10 Key Things about Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam – Jerusalem of the North or Venice of the North or Mokum.

What makes Amsterdam so attractive? Is it the 17th century historical atmosphere? The artistic heritage? Its elaborate network of canals or gabled facades? It is, in fact, a combination of all these with he mentality of a modern metropolis that make Amsterdam so unique. Inspite of being a small city, it has all the advantages of a big city: rich culture, lively nightlife, international restaurants, efficient transport network- but is also quiet, and thanks to its extensive canals, has little traffic on the roads.

1. History of Amsterdam

Turn a few pages of history in Amsterdam – Amsterdam, the greatest planned city of northern Europe, has always been a well-known name in world history and played a central role in the history of the Netherlands. In the 17th century, Amsterdam was the centre of the world economy, and nowadays, the city is known for its tolerant nature. The origins of the city go back to the 12th century, when fishermen living along the banks of the River Amstel built a bridge across the waterway near the IJ, then a large saltwater inlet. Wooden locks under the bridge served as a dam, protecting the village from the rising IJ waters, which often flooded the early settlement. The mouth of the river Amstel, where the Damrak is presently located, formed a natural harbor, which became important for trading-exchange from the larger koggeships into the smaller ships that sailed the merchandise deeper into the hinterland.

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2. Night Life of Amsterdam

After the quiet evening hours, Amsterdam’s streets and squares get very busy at night. Amsterdam’s reputation as a city to party is well deserved, and there is a wide selection of nightclubs to keep anybody up well past their bedtime. The main areas for clubbing are Rembrantplein and Leidseplein, although there are clubs scattered throughout the city, including in and around the Red Light District and Spui.

One of Amsterdam’s smaller music venues, Chicago Social Club is a two-floor affair but still pretty big. Its location is central, just a minute or two off Liedseplein, one of the main squares, and so it is very easy to get to. Inside, the sound system is strong though not too overpowering and the musical programming is always on the ball – eclectic, contemporary and hugely appealing. Add to that their license of serving their delicious cocktails until 4am and you’ve got an ‘essential’ destination. Another one of Amsterdam’s large-scale dance music retreats, Paradiso’s reputation is long-standing, having played host to some of the industry’s biggest names during the last couple of decades. A purpose-built club mecca, AIR has been going strong for a few years now and largely supports so-called ‘underground’ music. AIR bring in the likes of Pete Tong, Jaymo & Andy George and a host of local stars to get the dancefloor pumping.

3. Safety in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is fairly safe for travelers; safer than even Paris and London according to a popular survey a few years ago. But one place to avoid at night is the Red Light District. While it’s filled with all types of people during the day, the area attracts seedier visitors and vagrants at night. Unfortunately, these include pick-pockets and drug peddlers.

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4. Living Expenses in Amsterdam

The monthly expenses for a single person in Amsterdam is €775.94 (USD 865.68) and the same for a family of four members is €2,776.65 (USD 3097.77). Basic utilities for an apartment of size 85 sq. m. would be for €150 (USD 167.35). The monthly rent of a one bedroom apartment in the city centre is approximately €1,281 (USD 1429.15). Outside the city centre, a 1BHK would cost you approximately €920 (USD 1026). The price per sq. m. of an apartment in Amsterdam’s city centre is €5300 (USD 5912). On the other hand, the price per sq. m. for an apartment outside the city centre would cost you around €3500 (USD 3904).

5. Cuisines of Amsterdam

A foodie in Amsterdam will have ‘the time’ of his life! Haring, stroopwafel, krolet, patat, poffertjes, bitterballen, drop, kaas, hagelslag, ollieballen, rookworst and stamppot are just some of Amsterdam’s delicacies that once should not miss on a trip to the city. Moeders (Mothers) is packed with kitsch in the best possible way. The walls of the restaurant are plastered with photos of mothers and the menu features all kinds of Dutch classics. Take your favourite carnivore friend to Loetje Amsterdam’s best traditional biefstuk and friet (steak and chips). ‘t Zwaantje is another famous café you must visit for its stewed beef. D’Vijff Vlieghen is a well-known location for an elegant Dutch meal. The dining area is spread across a variety of rooms, including one with original etchings by Rembrandt. Yes, you read that right! The menu features modern and creative interpretations using typical Dutch ingredients.

6. Statistics of Amsterdam

The population of Amsterdam of area 219 sq. km. stands at 811,000. A large percentage of the population is Christian (21%), and the next largest religion is Islam (17%). Amsterdam is one of the most diverse cities in Europe with people from 180 nationalities living within the same boundary.

7. Public Transport of Amsterdam

Whether you’re going to a famous restaurant or commuting to work or going back after a tiring day, you’ll always find Amsterdam’s cheap and convenient public transport coming to your rescue. The extensive public transport consists of trams, metros, buses, taxis, trains and ferries. A one-way ticket using local transport would be quite cheap at €2.86 (USD 3.19).  

In Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands, the public transport chip card (OV-chipkart) is used for travelling on trams, buses, metros and trains. These cards can be bought online or from GVB vending machines, select newsstands and supermarkets.

8. Weather of Amsterdam

Spring: Mid-March to early May; Average high: 12.5°C; Average low: 4.5°C
Summer: May to mid- September; Average high: 19°C; Average low: 9°C
Autumn: Late September-October; Average high: 16°C; Average low: 7°C
Winter: November-February; Average high: 4°C; Average low: 1°C

9. Culture of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a compact, yet cosmopolitan city. Don’t get fooled by its village-like charm. Amsterdam is a European capital and as such offers a diverse and exciting selection of art, music, theatre, film, photography, dance and architecture.

Art runs in Netherlands’ DNA- from Rembrandt and the old masters through Van Gogh all the way to an exciting contemporary art scene. With world-class performances, Amsterdam strikes all the right notes with classical music lovers, who’ll find everything from symphony orchestras, choral music and ensembles to chamber music and opera in inspiring venues of all sizes. The Royal Concertgebouw is known all over the world for its acoustics and grand halls hosting world-class orchestras and performers as well as its very own Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ is a spectacular waterside building with an innovative, diverse contemporary programme. Opera lovers should make sure to take a look at the productions by the Dutch National Opera, which also collaborates with leading international companies. In addition, there is an abundance of smaller venues and churches regularly hosting classical concerts. The annual Grachten festival is another fantastic opportunity for enjoying classical music, putting on concerts by and on the canals. Amsterdam is packed with options for theatre lovers – even if you don’t speak any Dutch. The first port of call should be the Stadsschouwburg, where the very best of Dutch theatre productions are often shown with English subtitles. Amsterdam’s main theatre also hosts international productions and festivals such as the annual Holland Festival, which has an international outlook. The city is also a playground for experts in the field of contemporary dance – look out for productions by the Nederlands Dans Theater and Rosas Ensemble.10-Key-Things-Amsterdam-Netherlands-Canal-tourism-1024x768 10 Key Things about Amsterdam, Netherlands

10. Places to Visit in Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam: When you think of Amsterdam, images like clogs, tulips, cheese and windmills spring to mind. The most famous place to buy tulips is the Bloemenmarkt, along the Singel, and you can find flavourful cheeses at the smart Reypenaer tasting room. Meanwhile, eight windmills remain in Amsterdam, the most famous of which is De Gooyer. It’s a great place to sip a beer, as it’s right next to the award-winning artisan brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ.

Criss-crossed by bridges, 165 canals encircle the city of Amsterdam and keep the sea at bay. Within the pockets of land that their eclectic network creates, you can find shops, galleries and authentic cafés. The most picturesque of canals is Prinsengracht, lined by shady trees and funky houseboats. As you wander up to this area, you’ll find the tall spire of the Westerkerk and the modest Anne Frank Huis. Smaller canal areas that are worth visiting include the historic Brouwersgracht, one of the city’s most desirable residential addresses.

You simply must try raw herring. No excuses! The best time to try one is between May and July when the new catch hits the stands, because this doesn’t require any extra garnish such as onions and pickles, since the fish’s flesh is at its sweetest. The best place to buy a herring is the family-run Stubbe’s Haring on the Singel Haarlingersluis near Central Station. This fish is a bargain snack and makes for an authentic Dutch eating experience.

If you enjoy skating, you’ll love Amsterdam. Traditionally in winter, the frozen canals provide a playground for ice-skating locals. All year round, at 9pm on a Friday night, a group of skating enthusiasts meet opposite in the the Vondelpark to join a 20km, three-hour tour through the night streets. It’s called, imaginatively enough, Friday Night Skate and its final destination is the pub.

Things to do for Kids in Amsterdam: Whether your children are toddlers or teenagers, Amsterdam is a top destination for families. Where else can you take a canal cruise, visit a working windmill and get scared out of your wits in a dungeon – all in one day? And don’t forget the world-class museums, historical treasures and outdoor activities like biking and boating.

Using a variety of playful exhibitions, Science Center NEMO introduces young and old to the world of science and technology. Its five floors are filled with continuously updated exhibitions, theatre performances, films, workshops and demonstrations, making it a favourite of kids in Amsterdam.

Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam is home to some 750 species of animals, including zebras, giraffes, elephants and chimpanzees, making it an immensely popular attraction for kids and animal lovers. But there’s more to Artis than animals, as it’s also home to 300 species of trees and many gardens that blossom beautifully every spring and summer.

If your child loves thrilling experiences, do take him to the Dungeon. With its different shows and actors and 500 years of dark history, the Amsterdam Dungeon is certainly a thrilling experience. Laugh and scream at the sight of cackling witches; see, smell, listen and be afraid. The full cast of professional, theatrical actors play gruesome characters, such as the (not-so) fair judge and the devilish torturer.

Museums and Galleries: A real treat for art-lovers, Amsterdam is home to over 50 museums, many of them famous across the globe.

A few of the most popular are located together on Museumplein, such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. Equally unmissable are the Anne Frank House, Hermitage Amsterdam, EYE Filmmuseum and Foam – to name a few!

The Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museums. Its vast collection showcases iconic art and a wide variety of artefacts that reflect more than 800 years of Dutch and global history, including jaw dropping paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and countless more Dutch greats.

Anne Frank is one of Amsterdam’s most well-known former residents. The Anne Frank House at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam is where she lived in hiding with her family for more than two years during World War II. Now converted into a museum it contains a sobering exhibition about the persecution of the Jews during the war, as well as discrimination in general.

Madame Tussauds’ collection of wax figures has recently been transformed into the place to be for both young and old.  Be as beautiful as Doutzen Kroes on the catwalk, sing on stage with Lady Gaga or test your IQ with Einstein.

The Diamant Museum (Amsterdam Diamond Museum) takes you on a journey that began 3 billion years ago, 200 kms under the surface of the earth. The journey ends with the beautiful cut diamonds and the Amsterdam Diamond Museum. Visit this museum to learn about Amsterdam’s diamond centre for more than four centuries.

Places Nearby: A city of remarkable history and culture, Haarlem is just a short hop from Amsterdam but packs a unique punch. With spectacular monuments dating back almost 800 years, such as the Amsterdamse Poort and Sint-Bavokerk, it’s no wonder that so many great artists of the Golden Age wanted to capture its beauty and atmosphere.

Sandy shores and sunbathers may not be the first things that spring to mind when you think of Amsterdam, but a short distance away from the canals and cobbles of Amsterdam city centre lies one of the most unspoilt coastlines in Northern Europe. Summer months see the towns of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal buzz with throngs of party goers and sun-worshippers who come to enjoy themselves at the many vibrant beach clubs, which range from chic restaurants to colourful bohemian bars with DJs and campfires.

Offbeat Places: Jordaan, Amsterdam’s bohemian neighbourhood, is perfect for an aimless gander – make sure you stop at De Kaaskamer. The legendary cheese shop has some insanely scrumptious locally-sourced cheeses. OmNomNom!

Blijburg Beach is an artificially created city beach just outside Amsterdam. The laid back atmosphere is reminiscent of a hippie commune. It is perfect for people who love doing nothing in the afternoon.

Have dinner in Pllek- a shipping container! Pllek is a creative space situated in a shipping yard on City Beach in North Amsterdam.  All the furniture is recycled and the walls are appropriately made from shipping containers. It doesn’t look very pleasing from the outside, but the inside has a relaxed vibe, delicious organic food with a large selection of vegetarian and raw entrees. The views across the canal are second to none.

Author’s Conclusion: Author’s Conclusion: A small city that is famous for Anne Frank, the Rembrandts and Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam is worth a visit. From canals to world-famous museums and historical sights, it is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe. Canal cruises are a popular way to witness the charm of the city.

Country Netherlands
City Amsterdam
Area 219 sq.km
Population 811,000 (approx.) as of 2011
Demonym Amsterdammer
Languages Dutch, English
Currency Euro (1 USD= 0.9 Euro) as of 10th March, 2016
Time Zone Central European Time (UTC +01:00)
Driving Right Hand Traffic, Left Hand driven vehicles
Emergency Police, Fire, Ambulance: 112

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