It’s no secret that Amsterdam is a fascinating place to visit. With its rich history, artistic legacy, intricate canal system, and abundance of museums, you will find much to do and see. Easily walkable, you can find most of the top sites are within a close distance.
The Netherlands is such a small country that you can easily travel outside of Amsterdam to see the glorious flower fields, historical sites, and more. Using Amsterdam as a base, you can see the whole country in one vacation.
Amsterdam’s impressive architecture includes 17th-century canals with UNESCO status. Other architectural wonders by the Dutch architect Berlage and the Amsterdam School style of architecture are there to wonder. Considered one of Europe’s foremost architecture and design cities, Amsterdam is where modern architecture becomes visible between the facades of old buildings.
Saloon Boat Ride on Amsterdam’s Canal Ring
Take a canal ride! The city’s historic canal ring was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. Board a historic saloon boat for a private tour and lunch. Built in the early 20th century of mahogany and teakwood, the saloon boats are an incredible experience. The boats transported people through the lakes and canals. The saloon boats, nicknamed notary and doctor boats since the well-to-do owned them.
During your canal tour, you’ll get to view some of Amsterdam’s architecture and beautiful landscapes. For an extraordinary experience, you can book this private experience with lunch, including a knowledgeable guide.
Amsterdam for Art Lovers
For art lovers, Amsterdam is the place to go. The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of Dutch art and history. Located in a late 19th-century building, the Rijksmuseum is a masterpiece both inside and out. Over 800 years of Dutch art and history are on display in 80 recently renovated rooms. Make sure you have a guided tour to introduce you to the Dutch Golden Age, a time of great wealth, prosperity, and unbridled cultural and artistic growth.
Get inside Vincent Van Gogh’s mind at the Van Gogh Museum’s collection. You will see his masterpieces, plus his drawings and letters giving you insight into the ideas and ambitions behind his art. Van Gogh experienced life and the world intensely and wanted his art to portray the great themes of life, such as anxiety, suffering, love, and hope. Here you will learn about the ongoing struggle of an artist who was constantly trying to improve himself. In this museum, you get a new view of an artist you thought you knew.
Tulips and Flowers around Amsterdam
Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) and imported into the Netherlands in the 16th-century, tulips symbolized wealth. From the end of March to the middle of May, you will see The Netherlands in full bloom. If you want to see over a million flowering bulbs in one place, visit the spectacular and colorful bulb fields in the Noordoostpolder or Kop van Noord-Holland.
How about a flower bike route? You can easily make your way to Noordwijkerhout, but public transportation or rental car. Once there you can bike the Bloementourt by Bollenstreek, a 35 kilometers ride past the most charming flower fields and captivating flower bulbs that represent the Dutch culture and history. You will be able to see countless fields filled with colorful flowers. Some fields are open to the public and others are private where you will need to buy a ticket to get the best experience in the field. Don’t feel like working that hard on vacation? Electric scooters are also available!
Flower lovers must take a guided tour of the world’s largest flower auction, Royal FloraHolland. The Netherlands plays a role as the world’s flower shop, exporting all varieties of blooms to countries all over the world. The inside of Royal FloraHolland compares in size to the city of Monaco. Experience the hustle and bustle of the auction floor, watch traders bidding against the clock and be amazed at the number of beautiful flowers traded.
See how this auction process works and notice a variety of millions of flowers. You can watch the entire auction from a walkway above ground level. On an average day, 30 million cut flowers or more than 30,000 varieties pass through Royal FloraHolland. Now that is big business!
For an insider’s look, you can visit a local grower for an exclusive tour since most are not open to the public. Most are family-owned companies. The owner will greet you and guide you through his/her company. In addition to tulips, the growers have African Violets, Orchids, Roses, Hydrangeas, Gerbera Daisies, and more. Words cannot describe the glorious colors!
The Netherlands takes great pride in its bulb flowers, especially tulips. Visit the amazingly vibrant flower park, Keukenhof, the Garden of Europe, in Lisse, if you wish to see the tulips in all their glory.
With over 7 million bulbs planted every year, Keukenhof covers 70 acres. Every garden has a specific design and character. Climb the steps of the Groningen-type corn mill to see the view. See the exhibition of some 30 sculptures and other objects of art throughout the park.
A vast indoor spring garden showcases over 500 different varieties of flowers in 10 areas. If you happen to miss the tulip season, don’t worry. There are plenty of bulbed flowers that grow year-round at the park.
Floriade Expo 2022 is the only recurring horticultural Expo in Europe, taking place once every ten years. Located just outside of Amsterdam, the expo will take place in Almere. Considered the World’s Fair of horticulture with exhibits from 30 countries, the theme is “Growing Green Cities.” From April 14– October 9, 2022, visitors will enter the world of an unforgettable mix of various colors, scents, and experiences. Recently announced, VIP guided tours are available for this event. If you are interested in horticulture, this is a must-do experience!
The Hortus Bulborum is the only museum garden in the world where you can find over 4,000 different tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, and other bulbous cultivars, species, and varieties in bloom. Here you find such a fine selection of old bulbs dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. Every spring, the Hortus transforms into a treasure trove of dazzling colors, beautiful shapes, and overwhelming fragrances. Located at the foot of the picturesque parish church in Limmen village, near the historic city of Alkmaar, Hortus Bulborum can easily be worked into your Spring itinerary.
Windmills near Amsterdam
In the Netherlands, windmills sprouted from the ground like mushrooms from as early as the 12th century. In addition to managing water levels, windmills produced lumber, paint, oil, paper, flour, and mustard.
Visit windmill-dense areas like Kinderdijk and the Zaanse Schans, which Napoleon described as “unique in its kind” upon seeing the 600 windmills of the world’s first industrial area. On the second weekend of May, the Dutch celebrate National Windmill Day, when more than 950 windmills all over the country are open to visitors.
If you want to see the Netherlands of the 17th and 18th centuries go to Zaanse Schans. With its traditional characteristic green wooden houses, charming gardens, tradesmen’s workshops, historic windmills, and interesting little shops, Zaanse Schans is enjoyable for everyone to explore.
Windmills were used for sawing wood, drying land, hulling and threshing grains, nut oil production, paint, and mustard. Throughout your visit, you will see clog-making, a shipyard, a grocery store, a pewter factory, and a bakery. Learn how the mills work, climb the steep stairs, and have a spectacular view of the river Zaan.
Since there is so much more to see, do and eat in Amsterdam and The Netherlands, stay tuned for a future blog post about other highlights, including Jewish Amsterdam and World War II.
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