Already seen the Red Light District, spent time in one of Amsterdam’s coffee shops and seen all the Van Gogh paintings you can handle? There’s a lot more to the Dutch capital than meets the eye. Take a look at this city’s small and eccentric museums, its canals, parks and even the library!
1. The National Museum of Spectacles
Amsterdam has a host of fun and quaint small museums where you’ll rarely find a crowd. The Spectacles Museum is an odd one that grew out of the passion of one private collector for optometric objects. The museum has two floors of displays that show the fashion and 700-year history of spectacles. On the ground floor of this 17th century building, you’ll also find a recreation of a 1930s spectacle shop, where you can buy historic frames and even some modern ones too.
2. Het Twiske Beaches
A mere 5km from the city centre in Amsterdam and you’ll find yourself in a beautiful 150 square kilometre nature reserve! What more could you ask for with flights to Amsterdam? This is the perfect place to experience the Dutch landscape without travelling too far from the capital. Explore the miles of walking paths and trails, see the windmills and take in the scenery that inspired so many of the Dutch Masters’ paintings. In the summer the beaches here are popular for swimming, but you’ll need to arrive early to get a good spot.
Located close to the city centre, Jordaan has become increasinly popular over the last few years thanks to gentrification projects and its charming neighbourhood feel. While the northern part of the district has become a hot spot for visitors to the city, the area south of Rozengracht sees less footfall and is just as beautiful. Head here for boutique shops, cafes, restaurants and bric-a-brac markets. In the summer time it’s the perfect spot to go and dine al fresco.
4. Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Another one of Amsterdam’s small museums that shouldn’t be missed is the Tulip Museum, located on the upper floor of a small tulip shop selling all sorts of bulbs and gardening accessories. The museum pays tribute to the flower that put Holland on the map. It traces the country’s horticultural story from when the tulip craze started in the 17th century.
5. Angels at Nieuwe Kerk
Amsterdam is full of little unexpected discoveries. One of those can be found at Nieuwe Kerk, a church on Dam Square which dates back to the Middle Ages. Take a closer look at the 10-metre-high carved wooden pulpit. It was carved by Albert Vinckenbrinck over a space of 19 years. The pulpit is a beautiful storybook with a few little surprises like the small angels that are playfully sliding down the carved rope of the pulpit’s banister!
6. Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)
Think we’re crazy for recommending a trip to the library while you’re on holiday in Amsterdam? Think again! This place is a state-of-the-art facility with gorgeous architecture, free Wi-Fi, international newspapers and an amazing cafe on the seventh floor… which means stunning views out over the city while you’re enjoying your delicious smorgasbord of a lunch.
7. Rent a Canal Bike
If you want to get a close up look at Amsterdam’s 400-year-old UNESCO-honoured canals then the best way to do that, without joining a touristy boat cruise, is by renting a canal bike. Think of it like a nice, modern paddle boat that you can hire for an afternoon and take around the canals with you. A rental from Canal will set you back arounf €8 and there are piers from which boats can be rented in three locations around the city centre.
Want to experience more cities off the beaten path? Check out our secret and unusual guides to Rome, London, Berlin and other destinations around the world.