A guide to the best attractions in Amsterdam

While Amsterdam is considered to be a relatively small city, there are certainly a host of attractions to choose from as well as those catering for the stag weekends! In this blog we will look at a selection of some of the best places to visit in Amsterdam to wet your appetite if you are going anytime soon.

A bit of history
Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands and is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the 6th largest metropolitan area in Europe with a population of around 6.7 million. Its name is derived from Amstel dam, indicative of the city’s origin – a dam in the river Amstel where the Dam Square is today. Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age and during this time the city was the leading centre for both finance and diamonds.

Amsterdam is said to be the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe with over 4.2 million international visitors each year. Certain years have a theme in Amsterdam to bring in extra tourists; for example ‘2006’ was designated “Rembrandt 400” to celebrate the 400th birthday of Rembrandt Van Rijn.

The Van Gogh Museum
Without a doubt, the Van Gough Museum is a place definitely worth visiting and houses the world’s largest collection of works by Van Gogh. The collection includes paintings and drawings as well as letters spanning his impressionist years in Paris to his last years in St. Remy. Works by some of Van Gogh’s contemporaries and friends such as Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec are also displayed. The museum regularly has exhibitions highlighting art toward the end of the 19th century. You can find more information by visiting this website: http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp.

Amsterdam Canal Cruise
This is a very popular tourist attraction with over 3 million passengers a year taking the cruise. There are a variety of options on offer such as sunset and night cruises, and there are also music, theatre, drinking and romance cruises available! Whether you are in an open top canal boat or a self pedalled canal bike, this is the best way to see a range of some of the best sights on offer. These include 17th century mansions and fantastic architecture ranging from medieval to modern.

Anne Frank House
Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to see where Anne Frank produced her world renowned diary. It is the house where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding on July 6, 1942 during the German occupation and where they lived in isolation for more than two years. All the furniture was removed when the occupants were detained in 1944, but films and other media, including the diary of Anne, give you a fascinating insight into what life was like. The museum also displays information about the 100,000 Dutch Jews who died during the Holocaust.

The Heineken Experience
A visit to this historic brewery is a must for any beer lover. The tour takes you on a walk through a re-created street from the late nineteenth century (when the brewery was a small, family-owned business) to a visit to the old brewhouse which dates back to 1913.There are also rooms with a variety of multi-media entertainment and video monitors describing the brewing process. You will visit rooms that once served as aging cellars and a visit to the Brewhouse Bar and the See You Again Bar will give you the opportunity to taste the real thing!

Cycling
Getting around by bike in Amsterdam is the main form of transport and is a very good way of seeing all the wonderful sights of the city at your own pace. It gives you an opportunity to experience the city from a different point of view and to soak up the lively atmosphere along the way.

Don’t forget your holiday insurance!
After reading this blog and you like the sound of going to Amsterdam, make sure you take out travel insurance as soon as you have booked your trip. Buying direct from the travel insurance provider is certainly cheaper than from your travel agent, so check out 24/7 travel insurance. If you are travelling as a couple, 24/7 travel insurance offers cover for 3 days from just £8.77* – great value for peace of mind whilst travelling around this beautiful city.

* Premium £8.77 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on 2 adults aged under 55 taking out a “Standard” Single Trip policy for 3 days in Europe, excluding personal possessions cover and travelling within 14 days of purchase. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (November 2008) and are subject to change.