Europe’s Sin City Has Museums, Europe’s Best Red Light District, Nightlife & A Brewery Tour
For Amsterdam first-time travelers, those who haven’t been there in a while or don’t remember being there at all, here’s a rundown of the top things to do for a short trip to Europe’s Sin City.
PubClub.com provides this suggested two-day itinerary, tho we do suggest if you are enjoying one activity so much you don’t make it to another, don’t worry. That’s the way things often happen in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Day 1 Things To Do
• Bike Tour
Amsterdam has more bikes than cars so do as the locals do and ride one. You can set off on your own but for first-timers, it’s recommended to take a tour. This way, you’ll learn your way around the city (somewhat anyway; the layout is like that of a spoked bike wheel and with canals and arched bridges everything looks the same so it’s very easy to get lost) and get in a nice, refreshing bit of exercise. A two-hour tour is about 30 Euros. If you really like this, then the next day take a tour out to the Dutch countryside (about $40 for half a day).
Tip: There are twice as many bike thefts as there are bikes in Amsterdam (yes, stolen bikes even get stolen here!). So LOCK IT UP, FOLKS!
Location: There are bike shops all over the city.
• The Red Light District
Okay, we know why you’re here and you’re itching to get at it. Amsterdam has the world’s most famous Red Light District. This is in part because it’s all, well, just out there for you to see and experience.
There are girls of every style (and size!) in lingerie giving you come-hither looks as well as sex shops (go in and have a look around; this will keep you occupied for a while), a sex museum and sex shows with couples actually doing it on stage. When you need a break, there’s also a few pubs (PubClub suggests the Old Sailor) and coffee shops.
• The Coffee Shops
If you’re from America or have been to, say, Vienna, then the coffee shops you are used to there are nothing like the ones in Amsterdam. Here, the words “coffee shop” are code for pot places. Here, you can purchase cannabis (to smoke or in edibles) and few other minor hallucinogens such as “poppers” and consume them on the premises.
It came as quite a surprise to me when I went into these places to discover they are so mellow and quiet. I half expected people to be dancing on tables and partying it up like in a fraternity house. Instead, it’s so quiet you have to whisper to talk and everyone was sitting slumped – stoned – in the back of chairs.
Also, watch out for the strength of the edibles.
Location: Most – but certainly not all – coffee shops are located in or adjacent to the Red Light District. The Bulldog (several locations) is kind of the McDonald’s of the Amsterdam coffee shops.
• The Bars – The Leidseplein
There are so many bars and clubs in Amsterdam forget about trying to cram them all into one night. Heck, two nights is tough. The best thing to do in order to maximize your time is to spend your first night in this area and the next in the Rembrandtsplein. There are dozens of bars and clubs in both areas. Tip: Start your night (before 10 p.m.,) at the tiny Bastille Day pub. It’s packed by 11 and you may be having so much fun with those packing the place you may not leave.
Amsterdam Day 2 Things To Do
• The Ann Frank Museum
Even it you’re not a museum person, then go here. It’s the hideout where a young Ann Frank and her family hid from the Nazis – who were pursing Jews all over Europe and sending them to death camps – until betrayed.
Ann kept a dairy of the days here, and seeing her family’s hiding place up close provides a place of quiet reflection of the fear they felt every day. The thing that surprised me the most was how large the area is; I had pictured a tiny attic-type place. Sill, they had to be completely quiet in the daytime, as the bottom floor was a business.
Can you imagine being a rambunctious kid and having to be quiet all day!? Ann died in the Auschwitz concentration camp; her father was the lone family survivor and found her diary after the war. Note that the museum is often less crowded in late afternoons and early evenings.
Across the street, by the way, is a cheese museum; its admission price is only one Euro.
Hours: April 1-Oct. 31:Every day from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (Saturdays unitl 10 p.m.)
Nov. 1-March 31: Every day from 9.m.-7 p.m. (Saturdays until 9 p.m.)
Location: Prinsengracht 263
• The Rijksmuseum
If there’s one other museum you should visit while in Amsterdam, it’s Rijksmuseum. With more than 8,000 pieces of art – including Rembrandt’s landmark The Night Watch – and artifacts, it’s one of the finest museums in Europe.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: €17.50 (Get in advance on line or from your hotel)
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
• Canal Cruise
Jump in a boat and cruise the canals. There are all kinds of options here, including a hop-on/hop-off cruise, a pizza cruse and, of course, a cocktails cruise. You could, of course, flip this and the bike tour on your schedule.
• Heineken Brewery Tour – The Heineken Experience
For backpackers, this used to be one of the top things to do in Amsterdam. You would shuffle through boring “how we make beer” videos and then you drink beer! It was pretty much all you could down in 20 minutes or so, which was backpackers’ heaven. Even though you had to be there at 9 a.m.
Now things have changed. It’s a 1 1/2-hour self-guided tour, tho you still get beers at the end (no refills!). And it’s open for several hours. Saturday is the most popular day.
Hours: Monday to Thursday – 10:30 till 19:30 (Last admission 17:30)
Friday to Sunday – 10:30 till 21:00 (Last admission 19:00)
Location: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE (Trams 7, 10 and 24 stop around the corner)
• The Bars – The Rembrandtsplein
This area tends to have more of a 30s-plus crowd while the Leidseplein is more 20s-30s.