Everybody has an idea of what they would like to see when they visit a new city.
When strolling through Paris, it is essential to have a look at the iconic Eiffel Tower.
Visiting London? Be sure to take a selfie in front of Big Ben or Tower Bridge.
New York City? Empire State Building, Central Park and Times Square.
PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Even I am guilty of this mentality.
Eventually, you get to the point where, jammed in between fifty thousand people, you get tired of waiting in line and wonder…is this even worth it?
That doesn’t mean that you didn’t want to see the landmarks. It just means that you need to travel smarter in order to enjoy yourself.
Whether you are seeking a classic itinerary or off-the-beaten-track, check out these alternatives below for places to visit in Amsterdam.
Instead of the Anne Frank House…
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who kept a diary of her time hiding in Amsterdam during the Nazi rule. Her story starts at the Anne Frank House, which is located near the popular Jordaan neighborhood in the city.
Now a museum, the Anne Frank House tells the story of how her family came to the Netherlands and the tragic demise of the seven of the eight people living in her house.
Tickets for the Anne Frank House are only available online and sell out MONTHS in advance, so it can be difficult to snag an opportunity to see the hidden Annex in person.
Visit the National Holocaust Museum
Of a Jewish population numbering 140,000 living in the Netherlands in 1940, only 38,000 managed to survive the war.
The National Holocaust Museum highlights the timeline and stories of the Jewish people in photos between 1940-1945. You can learn about the isolation, intimidation, and ultimately the persecution of the population, and see for yourself how they were set apart by a Jewish Identity Card and how they were not allowed at swimming pools, theatres, or other public sites.
The National Holocaust Museum is a worthy choice because the displays are all based on personal accounts. Although the story of Anne Frank may be the most famous one, 102,000 Dutch Jews were killed in World War II.
In the words of Mr. Impatient: “I liked the Holocaust Museum better because there were more pictures and fewer people.”
There are other historical sites in the Jewish Quarter that are worth checking out as well:
National Holocaust Memorial: Previously a theatre, this moving memorial used to be a holding site for the Jewish people before they were transported to a concentration camp. It is located directly across from the National Holocaust Museum and could easily be combined in one trip.
Jewish Historical Museum: This museum is unique as it is the only one in Amsterdam to focus on Jewish history, religion and culture. However, there is also one section devoted to the oppression of the Jewish people in World War II. There is even a Children’s Museum that is definitely worth checking out, as even your little ones will be entertained.
Portuguese Synagogue: Left untouched by the Germans, the Synagogue is essentially the same as it was since its construction in 1675. At the heart of the Jewish Quarter and with architecture that displayed the wealth of the community, it is one of the top sights to see in Amsterdam. They even offer an audio guide!
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the 14 Tram from Centraal Station and get off at the Artis Stop. The Holocaust Museum and Memorial are on opposite sides of the street directly in front of the Artis Stop.
Instead of the Heineken Experience…
Everyone loves a good story of the underdog, and it sure is interesting to see how one small brewing company in Amsterdam became one of the top 3 beer producers in the world. I can see the appeal.
Here’s the catch: with over 3,000 people a day visiting the Heineken Experience and no air conditioning inside, I would rather spend my €21 on (gasp!) beer!
Check out Browerij ‘t IJ
Fortunately, there is another option that is not only interesting, but better than the first.
Located on the East side of the city and easily accessible by bus, Browerij’t IJ is a smaller brewery with great classics and some funky flavours to try. Oh, did I mention that it is in the only windmill in Amsterdam??
They offer a 5-beer sampler for the adventurous at heart, with options to try the IPA, a stout, a pale ale, or even a hibiscus!
The best part is they also offer tours, for a fraction of the price, and it also includes a beer sample!
Beer and snacks in a windmill? I would consider this one of the best attractions in Amsterdam.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the 22 bus from Centraal Station. We got off at the Oostenburgergracht Stop, but you will be able to see the windmill, so don’t worry about missing it.
Instead of Rijksmuseum…
An imposing structure in the hub of the Museum District, Rijksmuseum gained popularity in photos with the Iamsterdam letters.
After struggling to support the mass waves of tourists attempting to get that clichéd shot, the letters were removed last year. Unfortunately, the Rijksmuseum is still excessively busy, most likely due to its large collection of Rembrandt paintings and the Van Gogh Museum next door.
There is still a lot to see inside: the 8,000 pieces spread across four floors highlight Dutch, European and Asian art from the Middle Ages to present times.
Like the Rijksmuseum, Tropenmuseum also displays artifacts and art from around the world. Coming in at over a million objects and images, you would be hard-pressed to see it all in one day.
While Rijkmuseum focuses on pieces through the ages, Tropenmuseum makes an effort to highlight cultures. Currently, there are exhibitions on objects of personal significance, Japanese pop culture, and the Dutch stories of a pilgrimage to Mecca. All of this can be seen in arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in Amsterdam.
The Tropenmuseum also has a children’s section! With a focus on the 5 senses, kids of all ages get to participate in and enjoy diverse artistic experiences.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the 14 Tram from Centraal Station and get off at the Alexanderplein Stop.
Bonus: Tropenmuseum is located right beside Oosterpark. Be sure to bring some snacks for your stroll in the park afterward!