Its most familiar calling cards might be coffeeshops and the Red Light district, but Amsterdam offers plenty beyond these less than salubrious features. A city founded some 800 years ago, there is a wealth of history hiding in its canal-side cobblestone streets. And with a little research you can uncover it all in one fell swoop by foot or on one of the capital’s ubiquitous bicycles.
Most conveniently, a KLM flight attendant has done all the hard work for you and come up with a handy pre-plotted route that includes 37 of Amsterdam’s most impressive edifices and takes in the vast bulk of the city’s thoroughfares.
Visitors begin (and finish) the 13-kilometre walk at the palace-like Amsterdam Central Station – a rijksmonuments, or national heritage site, built in 1889. After that you’ll mosey along one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam, delving straight into the tangle of tiny alleys that is De Wallen, the Dutch capital’s largest Red Light District.
Next up is Zeedijk, the home of the the city’s Chinatown, where you’ll stop to eye the 15th century De Waag, or Weigh House. It’s said to be the oldest remaining non-religious building in all of Amsterdam. This turreted structure was even depicted by Rembrandt in his 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.
Then you’ll whizz over countless bridges, through numerous stone squares and past several museums, galleries, breweries and historic warehouses before landing on Prinsengracht, or Prince’s Canal, often called one of the city’s most beautiful stretches.
Some three hours later you’ll wind up at the final stop, and the most Dutch of all institutions: the gin bar. Neck more than 70 different liqueurs and genevers in tulip glasses, all produced in-house using traditional 17th century craft methods.
If you want to get your mitts on a tangible replica of these historic houses you’ll need to fly business class with KLM, where each passenger is presented with their own miniature delft house. Every year on the date of KLM’s anniversary, 7 October, a new house is added to the collection. There are 97 models now.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flies from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Darwin, Gold Coast, Cairns to Amsterdam via Asia and Middle East gateways in partnership with interline and codeshare partners.
Return flights from Sydney starting about AU$1,452.
Fun fact: Since the 1980s, KLM miniature houses have been filled with Dutch gin made by Bols. Prior to that, they were filled with liqueur from Dutch distilleries Rynbende and Henkes.
Fun fact: The collection includes KLM miniature houses without a number, such as the Royal Palace on Dam Square and the Goudse Waag in Gouda. These houses were presented to newlyweds flying KLM on their honeymoon from 1995 to 2005.
This tip was provided by KLM, but we’re sharing it with you because we think it’s great.