Architecture, history, culture, good food, this Dutch city has it all
The floating flower market at Singel in Amsterdam. Photograph: iStock
Amsterdam’s ornate gable-fronted houses are a national treasure, as are the flower markets, the canals and the many pedal bikes that can be seen whizzing around this intimate city.
It’s also been known for many other things down through the years, but for the most part it has shed its more unsavoury image and tourists are now attracted to the Dutch city instead for the architecture, the culture and the good food.
There is much to do in Amsterdam, especially if you only have a short amount of time, as it’s compact and, of course, one of the main means of transport – bikes – makes it very easy to get around.
Around the Canal Ring, you will find exceptional architecture dating back to the Dutch Golden Age, when building tax was calculated by the width of the property and therefore you will find some of the narrowest houses in the world in Amsterdam.
Most notable examples can be found at Singel 7, Oude Hoogstraat 22 and Kloveniersburgwal 26 but the narrowest was built around 1600 at Oude Hoogstraat. At 2.02m wide and only 5m deep, with just one small room on each floor, the house is open to the public as “the smallest tea room in Amsterdam”. Reservations for afternoon tea are essential. hetkleinstehuis.nl
Markets are another big feature of the city, with arguably the liveliest and largest being the Albert Cuyp in the district De Pijp. It is the biggest outdoor market in Europe, selling everything from flowers to fish, books and foodstuff. It’s open every day except Sunday.
Other markets include Waterlooplein (Waterloo Square), a flea market where you’ll find old records, vintage clothes, and many other fun things. Flowers and other merchandise are displayed on floating barges at Singel and tourists often buy tulip bulbs to bring home. This market is open every day.
Nowhere else in the world will you find as many of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings, as at the Van Gogh museum. Displaying more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 written documents including his masterpieces – self-portraits, Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, and The Bedroom, it also houses works by the painter’s friends or those he influenced and should not be missed when in the city. vangoghmuseum.nl.
The nearby Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, also located on Museumplein, are worth a visit too, as they are only a short stroll away.
The Anne Frank House is situated in the centre of the city, and holds the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the second World War. Her original diary, along with some other notebooks, are on display as part of the Anne Frank House’s permanent exhibition. Other exhibitions include a focus on the wartime persecution of Jews, contemporary fascism, racism and anti-Semitism. annefrank.org
There are many lovely boutique hotels in the city, but the Sir Adam Hotel, overlooking the IJ river and the historic city centre has everything the business traveller requires and you can also enjoy a burger at The Butcher Social Club. sirhotels.comHotel JL No 76 is a four-star hotel, housed in two completely renovated 18th-century mansions, in the heart of Amsterdam’s museum and fashion district. This is a lovely spot for a restful night’s sleep and is in close proximity to all the sights. hoteljlno76.com
Elegance and tradition are two of the stand-out traits at one of Amsterdam’s finest restaurants, de Silveren Spiegel (the Silver Mirror). The restaurant dates from the Dutch Golden Age, the 17th century, so you can experience the ambience of this time period. Private rooms are also available for business meetings. desilverenspiegel.com
Senses is an intimate restaurant with an open kitchen where chef Lars Bertelsen has created an unconventional menu with surprising food combinations. The dishes are made using the freshest seasonal and, where possible, sustainable ingredients, and you can choose from a weekly three- to seven-course surprise menu. sensesrestaurant.nl
Have cocktails at the Dylan’s Bar Brasserie OCCO where quality, craftsmanship, and service are the main attractions. occo.nl
Beautifully turned-out staff will serve you delicious cocktails at Hiding in Plain Sight, which is located near the Jodenbuurt. hpsamsterdam.com
Aer Lingus and Ryanair have regular flights from Dublin to Amsterdam.