Famed for its coffee houses and red light district, Amsterdam’s not-so-well-kept secret is also one of the most picturesque capitals in Europe. Laced with peaceful canals lined with leafy greenery and elegant terraces, there’s a great deal of joy to be had just wandering through its cosy, cobbled streets.
Even better, hire a bike – this is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world and getting two wheels of your own can be the best way to explore. Or take a boat trip for a more relaxing afternoon, idly crawling along Amsterdam’s beautiful waterways with a bottle of wine and selection of fine Dutch cheeses.
There are a number of excellent museums clustered around het Museumplein, including two dedicated to Rembrandt and Van Gogh that compliment the city’s many other world class art galleries. Shop among delightful hidden boutiques and when the lights go out let your hair down and enjoy the crazy nightlife in the buys Leidesplein and Rembrandtplein districts. Whatever you’re into, you’ll find it in Amsterdam.
Where to stay
Amsterdam is blessed with a great number of excellent hotels; the Seven Bridges is one of the best, combining style, comfort and a great location, while the Grand Hotel Amrath is beautifully-equipped, if a little labyrinthine.
Where to eat
The Crystal Bar is a great old-fashioned diner serving superb Italian food with a lively atmosphere. Raindancer Restaurant is a favourite for steak, Full House does a great Chinese buffet and Russo’s Bar & Grill is best for pizza.
What to see
The Anne Frank Museum is a well thought out exhibition and a poignant reminder of the Second World War. St Nicolas Boat Club organise excellent boat tours of the city on small, semi-private barges holding no more than ten or twelve.