If you're planning a European trip, first read this list of reasons to include Amsterdam on your journey. You might be surprised by a few!
You'll Get to Know an Urban Village
One of my favorite things about Amsterdam -- and perhaps one of the lesser known facts -- is that the city is small enough (roughly 740,000 locals inhabit its central area) that visitors can get a real feel for its people, neighborhoods, sights and secrets. Compared to sprawling Paris and London, this European capital is more of a village -- and visitors can see nearly all of it on a bike ride
, walking tour
or public transportation in just a few days. This accessibility means you'll spend your time making memories instead of making sense of an overwhelming itinerary to see too much in too little time.
A Floating City is Truly MagicalMost people who've never even been to Amsterdam have at least heard about its canals. They are certainly worth seeing, as the 165 waterways create a seemingly floating city of 90 islands connected by 1,281 bridges. A canal cruise is a must-do activity in Amsterdam; and just walking the winding, narrow streets along the waters will give you a sense of the magic this city possesses.
You'll Get One of Europe's Best Visual History LessonsWith more than 6,800 houses and buildings protected as monuments and dating from the 16th to the 20th century, Amsterdam boasts the largest historical inner city in Europe. The towering, sturdy warehouses and elegant homes built by wealthy merchants during Holland's Golden Age (the 17th century) line the city's canals and are perhaps its most distinguishing architectural features.
Unique, World-class Museums Abound
Take your pick: see the works of Dutch masters and treasures of a time when Amsterdam was the richest city in the world at the Rijksmuseum
; learn about the styles and secrets of the man who could be considered Holland's most interesting painter at the Van Gogh Museum
; or walk through the tiny annex that a group of eight called home for two years during Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in World War II at the Anne Frank House
. These are among the top museums in Amsterdam, but there are nearly 50 more to teach, entertain or move you.