Marina NefedovaMarina Nefedova 27 JULY 2020 282 views 9 min. read

10 reasons why you should travel to Amsterdam instead of Rotterdam

282 views 9 min. read
uploads/Amsterdam city.jpg

Where is Amsterdam?

If you've been to a small kingdom of the Netherlands before, you won't have this question. Thinking of travel to Netherland, we choose to visit its beautiful cities such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam. For those who are planning a trip for the first time, we will tell you why Amsterdam has become a real Mecca for tourists traveling in Northern Europe.

The city of Amsterdam with a population of just over 830 thousand was visited by 18 million people in 2018, and by 2030 the flow of tourists may reach 30 million per year. Tourists are so obsessed with Northern Venice that the city authorities are seriously discussing measures to reduce tourist flow. But so far, everything remains the same: 170 festivals a year, tourists from all over the world, an international art community, and many interesting places and opportunities concentrated in one city.

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. And the Netherlands itself is a decentralized country, where each city develops in its own way. The Hague is a center of political life. Maastricht and Utrecht are students and scientific centers. Rotterdam is a port, logistics hub, and industrial center, and even small cities have their own goals, priority areas, and their own logic of development.

Amsterdam, the cultural and tourist center of the Netherlands, stands out among all this diversity. In 15 years, more than 12 billion euros have been invested in the development of the tourism industry, and the results have exceeded expectations.

1. Transport

Bridge in Amsterdam city

It's easy to fly to and from Amsterdam, and no less convenient to travel around the country in the "1 day to pillage the city" way. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most convenient transport hub in the country and one of the most convenient in the world. Convenient and...cheap. You can fly in a low-cost airplane for literally 14 EUR (round-trip ticket) from neighboring European cities.

The basis of transport links of this small European country - trains. Hundreds of trains depart daily from Amsterdam Central Station in various directions. You can get to any city in the Netherlands in no more than 2 hours. For example, the train Amsterdam - Rotterdam goes 42 minutes and costs 18 EUR.

Buses are much less popular; however, it is from 10 to 30 - 40 routes per day for each of the basic directions, i.e., the cities of the Netherlands and the cities of the nearest European countries. Buses run slightly longer than trains and are less comfortable, but cheaper.

In short, when you arrive in Amsterdam, you can easily take a ride through all the cities in the Netherlands that you are interested in without changing the main location, ie, without moving from hotel to hotel. And then, when the Netherlands is exhausted for you, you can take a train ride to neighbor Belgium, France or Germany. Yes, that's easy. Especially if you travel with hand luggage, as most Europeans do.

Note: shopping in Amsterdam is nothing out of the common, so the big suitcases on this trip will only bother you.  

2. Atmosphere

Amsterdam bridge

The Dutch are pirates and traders, freedom and curiosity are in their blood. They once sold chocolate and tulips to the world. They were traded for gold, remember? That's the power of professional PR.

Now the Dutch sell canals, boats, and a unique atmosphere of lightness, youth, and intoxicating freedom.

Amsterdam is a city where everyone can feel young, regardless of age. The feeling of being a student is another amazing thing to come to Amsterdam for at least once in your life.

Ride your bike, sit on weed in the park, chat your feet above the water, eat sandwiches, dress up in something you will never wear at home or sit in a coffee shop, smoke, and eat special fun cookies - why not? "Tune in" to the special rhythm of the city, any guest for a few days becomes young again, full of hope, relaxed, and beautiful. 

But Amsterdam isn't just hipster cafes, bikes, and hostels.

The Netherlands is a very rich country with a long history. It knows what real luxury is.

For those who travel "like adults" in Amsterdam, there are hotels with world-class service, Michelin restaurants, where high cuisine is complemented by exquisite interiors and crazy views, galleries - the flagship of the world of modern art, antique dealers offering real rarities and boat trips with molecular cuisine, champagne, and oysters for breakfast. In this field, the slogan "freedom and lightness" is added to the classic bourgeois "exciting and refined." Here the Dutch, who have long and successfully mastered the combination of tradition and modernity, can show themselves in full brilliance and not stunned but pleasantly surprise the most demanding customers.

3. Boats

Boats on Canal

Boats in the Netherlands are like cars in the rest of the world. Almost everyone has them. They live on them, open restaurants and hotels, sail the country, and travel around the world. There is a boat shelter for cats - the famous "Cat Ship", one of Amsterdam attractions. Boats of the Netherlands - a separate philosophy and a special view of the world. 

Both cities - Amsterdam and Rotterdam - are major ports. But if the port of Rotterdam is an industrial and logistics hub, cargo tankers, huge warehouses, and offices of global companies in which nothing is interesting for tourists, Amsterdam is a whole other thing.

First of all, these are regattas. They are held several times a year. And 1 time in 5 years in Amsterdam SAIL AMSTERDAM is held - this is the largest and most famous parade of sailing ships in the world. It's an impressive and exciting spectacle!

Secondly, it is cruises and sea voyages. Apart from the cruise liners of major companies, there are several dozens of small yacht clubs in Amsterdam and its surroundings, where you can rent a pleasure yacht (together with a skipper if you don't have a licence) or join a small trip spontaneously by buying it as an excursion. 

4. Floating homes

Amsterdam buildings

Half of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Where else would there be floating houses if not here? Historically, they came after World War II, when people simply did not have a home and settled wherever they went, living with the wrecked ships left over from the war. But it turned out that a floating house is cool, and the Dutch love it.

Now there are about 10,000 such houses in the Netherlands, and 2,500 of them are in ... of course, in Amsterdam. When there are more canals than streets in the city, it makes sense that there are floating houses moored on them. In the middle of the last century, it was a way to get a cheap job in the city center, but over time the canal mooring space ran out, prices took off, and the floating house became a luxury item. 

This is a special feature of the Netherlands in general and Amsterdam in particular. Hotels and boats are popular here. Accommodation in such a floating house is as comfortable as a room in an ordinary city hotel. In addition, firstly, if you have never lived on a yacht, it is worth trying it at least once in your life. Secondly, the prices for cabins are about 30% lower than accommodation in a classic hotel. And thirdly, if you are traveling as a company, you will get a wonderful experience in a circle of friends in the cabin company, where there will be only your own, as well as a little bit of a splash of waves, which you will hear while falling asleep.

5. Canals

Canal

Everyone knows about Amsterdam's canals. The city has 165 canals, 90 islands, and 1500 bridges. That's more than Venice!

Journey through the canal on a glass roof boat is a must for a tourist of all ages, first coming to the Netherlands. It's usually the first thing tourists do in Amsterdam.

There are plenty of options for such walks - from a simple day trip with an audio guide to an evening romantic dinner on the boat or a tour for a small company on a separate boat with a captain as a guide.  You can stop for a coffee shop beforehand, and the atmosphere of the tour will peak in a relaxed atmosphere, especially if you have a personal tour with a warm group of friends.

6. Security

Street

Rotterdam is a city for business, whose entire life revolves around the port, exhibition centers and offices of large multinational corporations. They come there to do business. It says it all. It is not particularly prosperous, and the criminogenic situation is among the top 10 most criminal cities in Western Europe. Of course, it's not Mexico City, but Rotterdam isn't suitable for evening walks alone.

It's a very different situation in Amsterdam. The development of the city as a tourist center originally assumed a high level of attention to the safety of guests. The city's police department and other security services work flawlessly, and tourists can afford to fully relax. Despite the busy nightlife and crowds of tourists, it is a completely safe city. 

7. Nightlife

Amsterdam nightlife

Any city has a dark side. Rotterdam's dark side is the port, illegal immigrants, drug trafficking, and downtown and criminal gangs.

The dark side of Amsterdam is the availability of psychotropic substances and sex tourism. But even the most prosperous people sometimes glimpse the thought of "how is it, on the dark side," isn't it? 

In Amsterdam, everyone has the opportunity to pick a little without risking anything.

It's a world-famous Red-Light district and nightclubs.  Is it worth going to a nightclub in Amsterdam? Yes! A big nightclub. The Dutch have great taste in music; they are different from many people; they have good music and interesting audience. And if you sing well, you can quickly find friends in karaoke and make a classic Dutch "bar tour" with them - a favorite entertainment of the local public when the company, spontaneously gathered at the table, moves from one place to another in search of impressions. There are 1515 restaurants, cafes, and bars in Amsterdam, including coffee shops and smart shops.

8. Sightseeings and historic sites

Sightseeings in Amsterdam

Rotterdam is a celebration of modern architecture. An important role was played here by the fact that almost the entire center was destroyed on Tuesday. Oh, World War II.

Amsterdam is a flaming gothic and bourgeois classic. It is a very beautiful and very old city. It is carefully preserved, restored, and unobtrusively modernized where modernization is appropriate. If you are wondering what to do in Amsterdam? There are endless things to do in Amsterdam.

Sightseeing places worth paying attention to: 

 

Westerkerk Church and its observation deck. There are other beautiful churches in Amsterdam, but this one has the tallest tower with an observation deck in town.

The National Museum Rijksmuseum is a huge collection of world masterpieces of art, including, of course, the Dutch. When you travel to Amsterdam, you must never miss out on The National Museum Rijksmuseum.

Van Gogh Museum - for connoisseurs, there is the most complete collection of works, sketches, and letters by the artist.

Damm Square - the central square of Amsterdam.

The "Red Light" district is, first of all, a historical center, and besides transparent showcases with live goods, there are many interesting places in it.

Lovers of modern architecture, panoramic views, and observation platforms should pay attention to the A'DAM Tower.

The Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam will be particularly interesting for tourists from Russia, simply because it is ... a branch of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, based in the place where Peter the Great once studied ship business.

So, the above mentioned are the places to visit in Amsterdam that you can surely visit while travel to Amsterdam.

9. Markets

Amsterdam Markets

The Dutch are merchants, whole clans have lived for centuries at the expense of ports and colonial trade. "Tea, coffee and other colonial goods" - this could be written on the coat of arms of half wealthy Dutch families. Markets and fairs are the most popular entertainment for both tourists and the local population. They can be found in any, even small village. And there are over 20 in Amsterdam. Most of them are:  

The Flower Market. Make sure you buy flowers there, they bring happiness. But you can just walk around and look. Flower Market in Amsterdam - a huge collection of botanical rarities (which can also be bought) and a spectacular sight.

Flea market. The total number of fleas in Amsterdam is over 15; it is a popular entertainment.

The largest and most famous Waterlooplein is in the city center, 5 minutes’ walk from Damm Square. It is a tourist place and mainly specializes in souvenirs, all kinds of fakes and souvenirs.

But on the flea market, Noordermarkt can already find chairs with lions and pictures of "a wonderful artist of the 17th century". There, mixed with fakes and all kinds of junk, sell silver tableware, antique books, coins and rarities brought from the colonies (and accidentally extracted by heirs from the basement of his grandmother's house).

It is not a fact that you will buy a real Vermeer for 5 EUR, but you will definitely have fun looking at all sorts of antique things and feeling adventurous in search of treasures.

10. Food

Amsterdam food

The Dutch are not fools when it comes to drinks, know a lot about rarities, but have made a very modest contribution to the development of world gastronomic art.

Dutch cuisine can't be called refined and diverse in any way. The pride of local fast food is potatoes and herring.

The picture is slightly complemented by cheese. It's here, including local. In many shops, you can try different kinds of cheese for free and then buy the one you like. Or you can just try it and go.

There are many Michelin restaurants in Amsterdam, but they have a sense of humor not to focus on national dishes. Rotterdam is much more modest, there are not many decent restaurants, and interesting cafes and they are all in the port area and the business part of the city.

And of course, as in any seaside city, and in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in both cities, many fish restaurants are overlooking the water.

Here it is worth remembering the bars, although the bars in the Netherlands are not about food, they are about the atmosphere. Once upon a time, the bars in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, like the bars in neighboring Great Britain, had the first one poured for free to sailors wearing the Drake Ring in their left ear. And they'd go from tavern to tavern while they could walk.

Whether it is legend or not, Amsterdam's bars are special places. They make you feel a little Dutch and a little bit like sea wolves. In the bars, you should drink local Kraft beer, chew on special beer snacks and make casual acquaintances with other guests.

For 100% fans of the Heineken brand, Heineken Experience Brewery opened an interactive exhibition on the old brewery site.

Shall we sum it up? Of course, Amsterdam! Everything has been done in this city to ensure that tourists return to it over and over again. It is beautiful at any time of year and will give you a special, unique experience that will change whenever you come to visit it.

And to Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, or Maastricht, you will take the train to Amsterdam Central, whose building is also a genuine Amsterdam landmark and a true architecture work.

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Marina\'s idols as a child were Tour Heyerdahl, Jacques Yves Cousteau, Francis Drake and Hodja Nasreddin. To see with her own eyes all those places that she read about in books - that\'s a dream that was worth realizing.

Over the past 15 years, Marina has travelled to 52 countries, caught fish in the headwaters of the Nile in Central Africa, met the dawn in the Himalayas, learned to ride on blackboards in Bali and dived into the senates in the Yucatan. 

She is passionate about energy practices of different peoples, yoga and water sports and in her spare time is very fond of boating around the Balearic Islands with old friends, where she lived for 2 years before moving to the Netherlands.

Marina is involved in modern cinematography at a university in Amsterdam and is sure that every trip opens a new door to opportunities, and sometimes more than one.

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