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Amsterdam holiday: Don't miss the museums, tulips, and canal cruise

On June 1, 2021, the Netherlands opened up for passenger flights from India. This is the best time to travel to Amsterdam, the city of Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Anne Frank.

June 12, 2021 / 08:18 PM IST
(Photo: Preeti Verma Lal)

(Photo: Preeti Verma Lal)


There is never a dull moment in Amsterdam, a city that stands on 11 million poles. Yes, 11 million 15-20 metre poles placed in an 11-metre deep sandy layer. It certainly does not wobble.

So, walk straight into Museumplein, the best place to discover the city’s most iconic cultural institutes. See the Jewish Historical Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue, and the Auschwitz Monument; learn about events such as the February Strike and Winter of Hunger.

Those seeking the unusual can step into the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum, the oldest museum in the world dedicated to the history of cannabis, and the world’s first Museum of Prostitution.

After sunset, the city is ready for a canal cruise, a gig and the perfect riff.

Amsterdam is a very walkable city. Or, try renting a bike – the truly Dutch way of exploring the city.

Here are some must-dos in Amsterdam.

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The Canals: You’d need an abacus to count the canals in Amsterdam - 165 canals with a combined length of over 100 kilometres (60 miles). In 2010, the city’s Canal Ring was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A canal cruise is a must-do for every visitor. You can live in any of 2,500 canal houseboats, some of which have been afloat for more than a century.

The magnificent Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival), held annually in August on and around Amsterdam’s canals is one of the cultural highlights of the Amsterdam summer.

Anne Frank’s House: The Anne Frank House is a museum with a story. On July 6, 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in the building at Prinsengracht 263. The building that consisted of the main house and the annex housed Otto Frank’s business. Just before the family went into hiding, Anne started writing in the red-checked diary she got for her thirteenth birthday on June 12, 1942. When this first diary was full, she continued writing in notebooks. The red-checked diary and Anne’s other original diaries, among other memorabilia, are on permanent display at the Anne Frank’s House museum.

NOT FOR USE ON FACEBOOK (Photo: Diego Delso via Wikimedia Commons 4.0)

The other two notebooks on display are the Favourite Quotes Book in which Anne copied quotes she liked, and her Tales Book with short stories she had thought up.

Entry ticket is priced at € 14 for adults, € 7 for visitors in 10-17 age group.

Van Gogh Museum: This is a pilgrimage for all Vincent van Gogh lovers. Home to the world’s largest collection of van Gogh’s artistic works, the Van Gogh Museum displays 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and more than 750 letters of the artist who is considered one of the world’s greatest painters.

(Photo: Van Gogh Museum via Wikimedia Commons) 'The Potato Eaters'. (Photo: Van Gogh Museum via Wikimedia Commons)

The most stared-at paintings in the Museum are Sunflowers, Almond Blossom and The Potato Eaters.

Tickets (priced at € 19 per person, free admission under 18 years) can only be booked online at https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/

Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution: The world’s first museum dedicated to sex workers, Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution is housed in a famous brothel that is still in its original state. Here, you can see the inside of the sex workers' rooms, hear their stories and learn all about the secrets of the world’s oldest profession. You even get a chance to sit behind one of the windows to feel what it is really like to be watched from the streets.

The entry ticket (€13) includes a small book about the history of the red light district and secret audio tour. The minimum age to enter is 16 years. The museum isn’t wheelchair accessible.

Tulips and more tulips: Think tulips and more tulips, and more tulips. A trip to Amsterdam is incomplete without a tulip garden tour. The Dutch countryside is lined with tulip fields, but the best is Keukenhof Tulip Gardens where 7 million bulbs are planted by hand every year in autumn.

(Photo: Preeti Verma Lal) (Photo: Preeti Verma Lal)

Spread over 32 hectares, Keukenhof  has 800 different varieties of tulips. During Tulip Festival, you can see blooming tulips at 85 locations: in the public areas of Amsterdam, in the gardens of the city’s museums and hotels, and by notable buildings in the city. Entry is free.

Keukenhof Tulip Gardens will be open between March 24 and May 15, 2022.

Stroopwafel. Stroopwafel.

Must-eats: Do not leave Amsterdam without trying these:

  • Bitterballen (deep fried crispy meatballs served with mustard dip);

  • Stroopwafel (two thin waffles stuck with sweet syrup);

  • Oorlog fries (fat fries served in a cone and topped with mayonnaise, peanut sauce and raw onion);

  • Dutch pancakes; sandwiches with raw herring;

  • Kibbeling (battered and deep fried morsels of white fish);

  • Poffertjes (mini pancakes dripping with syrup).


Amsterdam fun facts

  • Amsterdam derives its name from the Amstel River and the dams that had to be built in the city to protect it from floods.

  • It is illegal to urinate in the canals of Amsterdam, unless you’re pregnant.

  • Amsterdam has 1,281 bridges

  • Amsterdam is situated about two meters below sea level.

  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the only airport in the world that has a museum. It is situated behind passport control and entry is free.

  • The nickname of Amsterdam, Mokum, comes from the Hebrew word for makan, meaning city.

  • Every year, almost 25,000 bikes are thrown into Amsterdam’s canals. Out of that about 10,000 are fished out by the local municipality’s boat.
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer.
first published: Jun 12, 2021 07:57 pm

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