Travel Tuesday: Top 5 Things to Do in Amsterdam

Brittany Leaning, a Tripper currently studying at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont shares with us her top five recommendations for the city of Amsterdam, where she was an exchange student and dreams of returning soon.

1) The Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is a must-see when visiting Amsterdam. You will see some of the most famous Dutch paintings hanging as originals - right before your eyes. The museum goes through the life of Vincent Van Gogh from his early days to his last. It also includes pieces by artists such as Monet and Picasso to emphasize the inspiration of that time period.

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2) The Squares

There are three very popular squares to stop by when you’re visiting Amsterdam: Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein, and Dam Square. “Plein” in Dutch means “square,” and it is curious to me why Dam Square isn’t called Damplein.

In December, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein hold their versions of a “winter wonderland.” Both squares have central ice skating rinks where the public can rent ice skates and glide as they please. Be sure to find the booth selling hot, fresh stroopwafels! Translated they are called “syrup waffles” and consist of two very thin layers of waffle with a caramel-like syrup in the middle, a traditional Dutch treat.

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Also, you can’t miss Dam Square, for it holds the tremendous national monument. During October there is generally a carnival set up in this square with all kinds of carnival rides, games, and excellent Dutch carnival food. Definitely try out the poffertjes! They resemble small, puffy pancakes and are great when covered with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate.

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3) The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes)

The Nine Streets are located in a region of Amsterdam called the Jordaan. They are the prime location for shopping in eclectic boutiques or grabbing a bite at an interesting restaurant or café. This quaint little side of Amsterdam is one that many tourists seem to overlook but should not be missed! The Nine Streets will show you the beauty of Amsterdam’s streets, canals, and culture as the Dutch see it.

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4) The Red Light District

The Red Light District is one of the most popular areas to see when visiting Amsterdam. One of the main attributes of this area is the legalization of prostitution, displayed in the street-side windows. Red lights adorn the area and reflect off the canals at night. Beautiful white swans will flock together and swim under these red lights, creating a surprisingly romantic atmosphere.

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5) Top of the Metz & Co building

From the street, one would only see floor upon floor of very posh goods by designers such as Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, and Red Valentino. Enter the building, go to the elevator in the back of the store, and hit the button that indicates floor 6; I guarantee you will have a different perception of the Metz & Co. building. This floor is home to the M|Café. Surrounded by windows, this floor is the perfect place to grab a cappuccino and view the city of Amsterdam from above.

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The city offers something for everyone. From art to wonderful public spaces to shops to delicious food, Amsterdam has it all!

Brittany studied in the city of Amsterdam through an exchange program at Champlain College, and you can read about her experiences in her blog, Venture Abroad. She loves to take up travel opportunities whenever possible and enjoys road trips above all. Find her on Twitter (@bleaning) and get to know her via her Tripping profile.  And if you're in Vermont, definitely drop her a line!