Amsterdam combines the unrivaled beauty of the 17th-century Golden Age city center with plenty of museums and art of the highest order, not to mention a remarkably laid-back atmosphere. It all comes together to make this one of the world’s most appealing and offbeat metropolises in the world.
Built on a latticework of concentric canals like an aquatic rainbow, Amsterdam is known as the City of Canals—but it’s no Venice, content to live on moonlight serenades and former glory. Quite the contrary: on nearly every street here you’ll find old and new side by side—quiet corners where time seems to be holding its breath next to streets like neon-lit Kalverstraat, and Red Light ladies strutting by the city’s oldest church. Indeed, Amsterdam has as many lovely facets as a 40-carat diamond polished by one of the city’s gem cutters. It’s certainly a metropolis, but a rather small and very accessible one. Locals tend to refer to it as a big village, albeit one that happens to pack the cultural wallop of a major world destination Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the world. From Amsterdam canals to world-famous Amsterdam museums and historical Amsterdam sights, it is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe. Canal cruises are a popular way to see the city from the perspective of its canals.
Amsterdam is also a city of tolerance and diversity. It has all the advantages of a big city: rich culture, lively Amsterdam nightlife, international restaurants, good transport – but is quiet, and largely thanks to its extensive canals, has a little road traffic. In this city your destination is never far away, but get a bike for an authentic local experience.n.
There are scores of concerts every day, numerous museums, summertime festivals, and, of course, a legendary year-round party scene. It’s pretty much impossible to resist Amsterdam’s charms. With 7,000 registered monuments, most of which began as the residences and warehouses of humble merchants, set on 160 man-made canals, and traversed by 1,500 or so bridges, Amsterdam has the largest historical inner city in Europe. Its famous circle of waterways, the grachten gordel, was a 17th-century urban expansion plan for the rich and is a lasting testament to the city’s Golden Age. This town is endearing because of its kinder, gentler nature—but a reputation for championing sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll does not alone account for Amsterdam’s being one of the most popular destinations in Europe: consider that within a single square mile the city harbors some of the greatest achievements in Western art, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh. Not to mention that this is one of Europe’s great walking cities, with so many of its treasures in the untouted details: tiny alleyways barely visible on the map, hidden garden courtyards, shop windows, floating houseboats, hidden hofjes (courtyards with almshouses), sudden vistas of church spires, and gabled roofs that look like so many unframed paintings. And don’t forget that the joy lies in details: elaborate gables and witty gable stones denoting the trade of a previous owner.
With every justification, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s top short-break destinations. It’s a compact, instantly likeable city, that’s appealing to look at and pleasant to walk around. An intriguing mix of the parochial and the international, it has a welcoming attitude towards visitors and a uniquely youthful orientation, shaped by the liberal counter-culture that took hold in the 1960s. Also engaging are the buzz of its open-air summer events and the intimacy of its clubs and bars, not to mention the Dutch facility with languages: just about everyone you meet in Amsterdam will be able to speak near-perfect English, on top of their own native Dutch and often French and German too.
Amsterdam has three world-famous sights, the Anne Frank Huis, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, with its wonderful collection of Rembrandt paintings. In addition, there is a slew of lesser known places to visit, from the Resistance Museum through to the Royal Palace on the Dam, though for many tourists the city’s canals are its main draw – take a cruise or a stroll around the Grachtengordel and you’ll see why. Beyond the sights, Amsterdam also boasts an unparalleled selection of drinking places, be it a traditional, bare-floored brown café or one of the city’s many designer bars and grand cafés.
Rijksmuseum is a work of art in itself. Kuyper defied convention to produce an ornate and colourful building at odds with the Calvinist restraint dominating Dutch culture at the time. His work is shining through the scaffolding. Each hallway, room, stairway and chamber homages a different architectural style. You walk through a Gothic hall into a room filled with classical columns, then into a mock-medieval monastery. After the quiet early evening hours, Amsterdam’s streets and squares get again very busy at night. At the back of the Dam square, the whole area of town called Red Light District is always invaded by large groups of tourists walking in the streets and looking at the windows with the girls. Nearby small restaurants and cafes are full of people.
Around Leidseplein you will find the Stadsschouwburg (City theatre) and other theatres, lots of cafes, restaurants, cinemas, the casino, the Lido theatre with live entertainment and the famed cultural and music centers, Sugar Factory, Paradiso and Melkweg offering a varied music program: rock, pop, dance, rap and world music, including big-name bands.
Another busy area of clubs, cafes and cinemas is Rembrandtplein. The square is surrounded by the cafes and clubs always full of guests. An important small street traditionally attracting theater crowd is Nes (parallel to Rokin). Nearby cafes try to attract this intellectual crowd. The old area of the Jordan is mostly frequented by the young people. In its cafes and bars, it is easy to meet people and make new friends.
You can join the Amsterdam Pubcrawl and enjoy nightlife with other party seeking people.
Amsterdam’s reputation as a city to party in is well deserved, and there is a wide selection of nightclubs to keep anybody up well past their bedtime. The main areas for clubbing are Rembrantplein and Leidseplein, although there are clubs scattered throughout the city, including in and around the Red Light District and Spui.