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Amsterdam - Between Prinsengracht and Museumplein
With 750,000 inhabitants, Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands, is one of the smaller metropolises in Europe. In terms of art, culture, shopping and nightlife, however, the destination far surpasses other capitals. Around the canals, the cityscape is mainly characterized by bicycles.
Amsterdam - View of the house front and the Amstel© Yasonya / Fotolia

The charming sights and world-famous museums are close together in Amsterdam within the canal belt. If you want to discover the city from the water, you can rent a canal bike, a pedal boat with several seats. The harbour for canal boats with theme and dinner trips is located behind Amsterdam Centraal station. Instead of a hotel room, you can also book a houseboat as accommodation. The city now has more than 2,500 floating accommodations. The pubs, cafés and restaurants on the water are very popular with tourists.

Amsterdam was first mentioned in 1275 and as a trading centre for tulips, tea and diamonds the city experienced its heyday in the 17th century. The wealthy merchant families lived in splendid houses along the ring-shaped canal system, which was once built for defensive purposes. To this day Amsterdam is divided by canals into 100 islands with 400 bridges. Meanwhile, the historic old town is a World Heritage Site.

Although the royal house and seat of government are in The Hague, the capital city plays an important role as a financial and commercial centre. The Royal Palace in Amsterdam, for example, only serves special occasions and can be visited during a guided tour in the absence of the regent. The Dam square in front of the magnificent building is considered the largest city square in the Netherlands. Here, stalls and street performers ensure a lively bustle.
Amsterdam - View of the Keizersgracht© TTstudio / Fotolia

A highlight of Amsterdam is the Vondelpark, which attracts about 10 million visitors a year and resembles an open-air stage in the summer. Not only 750 animal species have found a home in the Artis Zoo. The wonderful garden also houses a museum, aquarium and planetarium. One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world is the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, where over 6,000 plants can be admired.

On the Museumplein is the Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt's famous "Night Watch". Right next door is the Van Gogh Museum with the world's largest collection of the artist's work. Modern art is offered by the neighbouring Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. One of the attractions along the Singelgracht is the floating flower market. If you want to go shopping, you will find something to suit you in the noble P. C. Hofstraat or the less expensive Albert Cuypmarkt. For going out, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are recommended.

Visitors can go on a voyage of discovery in the Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder. A special feature is the church in the attic, where a mass is held every Sunday. In the Oude Hoogstraat there is a tea shop and café in one of the narrowest houses in Amsterdam. Visitors enjoy the best view of the city from the A' Dam Tower. Europe's highest swing stands on the roof terrace. Beaches are also found in Amsterdam.

While the beach Zuid is popular with the local upper class, families prefer the beach IJburg. In the middle of the city centre, the medieval Begijnhof is one of the most impressive sights. A chapel is hidden behind the facades of the former monastery. The Oude Kerk is the oldest building in Amsterdam. It is probably the only church in a red-light district in the world.

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