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City Sightseeing

A Day Trip to Amsterdam

When it comes to Amsterdam, I have to admit that I’m not a big fan. Like many European capitals, the city is overrun by tourists, and especially the rowdy ones in search of the seedier side of the city are often a nuisance to the locals & the other visitors. There are, however, a few places you should see before fleeing the city. Highlights are the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, which are the three most-visited museums in the country, and for that reason they require advance booking. Other must-sees are the Stedelijk Museum, a museum for modern & contemporary art and design that I like best for its 1950s & ’60s collections, the National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Palace, Amsterdam’s largest & most prestigious building from the Dutch Golden Age. The Amsterdam Museum, which is dedicated to the history of the city, is currently closed for renovation; until its reopening in 2025 exhibitions are being hosted at the Hermitage.

George Hendrik Breitner: The Damrak, Amsterdam
The Damrak

Owing to its climate of tolerance, Amsterdam has long been the centre of the Dutch Jewish community. The Jewish Museum, together with the 17th-century Portuguese Synagogue next door, showcases the rich heritage of Jewish history, religion & culture. Amsterdam is famous for its canals, which were laid out during the 17th century in concentric arcs around the city to expand the old town. The Museum of the Canals illustrates the evolution of Amsterdam through the lens of its canals, and three canal houses are open to visitors: Museum Van Loon, the imposing mansion of an upper-class family, and Willet-Holthuysen House & Bartolotti House, which are both the former residences of well-off citizens. Those interested in architecture may also like Museum Het Schip, dedicated to the Amsterdam School, an expressionist movement that existed from 1910 to 1930. A nice way to explore the city is to take the № 2 Tram, which travels past many of Amsterdam’s premier tourist attractions.

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A day ticket for GVB trams, buses & metros costs € 8½ and is available for purchase as a paper ticket at the tourist office at the Central Station. You can also buy this ticket via the GVB travel app. Multi-day tickets, valid for up to seven days, are available as well.


Positively the weirdest museum in Amsterdam, Museum Vrolik showcases a remarkable collection of 19th-century anatomical specimens & models. Located at the AMC hospital, in-house patients, i.e. potential soon-to-be exhibits, enjoy free access on showing their wristband.


When Amsterdam became a Protestant city in 1578, Catholic churches & monasteries were expropriated, and practicing the Catholic faith was no longer allowed in public spaces. Catholics henceforth celebrated Mass in hidden churches, a practice tolerated by the city government. The Museum of Our Lord in the Attic shows one of these hidden churches, located in the attic of the 17th-century canal house of a wealthy Catholic merchant.


Amsterdam has two photography museums: Foam and Huis Marseille. I like the former slightly better, but the latter is great as well.


The Teylers Museum in Haarlem, fifteen minutes by train plus fifteen minutes on foot from Amsterdam Central Station, is the oldest museum in the Netherlands, founded in the spirit of the Enlightenment as an institute for art & science. Its exhibition rooms still look the same as in the 18th & 19th centuries.

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