Originally founded in the 13th century as a fishing village, Amsterdam quickly grew into an invaluable port. It played an especially significant role during the Dutch Golden Age, when the Netherlands’ trading empire spanned much of the globe. Today tourists are drawn to the city for its storied history and its world-class museums – not to mention its infamous red light district and cannabis shops.
The Netherlands is known for its famous painters, and Amsterdam offers the chance to see hundreds of their works in person. Visitors will find masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and many others in the opulent Rijksmuseum. Just across the Museumplein lies the Van Gogh Museum, featuring a huge collection of the troubled artist’s vivid classics. Amsterdam’s museums also commemorate its past. Tourists can learn more about the city’s seafaring history at the National Maritime Museum, and discover the harrowing life of World War II’s most celebrated young diarist at the Anne Frank House.
Though Amsterdam is visually steeped in its past, it is very much a 21st century city. Shoppers can find big name retailers on Kalverstraat, hip boutiques in the 9 Streets district, vintage steals at Noordermarkt, and many unique concept stores. Foodies will find far more than just traditional fare–Amsterdam boasts a variety of global cuisine, and its seaside location guarantees a wealth of fresh seafood. The nightlife buzzes in brightly-lit hubs like Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. With its many art collectives, breweries, and music venues, Amsterdam appeals to just about everyone’s interests.
It’s no wonder that Amsterdam draws more than 5 million visitors each year. Its beautiful buildings and creative spirit have both stood the test of time and evolved with the changing times.