beautiful too. We had a whirlwind half a day and one night in Amsterdam on our European bus tour, not long enough, just long enough though to make me realise I’d like to spend more time there.

    • Kathy
      August 31, 2015

      Yes we only stayed for 3 days which was barely long enough to cover all the interesting sights in Amsterdam. You could certainly spend more time here. :)

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    August 28, 2015

    I went there with five little kids in 2000. We were holed up in an apartment with the flu but we did get to go on a canal cruise and visit the zoo… and the hospital!

    • Kathy
      August 31, 2015

      You were a very brave lady to travel overseas with 5 small kids. You deserve a medal for that! It was a great European city to visit. I could have spent more time exploring Amsterdam for sure. :)

  • jessey9
    August 29, 2015

    Hey !
    Awsome Post !
    Thanks For Sharing !

Comments are closed.

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