The river cruiser's guide to Amsterdam

These aspects, in addition to the city’s beautiful architecture, cuisine and culture, have led to river cruise holidays for couples selling out incredibly quickly every year. Travellers may know the usual tourism hotspots in the Dutch capital, but far fewer get to know the secrets river cruise guests get to learn of during their stay in the capital.

This river cruiser’s guide looks to introduce you to some of the great things to do in Amsterdam during the top rated river cruises Europe is so well known for.

Fine attractions

You may already be aware of Amsterdam’s prominent reputation in diamonds, but few understand the extent of this relationship. The Diamond Museum in Amsterdam offers an insight into the city’s role as an important diamond centre for more than four centuries whilst also offering guests the chance to marvel at the likes of famous diamonds such as The Ape Skull and the Rembrandt Diamond. Founded by diamond factory and diamond jewellery retailer Coster Diamonds, the museum really sparkles above most Amsterdam experiences; you can even enjoy a free tour to see their expert diamond cutting.

‘The Diamond Museum Amsterdam tells you all about diamonds and diamond history, with an emphasis on Amsterdam as the capital city of diamonds for 400 years. Many famous diamonds like the Koh-I-Nohr and the Cullinan diamond have been cut in Amsterdam. So Amsterdam has a very rich history about diamonds and as a trade centre before WW II and as a retail centre now.

The Diamond Museum has been founded by Coster Diamonds, which is adjacent to the museum, where we sell diamonds, jewellery and watches. At Coster Diamonds you see the polishers and goldsmiths at work. We also do separate workshops for small groups where people can experience themselves to polish/cut a diamond.’

For a touch more extravagance, try a visit to the Royal Palace Amsterdam. This lavish palace is one of three palaces used by the Dutch Monarch and is mostly used for State Visits, Award Ceremonies, New Year’s Receptions and other official functions. When not in use for official functions the palace is open to the public and has done so since 1979.

Futuristic attractions

Next to Amsterdam’s impressive history, its forward thinking is equally awe-inspiring. The 3D Print Canal House beautifully combines the tradition of Amsterdam’s past with some of the most exciting new technologies to be invented in our history. The canal house is an iconic symbol of Amsterdam and when it was first built, some 400 years ago, it stood as the leading example of current innovation. This history makes it the perfect subject for this exciting exhibition, research and building site for 3D Printing Architecture, as it expertly combines the innovation of the past with the innovation of the present.

‘The 3D Print Canal House is an open building lab, where you can experience live large scale 3D printing! Watch how the house is being designed and printed right in the heart of Amsterdam.

The building lab has an indoor and outdoor expo area. Drawings and models explain about the building process. You can download a free audio tour with your smartphone for the full story!

Learn about new innovations, see bio-based material samples, new construction techniques, watch printed architectural models, both in small scale and life-size, and of course take a look inside the Kamermaker: the large portable 3D printer.’

     -  3D Print Canal House

Floating attractions

From one aspect of Amsterdam’s water-based history in the form of its canal houses to another, The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) in Amsterdam beautifully illustrates the city’s past 500 years of maritime history for all to see. Having achieved the 2014 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, among other prestigious awards, the museum stands as one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam. The replica ship is among the most impressive exhibits as it depicts what it would have been like to see the East Indiaman in the flesh.

“In The National Maritime Museum you will feel the essence of the Dutch: reclaiming land from the sea and winning sea battles, discovering new territories and trading precious goods. Excitement, adventure and courage of the sailors… Become one of them by coming on board our life-size replica 18th century sailing ship Amsterdam. Find out how Europeans pictured other continents in the past by looking at the oldest maps and atlases from our collection. Go overseas, survive sea battles and bring home the best products in our interactive exhibition ‘See you in the Golden Age!’

Have a great journey with The National Maritime Museum!”

     -  The National Maritime Museum 

Again, perhaps not physically floating, The Museum of the Canals certainly pays homage to the waterways that make Amsterdam famous. The museum shows guests how the canals have been used by Dutch residents from the past to the present and how Amsterdam has flourished as a result. 

“The Amsterdam canals make the city. For centuries here, money has been earned, art created, feasts celebrated and life enjoyed. This is the story that the Museum of the Canals brings to life. A journey through Amsterdam begins in the Museum of the Canals.

“A journey through Amsterdam begins in the Museum of the Canals.”

      -  The Museum of the Canals

And Foam

For those looking for more artistic experiences and things to do in Amsterdam, Foam is one of the best kept secrets in the whole of the Netherlands. Enabling people all over the world to experience and enjoy photography, this museum also has an equally popular magazine that is distributed internationally and has an online community following. Regularly developing new projects, there is always something visually stimulating to see and experience at the museum. For the latest exhibition information, see the Visit Foam pages of their website.                                                                                                                     

‘In Amsterdam, Foam is the place for photography in all her forms: documentary, contemporary and historical. Besides large exhibitions, in which the work of (world) famous photographers are shown, Foam also presents young talent in smaller, short-term exhibitions. At least three exhibitions are shown at the same time.’

      -  Foam

These are just a handful of the great things to do in Amsterdam whilst cruising through Europe’s waterways. For more great attractions and tours around Amsterdam’s famed canal ring, nothing can beat an expert escorted river cruise.

Image Credit: The Diamond Museum Amsterdam Coster Diamonds

This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.