Often called the “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam is one of Europe’s loveliest cosmopolitan cities with captivating beauty and a uniquely enduring charm. You can visit this vibrant city as part of your Rhine River or Dutch & Belgian Waterways river cruise as well as on optional land package before or after your sailing.
A City of Canals and Bridges
At a mere 800 years old, Amsterdam is a relatively new city by most European standards. A hub of activity during the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam quickly sought a way to maximize land and stimulate trade and transport and created a labyrinthine-like network of over 165 man-made canals, wrapping the city with a combined length of roughly 60 miles. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area includes 1,281 bridges (including its most famous: the Skinny Bridge aka Magere Brug), 1,550 so-called ‘monumental buildings,’ 2,500 houseboats (and some of these structures have remarkably been afloat for over a hundred years themselves) and miles of colorful, quaint cobblestone streets.
AmaWaterways allows you to explore these iconic canals in a variety of ways. On your river cruise, you can take a special canal cruise through Amsterdam and observe bridges such as the Skinny Bridge up close. As part of select Amsterdam land packages, you may take a canal tour in Haarlem, the capital of North Holland and one of the most photogenic cities in the Netherlands.
Of course, one of the other most quintessential Amsterdam sightings is a windmill. The imagery of the windmill is so ubiquitous here – and once such an integral part of Dutch life that a holiday has even been designed to commemorate them (May 11th). Your pre- or post-cruise land package in Amsterdam may include a visit to Zaanse Schans, where you can witness the authentic windmills relocated to this area. The relocated historic windmills, antique wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops created a picturesque piece of Dutch history on the River Zaan, showcasing a new residential area that brings the 18th and 19th centuries to life.
The Charms of Jordaan
Amsterdam’s vibrant Jordaan neighborhood is one of the most picturesque and charming in the city. Originally created as a working-class district, with cheaper rents drawing in students, artists and the less well-to-do, the development was not as structured as those of wealthier zones. But nowadays, this haphazard planning with oddly interconnected streets and canals is one of Jordaan’s most charming features. A leisurely stroll among its maze-like streets, colorful building façades, quaint eetcafés (similar to a Parisian bistro in sophistication and casual atmosphere), hip bars, gourmet restaurants, specialty shops and art galleries is a lovely way to spend the day. A few times a week, locals wander through lovely Jordaanese open-air markets, selling everything from organic produce to clothing.
This wonderful neighborhood can be visited during the river cruise portion of your journey on select sailings. Enjoy a tour through this famous shopping district and take in highlights as the Noordermarkt, the Karthuizerhof (one of the loveliest inner courtyards in the city) and the “9 streets,” an area famous for its shops, cafes and bistros.