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Amsterdam Canal Cruise, Visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal Cruise, © Can Stock / lsantilli

Visit Amsterdam – Canal Tour

Visit Amsterdam by starting with an Amsterdam canal cruise from in front of the main Amsterdam Centraal train station. Two companies, Lovers and Holland International, offer tours at the same location and for the same price. The standard Canal Cruise circuit wanders the canals through the Red Light District, past Anne Frank House and the 7 bridges view. The canal tour also heads out of the canals into the harbor.

Another option is to take a Canal Boat Hop-On Hop-Off. In the evening, take a canal dinner cruise. Enjoy dinner or wine and cheese as you travel through the canals of Old Town Amsterdam.

Canal Cruise, Visit Amsterdam

Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Old Town Walking Tour

An Amsterdam Old Town Walking Tour is easy to create on your own when you visit Amsterdam. Start your Old Town Walking Tour by walking south from Amsterdam Centraal on the pedestrian only Nieuwedijk walkway to Dam Square. Dam Square includes the Royal Palace and the New Church (Niewe Kerke). From Dam Square, your Old Town Walking Tour can contine on the pedestrian only Kalverstraat walkway to the tower known as the Munttoren. The floating market barges selling tulips are at the end of this section.

Expand your Old Town Walking Tour to the west to see Anne Frank House, the West Church (Westerkerk) and more canals. To the east of your route you can easily walk to the Red Light District, the Old Church (Oude Kerk) and the Waag City Gate. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam in the Red Light District.

De Waag City Gate, Visit Amsterdam

De Waag City Gate

Visit Amsterdam – Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House is one of the most population places to visit in Amsterdam. The house is where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis as a child and wrote her famous diary. Anne Frank House is right beside the Westerkerk church. Anne Frank mentions the bells of the Westerkerk in her diary.

In the summer, you can expect to wait 2 hours in a line encircling the block before you gain access to Anne Frank House. Arriving early in the morning doesn’t help. Consider this destination for an off season winter visit. Anne Frank House is a reasonably easy walk from Amsterdam Centraal. Anyone can walk past the front of the house and you can also see the house from the boat on a canal cruise.

Concertgebouw, Museum Square, Visit Amsterdam

Concertgebouw, Museum Square

Amsterdam Layover, Keukenhof Gardens in April, Netherlands

Keukenhof Gardens in April

Keukenhof Gardens Day Trip

Take a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens in the spring when the tulips bloom. You can reach Keukenhof Gardens in less than an hour. Keukenhof  Gardens is the premier garden stop in the Netherlands. People come from all over the world to see the tulips.

Keukenhof Gardens sells tickets online that include express bus transportation from Schiphol Airport and also tickets that add train fare from Amsterdam Centraal. The gardens are only open in the spring, when the tulips bloom. The last two weeks in April are a good time to take a Keukenhof Gardens Day Trip. Visit on an Amsterdam Layover.

Amsterdam Canal Intersection, Visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal Intersection © Can Stock / erikdegraaf

Visit Amsterdam – Museum Square

The Museum Square in Amsterdam is open park area surrounded by museums. Visit the Rijksmuseum and see Rembrandt’s De Nachtwacht (the Night Watchman). Ride a bike on a path that tunnels right through the Rijksmuseum. Also located on the Museum Square are the Van Gogh Museum, the Concertgebouw (home of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) and the Stedelijk Museum with the Hall of Horror.

Behind the Rijksmuseum you will find the “I Amsterdam” sculptured letters that tourists love to photograph. A few minutes’ walk from the Amsterdam Museum Square will take you to Vondelpark. Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam and a popular destination for locals and rented bike tours.

Bike straight through Rijksmuseum, Visit Amsterdam

Bike straight through the Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam Flower Auction

The Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer Flower Auction is the largest flower auction in the world. Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer is 15 minutes by cab from Schiphol Airport. Don’t confuse this with Keukenhof Gardens. Arrive before 9 am so you can watch the height of activity as they sell and ship about 20 million flowers every day. You will watch the flowers being sorted from a balcony walkway that gives you a birds eye view of everything going on.

More Day Trips from Amsterdam

  • Day trip to the Hague – see famous blue and white Delft pottery and the Madurodam miniature city.
  • Day trip to Rotterdam – see the unique architecture and the museums.
  • Take a day trip to Edam or Gouda to sample these famous cheeses the towns where they were created.
  • See the village of Delft where they make Royal Delft pottery.
  • Schokland – a fishing village left high and dry by land reclamation through the system of dikes in the Netherlands.
  • Haarlem – a grand cathedral and museums with paintings by Dutch masters.
  • Hoorn – once an important trading village of the Dutch East India Company.
  • Schevinengen – seaside resort on the North Sea.
  • Enkhuisen – the Zuiderzee open air Museum
Amsterdam Canal, Visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal

Visit Amsterdam – More Sights

  • See the bulbs and tulips at the Floating Flower Market, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the botanical gardens at Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam.
  • Rembrandt House Museum
  • Heineken Experience – popular brewery tour with time to sample the beer.
  • Dutch Masters from the Hermitage Museum – a branch of the famous museum in St Petersburg.
  • Visit a cannabis coffee shop.
  • Museum Our Lord in the Attic – secret Catholic church when Catholic churches were illegal
  • Museum of Bags and Purses – no we aren’t joking. It’s the largest of its kind.
  • EYE Film Institute and A’ADAM Lookout

Savor the Tastes of Amsterdam

  • Fresh herring and salty fries
  • Hot food vending machines
  • Stroopwafels – thin waffle sandwich has a warm syrup filling.
  • Try Edam and Gouda cheese from the towns of the same name nearby. Cheese Tasting at Henri Willig.
  • Amsterdam Pub Crawl.
De L'Europe Hotel, Visit Amsterdam

De L’Europe Hotel

Volendam Day Trip

Many tourists enjoy a Volendam Day Trip from Amsterdam and often combine it with a visit to Marken and Zaanse Schans in summer. You can easily arrange your own independent travel though. From Amsterdam Centraal Rail Station, catch Bus #316 for a 30 minute ride to the Volendam Bus Station. Walk a few blocks to the Volendam Dyke and then wander past St Vincent’s Church down the tourist avenue to Volendam Harbor. You will pass typical Dutch tourist demonstrations at a wooden shoe factory and a cheese factory. Historical photos in traditional Dutch clothing is popular in Volendam too. Join the other tourists tasting stroopwafels at Woltje’s Backerij.

Finish your Volendam Day Trip by taking a break at the Volendam Marine Park overlooking the marina. Then you can either walk back to the bus station or return to the Volendam Harbor and catch the Volendam – Marken Express Ferry to the small village of Marken.

Marken Day Trip

Marken is a popular destination for a Day Trip from Amsterdam. You can join a tour that might also visit Volendam and Zaanse Schans or take the 316 Bus & transfer to the 315 in Monnickendam along the way. Get off the 315 at the Marken Minneweg Bus Station. From there you can walk past the Marken Memorial Park, the Marken Museum and the Grand Church. Then cross the Maxima foot bridge and follow the canal to the harbor.

In the Marken Harbor, visit the Varend Ship Museum and the Original House of Marken. At this point you can either catch the Volendam – Marken Express ferry or you can walk to the Bus 315 Central Marken Bus Station. Near this bus station you will find the main tourist section which provides a wooden shoe factory, a cheese factory, souvenirs and a chance to eat some more stroopwafels. Check out the Amsterdam Day Trip map too.

Zaanse Schans Day Trip

Take a pleasant walk among the Dutch windmills on a Zaanse Schans Day Trip. Catch Bus # 391 from Amsterdam Centraal Station for a 40 minute ride. In summer ride the Bus # 891 express to reach Zaanse Schans in 20 minutes. The bus stops right at the parking lot beside the windmills. Alternately you can ride the Sprinter rail to Zaanse Schans and walk across the bridge to reach the windmills.

At Zaanse Schans you can walk along the bank past all the windmills in less than 10 minutes. Enter the paint or the lumber making windmills for a small fee. Your time at Zaanse Schans will also include the option to visit the cheese factory, the wooden shoe factory and the stroopwafel bakery, which are all standard tourist offerings at popular Dutch attractions.

At the beginning of your windmill walk, you can take a boat ride or rent a bike and peddle the embankments through the flat flood plain.

Edam Day Trip

Edam isn’t on the main tour circuit, but it’s easy to add this destination to your independent travel to Volendam. You can reach Edam by continuing on Bus # 316 from Volendam for about 20 minutes. Edam is famous for Edam cheese and you will find the cheese market on a short walk from the bus station. Start by crossing the Kwakelbrug foot bridge, past the Speeltoren tower to the market square. Next see the Great Church of St Nicholas and walk south to Damplein Square where you can visit the Edam Museum and see City Hall. Finish your visit by walking over the Baanbrug bridge and back to the bus station. In summer you will have the option to continue by Bus #817 to Zaanse Schans instead of returning to Volendam.

Giethoorn Day Trip

Giethoorn is about 2 hours one way by rail and bus from Amsterdam Centraal, so you might prefer to take an organized tour. If you travel on your own, the easiest route to follow is on the Bus #70 south from the Steenwijk Rail Station. The Giethoorn Dominee Hylkemaweg Bus Stop is right beside the canal where all the rental boats and tour boats are waiting for your business.

Giethoorn has become overrun with over a million tourists per year, so visit early or late in the day. Expect lots of boats bumping together as tourists struggle to navigate the narrow canals. If you walk along the canals,you will find it congested too. The route is basically one long north / south path. Be respectful of the private homes that line the opposite side of the canal. Don’t open their gates or use their mailboxes for your garbage.

Tourist attractions in Giethoorn include De Oude Aarde for gem stones, the Giehoorn Museum and Venice Giethoorn for snacks, souvenirs and boat rentals too. The Giethoorn Hollands Venetië Bus Stop on the # 70 line offers you an option to leave Giethoorn by taking a one way walk.

Amsterdam Castles

You might be surprised to learn that Amsterdam has a number of castles near the city. Try an organized tour to reach them. Some of the Amsterdam Castles include:

  • Fort Pampus
  • Muiderslot
  • Naarden Vesting
  • Fort Ossenmarkt in Weesp
  • De Haar Castle

Fly to Amsterdam – Schiphol Airport

Schiphol Airport (pronounced “skiple”) is one of the central hubs for KLM and a major international airport for flights between Europe and North America. You can walk a few steps from the terminal to the CitizenM hotel or catch a train to Old Town Amsterdam Central Station.

Get to Downtown Amsterdam – Rail from Schiphol

Rail is an excellent way to get to dowtown Amsterdam. Take the train from the airport to the downtown Central Station (Amsterdam Centraal) in about 24 minutes. You can easily buy tickets at the station with a credit card. Rail staff speak fluent English if you need assistance.

Get to Amsterdam – Cruise

The ocean and river cruise terminals are downtown close to the Amsterdam Centraal Rail Station. Amsterdam is the starting and end point for river cruises up and down the Rhine River. Shorter length cruises wander through the locks and canals of the Netherlands. The most popular route is up the Rhine River along the castles of the Romantic Rhine to Mainz. From there cruises can continue on the Rhine to Basel, Switzerland or cut across the Main Canal to the Danube River for Budapest. A river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest typically takes two weeks.

Munttoren Mint Tower, Kalverstraat Pedestrian Walk, Visit Amsterdam

Munttoren Tower, Kalverstraat

Amsterdam –  Tram

The tram system from Amsterdam Central Station is friendly and easy to use. Most of the major attractions are within walking distance of the station, but the #2 tram is a convenient way to reach the museum district, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

Visit Amsterdam – Bike Rentals

Renting a bike is a great option for sightseeing. Amsterdam loves their bikes. With vehicle lanes, tram lanes, pedestrian lanes and bike lanes, it’s sometimes challenging to cross the street safely. There are likely more bikes than people in Amsterdam. Without traffic signals at many intersections or helmets for safety, the locals gracefully weave and flow their bikes through complex traffic patterns. For a visitor, the experience with bikes is quite different – trying to avoid a multi-bike pile up at each intersection. Try a Small Group Bike Tour through the Old Town and Vondelpark or a Yellow Bike 24 hour rental.

Amsterdam Centraal Train Station Bikes, Visit Amsterdam

Bikes at Amsterdam Centraal

Amsterdam Weather

Amsterdam weather is heavily influenced by the North Sea. That makes Amsterdam weather cool in summer and near the freezing point in winter. Average highs from May through September are roughly 20 C (70 F), while lows average 15 C (60 F). Winter highs average about 5 C (40 F) with lows just above freezing. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, but is slightly lower in April and May. Visiting in early May provides excellent opportunities to catch the end of the tulip season, with an intermittent chance of good weather.

Amsterdam Weather Graph

Amsterdam Weather Graph

Schiphol Airport Hotels

CitizenM Schiphol Steigenberger Airport
Park Plaza Airport ibis Airport

Amsterdam Old Town Hotels

Mövenpick Hotel De L’Europe
Grand Hotel Amrâth INK Hotel
Banks Mansion The Hoxton

Visit Amsterdam – Background

Amsterdam is the capital and largest city in the Netherlands. About 2 million people live here in the province of North Holland. English is taught in schools in the Netherlands, so you can expect be able to talk to everyone easily. Amsterdam is built on a system of dams of the Amstel River. The city was an important European port in the 1500s. Rhine River Cruises start and finish in Amsterdam, so the city continues to be an important port today. The canals were built in the 1600s and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Amsterdam canals dominate the landscape and contribute to the popularity of bicycle travel through Old Town Amsterdam.

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