The tranquil Begijnhof in the heart of Amsterdam is like a village square in a metropolis. It was established in the 14th century as a residence for pious women who did not want to enter a convent. The court was founded in the 14th century and is surrounded by the Kalverstraat, Spui and the Nieuwe Zijdsvoorburgwal. In the 17th and 18th, the facades were replaced, but 18 of the houses still have a gothic, wooden frame. There’s still one wooden façade visible, the Begijnhofkapel in which there are paintings about the miracle of Amsterdam and the English Church. The Begijnhof is open to visitors on mornings only.
The Jordaan is one of the most charming neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Originally established for the working class in the 17th century, the district is now home to many students, artisans and young professionals. The Jordaan is made up of two parts: the north and south Jordaan, separated by the Rozengracht. Both areas are excellent for shopping, strolling along the canals or sitting in a cosy cafe or restaurant.
The former Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam offers some 3000 square metres of special exhibition space. Discover the art of brewing beer. Be a bottle. Brew your own beer and see why Heineken is the worlds most famous brand in beer. A visit to the Heineken Experience attraction takes about 90 minutes. Tickets are € 15,- (two drinks included). The Heineken Experience is open Monday through Sunday from 11.00 – 19.00 hrs. Address: Stadhouderskade 78
Floating flower market
The Singel flower market is one of the most colorful and fragrant places of interest of Amsterdam in all four seasons. It is unique in that the merchandise is displayed on floating barges. This is a relic from the days when the flowers and plants sold at this market were shipped in from the horticultural areas around the city by barges. Fresh flowers are still brought in every day; by vans, however, and no longer by boat.
Amsterdam is a city of water and, it follows, of bridges. Amsterdam has no fewer than 1,281 bridges. Since the 17th century a maze of canals has divided downtown Amsterdam in 90 islands. The many hundreds of bridges link the islands. The canals have made Amsterdam famous. Small wonder, as the city has more canals than Venice and more bridges than Paris. At night, most of the downtown bridges are romantically illuminated. Of all the bridges, the Skinny Bridge is probably the best known (between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht). This picturesque wooden drawbridge was built across the river Amstel in 1670.
Royal Palace Amsterdam
In Amsterdam’s Dam square you will find the Koninklijk Paleis – Royal Palace – in a building that was built 350 years ago as Amsterdam’s town hall. Amsterdam financed its town hall’s construction largely with funds acquired overseas. The former town hall reflects the immense wealth accumulated via the commercial relations of the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie – the East India Company. In the Palace you can admire beautiful marble sculptures and paintings representing the overseas trade. You can literally walk across the oceans in the present palace’s most beautiful room, the Burgerzaal. Queen Beatrix doesn’t actually live here, but from time to time she does receive important guests in the palace.
The Old Church
Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk (“old church”) is situated in the heart of the Red Light District. First built by fishermen in 1300 when Amsterdam was just a fishing village on the River Amstel, the original structure has been expanded upon over the centuries. Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. The floor consists entirely of gravestones, there are 2500 graves in the Oude Kerk (also Rembrandts wife was buried here). The roof of the Oude Kerk is the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe. With its excellent acoustics, the church often hosts world-renowned orchestral, organ and choir concerts. It also accommodates art and photo exhibitions, most notably the annual awards ceremony for the World Press Photo Exhibition (april-june). If accompanied by a guide, visitors can climb the tower to enjoy spectacular views over the city. A Carillon Concert takes place every Tuesday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m., with the bridge in front of the church providing the best spot to take in this charming weekly event.
City zoo Artis
Artis is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. Enjoy the 19th-century atmosphere of the gardens: the winding paths, majestic trees, the fascinating sculptures and the monumental historical buildings. In an area of 14 hectares around 700 species of animals provide an overview of the entire animal kingdom. Artis’s renowned Aquarium brings you face to face with … the secret life of Amsterdam’s canals. Around the zoo you’ll find many more Dutch and European animal and plant species, as well as more exotic ones. Artis is a Zoo but also has Botanical gardens, Zoological Museum, Geological Museum and Planetarium.
As a former gasworks on the edge of of Amsterdam (West) the Westergasfabriek is now a Culture Park. The industrial monuments and the surrounding park form a multifunctional space and a modern city park. From early in the morning there’s fresh bread and fine coffee at the Baker’s Shop and the Espresso Factory. There are various galleries and shops, Pacific Parc cafe restaurant and the food-design studio Proef. The Ketelhuis Cinema shows the latest films and in the Flex Bar you can dance late in the night. The modern park surrounding the site offers plenty of space, peace and nature; for a picknick, to throw a frisby or a pleasant walk.
From city centre: Tram 10 stop Van Limburgstirumplein or bus 21 stop at Van Hallstraat. You will find the Westergasfabriek on the other side of the canal (Haarlemmertrekvaart).
The NDSM wharf, a former shipyard on the northern banks of the IJ, is now a center for underground culture in Amsterdam. This huge area contains the NDSM hall, the Docklandshal and two historic ship slipways(Hellingen) housing workshops and artists’ studios. The spacious, rough character of the NDSM wharf lends itself wonderfully to all manner of outdoor events, such as exhibitions and festivals, including the annual Over het IJ Festival. Apart from the slipways, the outdoor area contains also the Noorderlicht, a café-restaurant. And the IJ-Kantine, a cheerful and modern decorated brasserie for lunch and dinner, situated at the water of the NDSM yard. Take the free NDSM ferry behind Central Station, for a 10-12 minute boatride to the NDSM area.