Untraditional and Unique Sightseeing: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is sometimes seen as the gateway to Europe, a transportation hub that is popular with young travelers beginning their summer backpacking trip. Yet the city is much more than just a stopover on the way to the rest of the continent. Here are our best suggestions for out of the box sightseeing in Amsterdam, perfect for first-time visitors or repeat travelers, which go beyond the obligatory visits to Anne Frank’s House and the Rijksmuseum.

#1 Houseboat Accommodations in the Jordaan District

There is no place to sleep that is further off the beaten path than renting a houseboat on a canal during your stay in Amsterdam. Houseboats offer the privacy of a home or apartment, located in unique and low-key neighborhoods, with unforgettable views of the waterways. Stay in the quaint Jordaan District, known for its narrow alleys and historic atmosphere, filled with markets, churches, art studios, 17th century homes and a few small museums.

#2 Our Lord in the Attic Museum

Reopened in September of 2015 after extensive renovations, this 17th century dwelling has been turned into a fascinating museum, exploring the history of religious intolerance experienced by Roman Catholics. The house once contained a hidden attic church, formed after the Reformation, when Catholics were forbidden from holding public church services. This specialty museum is both touching and wholly unique.

#3 High Tea Cruise

Veer away from the traditional, overcrowded canal cruises and go for a more elevated and luxurious high tea cruise, which blends the English luncheon tradition with the scenic sightseeing of Amsterdam. While learning about the history of the canals, you can enjoy an assortment of finger sandwiches and desserts with your coffee and tea.

#4 Dutch Resistance Museum

Love the idea of the Anne Frank Museum but dissuaded by the lines? Check out the Dutch Resistance Museum instead. Using a collection of photographs, films and artifacts, the museum details the effects of World War II on both the city and nation, which was occupied by Nazi Germany for nearly 5 years. The stories of everyday heroism will inspire any visitor.

#5 Windmills

An iconic symbol of The Netherlands, windmills are usually considered to be restricted to countryside sightseeing, but there are numerous ancient windmills close to the city, including Rembrandt Molen van Sloten and Zaanse Schans. Since most of The Netherlands is at or below sea level, windmills have been essential for draining flooded regions and assisting with both agricultural and industrial development.

Rembrandt Molen van Sloten is the only mill open to visitors and also has a historic Cooper Museum on site, located approximately 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the city center, accessible via public transit, taxi, or rental car. Zaanse Schans is a lovely open air museum about the Dutch Golden Age, with a windmill on the property, and is approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the city center, accessible via public transit, taxi or rental car.

#6 Waterloopein Flea Market

Shop at the oldest operating flea market in the city. Located near the Amstel River, this outdoor bazaar has more than 300 stalls, selling food, clothing, books and trinkets, perfect for browsing or bargaining.

#7 Bloemenmarkt

Buy fresh flowers at the world’s only floating flower market, open on a daily basis. Holland is famous for its Tulips, which were imported from the Ottoman Empire beginning in the 1500s and grew as a major industry for The Netherlands during the 1600s. Some of the rarest bulbs cost more than a house. If you end up buying bulbs to bring home as a souvenir, make sure they are certified by the seller for import to the United States.

#8 Amsterdam Pipe Museum

Even if you are a non-smoker, this museum proves that there is a lot to appreciate about the history, politics and craftsmanship of tobacco pipes. The museum contains over 2,000 artifacts from all over the world and is a foremost research center for historians in this topic. The museum is charming, well-located and truly out of the box.

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