Why include a visit to Amsterdam in your gap year?

Panoramic photo of Amsterdam
Amsterdam panoramic

With its fascinating culture, an intriguing history, plenty of stunning art and some of the best food and drink in Europe, there are plenty of reasons why Amsterdam is well worth a stop on your gap year adventure through Europe.

You can find great deals on flights and accommodation online – check out the Hostelbookers website for a comprehensive range of budget-friendly places to stay – and read on to find out more about why Amsterdam is a must-see destination for everyone.

Museums, art and culture

Amsterdam has a rich and colourful history, and whether you’re keen to learn more about the city’s historic past or view some of the works of art that made Dutch painters Rembrandt and Van Gogh household names around the world, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do exactly this. There are plenty of Amsterdam tours that will take in many of these sites for you.

The Van Gogh museum, for example, hosts more than 200 works by the artist – the largest collection of its kind anywhere in the world. You also won’t want to miss a visit to the famed Rijksmuseum, which has a heritage dating back more than two centuries and will celebrate its grand re-opening this spring after months of extensive refurbishments.

Elsewhere, the moving displays at Anne Frank House are not to be missed on a visit to Amsterdam. It is here that teenager Anne Frank wrote in her famous diary as her family hid for over two years from the Nazis. The facility, which is located at the Westermarkt streetcar stop, is situated near the Amsterdam Tulip Museum.

Drinking and dining

Even on a backpacker’s budget, you can dine like a king in Amsterdam – and with so many brilliant food and drink options available, you will want to make sure you leave yourself time to try them all! The city is home to more than 1,000 restaurants featuring local Dutch fare as well as plenty of international options to tempt your palate – Italian, Indian, Thai and even Argentinean food can be found in this vibrant capital.

Amsterdam at Dusk
Amsterdam at Dusk

While you are out and about on the go, one of the best ways to sample the local cuisine is to grab a Dutch pastry or stroopwafel – syrup-filled wafers – to enjoy with a steaming hot cup of coffee or tea. Of course, Amsterdam is also home to the legendary Heineken Experience, which is housed in the former site of the Heineken brewery.

Here, you can experience an interactive tour of the legendary facility – or alternatively, you can explore at your own pace and learn more about the process behind the production of one of the world’s most famous beers.

Cycling in Amsterdam and beyond the city limits

Cycling is the preferred mode of transportation for most locals, and if you are spending any length of time in Amsterdam, you might want to explore the area on two wheels. The city is relatively flat – good news for pedalers – and there are plenty of dedicated cycling trails designed to make biking a breeze.

Cycling is also an excellent way to explore beyond the city limits. A trip to Weesp and Muiden – including the famous Muiderslot Castle – can be a relaxing way to head off the beaten track and see some of the sights further afield.