I loved my first trip to Amsterdam and was excited to get back in early 2015. It is a great walking city and full of wonderful art, great old architecture and many bridges and canals. The Canal Ring was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in August 2010.
In addition to the great art museums, I enjoyed:
Exploring Oude Zijde: The Eastern Half of Amsterdam became known as the Oude Zijde or Old Side. At the center is the Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city which dates from the early 13th Century. You must walk through the Red Light District where prostitutes asking for business from their windows is one of the defining images of modern Amsterdam. Years ago one told my Father to throw my Mother in the Canal and come on in. There are sex shops and seedy clubs near beautiful canal-side houses. I walked though during the day for as a solo traveler, I didn’t think it would be too safe at night.
Exploring Nieuwe Zijde: The Western side of Medieval Amsterdam was known as the New Side. It is an attractive area dominated by the Koninklijk Paleis and Nieuwe Kerk which dates back from the 14th Century.
Museum Our Lord in the Attic, Oudezijds Vooburgwal 40: A great small museum in a restored 17th-century canal house at the edge of the Red Light District. There are two smaller houses to the rear. The combined upper stories conceal a secret Catholic Church built after Amsterdam officially became protestant. The lower floors contain elegantly refurbished and decorated rooms plus a collection of church silver, religious artifacts and paintings.
Exploring the Western Canal Ring: This is known as the Jordaan district. It is a charming area of narrow streets, cafes and delightful canals. Here you will find the Anne Frankhuis or Anne Frank House (Prinsengracht 263) where the Frank family hid during the Nazi occupation until their capture. It is where the 13 year old Anne wrote her diary, beginning in 1942, about life in confinement. It was very moving to see the actual rooms and I was particularly moved by seeing the film-star pin-up pictures on the wall in Anne’s room. There is a bookstore where you can buy a copy of the Diary if you would like to read it. You can buy your tickets online to avoid the lines.
Bloemenmarkt: On the Singel, the famed flower market is the last of the city’s floating markets. The stalls are floating but are permanent. I was able to buy tulip bulbs to bring back home. Make sure they are packaged properly so that you can bring them through customs.
Amsterdam Noord: This area of North Amsterdam is a former warehouse district that is an emerging area with hotels, restaurants, boutiques and galleries that is getting great press.
Venturing Outside Amsterdam: I took an afternoon trip to Volendam and Marken including a boat trip. Volendam is an old picturesque fishing village on the shores of the former Zuiderzee. Then we got on a boat to go to Marken on an island. You can still see the villagers wearing traditional dress and the gabled houses are a wonderful green and white color.
For contemporary dance enthusiasts make sure to try to see a performance of The Hague based Nederlands Dans Theater which gets excellent worldwide press.