If it’s your first time in Amsterdam, it’s always safe to take the classic tours: a stroll around the outdoor flower market, the canal rides, and a visit to all of the city’s popular museums. However, if this is your fourth or fifth time in Amsterdam, you might want to try something new—and there are a lot of other attractions you should see. They’re just not as widely commercialized.

Below are the best offbeat Amsterdam destinations you shouldn’t miss out on.

Accommodations

You might want to steer clear of popular hotels especially if you’re visiting Amsterdam during the peak season. Alternative accommodations include houseboats, hotels, hostels, and renovated houses located along the canals. One hotel in the city, though, offers an offbeat enough experience. The Ambassade Hotel comprises 10 seventeenth century houses built along the canal. This means that you’ll be living at the city’s historical center.

Just off the center, though, near the Van Gogh museum, the Hilton hotel offers the same suite the Yoko and John Lennon took for their “Bed-in” for peace back in 1969. The room was redesigned to capture how it was when the couple stayed in the hotel, under the guidance of Yoko Ono herself. Lyrics and other Lennon memorabilia were also added to the room.

A word of warning, though: the Yoko Ono and Lennon suite is off the beaten path but a stay there is far from cheap. If you just want to view the hotel room, the staff will let you provided that it’s vacant. You just need to ask them.

Feasting on History

To enjoy the best of history in Amsterdam, you have to go beyond the classic canal rides. For an overview of the city, you should give the Amsterdam Historical Museum a visit. This currently resides in Amsterdam’s old city orphanage building.

You’ll get to glimpse the highs and lows of the city when you visit this museum. Included in their collection are archeological finds, paintings, furniture and even special exhibitions.

If you happen to be in Amsterdam in August, you’ll get to see The Hoerengracht. This is an art-installation made in the 1980s by Nancy Reddin Keinholz and Edward Keinholz. The installation offers a glimpse of Amsterdam’s infamous red light district.

Novelty: Museum of Bags and Purses


Aside from the Cat Cabinet which can also be found in Amsterdam, you should visit the Museum of Bags and Purses. This is a worthy destination if you’re looking for something definitely offbeat. There are a lot of strange collections in this city, making for an interesting stay even if it’s already your fourth visit.

The Museum of Bags in Purses is practically a cathedral of this fashionable accessory. It has over 4000 pieces of pockets, purses, pouches, and bags, some of them dating as far back as the 16th century. They also include quite a number of must-have bags and purses for both men and women today.

Someone should take note of the catalogue of materials used for these purses. There are items made from ivory, beads, feathers, and even aluminum. If you think the collection is apolitical, think again. Most of these fashion accessories also symbolize big political events in history.

You should look at the oldest bag in the Museum which is strangely owned by a man, amidst the larger collection of women’s purses. This dates back to the Middle Ages, has a minimalist silver frame with eighteen secret slots.

The National Museum of Spectacles


Another museum of oddities you might want to visit is the National Museum of Spectacles. This is locates, aptly enough, above an eyeglass shop and takes up two whole floors with all sorts of eyewear: from monocles, spectacles, opera glasses, spyglasses, binoculars, optician’s tools and many more. For the cultural scholar, this provides a pretty comprehensive display of 700 years of fashion and the arts.

While admiring the huge collection of eyewear, make sure that you also take a look at the museums share or optical toys. These include all sorts of kaleidoscopes, optical mirrors, magic lanterns, etc. Other inventions which led to the development of film can also be found here.

Shopping


Once you’ve toured all the historical sites and Museums of Amsterdam, it only makes sense that you should do your shopping. Open air markets in Amsterdam make for a pleasantly unique shopping experience. The most popular site is probably the floating water market. The flea markets and antique shops also turn up interesting finds.

You might want to visit the Nine Streets, which are, quite literally, nine streets lined with boutiques and galleries. This is located at the canal district of the city. You’ll find a shop here filled with dental care products as well as those devoted to fashion, cheese, gourmet food, and interior design.

Right outside the Nine Streets, you’ll also find the Button Shop. This has a gallery of accessories, as well as a line of shops which sell unique buttons which you probably won’t find anywhere else.

Chapel

If you want to see the palatial building which served as Amsterdam’s city hall for more than a century, you should drop by Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand. The accommodations here might be too much for your budget, but a daytrip should be possible. Special events like weddings are held here, and while the building has been renovated through the years, distinct architectural details have been retained.

One of them is the First Class Marriage Chamber. Created by Chris Lebeau in 1926, the room is lined with frescoes and exquisitely crafted stained glass windows. The stained glass windows also tell a story of every couple’s life from engagement, marriage, and the birth of the first child.

You won’t be allowed to enter the room when there’s a wedding ceremony being held, but when the room is vacant, you can even ask for a guided tour. The First Class Marriage Chamber is a registered National Monument.

Side trips: Hague

While it’s not in Amsterdam, like the Hague make for interesting side trips. This is only is less than an hour’s ride by train. The Hague was the seat of government for Netherlands and is home to about 30 interesting museums.

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