In December 2014, CondéNastTraveler ranked Amsterdam as the 12th most popular city on the planet for tourists. However Amsterdam is best known for catering to certain adult pleasures, namely legal marijuana and the red light district—and the latter is meant primarily for men.
This is not to suggest that there aren’t plenty of women, too, who are intrigued by Amsterdam’s infamous, legal prostitutes, tempting passersby from window displays in the red light district. But nevertheless, one of the reputations attached to Amsterdam is that it’s a playground for men.
The reality, however, is that Amsterdam as a travel destination is much greater than the sum of its marijuana coffee houses and window prostitutes! And furthermore, it’s a beautiful and fascinating place to visit for anyone—not just men looking to explore their vices.
To begin with, Amsterdam is one of the most incredible cities in the world for people who enjoy museums. In fact, there’s an entire corner of the city known as the Museum Quarter, where some of the best collections of art in Europe can be found within a few city blocks of one another. The travel section for British news outlet Telegraph posted a nice outline of some of the best museums to visit that included the following: Rijksmuseum, where Rembrandt’s The Night Watch highlights a huge, sprawling collection of art from all ages; the Van Gogh Museum, where many of the famous Dutch artist’s works are housed; and even the Anne Frank House, a sort of memorial museum made from the very house in which the legendary Anne Frank hid from Nazis during World War II. There are additional museums as well, but these are some of the highlights, and each provides a world-class experience. It’s not common that a city offers the opportunity to see three or more museums of this calibre in such close proximity.
Amsterdam is also a beautiful destination for those who prefer outdoor attractions. While many of Europe’s biggest and most visited cities are home to breathtaking buildings and fascinating architecture, Amsterdam offers a different range of visual pleasures for the pedestrians and cyclists that frequent its streets and walkways. Chief among them are the canals for which the city is so famous. Earning Amsterdam the popular nickname of “Venice of the North,” the canals are organised in concentric circular arcs throughout the city, helping to build an incredibly unique landscape. Further visual delights exist on the canals, where boats cruise by and there are even floating marketplaces. Indeed, in listing off some of the most appealing attractions in Amsterdam for prospective travellers, BritishAirways names the famous “Floating Flower Market”—also known as the Bloemenmarkt—as something to behold. Consisting more or less of an endless line of rafts transformed into greenhouses and souvenir shops, it truly is a market upon the water. And finally, looking past the canals, there’s the Vondelpark area, one of the most beautiful and pleasant urban parks on the planet.
Getting past specific tourist attractions and destinations, Amsterdam is also known for its comforts beyond legal marijuana and prostitution. In particular, the city is noteworthy for its comfort foods, and most specifically a number of traditional, decadent desserts. EuroCheapo listed some of the desserts that travellers should seek out, including the famous stroopwafel—Amsterdam’s delicious waffle batter, stroop syrup, and cinnamon sandwich cake (for lack of a better term). The city is also a haven for beer lovers, not only because it’s the home of the Heineken headquarters but also because its local specialty breweries are the stuff of legend.
Combine all of this with the fact that the general atmosphere in Amsterdam—filled with friendly locals, excited tourists, and more cyclists and pedestrians than you can count—is far more pleasant than what you’ll find in a lot of European capitals and big cities. It’s a truly dynamic, amazing travel destination, and it’s there for all of us to enjoy!