A Look at Dutch Tourism, with a Focus on Amsterdam City

Amsterdam Tours
Amsterdam Tourist Attractions

Numbers give a clear understanding of Amsterdam, the tourism hub full of culture, heritage and pretty much everything in between. The number of bicycles on the streets of Amsterdam is estimated to be 881,000, which far outreaches that of cars here. There are over 1,100 pubs and bars dotted around the Dutch capital, and you can pick from over 200 coffeeshops. In the Netherlands, the term “coffeeshops” refer to places where the trade of cannabis for personal usage is allowed by the country’s local authorities. Caffeine is not the product of choice for the majority of customers at coffeeshops in the Netherlands. They come to buy cannabis.

Amsterdam is home to 165 canals. While the city is routinely referred to as “Venice of the North”, the number of canals here is more than what you will find in that city in Italy. However, knowledgeable people say it is not entirely correct to compare other European cities with canals to Venice. Amsterdam is home to canals, which nestle closely. There is even a “Canal Ring” in the capital city; Grachtengordelis is a district which finds a place in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

There are 1,281 bridges in Amsterdam. Go to where Reguliersgracht and Herengracht intersect, and you can see 15 of these. The Grachtengordelis area is a semicircle of three canals, hence named the “Canal Ring”. The canals namely Prinsengracht, Herengracht and Keizersgracht are lined by old merchant houses. The narrowest merchant house is situated at Singel 7.

A good way to experience canal houses along the waterways is by cruiser, and there are many companies that offer canal tours or cruises. Some canal houses are museums, so you would want to pay an in-person visit to one. For one, at Museum Het Grachtenhuis, situated in a canal-side house, you can find out more about the past of the Canal Ring of Amsterdam. The museum is housed in a former property of a rich banker named Jan Willink.

There are more museum buildings per square in Amsterdam compared to any other city; the Anne Frank House draws in legions of sightseers. Anne Frank’s diary holds the distinction of being the Dutch book that is translated the most number of times, and it is in the museum devoted to the Jewish girl.

Alongside the Van Gogh Museum, most visitors make it a point to go to the Vondelpark when on Amsterdam tours. It is not just the biggest park in the nation, but also the most-visited one. It is on the list of must-visit tourist attractions in Amsterdam city; around 10 million people visit the Vondelpark each year. Among its slew of attractive offerings, Vondelpark is home the kids’ playground named “Groot Melkhuis”.

More on Dutch Tourism

Last year, tourism was worth 82 billion Euros to the Netherlands economy, and it accounted for around 1 in 13 jobs. Amsterdam has been very successful in its bids to lure tourists, and the city is taking designation management strategies instead of self-promotion. In other words, there has been a conscious effort to cut down the vast influx of tourists to the Dutch capital.

For instance, getting rid of the “Iamsterdam” sign from the Rijksmuseum area is one of those steps, taken with the clear objective of reducing the number of tourists there. People used to take selfies from in front of the white and red letters, which encapsulate Amsterdam. Their perception was like “If you go to the Iamsterdam sign and take a photo of it, you have seen the city in its entirety”. This is not the case, and understandably, the Dutch authorities took it down following claims that these were too individualistic and promoting mass tourism. This was the Dutch way of switching tourism from promotion to designation management.

The “Iamazonia” sign, resembling the previous letters, was placed on museum square earlier this year. This was done to raise awareness about the pressing need to keep the Amazon rainforest from disappearing.

The “Perspectief 2030” strategy document, released a year ago, focuses on ways to future-proof Amsterdam in the best interests of all Dutch citizens, with livability for the natives a priority. One strategy for this is to divert visitors to other parts of the Netherlands, helped partly by the nation’s excellent public transport infrastructure and roads. Utrecht is only a short trip away by train, and some say it is like Amsterdam of the 1970’s. The city of Leiden makes up a convenient hub for tourists; only Amsterdam is home to more canals as compared to the birthplace of Rembrandt.

Other popular places include Kinderdijk, whose world heritage windmills are photo hotspots. The car-free village Giethoorn attracts those who are keen to experience quiet boat cruises on its narrow waterways. Besides, those on tours in Amsterdam city should visit the Keukenhof Gardens, where hyacinths, daffodils, and 7 million tulips are planted once a year.

When you get as many tourists as Amsterdam does, it is possible to be picky without the risk of adverse results. After all, these contribute to the Dutch economy one way or the other.