Amsterdam, capital of Netherlands is a must-visit place of Europe. I have numerous memories associated with this place and I am sure everyone does after visiting this mega-city even once. If you are first time visitor to Amsterdam, it can be daunting to prioritize which places to see and what to do. This blog is to list my top five preferences for you – Royal Palace, Zaanse Schaans, Anne Frank House, Madame Tussauds wax museum and Bloemenmarket. You are bound to have different choices, but may be these seem attractive enough to slip in your itinerary as well. I have not included any museums because if you have to be economical about time, then you can really avoid them. Though I can assure you there are dozens of them and with usual art/history backgrounds to absolutely ‘out-of-the-box’ concepts for entertainment.
Why to go? This magnificent 350 year old Palace from the Golden Age, has stunning marble floors, exquisite rooms with charming interiors, paintings, gigantic chandeliers, sculptures and this palace is still used for ‘ royal events, official receptions and state visits’ by the Dutch Royal house. It was originally built as a town hall and was converted into a palace by Louis Bonaparte initially (1808) and later again by the Prince William of Orange in 1813.
How to reach this place? Palace is located on Dam Square. It takes minutes to walk from Amsterdam Central Station. Okay, here is a map link anyway so that you don’t get lost 🙂
Entry Fee and Timings Entry costs 10 euros for adults and Free entry for children and teens (under 18). Student price 9 euros. Palace is open almost daily from 10 a.m. to 17.00. Free (included in the entry price) audio guides are available in different languages (Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Russian). There are these panels kept in front of the rooms and corridors, just scan the audio equipment and the guide starts. A short movie with English subtitles is available before you start exploring the palace. For more info, click here.
Final verdict I am going to highly recommend this place, I myself discovered it quite accidentally. It’s value for money and time. One can easily spend 1 to 2 hours. Though it’s only ground plus 1 floor, everything stunning is on the first floor. It is perfect to hide on a cold, rainy or extremely hot day. Though, toddlers might not find particularly fascinating for their age.
Why to go? If you fancy the traditional lifestyle, a break from hustle-bustle of busy Amsterdam and open-air walk on a nice sunny day, then Zaanse Schans is the place to escape. Zaanse Schans is a place with variety of mini live museums with people wearing regional costumes. It has lot to offer- from clog (wooden shoes) making demonstration, museum for cheese making process, farm animals, windmills, cute little shops, restaurants all comprised in a single neighborhood.
How to reach this place?I was staying at a hotel in Sloterdijk area and it took only half an hour by Rnet-bus to reach Zaanse Schans. Rnet-bus 391 runs from Amsterdam Central station every fifteen minutes and takes 40 minutes to reach the location. Though a train from Amsterdam Central station takes only 17 minutes to reach nearest station called Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans, followed by 15 minute walk till the location.
Entry Fee and Timings Few attractions at this place start opening around as early as 8.00 a.m and the rest progress to open by 9.00, 9.30 or 10.00. The entry to the open air museum is free. Windmills can be entered separately at a small fee. Farm animals, clog factory and few other places can be covered without any charges. Some of the attractions are free of charge, while others require access using Zaanse Schans card. Zaanse Schans card costs 15 euros for adults, 10 euros for children between 4-17 and free for children below 4. They take a picture as soon as you enter the area, and offer it to you in form of calendar when you are about to leave for a price.
Final verdict I will recommend this place for families with kids as well as adults. It’s a fun place to be, rediscover rural life, watch working windmills and go cheese tasting.
Madame Tussads Museum
Why to go? Simple answer of why to visit the museum would be to appreciate wax sculptor Marie Tussauds work by enjoying real life wax figures of eminent personalities from the field of music, sports, art, TV and movies. One should definitely visit either one of the 22 Madame Tussauds present around the world if not the original largest museum in London. Amsterdam was closest and easily accommodated in our itinerary. It was the first location outside of England to host the wax figures.
How to reach this place? Museum is located on Dams Square, easy to spot and reachable after a 10 minute walk from the Amsterdam Central station.It’s next to the Royal Palace mentioned above. Here is the google map link to add in your list. It is easy to reach Dam Square by taking a tram, bus or car.
Entry Fee and Timings Online ticket costs 19.50 euros and costs about 25 euros if you purchase on the spot. Hence, I strongly advise to purchase online tickets. It is open from 9.30 a.m to 8.00 p.m. every day. Students can avail for discounts.
Final verdict Ohh, It’s a wonderful place to enjoy with your family! It is suitable for kids, teens and adults. Though I would agree it’s expensive for the price, but if you are not sure of visiting any other wax museum then may be at least visit this museum in Amsterdam. I am not sure if it is worth the numerous pictures with your idols and celebrities.
Anne Frank House
Why to go? As a teenager, I had read ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and keeping this house visit on my itinerary was an absolute must. For every person who has read the life she led in that house, it becomes absolutely necessary to visit the place. I visited this place in 2009 and took the below picture in my 2018 visit. It’s one of it’s own, only house which will make you realize the hardships Frank family faced and a point of view of a young soul amidst the troubled times. Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father was the only one who returned from the Nazi camp and discovered Anne’s diary and her writings. He helped in turning their 2 year hiding place – Secret Annex during World War II into a museum.
How to reach this place?Official address of this place is Prinsengracht 263 but the entrance of this museum is at Westermarkt 20. It is 12 minute walk from Dam square. Amsterdam Westermarkt would be the nearest tram (tram no. 13, 17) and bus station (Bus no 282, 283, 284).
Entry Fee and TimingsEighty percent of the tickets for Anne Frank House are sold online two months prior to your visit at noon. Back in 2009 this wasn’t the case,I believe, it has grown in popularity I believe, so have the number of visitors. Point is that book your tickets when you book your flight tickets. Only 20% of tickets are released on the same day at 9.00 a.m. Last year, we saw scores of people waiting outside the house, trying to book even those 20% of the tickets. It is not easy to get these tickets, if you are struggling with internet abroad, credit card details etc. be prepared. House is open from 9:00 to 19:00 (November to April) and 9:00 to 22.00 (April to November). Adult ticket price costs 10 euros, for ages 10-17 cost 5 euros and it’s free for kids below 9.
Final verdict Please keep time for this place on your itinerary. It’s a must visit to all teenagers, adults and youngsters. If you have trouble walking or squeezing in narrow places then please be warned as there are lot of narrow stairs to climb. Nearby canals are quite picturesque as well and try to find the Anne Frank statue around the corner from the museum. Photography is not allowed, so this place is meant only to cherish someone else’s memories and create your own.
Why to go? Bloemenmarkt is only for flower-lovers. Must-visit only if one enjoys looking at beautiful flowers, buying them and appreciate them. Walk through the cutest street of Amsterdam with shops and restaurants on the other side as well as a canal nearby. It is the only floating flower market of the world. All the stalls are floating on house boats. In olden days, fresh flowers were provided by boats. It is best place to spot colorful tulips, buds which can be purchased, and traveled with across the airport. Everything related to gardening is available at this location.
How to reach this place? It is located on a canal between Koningsplein tram station (tram no.24) and Muntplein tram station (tram no. 2, 11, 12). You can take the same bus (283, 284) that stops near Anne Frank house mentioned above. Here is the exact location on map.
Entry Fee and TimingsIt’s an open market, hence no entry fees are applicable. Shops are open from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Final verdict Imagine you can’t make time to visit the Keukenhof gardens for some reason, then at least visit this market to enjoy looking at flowers. Beware not all of them are real but it’s difficult to tell the difference easily. I liked the vibe of this street – flower shops offering variety of flowers, bulbs, souvenir shops, restaurants and cheese shops. Also after seeing the first shop, the rest may feel repetitive.
By the time, I am finishing this blog, I am reanalyzing if these are ‘really’ must see places of Amsterdam. As far as I see it, if you complete even two day trip in Amsterdam and by the time you complete these five places you will be positively assured that you have seen everything that ‘Holland’ OR ‘Netherland’ is famous for – artistic royal palace, windmills, Cheese, clog making shops, wax museum, Anne Frank house, canals and tulips. What more can you ask if you are a budget traveler with limited time.