This article was originally published (in print) in the May edition of Emersons Green Voice and sister publications.
Amsterdam is a place everyone seems to have heard of. It’s synonymous with the sixties culture; living free and being free, yet there is so much more to this vibrant and diverse of European cities.
Yes, you can head to Amsterdam to take part in their more frivolous, uninhibited side. But this shouldn’t be the only reason you visit.
It’s where infamous child author, Anne Frank, lived in hiding with her family for 2 years during WWII until they were found out. It’s where two bars battle out for the crown of “oldest pub in Amsterdam”. It’s where exquisite masterpieces can be found including ‘Sunflowers’ by Van Gogh, and Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’. And it’s where you can walk alongside 165 canals.
One of the first activities on your Amsterdam wishlist should be to scout out the Anne Frank House. There’s still so much about this annex that remains untouched, while other parts have been lovingly reimagined to help bring the whole experience to life. This includes a free audio tour, which walks you on a path through the family’s life in the annex. Although you can buy tickets on the door, it’s recommended you book in advance online, otherwise you’ll likely find yourself waiting for hours without any confirmed entry.
Amsterdam is also renowned for its art museums and galleries, with two of the most famous of all being the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. While the Van Gogh Museum houses works of art throughout Van Gogh’s life, the Rijksmuseum focuses on a wide range of art including historic pieces between the years of 1200 to 2000, as well as more modern pieces from the Dutch Golden Age.
During our visit, we also embarked on a walking tour with an Amsterdam local who uncovered many hidden gems for us – both historic and modern. One of my favourite discoveries was the story he told us about the two pubs that claim to be the oldest in Amsterdam. Cafe Karpershoek was built in 1606, while In ‘t Aepjen (‘In the Monkeys’) was built in 1519.
Clearly one of them is lying about being the oldest pub. But which one?
No-one can seem to find a liquor license for In ‘t Aepjen before it was reopened in 1990, yet there’s proof that the pub dates back to 1519. Could this be the unofficial oldest pub in Amsterdam?
But when you also want a break from history and art, Amsterdam’s natural beauties open their arms to you. Walks along the canals, picnics in Vondelpark, relaxing bike rides along the 250 miles of cycle paths… and when you’re finished with all of that? Just hop on a canal cruise for as little as €11 per adult.
So next time you think all there is to Amsterdam is partying and sin… think again.
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