There’s a good reason why Amsterdam is a city on so many people’s travel bucket list. It has incredible architecture, beautiful canals, a bustling cultural scene and delicious food… which means that millions of tourists descend on the Dutch capital every year.
Amsterdam has always been a popular tourist attraction with South Africans via a direct KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight from both Johannesburg and Cape Town – and for good reason.
Below, the airline shares eight of the city’s best kept secrets and lesser known attractions – that bring in as much foot traffic as Dam Square, the Rijksmuseum or Vondelpark – that you need to add to your travel bucket list to fully experience the magic the Netherlands has to offer.
Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek has fast-become a beautiful cultural hub that is rich in history. The Westergasfabriek was built inside of an expansive gasworks facility that dates back to the late 19th century. The area is known for its industrial façade and is filled with restaurants, music venues, an arthouse cinema and the largest coin-op arcade in the city.
The City Archives
If you’re a history boffin, visiting Amsterdam’s city archives will certainly be an educational and eye-opening experience. Besides the free entrance, the archives offer so many attractive reasons you need to visit next time you’re in the city. Some of the highlights include a police report given by Anne Frank concerning her stolen bicycle and the document that banished Baruch Spinoza from Amsterdam’s Jewish community.
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, you need to make a booking at the underrated REM Island. This unusual, waterborne restaurant is housed inside a renovated offshore platform that once stood around nine kilometres off the coast of the Netherlands. Interestingly, the platform was owned by a group of pirate radio broadcasters, who had to abandon the structure after the Dutch government raided their operation in 1964. However, a few decades later, the platform was towed to Amsterdam’s Houthaven harbour and was transformed into one of the classiest and most unusual restaurants in the country.
The Pancake Boat
That’s right! Amsterdam has its very own pancake boat where patrons are given beautiful views of the city while being presented with an unlimited supply of Dutch-style pancakes topped with syrup, fruits and powdered sugar. The tour takes 75 minutes and departs from NDSM-Werf several times a day.
Blijburg City Beach
While Amsterdam has some beautiful beaches that edge onto the city’s lakes, canals or rivers, visit the Blijburg City Beach for a unique beach bum experience. This beach is famous for its seaside resorts, golden sand, clear water and its windsurfing school. Visitors like to enjoy an afternoon snack or drink at a famous tiki hut-style restaurant nearby as well which adds to the beach’s laidback style.
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
Europe is rich in history and after the Reformation in the 16th century, the newly-established Calvinist Dutch government famously outlawed Catholicism in the country. However, despite severe punishments, many continued to worship in secret and some even built hidden churches. During this time, many churches were destroyed or demolished but this church, built on the top three floors of a canal house during the 1660s, survived the period unscathed. Now, it has been preserved as a historic museum since 1888.
EYE Film Museum
If you’ve ever walked out of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, you would have noticed the oddly shaped EYE Film Museum and, if you haven’t explored it yet, a visit during your next visit is a must. There are several facilities located inside the institute, including a gallery space that regularly hosts exhibitions related to filmmaking, four modern cinemas and a multi-tiered restaurant that looks onto the river IJ. The venue also plays host to a variety of events including film festivals, concerts and movie screenings.
If you’re a lover of cats, the Poezenboot is the perfect activity for your next trip to Amsterdam. The Poezenboot is a floating cat sanctuary that has cared for stray or abandoned felines for over four decades and welcomes visitors most days of the week. The boat is located in the northern banks of Singel canal in central Amsterdam and features a large, lower deck where cats are given the opportunity to roam free and interact with visitors.