While Amsterdam may be notorious for its coffeeshops and Red Light District, this city is becoming a cultural hotspot as the city’s Famous Canal Ring is put in the spotlight and museums celebrate milestone anniversaries.
“There has never been a better time to add Amsterdam to travel programs,” says Conrad van Tiggelen, marketing director, Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions. “2013 sees the city celebrating a number of important cultural milestones, including the reopening of the Rijksmuseum after a 10-year renovation, as well as many events to commemorate 400 years of the famous Canal Ring.”
Amsterdam’s 17th century canal ring, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is turning 400 years old this year and the city is planning to celebrate with events throughout the year, such as a concert series at the Concertgebouw. This year also marks the 225th anniversary of Amsterdam as an independent European center for art, culture and science.
The Van Gogh Museum, which contains the largest collection of paintings by painter Vincent Van Gogh in the world, is reopening on May 1 and celebrating its 40th anniversary. The museum closed for seven months for renovations, and when it reopens, it will feature the exhibit Van Gogh at work from May through Jan. 12, 2014. Van Gogh’s sketchbooks, paint tubes and palette will be part of the exhibit, including 200 pieces of art, to show how the artist worked and developed his skills over the course of 10 years.
The Van Gogh Museum collection is currently at the Hermitage Amsterdam. Tickets cost $20 for adults and is free for children up to 17 with the I amsterdam City Card. For more information, visit vangoghmuseum.nl. With the city card—valid for either 24, 48 or 72 hours—visitors can receive discounts on attractions, concerts and restaurants; a free canal cruise; unlimited use of public transportation; and free entrance to 38 museums. The card ranges from $56 to $83. For more information, visit iamsterdam.com/en-GB/experience/deals/i-amsterdam-city-card.
Over at the Concertgebouw, a concert hall that houses the orchestra and turns 125 years old this year, a Star Jubilee and series of jubilee concerts will take place. The jubilee will recognize a different period of the Concertgebouw’s history each month, with stars such as Eva-Maria Westbroek and Christianne Stotijn as part of the program. For more information, visit concertgebouw.nl/en.
For travelers looking to stay near the Museum square, the boutique hotel Conservatorium, which opened in 2011, is close to the Van Gogh Museum and Royal Concert Hall. The 129-room hotel is set in the former Sweelinck Music Conservatorium, built at the end of the 19th century. Rooms feature complimentary WiFi, large rainfall shower units, LCD bathroom mirror TV, and in-room entertainment. Over at Akasha spa, treatments include spa, holistic and beauty, and the facilities include an indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, hammam, sauna, and Watsu pool.
With the Home Suite Home package, starting at $818 per night (not including tax), travelers stay in a Grand Duplex suite and receive a spa treatment pp; daily ice table buffet breakfast in the brasserie; 5-course dinner at the Tunes Restaurant; complimentary parking; and 3 p.m. late check-out. A 2-night stay is required. For more information, visit conservatoriumhotel.com.
Hotel Pulitzer is also near many of the attractions in the city, located in the center near Dam square. The hotel is made up of a block of 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses, so none of the rooms are exactly the same. The 230 rooms overlook the canals and garden, and guests have complimentary access to the gym. Guests can also take a canal cruise on the hotel’s boat, the Tourist ($51 pp).
Rates start at $348 per night. For more information, visit pulitzeramsterdam.com.
For more information on Holland, visit holland.com.