Amsterdam during Easter is super busy, in 2017, 1 million tourists were said to have visited the city, which is more than the total population of the city itself!
As with most cities nowadays, the best way to get a good feel for the city is to take a free walking tour. We took the one by Sandeman’s and our guide Kendra was great!
Some of the highlights in and around the city, for us, were:
Walking the canals. There are 4 main canals in Amsterdam, the Singel, Herengracht (Lord’s canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s canal) and Prinsengracht (Prince’s canal). Although in the beginning all the streets lining the canals look exactly the same, walking around is a good way to get more comfortable with the layout of the city. And of course, it is really pretty too!
Visit to the Rijksmuseum. April showers in Amsterdam weren’t always fun but made for a great excuse to spend an entire morning taking in the wonders in the Rijksmuseum. Since Amsterdam was so busy, the lines to enter all the museums were hours long. Buying tickets online in advance and starting fairly early in the morning, helped a lot and allowed us to spend the time inside the museum, instead of waiting in line outside. The collection is very impressive and stories on the audio tour in the museum app made it even more interesting. Paying homage to Anne Frank. The line to enter the museum was 3 hours long on every day of the Easter weekend and advance tickets were sold out, so we couldn’t make it inside. But it remains on the list and will be one of the important reasons to go back one day. The Anne Frank house helps to humanize the war and is a good place to pause and reflect on the horrors that humans are capable of inflicting on each other.
Visit to Keukenhof for the tulips. Yes, it probably is one of the most touristy things to do, but in spring, when the tulips are in full bloom, it is worth every minute! The combination bus + park entrance ticket, saved time and money and it was fairly painless to get there. No photographs could do justice to the magnificent sights, the endless rows of tulips and the myriad hues in the park, but we did try!
Day trip to Den Haag. Only about an hour away from the Keukenhof gardens, the Hague makes for a short fun trip- including, of course, a visit to the iconic Peace Palace.
Local food and drink. A big part of most of our trips is sampling the local fare. Dutch food and drink was delicious and did not disappoint in the least! Read all about our food tour in our post here.
Amsterdam’s alter ego. The other side of Amsterdam, the red light district and coffee shops definitely add to the character (or strangeness) of the city and need not be avoided like the plague! While there aren’t any photographs to document it (not for a lack of trying, photography here is strongly discouraged and often isn’t allowed), walking through the streets lined by windows with women showcasing their wares (themselves) and littered with smoke-filled coffee shops definitely makes for an interesting experience.
Cycling everywhere. True to their reputation, the cities in the Netherlands have wide bike lanes, making cycling a convenient mode of transport, but the locals do not like to be interrupted on their commute so, as a tourist, only do it only if you can ride!