Amsterdam

Amsterdam

All the best things come in small packages, and this small capital is an absolute gem. The carefully planned city, much of which is reclaimed from the sea, resembles a spiders web, with canals radiating out in concentric rings and little footbridges linking everything together. You'll find that exploring the city is best done on foot or by bicycle - with around 700,000 bicycles in Amsterdam it is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world.

Amsterdam also boasts more than its fair share of museums and galleries. In the Museumplein, the "museum square" you should probably start with the Rijksmuseum, which will lead you through the history of Dutch painting, via all the great Dutch masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. If Van Gogh is more your style, head to the Van Gogh Museum which has the best collection of works belonging to the Dutch artist in the world. Another must-see in Amsterdam is Anne Frank's House : discover her hiding place and her most precious possessions. Rembrandt's House is also open to visitors and is now a museum to the great 17th century painter.
Discover the boutiques and shops in Amsterdam with a visit to the chic Jordaan area. It's among the canals and little bridges without a doubt, that romance is to be found. Take a boat trip and glide through the city admiring the architectural beauty of the houses and bridges.
After dark, the famous Red Light District comes into its own. This is an integral part of Amsterdam's culture, along with the city's cannabis coffee shops, where you can legally smoke cannabis, and perhaps drink some Heineken: the national beer.

Amsterdam is a contemporary and liberal city, but it is also a tranquil and verdant place: De Hortus, the oldest botanical garden in the world, can be found here. At the Great Flower Festival at the end of the summer you'll see a spectacular parade of floats decorated with flowers. May is the month of that famous Dutch flower, the tulip, and May also sees the celebration of national unity which is the spirited Queen's Day festival - don something orange and join the party in the streets and on the canals. For performing arts, the must see event in Amsterdam has to be the Holland Festival, in June. With artistic creations ranging from opera to modern dance and contemporary visual arts there's something for everyone.

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