The Major Sites of Amsterdam

As I mentioned previously, Amsterdam does not boast the scores of tourist attractions that the larger city three and half hours to the south does.  This makes it quite nice as you can still take in the culture of Amsterdam while finding time to relax on your vacation versus having to run from place to place.  So if heading to Amsterdam in the near future, here are the top sights you will want to check out:

The Anne Frank House: Anne Frank is one of the most well known figures out of the World War Two era and her diary holds a top 50 spot on all time sales for a novel.  The house in which her family hid during Nazi occupation was converted into a wonderful museum that walks visitors through the Frank family history as well the timeline up until their capture.  Portions of Anne's original journal are even on display at the end of the museum.  The museum takes about an hour to walk through and you would be foolish not to buy a ticket ahead of time.  Samantha and I had a ticket for 8:50AM, we showed up and walked right through a separate entrance as a line about an hour long waited outside (the line was 2 - 3 hours by the time we left). If you are only in Amsterdam for half a day, this is the museum to go too. Also, be sure to get pancakes at Pancakes! afterwards which is located a few blocks down the street.
Samantha and I in front of Anne Frank's house.
The houses in the middle left was Anne Frank's house. 
Van Gogh Museum:  Art museums can sometimes be boring and never ending however Amsterdam did a great job in setting up the museum that pays homage to their prized artist, Vincent Van Gogh.   The museum goes through a history of Van Gogh's life while also displaying some of his more memorable pieces along with pieces from some of his mentors.  One thing we discovered is that not all of Van Gogh's memorable pieces are on display here; for instance Starry Night's home is at the MoMa in Manhattan.  You can take as much as time as you want in here but we did it all in less than two hours.   Similar to Anne Frank, be sure to reserve a time to enter as we walked right in at 2PM while people waited at least 45 minutes outside.  (A good plan of attack would be to go to Anne Frank early in the morning, have breakfast at Pancakes, walk around and shop in Jordaan, stop somewhere for lunch - perhaps somewhere in Leidseplein or Spiu Sqaure - on the way to the museum quarter, head to Van Gogh then have the rest of the day to explore).
A portrait Van Gogh did...of himself. 
Samantha and I in the Van Gogh museum. 
Rijksmuseum:  The national museum of the Netherlands may contain the style of art that you would be accustom to seeing in museums throughout Europe although most of the collection in the museum is from Dutch artists, most notably Rembrandt.  I enjoyed the museum although it was the building and the surrounding grounds that Samantha and I enjoyed more.  We spent hours hanging out in the park in front of the museum.  If you have two or three days though, the museum is definitely worth checking out for an hour or two, unless of course you are an art aficionado.  Again, I bought tickets ahead of time but there was no line when we went in but it is better to be safe than sorry.
The battle of Waterloo painting in the Rijksmuseum. 
Samantha and I in front of the  famous
I amsterdam letters in front of the Rijksmuseum. 

Dam Square:  Dam Square is located in the center of town so you will almost surely walk through it at some point during you stay in Amsterdam.  It ranks towards the bottom of my list in terms of city squares though.   There was nothing in the square that captivated me and it also had hordes of tourists and entertainers as most squares do.  There is no question it is worth seeing or perhaps stopping to have a beer at one of the outdoor cafes.  My recommendation would be to go really early in the morning or late in the evening when all of the tourists are gone so you can really get a good view of the size of the square.
Samantha in front of Dam Square. 
Samantha and I in Dam Square. 
Red Light District:  No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a stroll through the famed Red Light District in the medieval part of town.   What once used to be a sleazy area is now up and coming similar to an area such as Williamsburg in New York (minus the whole legal prostitution).   Boutique shops, bakeries and cafes have popped up all over this promiscuous part of town.  Going through by day may be best at first because there are still some narrow ally ways you would not want to go down and you can take in the actual beauty of the RLD with its narrow canals.  However if you happen to go at night, you will surely be in for some entertainment as hordes of bachelor parties parade the streets dressed up in riotous costumes.  Regardless when you go, you will of course see the renowned window dancers - just don't take any pictures.

Southern Canal Belt:  It is hard to miss the canals in Amsterdam but there are certain areas you just have to explore.  The southern canal belt where the canals bend provide some of the most picturesque views of town and it also a UNESCO world heritage site .  I would spend an hour or two getting lost amongst the four major causeways.  Keep an eye out for the the Golden Bend where residents of Amsterdam built mansions along the waterway during the Golden age.  Also stop by the Bloememarkt, the only floating flower market in the world.
The floating flower market in the canal belt. 
The sunset at the Canal Belt. 
**A few places we did not go to:  Heineken Brewery (heard it was a bit touristy and only to go if we had time), Vondelpark (heard if was beautiful but we never made it up there) but it could be worth checking out.
Samantha and I in front of the canal belt. 


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