Amsterdam is a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a rich and long history deeply rooted in European tradition. Home to beautiful cityscapes on the banks of its three main canals, it is known as the Venice of the North. While it features popular attractions such as canal rides and museums stocked with famous Dutch painters, the following list includes some unique off the beat attractions to dazzle your senses and provide an alternative view of this magnificent city.
Amsterdamse Bos Park
This tranquil forest just outside Amsterdam, secluded from the outside world, is home to an array of peaceful sights and activities such as lakes, canoeing, outdoor artwork and overnight camping. It was originally a manmade forest created on unused wetlands and opened in 1937. The forest features trees which are over 70 years old and also hosts an artificial hill with a slope for winter sports. The Bos Park attracts visitors from around the globe to its unique relaxing setting and is home to more than 250 events year-round.
The Electric Ladyland Fluorescent Light Museum
This psychedelic attraction is located under the fittingly named street-level art gallery, Electric Lady. According to the Telegraph, it’s the first and seemingly only museum of fluorescent art. The inside features bulbous surreal shapes, creating an immersive environment right out of a psychedelic Jimmy Hendrix experience. When the black light comes on the shapes spring to life and glow with neon phosphorescence. The museum also features many other rocks and elements which naturally react to UV light.
The Lookout is located above a 22-story tower with an observation deck affording a full 360-degree panoramic view of the city center. It offers an unparalleled view of all the city’s historical landmarks and the open-air rooftop bar features Europe’s highest swing, nearly 100 meters above the city. Opened in 1971, the building was originally the home of Royal Dutch Shell, better known as Shell Oil company. In 2016, following a total refit, the A’DAM Tower was opened as one of the hottest and exciting nightlife and creative hubs in Amsterdam.
Johan Cruyff Arena
Previously known as the Amsterdam ArenA, the stadium was renamed in April of 2017 in memory of Dutch occer legend Johan Cruyff. When it opened in 1996 it was the first soccer stadium with a retractable roof. Home to Ajax Amsterdam, the stadium hosted the UEFA Champions League final in 1998 and the Europa League final in 2013. The soccer season runs from August through to May, so there is plenty of time to catch an Ajax game and participate in their rich history.
Amsterdam Masters Classic
This exciting annual poker tournament is held at the Holland Casino in Amsterdam and is the largest annual poker event in the Netherlands. Quite the eclectic spectacle for all visitors, this year marks the 27th edition of the tournament which will run from November 21st to December 1st. Over the years, since its inception in 1992, there have been many famous winners, with the most notable being former Danish soccer player Jan Vang Sorenson. PartyPoker recounts how Sorensen won the tournament in 2008, taking home €623,100 as prize money. The event attracts many poker fans as well as tourists each year due to its wide range of limits and rich history.
Gijsbert Dommer Huis
Located at 216 Amstel, this tall gray building was once owned by businessman Gijsbert Dommer, however, it is remembered for its last inhabitant Coenraad van Beuningen, as the House with The Blood Stains. As six-time mayor of Amsterdam, van Beuningen became an ambassador by the time he moved in, however, in his final years his mind began to slip and slowly spiraled into madness; he began painting arcane Kabbalistic signs on the gray façade of the building, rumored to be in his own blood. While the marks have since faded they can still be seen on the outside by keen-eyed visitors.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Originally established in the 17th century to combat the Black Death in Europe, the Hortus Botanicus is home to a treasure trove of rare botanicals. As a mecca for plant nerds, the botanical gardens were stocked full of rare and exotic plant species by the Dutch East India Company. Famous residents include a 2,000-year-old agave cactus from the Roman era and the Victoria amazonica, a water lily which is over 150 years old. The tranquility and magnificence of this unique botanical treasure is a well-deserved respite from the busy streets of Amsterdam.