Amsterdam is a place on my bucket list to explore its staggering collection of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. Since I was child, national art museums in Japan have held various exhibitions of impressionism influenced by Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints) and I have long been a big fan of Van Gogh, who was one of the artists to love Ukiyo-e. If you are planning your visit to the city, here are the best things to do in Amsterdam.
1. Ride a bike through De Hoge Veluwe National Park for the day
My purpose to visit De Hoge Veluwe National Park was to explore Kröller-Müller Museum which holds the second largest number of Vincent van Gogh works. With nearly 90 paintings of Vincent van Gogh, Kröller-Müller Museum is one of the most interesting places to immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s world.Cycling is a great way to explore De Hoge Veluwe National Park. You can grab a bicycle for yourself free near the Visitor Center or Kröller-Müller Museum. Just remember to do as the locals do and to stay to your right and stick to the bike lanes. My son was a beginner at cycling but he was able to learn to ride his bike at the park as a by-product. He cycled totteringly and made a wide turn at every corner but everyone moved aside for him with a warm look.
2. Immerse yourself in Vincent van Gogh Museum
For Vincent van Gogh fans like me, there really is no way you can come to Amsterdam without stopping in Vincent van Gogh Museum, which holds the largest number of his works in the world. You can find your favorites or can feel as if you have known some pieces for a long time.
3.Visit the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is located next to Van Gogh Museum. Art lovers would rejoice to enter this museum dedicated to the great works of Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and modern film works. This was also my kids’ most favorite museum due to its modern art collection.
4. Wander Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum, the Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam, was renovated in 2013 with restoration of the lavish decoration scheme of Pierre Cuypers, the original architect of the museum. The museum is also home to a number of works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and a rich collection of Asian art. There are rooms dedicated to these masterpieces where natural light pours in through the windows.
5. Short day trip to Kunstmuseum Den Haag
In just over an hour by train you can reach Den Haag, the third largest city in the Netherlands. Den Haag is very different to Amsterdam and offers a more relaxed day with huge parks and walking paths in the forest. Be sure to try Broodje Haring Sandwich with raw herring, onions and pickles. If arts are more appealing to you, then you can’t go past a visit to Kunstmuseum Den Haag and Mauritshuis which is most famous for its Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
6. Learn at NEMO Science Museum
Dutch-Japanese relations have a long history beginning in the16th century as trading partners and from when the Japanese government invited Dutch engineers for land reclamations to protect against typhoons and floods. Many visitors flock here to experience the original playground where it’s possible to construct dams with real water and sand banks, but I would recommend the best way to learn science is by getting lost in this museum and viewing every attraction.
7. Be a tourist to see Windmills
If this is your first time visiting Amsterdam, you may wish to climb the steps to the top of the windmills in Kinderdijk, two hours train ride from Amsterdam central train station, or Zaanse Schans, a 40-minute train ride from Amsterdam central train station.
8. Feel the wind Canal Cruise
Cruising has long had a stereotype for being slow and boring, but the canal cruise of Amsterdam couldn’t be more iconic than other canal cruises. You would notice immediately that this city is best seen from the waterways.
9. Checking in: Lloyd Hotel
There are many reasons to love Amsterdam but for me, there’s none better than stylish local stores to pick up kitsch functional lifestyle products, cute stationary and a fresh bunch of flowers. A compilation of the colorful creations in Amsterdam is Lloyd Hotel which used to be a prison before being refurbished into a hotel.
The hotel feels like a well-designed living labyrinth as you walk the narrow hallways and find complicated stairs. There are various types of rooms from one bed room with a shared bathroom to a suite room for 8 people. My favorite place was a dining room which had wide windows to capture sunlight all day.
10. Eat cheap snacks at high-end patistory Patisserie Holtkamp
One of the city’s most popular croquette shops is Patisserie Holtkamp, so be sure to drop in if you are visiting Amsterdam.