Amsterdam has, for centuries, been a major hub for art in Europe, with numerous famed and influential artists. These days, they are enshrined in the city’s world-class museums, including the recently renovated Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum (below), dedicated to the works of the artist and his contemporaries, and Rembrandt House Museum. For a taste of contemporary and modern art, head to Stedelijk Museum.
The Netherlands is home to a number of unique and distinct foods that will delight your palate. Throughout Amsterdam are stands offering soused herring, which is commonly served with onions and pickles. The nation is also known as cheese country, with many varieties such as gourmet gouda, maasdam, leyden and leerdammer on offer. Luckily, Alkmaar Cheese Market (below), about half an hour by train from the Dutch capital, is there to accommodate you. For dessert, pop into any food market and pick up a bag of delectable stroopwafels (caramel-filled cookies).
Centre of it all
For a bit of history and culture, head to the 13th-century Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam and check out the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church; below), Royal Palace and National Monument. Built in 1270, the dam where the square stands formed the first connection between the settlements on the sides of the Amstel River, before it was widened to a square that would be filled with classic architecture.
Cruisin’ the canals
Known for its picturesque and abundant canals, the capital city offers several options for canal cruises. The boats float through the historic, UNESCO-protected waterways while acquainting you with Amsterdam’s big landmarks. The canals – the first of which was dug in the 17th century – are a critical part of the overall cityscape, prompting the construction of about 1,500 bridges citywide. Located in front of the Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam Canal Cruises (Stadhouderskade 78) offers hop-on-hop-off and dinner-cruise options, while other operators include Blue Boat Company and Holland International.
Windmills and good brews
The Netherlands is famed for its beer, with brands such as Heineken and Amstel first bringing the market to life. But in recent years, Amsterdam has become home to a budding micro-brew scene. For some of the best, head to De Gooyer (Funenkade 5), where you can try an organic blonde and dark beer at the award-winning Brouwerij ’t Ij, a brewery next to one of the city’s few remaining historic windmills. It also offers a lovely short tour.
– TEXT BY PHILIP HEIJMANS
PHOTOS: JAN KEES STEENMAN (VAN GOGH MUSEUM), ERIK EN PETRA HESMERG (NIEUWE KERK), MAGPEYE PHOTOGRAPHY (BLUE BOAT COMPANY), SUPPLIED, BROUWERIJ’T IJ FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.