Amsterdam’s secret canal house gardens

open tuinendag

Amsterdam canal house gardens

Only 3 days a year you can visit some of the beautiful canal house gardens in Amsterdam, during the Open Garden Days.  About 30 gardens, that are normally not accessible, will be open for public.
It’s a different world, behind the old canal houses. It doesn’t feel at all like you are in the crowded centre of a big city. The gardens are much larger, greener and especially quieter than one would expect. It feels like time has been standing still; you can easily imagine life in these gardens, in the past 400 years.

Check it out for yourself. It’s a nice way to experience the canals. While walking from garden to garden you will see almost all of the Amsterdam canals.

Practical information:
On June 14, 15 and 16, 2013 (Every year in the third weekend of June)
The gardens will be open all three days from 10 am to 5 pm.
A passe partout costs €15 and is valid for 3 days.

20 free things-to-do in Amsterdam

Hollandsche Manege photo:

Recently a list of 20 free things to do in Amsterdam was published by Lonely Planet.
I have seen many of these lists, usually they are not that interesting.
This one is different though, Lonely Planet made a great selection! They listed many unknown but very interesting activities, that are highly attractive and provide a taste of the real Amsterdam.
I’d say, try them all.

Great list!

a different view on Amsterdam

Underground city tourDid you ever consider to take a city walk with a (former) homeless person as your guide?
Maybe you should, that is if you want to experience more than just the tourist side of Amsterdam. Of course a tour by a homeless person is not all fun and Disney-like entertainment, but it sure is interesting and revealing. And the guides are known to add a good dose of humour as well.

Interested? Check: Amsterdam Underground City Walks
Tours take about 75 minutes, costs € 10,- p/p

Amsterdam light festival

The days are short in winter in Amsterdam. That’s a possitive thing, because when it’s dark we can enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival.  It’s new and it’s nice. From December 7th through January 20st. The festival has 4 main parts:

Boulevard of Light (December 7th through January 20th, from 7 PM until 10 PM)
Along a part of the Amstel River, around the Magere Brug, bridges and public buildings are illuminated in a spectacular and artistic way. In addition to that, some contemporary light sculptures by (famous) light artists are placed aside and on the Amstel River.

Illuminade (December 14th through December 30th, from 5 PM until 10 PM)
A walking tour of about 1 1/2 hour across the historic part of Amsterdam, between Amstel and the Maritime Museum, passing 20 inspiring light art objects.

Christmas Canal Parade (December 15th, from 6.30 PM)
In about 45 minutes, a parade of boats beautifully decorated with lights, passes the audience. Along the route several choirs will perform. The route is Westerdok, Prinsengracht, Amstel, Nieuwe Herengracht, Maritime Museum, Oosterdok.

Various programs for and by the people of Amsterdam. They take place on various locations. A.o.:
Waterlooplein Lampshade Forest can be seen from December 7th through January 20th from 12 PM  – 10 PM at the Waterlooplein.
The Light my Ride tour on December 22nd, you can join with your embellished bike, skateboard, roller skates, in short, with anything that has wheels and is not motorized. Departure from the Museumplein, next to AH at 6.30 PM.

Nice to watch: The making of, a beautiful timelapse video of the construction of some of the light festival structures.

just outside the city center of Amsterdam

photo by Gerda Jansen Hendriks

Six brand new guide books help you to find your way out of the famous Amsterdam city  center to lesser known, but very beautiful and interesting parts of Amsterdam. There is a walking and a cycling version of the tours.
Take a look at this interactive map for a preview, just click on the different colored neighborhoods to see an outline of the tours.
The guide books can be purchased at the vvv tourist offices and an additional audio tour for MP3, iPod or iPhone can be downloaded here.

beer tour – breweries and café’s in Amsterdam

't Arendsnest Amsterdam

You don’t actually have to be a beer lover to enjoy this tour; it takes you to beautiful authentic breweries and nice old specialised café’s in the centre of Amsterdam that you will love anyway. But when you do like beer it is even better, because there will be many opportunities to taste some very special ones.

Take a look at the tour map and make your choice for one of these do it yourself tours:

The short tour:

  • takes about 2 to 3 hours (not including drinking time, so the tour might take a little longer)
  • is a walking tour
  • skips the first two stops on the map and in the description

The extended tour:

  • takes about 4 to 6 hours (also not including drinking time)
  • you need to take public transport or to rent a bike for this tour
  • includes the first two stops

1. Heineken Experience
An interactive experience that reveals the secrets of brewing Heineken
Stadhouderskade 78, Amsterdam
Daily from 11.00 till 19.30 hrs., € 17,-/online € 15,- (adults) and € 13,- (kids)

2. Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Brewery of very authentic beers, in a windmill
Funenkade 7
The Tasting Room/Pub (with a great sunny terrace) is open daily from 14.00 to 20.00
Tours through the brewery on Fri, Sat, Sun at 15.30 and 16.00 hours: € 4,50

3. De prael
Brewery, shop and tasting room at one of the oldest spots of Amsterdam
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30
Opened Mon – Fri  9.00 – 17.00 hrs
At 13.30 you can join a guided tour, without reservations (not on Sunday and Monday).

Tasting room/Pub
Oudezijds Armsteeg 26
The tasting room offertes great snacks besides the beers
Opened Tue – Sun 11.00 – 23.00 hrs

4. In de wildeman
Café situated in a former distillery, serves beer from the Nehterlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK
Kolksteeg 3
Open: Mo – Thu 12.00 – 01.00 hrs, Fri and Sat 12.00 – 02-00 hrs

4. ‘t Arendsnest
Dutch beers only, they serve about 350 different ones
Herengracht 90
Open: Sun – Thu: 16.00 – 00.00 hrs, Fri and Sat: 16.00 – 02.00 hrs

5. Beer Temple
The first American Beer Bar of Europe
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250
Open: Mon – Thu 16.00-01.00 hrs, Fri – Sat: 16.00-03.00 hrs, Sun 14.00 – 22.00 hrs

6. Gollem
The first café in Amsterdam that specialised in Belgium and other foreign beers
Raamsteeg 4
Open: Mon – Thu 16.00-01.00 hrs, Fri – Sun: 14.00-02.00 hrs

7. De Bierfabriek
Restaurant in a working brewery, simple but nice
Rokin 75
Open: Sun – Thu: 12.00 to 01.00 hrs, Fri and Sat: 12.00 – 03.00

amsterdam caught in… spring snow?


Yes, springsnow; it’s a common fenomena in Amsterdam, known for ages. From about April 21 to May 21, elm seeds swirl through the air and heep on the streets, just like real snow does. There is so much of the springsnow because of the 75.000 elms that grow in Amsterdam. Though we had this springsnow for a long time, this is the first year there’s an event around the phenomena, containing:

The beautiful Elm Route that takes you on a 8 km tour through Amsterdam, by foot or by bike.
The exhibition ‘Catch the springsnow’ in Hortus Botanicus
A photography and film collection, to which everybody is invited to add work

The Springsnow website, with an overview of all the Springsnow events.

two great photo musea in Amsterdam: Foam and Huis Marseille

24 hrs of Photography by Erik Kessels

24 hrs of Photography by Erik Kessels

Foam is Amsterdam’s main photo museum. It is small, but is has a great reputation. There is always a strong exhibition running; mostly contemporary, sometimes a repertoire overview (from great ones like Testino, Newton). If you are into photo art do visit this museum. And if you’re craving for more; head over to Huis Marseille, with smaller exhibitions. Both set in beautiful canal houses (Foam: Keizersgracht 609 en Marseille: Keizersgracht 401) and within walking distance.