When you ask where to visit in Amsterdam a few well known attractions and places get mentioned – Anne Frank House; Rijksmuseum; Rembrandt; Leidseplein; Heineken Experience; Red Light District; Vondelpark or the Van Gogh Museum. If you’re looking to add a few different spots to that list, here are 5 lesser-known things to do and see while in Amsterdam.
Aside from tulips, clogs, and canals, windmills are also part of the Netherland’s heritage and culture. Zaanse Schans, known for its windmills and the production and processing of chocolate, is in the peaceful neighbourhood of Zaaandam. It’s a chance to step away from the bustling city centre and in under 20 minutes, step into a beautiful and picturesque area. It’s the perfect location for a day trip. I did a half day trip leaving first thing in the morning so that’s also an option. Once you get to Zaanse Schans, you’ll find shops, barns, workshops and a museum that hosts interactive chocolate making exhibitions. If you can visit this town while in Amsterdam, it’s definitely worth it.
Not all of the attractions are open every day so double check on the Zaanse Schans website for more information. www.dezaanseschans.nl
Begijnhof – the hidden homes
Behind the narrow streets of Amsterdam (and a large wooden door) you’ll find Begijnhof, a private Hofje (courtyard) made up of historical buildings. It was a former women’s religious community with its own church. It has a communal grassy common area and beautifully built homes.
Begijnhof is a place you’ll want to have a wander around just because it’s so different from the Amsterdam you literally stepped away from only moments before.
Just a few steps through a beautifully decorated passage of yellow, cream and grey-blue tiles, and you’ll be in beautiful Begijnhof.
When I say you’ll almost feel like you’ve walked through the wardrobe and into a Narnia with a more village-esque exterior, you’ll understand why. It’s like stepping into a new city as you leave the busy, loud streets of another behind.
One word to sum up Begijnhof? Peaceful.
Jordaan – the other district
If you want to venture to a another district on the outskirts of Amsterdam’s city centre, head to Jordaan for a few hours. West of Amsterdam’s central station, Jordaan is a trendy district and much quieter in comparison.
The area makes for a great place to unwind and chill. There’s a smattering of little boutique shops and restaurants in and around the streets that would make a nice pit-stop for a quick snack or dinner.
I visited on my last day so couldn’t spend as much time there as I’d have liked, but it’s a lovely district in itself and I enjoyed walking around the area for a change of pace.
Beautiful views at A’DAM LOOKOUT
A’DAM LOOKOUT is Amsterdam’s viewing platform. If you want amazing vistas over the city, then this is the place to be. It also has something for the thrill seekers out there – Europe’s highest swing aptly named Over the Edge! It literally does swing fearless passengers over the buildings edge!
From the moment you walk through the doors your experience starts. Before heading up you to the top floor you have the opportunity to get your picture taken. Your backdrop – views taken from the different sides of the platform. Next comes the lift. Now, I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll say it’s a lift with a difference!
Once you’re at the top you’ll have a 360-degree view of Amsterdam’s port and the old city.
Information, tickets and times
For more information and tickets, visit the website. https://www.adamlookout.com.
Seven Bridges Amsterdam
Something else to see is Seven Bridges Amsterdam. The name is a bit of a giveaway. It’s the meeting point of seven bridges which can all be seen at one time from the Reguliersgracht canal, which passes through the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals. The best way to see them all is by boat since you’ll see the consecutive effect of them one after another. I went at night on a canal cruise and saw the seven bridges lit up. It was beautiful! The picture below gives you an idea of what I mean.
An evening canal cruise is a great way to see the night life of Amsterdam.
These are just a few other places you should add to the usual tourist attractions list for Amsterdam if you’re planning a visit. Do you have any other interesting places to visit or things to do in Amsterdam?