On my fifth visit to Amsterdam, I finally made it a priority to visit the legendary Rijksmuseum.
This is one of the iconic tourist sites of this great city, along with other notable attractions like Anne Frank House and the Heineken Brewery.
With two days to spend in Amsterdam and with my hotel accommodations situated right at the edge of Museum Square, I was certainly going to get over to Rijksmuseum. So many of my friends have raved about this spot for years.
This Dutch national museum is worth a visit for the grounds and building as much as for the incredible works inside. You can see numerous masterpieces by Rembrandt (self portrait and "The Night Watch", Vermeer ("The Milkmaid"), Van Gogh (self portrait) and so many others. You could spend hours inside, and the Nightwatch Gallery is an impressive room dedicated to the massive painting of the hometown hero Rembrandt, who is a Netherlands native.
The Rijksmuseum dates to its founding in 1800, but the museum has been housed in the beautiful building at the end of the lawn on Museum Square since 1885, and it underwent a massive decade-long renovation that was completed in 2013.
Art fanatics will make a visit to Rijksmuseum a priority (ticket info) when coming to Amsterdam, but every traveler will find it worthwhile to spend a few hours here and in the surrounding area.
Parks -- Within the busy city confines, which I mostly associate with streets filled with pedestrians, cars and thousands of cyclists dodging each other, nature lovers will be pleased to know that Amsterdam has a handful of brilliant parks. I woke up one morning just as the city was coming alive and headed to Vondelpark for a run. I was amazed to find a serene place filled with trees, green grass ponds and wide paths and walkways. It grew busier and busier during my hour in the park on a Monday, as I was joined by people walking dogs, joggers and cyclists commuting to workplaces.
Vondelpark is especially lovely, as it follows meandering canals and is lined with trees and gorgeous old homes and historic buildings in spots at various entry points into the park. Sculptures, flower beds and exotic birds also fill the space (I saw a stunning green parrot fly overhead as I stopped on a small bridge over a canal within the park).
Other top parks include Rembrandtpark, Sarphatipark and Oosterpark.
I have found pubs with decent food, boisterous and friendly patrons and bartenders and showing sports on TVs. Rugby, soccer, cricket or Aussie rules football always lead to good conversations when I -- as an American traveler -- ask a fellow drinker who their favorite club is or "What the heck are the rules of this game?"
The late afternoon walkabout can quickly stretch into the late night with a few fun stops, several beers, a hearty meal and plenty of great memories. Just remember to keep enough of your wits to find your way back to your hotel.
Stedelijk Museum is home to the Netherlands' largest collection of modern art pieces. The Royal Concertgebouw also flanks the Museum Quarter. Tours are available for this music hall, which is reputed to have some of the best acoustics in the world. Concertgebouw offers free lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays (ticket required) and tours in English on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Many other museums are located throughout the city. The Anne Frank House is extremely popular, of course, but you might also want to look at Hermitage Amsterdam, Moco Museum, National Maritime Museum and the NEMO Science Museum. This NEMO Science Museum is a great choice for families and kids and is distinctive with its ship-shaped green sloped structure that sits at the waterfront and offers amazing views of the city center from its upper floors.
What are some of your favorite spots in Amsterdam?
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