Paris for romantics, Rome for foodies, Amsterdam for err, erotic?
But more than the famous red-light districts and beer, this recently ranked “second best city in the world” also has what its neighboring cities have to offer: history, art, food, festivals, nature, and the most liberal culture, with a twist.
Here are some of the most amazing destinations in Holland’s commercial and cultural capital.
1. Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam has over 50 museums that spending a week in short stay apartments Amsterdam won’t be enough to visit them all. If you have limited time, the most-visited Van Gogh Museum that houses the largest and most valuable collection of works by this legendary artist should top your list.
2. Erotic Museum – From humorous Disney erotica to outrageous fetishes, this controversial gallery represents the city’s eclectic, bold culture, and the Dutch are sure cool about it. At the entrance, you will be greeted by life-sized phallic symbols and exhibitionist mannequins in Dutch costumes. Some scenes may be extreme but the experience is really fun if you adopt an open attitude.
3. Science Center NEMO – Believe it or not, the city is still considered family-friendly with most of its museums catering to kids. Even the young-at-heart would want to take part in the advanced Science Center’s fun laboratory experiments, mystery games-solving using DNA technology, and interactive music and film production in their state-of-the-art medialab.
4. The 17th Century canals – The city’s romantic canals rival that of Venice, only with a more natural atmosphere where you see locals in their usual riverine life, not like its artificial and recreated counterparts in other cities. Listen to classical music while boating by the baroque buildings and relive the bohemian charm of the Dutch Renaissance.
5. The Heineken Experience – Formerly Heineken Museum, the iconic brand realized its drink-all-you-can brewery museum is too cool to be called such. Now the “experience” includes limited free beer but megalomaniac showcasing of its brewing process where you get splashed with beer and bombarded by commercials played in 360-degree screens.
6. Tattoo museum -Even non-enthusiasts will be amazed by the unique collection of mummified faces and well-preserved skins with tribal tattoos. This newly-opened gallery gives you a glimpse of cross-cultural tattooing techniques and the most extraordinary designs. In case the exhibit inspires you to get one, there is also a tattoo shop in the second floor featuring guest artists from different countries.
7. Anne Frank Museum – It’s amazing how a bare room could give such an eerie, moving effect, knowing that you are simulating how Anne Frank lived her childhood hiding from the Nazis in the time of genocide. Of all museums, this one is the most simple but striking and educational.
8. Keukenhof Gardens – Lovers laughing and chasing each other in slow motion while mellow music plays, they trip and lie on a rainbow field of flowers and… you get the idea. These dream-like fields of tulips in all kinds and colors remind me of this classic romance scene, fairies and unicorns, all sorts of fairy tale fantasies.
9. Vondelpark – Bike, jog, skate, or picnic by the pond in this relaxing oasis at the center of the city where you can also find a mix of architectural masterpieces from different periods such as the castle-like Film Museum, the modernist pavilion, and the famous Open-Air Theater where they hold world-class performances.
10. Windmills – Take a break from the bustling city by biking to the countryside Zaanse Schans, where you can find old windmills, wooden houses, cheese farms, and factories of the traditional Dutch wooden shoes. But the most beautiful is in Sloten, where the 19th century windmill sits by the sea. It also has guided tours where you can watch the life of Rembrandt, learn how the mill operates, and feel the early pastoral life.
There are a lot more must-see places like concert halls, clubs, and churches, but these pretty much characterize this small yet unpredictable city where living is advanced and classical, loud but peaceful, sophisticated yet relaxed and simple.
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