Netherlands is beautiful. Amsterdam, the most famous of the cities in Netherlands offers more to the tourists than the stereotype. If you are done with strip clubs and drugs then head to its natural beauty and other tourist gems which are mostly neglected .
Amsterdam is not just about cheese, windmills, red-light district and intoxicating substances, neither it is only about art, endless bicycles and massive poppies. There is much more life to this city than currently known to an average traveler. I spent a few days here and absolutely loved the city and its outskirts. If you are looking for things to do in Amsterdam then this post is not for you. But if you want to know what extra can be done in this city then read on.
Visit the Museum of Bags & Purses
If you are a diehard fan of bags and purses like me then you should visit the Tassen Museum of Bags & Purses in Amsterdam. With 4000 bags in this collection, you will have a gala time understanding the origin of our most popular fashion accessory. The most valuable item on exhibit is a sixteenth-century men’s goat-skin belt pouch with iron clasps. Apart from it, you have bags made of turtle shells, mother of pearl, snake skin, etc. Channel and Hermes bags from the 70’s are also on display to mark the modern bag era. The guide gives a detailed tour of the three storey museum, giving out the history of the bags in the humankind and talking about the evolution of vanity in the European women. The museum store has some interesting souvenirs like tiny bag and lipstick shape key chains, etc.
If you are a beer fan and want to have juvenile fun with interactive light and sound activities then this place is one great stop to spend your early evening. We went there the same day we arrived in Amsterdam. The plus side is you also get to drink 3 pints of beer towards the end. (Included in the ticket price). More than that, it gives you the history of brewery and how the business grew over the years under one roof. You will also experience the process of brewing with a 4D movie. It is interesting for the 18 plus generation. Very young kids will feel bored and of course will not be offered beer to drink. Going across 5 floors is tiring but once you get freshly brewed chilled beer towards the end, all you think about is where should you party next?
Try street food like the pickled herring
If you can eat Sushi and Sashimi then there is no harm in trying pickled herring (raw cured fish). Served with dark rye bread, crisp bread, sour cream, or potatoes this dish is as original as it can get. One of Netherlands authentic traditional offerings is definitely not for the weak hearted. It comes in various flavours, but the original is cured in salt, sugar and vinegar and is often accompanied with pickle and onion slices. This dish is common during Christmas, Easter and Midsummer. Traditionally, it was preserved for consumption throughout the year as fishing was restricted to a couple of months. This is not available everywhere so you need to scout a good fish stand selling pickled herring if you want to eat it the Dutch way. You can also try the Dutch Fries (not French fries) topped with various sauces, excellent bakery stuff like sausage puffs, Apple-pie, etc. I tried bakery food at Bakker Bart and it was delicious.
Food tour in Amsterdam
Take one of the various food tours offered at Amsterdam. You can get to taste various forms of Dutch pancakes (both savory and sweet), cheese samples, a strong liquor called Geneve (loved its amethyst purple colour), sausages, chocolates and much more. This is a great way to know the local cuisine. Or go exploring the city on your own with a list of things you want to taste. The Carousel Pancake house is one of the famous joints for tasting Dutch pancakes. Hard Rock Café, the famous burger joint, serves burgers on a boat. You should go to Jacketz where you get variety of Jacket Potato in your choice of fillings. Believe me those things are massive and you need to have a serious appetite. You can order for a grapefruit beer as well to go with your baked potato. If you are conscious about your calorie intake then I suggest that you combine your passion of cycling and food together with ‘Cycling food tours’ in Amsterdam. Eat and burn, honey!
Visit Utrecht area
If you drive and love countryside then this is a perfect getaway from the Amsterdam city. This town at the outskirts of Amsterdam is pretty as a picture. The landscape is dotted with beautiful vintage cottages that have a Tea room right at the gate. In older days, people of Netherlands were accustomed to drink tea in the afternoon and it was very common for a neighbor to drop by for a bit of chatter. People would find ways to socialize with each other and afternoon teas were one of the popular options. There are small canals beside the roads where tiny jetties are parked against several houses (just like we park cars in the garage). After all, it is one of their popular modes of transportation. If you are lucky then you will find many sheeps and cows grazing in the open. It looks like a picture out of childhood story books.
Castle de Haar (Haarzuilens, Utrecht)
The castle and the grounds are beautiful. I think Disney had taken inspiration from this castle while designing their stories. The daughter of the Rothschild family had invested a lot of money in creating this beautiful property. Artefacts from all over the world enhance the décor of this castle. The couple Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, married Hélène de Rothschild, who honeymooned for two years (talk about lavishness) and brought back souvenirs from across the world which decorate this castle. The carvings on the wall are brilliant. The furniture and the interiors spell class and vintage sophistication. Now the castle belongs to the five baronesses (daughters of Thierry van Zuylen) who come down once a year, for a month. They have given responsibilities of the maintenance and upkeep of the property to a trust. Taking pictures inside the castle is prohibited but it is so visually appealing that it leaves a lasting impression upon you. A must visit if you love the yester era opulence.
EDM/Hiphop/Folk – Amsterdam Music Festival
If you love EDM and are visiting Amsterdam between summer and autumn then you can participate in one of the music festivals or may be explore the night clubs where EDM is the way of life. From Armin to Afrojack, you can get your EDM fix at the land of DJs in a more happening environment where you can enjoy music with EDM fans from all over the world. Hiphop fans can look for Nederhop festivals. Else, explore the folk music and dance scene in Netherlands with clog dancing and folk song shows.
Adults only please. If you had your share of window shopping at the red-light district area, the visit to a strip club and may be more, but still want to explore the city’s raunchy side then you can visit the sex museum in Amsterdam. There is a small sex museum in the heart of the Amsterdam red light district, de Wallen which depicts the history and evolution of human eroticism. Images, caricatures, ancient toys, hilarious puppets performing an act and a lot more is showcased there. Though, this museum is smaller than the Venus Temple, in Damark, yet it is interesting.