While tourists flood the streets of Paris or Venice (where the Carnival is taking place on Valentine’s Day), many are left with little choices to woo their loved ones in a unique way. Amsterdam’s privileged location and perfect planning have made of the city by the Amstel one of the best romantic alternatives to many of its European sisters. And, since there is always an excuse to celebrate love, all seasons in Amsterdam can be romantic if you are in the mood for it.
But, is Amsterdam really that romantic? From beautiful canals to love taxis; from picturesque gardens to luxury hotels, Amsterdam has proved to be a city for all occasions. Here are 10 things to do in Amsterdam that serve as proof that there is no reason for you to skip a day of the year to celebrate the spirit of love.
1.- Stroll Along the Canals
When most people think of Amsterdam they think about the scent that fills the air but they might not precisely think of the scent of love. However, thanks to its picturesque canals and streets, Amsterdam has been named the “Venice of the North”. If you are looking for a wonderful and romantic atmosphere, take your loved one for a stroll along the beautiful and famous Amsterdam canals. No matter what time of the year, in Amsterdam love is in the air!
2.- Bike Tours
In general, Europe is a very bicycle-friendly continent but the city of Amsterdam in particular is famed for its bicycle culture. The city planning included well marked bicycle paths, which makes it easier to get around and is a much greener alternative to fuel-powered vehicles. So, if you are in Amsterdam, rent two bikes and discover the city the way locals see it. Get lost and get away from tourist traps and you’ll make of your Amsterdam visit a memorable one.
3.- Visit Museums
Amsterdam is well known for its culture and the abundance of museums. From the Rijk to the Van Gogh museum, you will be spoiled for choice. If you are looking for something unique, however, head down to the Erotic Museum with your other half. Here you’ll find interesting facts about the infamous Red Light District and some interesting artwork (including some of John Lennon’s lithogrpahs), as well as interesting erotic paraphernalia and more. It is located in the Red Light District, so it is perfect for knowing more about Amsterdam’s most famous district without fully immersing yourself in what could be a shocking experience for lovers.
4.- Stay in a Houseboat
Amsterdam is often compared to Venice thanks to its communion with water and thanks to romantic canals. But if you want to have a truly romantic experience, try renting a houseboat to spend the night rocking smoothly to the rhythm of the Amstel river.
5.- Visit a Flower Market/Keukenhof
Ah, the beautiful colors of spring! There is no better place in northern central Europe than Amsterdam for enjoying a true spectacle led by colourful tulips. There are many flower markets in the city itself and they all lend the place a wonderful atmosphere. However, for a truly unique experience, visit Keukenhof where beautiful gardens fill the landscape. It is open from March to May only.
6.- Avoid the Red Light District
Amsterdam’s Red Light District might very well be one of the most famous of its kind. Not exactly a very romantic place to be and not only because of the activities and services offered but because the place is frequented by people who are normally looking for a different type of fun. Taking photographs of the workers is frowned upon and might even cost you your camera. Let us not forget that it serves as a workplace for many people. Visit the erotic museum during the day and you’ll get to see the history of the district. Bonus: You are allowed to take photos inside the museum.
Koninginnedag (Quennsday) is the most popular outdoor celebration in the Netherlands. Celebrated on April 30th, this outdoor mega party is famous for its colourful and laid back atmosphere. You’ll be able to witness, and be a part of, the so-called orange craze, which consists of people wearing creative orange costumes while the city is adorned with orange banners and decorations. If you are into partying with your loved one, Queensday cannot be missed!
8.- Take a Boat Cruise or Get Around by Taxi
Particularly popular in the spring or the summer, boat cruises are a great way to see and, most importantly, feel the city the way it’s intended to be experienced. Taxis, sometimes called lovers water taxis, are a particularly interesting way to get around in Amsterdam.
9.- Stay in a Romantic Amsterdam Hotel
Perhaps John Lennon made Amsterdam hotels famous when he staged his bed-in for peace with his long-time honey, Yoko Ono. Whereas the same hotel still stands proudly and it is cleverly located along the Amstel, there are many more options to spend a wonderful time in Amsterdam. Of all hotels in Amsterdam, a whopping 42% of all beds available belong to 4 or 5-star establishments. Highly recommended are some of the best Amsterdam boutique hotels such as the Dylan, with uniquely-themed rooms and the Qbic, a budget boutique hotel with irreverent design.
10.- The Hash Museum
While we don’t condone the use of illegal substances, it is no secret to anyone that many tourists have one thing in mind when visiting Amsterdam: its famous “coffeeshops”. Coffeeshops are famous among locals and visitors alike and are part of Dutch culture to such an extent that tobacco is banned from coffeeshops while other substances remain legal. If you don’t want to be part of the smoky atmosphere you can find out all about it at the Hash Museum.
All images found on flickr and used under the creative commons license:
2.- Nir Nussbaum
8.- flabbergast ed