It's easy to see Amsterdam as one big village crossed by canals and footbridges, colorful flower markets, and bike paths, but that's only until you visit its art galleries, see the best of Dutch design, and experience its extravagant nightlife, when you conclude that this is in fact a big world-class city. While the first images it brings to mind may be the sex and drugs of its famous red light district, this is also the city of elegant canalside architecture, relaxed cafes, and a live-and-let-live attitude to pretty much anything. So take advantage of that and in between visiting its art treasures, dedicate most of your time to simply hanging out and absorbing the city's vibrant, welcoming spirit.
- A walk or a cruise down the Grachtengordel Canals.
- The Dutch Golden Age treasures of the Rijksmuseum.
- The masterpieces in the Van Gogh Museum.
- Stedelijk Museum's contemporary art.
- The famous Anne Frank House.
- The notorious RED LIGHT DISTRICT.
- A stop in DAM SQUARE.
- The Torch Gallery's exhibitions.
- Sitting with a drink in LEIDESPLEIN.
- Browsing through ALBERT CUYPMARKET and BLOEMENMARK.
Look for the hotel or hostel that best matches your budget, type of trip or personality. Here you can guarantee a room but you do NOT pay anything at the time of booking. Payments are only made at the hotel and there are no booking fees. Most hotels allow cancellations with no penalty if done up to 24 or 48 hours in advance. You'll see that information at the time of booking and again in the confirmation email.
A café is Amsterdam often means a pub and cannabis, and not just a coffee shop or a place to go for brunch. For dinner, fresh local ingredients create international dishes at stylishly designed restaurants which often share walls with the city's top bars and clubs. In between checking out those fashionable hotspots you'll find other cheaper, simpler ethnic restaurants (from Indonesian to Turkish) where the food is often just as memorable.
Amsterdam offers a myriad of shops, boutiques, and markets for every personality and budget. All the well known chain stores, from H&M to Zara are found down Kalverstraat, the longest and most popular shopping street in the city. For a number of luxury and designer labels within steps from each other, head to PC Hooftstraat. Named after a 16th century poet, dramatist, and historian, this street is lined with fine boutiques, although locals prefer the original shops spread throughout the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) shopping district. Be sure to not miss the Albert Cuypmarkt which claims to be Europe's longest street market. And if you're in the city on a Saturday, Noordermarkt is the popular farmer's market for organic food and bric-a-brac. On Mondays, head to the Waterlooplein flea market, where the city's young and trendy go for second hand clothing, old books, and pretty much anything.