Top Amsterdam Attractions
Though given relatively little marquee space, this is an excellent place in which to invest your time and attention. Amsterdam's history is engagingly displayed all under one roof, from medieval times until the Golden Age, through the radical ’60s and up to life in the current millennium.
This is the home of the most widely read Dutch author, and the setting of her famous book. Some might be too haunted by the story's tragic ending to relish a visit, but many can appreciate the foundation's efforts to raise awareness about Europe's anti-Semitic past and discrimination everywhere.
The city's most famous hofje (small courtyard) was established in the 14th century for religious women known as begijnen. A community of spiritually devout women still inhabit the surrounding homes today, sharing their neat little space with two churches, a famously old wooden house from the early 1500s, and tourists seeking some quiet.
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a trip along the 97 km (60 miles) of canal that concentrically ring around Amsterdam. For a standard hour-long daytime cruise, simply walk up to any one of the various boating companies docked in the city center. Inquire further to arrange a private tour, a pedal boat, a candlelit dinner cruise, or any number of special themed sails.
Museum Het Rembrandthuis
The Golden Age master was born in Leiden, though he worked, went bankrupt, and died in Amsterdam. Restored to mirror his daily life, this museum is the house in the old Jewish Quarter where Rembrandt lived from 1639 to 1656. Temporary exhibitions are mounted alongside a rotating selection of his nearly 300 etchings.
The state museum, as its name means, delights visitors with more than 8,000 artworks from its 900,000-piece permanent collection. The undisputed masterpiece is Rembrandt's The Night Watch, displayed in its own dedicated Night Watch Gallery. Vermeer's The Milkmaid is another highlight, along with other glorious paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.
Amsterdam’s sacred altar to modern and contemporary art hosts an exciting range of temporary shows from both Dutch and international artists in addition to its strong permanent collection. The Stedelijk features works from early modernist favorites like Mondrian, Monet, and Picasso as well as post–World War II artists including Warhol, Pollock, and Richter. Look for the bathtub-shape building on Museumplein.
Van Gogh Museum
Two hundred paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 letters by the Postimpressionist make the Van Gogh Museum an imperative stop for even those with a just minimal interest in art. Although The Starry Night lives at the MoMA in New York, stellar masterpieces abound (as do their souvenir posters and umbrellas).
Lose yourself in the 120 acres of green that make up the city center's largest park. There are playgrounds, a child's pool, roller skating, an open-air theater, and plenty of eating and drinking options—all in the company of the neon-green parakeets that have been flying free here since the 1970s.
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