Reasons to visit Amsterdam in 2013


Amsterdam canals in the fall

I often kick off the new year with a post about my top destination picks for the year. This year, I’ve chosen just one destination: Amsterdam! It’s going to be a great year for Amsterdam with tonnes of events and celebrations commemorating various historic milestones as well as the birthdays of some of Amsterdam’s most treasured icons. There are many reasons to visit Amsterdam – aside from the fact that it’s (arguably) one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it’s my home! –  such as its canals, museums, theatres, nightlife and liberal attitudes, but this year promises to be special. Here are five reasons why:

1. 400th anniversary of the Amsterdam canals – the world-famous ring of canals was built exactly 400 years ago! Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the canals are the city’s most popular attraction and in my book, the best way to see the city. In addition to the annual events such as Queen’s Day (on 30th April) and the Gay Pride Canal Parade (first Saturday of August), there will be all sorts of festivals and concerts centered around and on the canals.


Gay Pride Canal Parade

If the canals freeze up this winter (like they did last winter), you can be sure that festivals and parties will be planned on the ice!


Amsterdam winter scenes: bicycles, canal mansions, and people out on the ice!

2. Re-opening of the Rijksmuseum – the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s most famous museum and home to a priceless collection of paintings by the Dutch masters, has been closed for a decade for major renovations. After countless setbacks, the museum is set to re-open in April. YAY! There will be 80 exhibition spaces and more than 8,000 pieces, including the museum’s most treasured painting: Rembrandt’s Night Watch. I can’t wait to see the new interior!

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (image courtesy of Jill S)

3. 125th anniversary of the Concertgebouw – Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw is one of the most famous concert halls in the world – many experts say it has the best acoustics anywhere around. To celebrate its 125th anniversary, the Concertgebouw and its resident Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will host a wide range of special concerts and events.


Amsterdam Concertgebouw


Van Gogh – self portrait

4. Van Gogh Museum celebrates its 40th birthday – another Amsterdam icon celebrates a milestone this year: the Van Gogh Museum. Housing the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings, the museum is one of the most visited in the world. It is closed for renovations from September 2012 (during this time, the entire Van Gogh collection will be moved to the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam), but will open its doors again in May 2013, in time for its birthday bash.

5. Artis Zoo turns 175! – the Artis Royal Zoo is one of Amsterdam’s most beloved attractions. Through its 175 years, the zoo has woven itself into the city’s social and cultural fabric in many ways. Locals and visitors alike come here to enjoy the green oasis in the city centre as well as view and learn about flora and fauna from around the world. To celebrate its 175th birthday, the zoo is planning a string of events and activities, amongst which, the Park in Bloom exhibition which will run from March till December.

For more information, please visit Amsterdam 2013.

UPDATE: February 2013

On 28th January 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced that she will abdicate and pass the throne over to her oldest son, William-Alexander. The coronation of the new King will take place in Amsterdam on 30th April 2013. You can be sure that Amsterdam will throw the royal family a grand party – a sixth reason to visit Amsterdam this year!

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18 Responses to “Reasons to visit Amsterdam in 2013”

  1. Mary @ Green Global travel 02/10/2013 12:10 am

    I love this gorgeous city and couldn’t agree more! Your suggestions are fabulous and a perfect way to start exploring Amsterdam!

  2. Bastiaan 30/04/2013 3:23 am

    Nice list for Amsterdam. good to read some recommendations about my home country! even though i’m always traveling and on the road Amsterdam will alway be one of my favorite cities.

    Too bad I’m not in Holland to celebrate our last Queens day..

  3. Thiago Cesar Busarello 29/04/2013 12:05 pm

    Really is a magical year to visit Amsterdã.

  4. Tom Miller 22/03/2013 10:21 am

    The Amsterdam canals is truly magnificent. It is really something to look forward to when in Amsterdam.

  5. Benjamin arens 06/03/2013 12:33 pm

    Hi keith,

    Did you consider doing a bike tour or maybe joined one?
    I did a guided bike tour in Amsterdam with Baja Bikes. Really worth recommendong.


  6. Jenna@Webjet 19/02/2013 4:36 pm

    I was so close to visiting Amsterdam last year and then couldn’t! This post makes me wish that I had or that I could book my flight right now and be there tomorrow. The frozen canals look amazing and I would love to skate on them. Thanks for such a great post, hopefully I’ll make it over there eventually!

  7. J.P. 30/01/2013 10:01 pm

    Nice reading this piece – I’ll actually be visiting Amsterdam in March and I’m definitely looking forward to it!

  8. Greg Prohl 20/01/2013 4:26 am

    I hate to admit it, I’ve flown through Amsterdam Schilpol several times but never made it out of the airport! But your article makes me think hard about changing that, maybe this year. As a big classical music fan, a concert at the Concertgebouw would be a lifetime highlight.

  9. Keith Jenkins 13/01/2013 2:14 pm

    Hi David,
    Happy New Year! Think it’s time you paid Amsterdam another visit. 🙂

  10. David @ Malaysia Asia 11/01/2013 6:41 pm

    Hiya Keith, Happy New Year 2013! Nice post on this, last time I was in Amsterdam was back in 2002, that was 10 years ago!

  11. Cailin 11/01/2013 2:26 am

    That is a lot of things to celebrate this year! Maybe I should think about visiting again… 🙂

  12. Nico of A Travellers Journey 10/01/2013 3:21 am

    The Netherlands is one of my favourite countries in Europe. I found that Amsterdam, especially the tourist centre, is a bit expensive, so I prefer going to smaller cities like Utrecht that have all the charm or the capital at a fraction of the cost.

  13. Sofie 07/01/2013 11:42 am

    I didn’t know there are so many aniversaries in A’dam this year.

  14. Nienke | The Travel Tester 06/01/2013 12:36 am

    Some great tips Keith! I can’t wait to move back here next month and explore more of my home town. Seems like a great year. Missed it last 2 years! Hope I can deal with the cold though 🙂

  15. Abby 05/01/2013 7:25 pm

    Such a great article. I’ve never been to Amsterdam but it’s definitely on the to go list!

  16. Jeremy Branham 05/01/2013 4:57 am

    I am not a big fan of winter sports but love the frozen canals in Amsterdam. Great museums, great biking city, and fun culture. Makes me want to go back!

  17. Remy 04/01/2013 9:05 pm

    Don’t forget the EYE, Amsterdam and Netherlands Film Institute, which has moved recently in a new building. A great place to discover. I made a video about it:

  18. Lizzie 04/01/2013 3:04 pm

    Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities. I was supposed to go at the end of last year but it didn’t work out in the end – But now I know the Rijksmuseum is reopening in April I’ll definitely have to take a visit then!

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