Amsterdam is one of Europe's most popular cities for visitors, offering a wide range of historical and cultural experiences. Most people will go to the Van Gogh Museum, take a boat trip on the canals, see the Anne Frank House or visit one of the city's many street markets. These are all great ways to pass your time here, but if you want to get off the beaten track a little, try some of these hidden gems.
Grab yourself a bike like the locals or go on foot, starting at some of the city's lesser-known museums. Holland is famous for its liberal attitude and some of the museums reflect this, such as the Sex Museum, the Torture Museum and the Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum. Also recommended are the Fluorescent Art Museum, a tribute to Jimi Hendrix; the Chess Museum, presenting a history of the game or the Pianola Museum with its displays of miniature, automatic pianos. The Houseboat Museum is a particular highlight, floating in the canal close to Westerkerk church, it offers a fascinating look at the history of Holland's waterways.
There is more to Amsterdam than museums and canals though. Like many European cities, churches are everywhere and often overlooked by visitors. Oude Kerk, the old church, is stunning inside and out, and despite its central location and historical significance, is generally ignored by tourists. There are also several 'secret' churches used by Roman Catholics forbidden to worship by the Protestant rulers from the 16th century. The best of these is the Our Lord in the Attic Chapel at Amstelkring Museum, where there is a church hidden in the upper floor. Other secret churches include Papegaaikerk and Beginhof Chapel, both still in use today.
Once you've had your fill of culture, you might fancy a little shopping. The Albert Cuyp street market is the largest in the city and, though famous among locals, is relatively unheard of for visitors. You can find just about anything here, from food to clothes to jewellery and more; it's the perfect place to gather up souvenirs while soaking up the atmosphere of authentic Amsterdam.
Any visit to Holland inevitably involves a trip to Amsterdam and while many tourists follow the same path to the same sights, it's definitely worth checking out some of the lesser known attractions that the city has to offer. You will be amazed and charmed at the many surprising and sometimes bizarre hidden gems in this city. So much so, you may never even set foot in a canal boat.
Author Bio: Jennifer Fisher is a travel writer who loves nothing better than traveling around central Europe, meeting as many local people and trying as much local food as possible. She recommends finding a cheap hotel in the centre of Amsterdam as it is the best way to really get to know this fantastic city.