Amsterdam... City of Free Spirits
“God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland.” As exaggerated as that may sound, the Dutch probably have a point, when you marvel at the impressive engineering that it took to build the effective system of dikes protecting the mainly sea level country and the system of canals in Amsterdam lined by its slender and elegant 17th century buildings.
Amsterdam's contemporary character owes a lot to urban liberal Dutch attitudes and tolerance, and consequently has a more open attitude to drug consumption and sex. Amsterdam is also a vibrant modern city which in addition to its fascinating history has loads of great shopping, great activities and museums. Tree-lined cobblestone streets teeming with bicycles and elegant canals make Amsterdam an incredibly romantic destination. Just wander its beautiful streets or glide through its canals by boat and you will be captivated by its charms.
Visitors to Amsterdam can choose from a myriad of top class cultural and entertainment options. Starting with the museums: the Rijksmuseum includes masterpieces by Dutch masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt to name a few, the beloved van Gogh Museum houses this home grown artist’s colourful canvases.
The historical Anne Frank House offers visitors a slice of history and the NEMO interactive science museum is a fun way to spend the day. The city has many green spaces as well, such as the zoo, botanical garden and the enormous Vondelpark, the only large park in the older part of the city which is packed in the summertime. The popular former Heineken Brewery offers tours and samples for thirsty visitors of this native brew.
During the day, see the city from a native’s perspective: rent a bicycle. Visit one of the many street markets selling handicrafts and local wares or pick up a bunch of the country’s most famous export: tulips. Take a canal cruise to get a quick idea of the layout and history of Amsterdam (this option is also a good idea for those who want to see the Red Light District, but from a distance).
There is no shortage of shopping in this commercial metropolis: the main shopping streets radiate out from the Central Station and include Leidseplein, Nieuwendijk, Kalverstraat, Heiligeweg and Leidsestraat streets. Also, though the Netherlands may not seem a likely beach destination, Zandvoort beach- 27 minutes by train from Central Station offers a good summer getaway for locals and visitors alike. Don’t forget to try the Indonesian cuisine here in Amsterdam: this former colony has left its culinary mark on the city which should not be missed.
No matter how long your stay, Amsterdam’s Old Town can be easily visited as it is within an area of 2 square miles. Once you’ve wandered through some of the city’s 90 islands you’ll soon understand why it’s called the “Venice of the North”.
Hotels near popular Amsterdam tourist attractions
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