The city of canals is the ultimate travel destination for urban fans – from shopping to museum hopping, Amsterdam offers it all. On our forays, we follow insider tips provided by our host Caroline Berends from the Romantik Hotel De Nederlanden in Vreeland, a 20-minute drive away.
Morning. With its compact city center, Amsterdam is great for strolling around. For a first impression, you can take a walk down the Singel and Heren-, Keizers- or Prinsengracht; or you can rent a bike for a wider radius. Boat tours are a wonderful way to explore the canals: either with a rental pedal boat or comfortably on a canal cruise. One alternative: take a light festival canal cruise in the evening.
Midday. The original Amsterdam lives on in the Jordaan district with its narrow streets and picturesque homes. There are a number of little shops and bars here. Like Cafe Nol, an authentic Jordaan bar with chandeliers (Westerstraat 109). Whole worlds lie behind some ordinary front doors: the hofjes. Tiny, lovingly planted courtyards. A peaceful break at the Beguinage, a tranquil oasis. Lay religious women used to live in these white houses.
Evening. Dim lighting, salacious gestures. But, no, that is not why we are walking through the red-light district. It is culinary ambitions we are after, fine dining at Vermeer, one of the top restaurants (P. Hendrikkade 66). The caramelized Brussels sprouts are heavenly. The young-at-
heart later enjoy the club scene, which is pleasantly relaxed. Bouncers are not usually a problem. The Paradiso, a disco and concert stage in a former church (Weteringschans 6-8), is an institution.
Morning. Those who would like to see highlights of Dutch art will find the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in one central place (Museumplein). A must this year: commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with exhibitions and events, including the public restoration of The Night Watch. In the heart of the city, there is a little gem: the museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic). Visitors explore a canal house from the 17th century (Golden Age).
Midday. Amsterdam is a true shopping paradise. Magna Plaza, located right behind the Dam Square in the former Royal Post Office, is considered one of the most beautiful shopping centers in Amsterdam. P.C. Hoofstraat is, by far, the chicest shopping street with exclusive shops selling big brands. The nine streets cross the main canals of the city between the Leidsestraat and Jordaan district. Here, there are tons of nice restaurants, cafes, galleries, boutiques and vintage shops.
Evening. Framed by traditional bars like the Café Luxembourg and Hoppe, and also trendy shops like Esprit and Tokyo, the Spui is considered the quaintest spot in the city. With a Heineken beer and a portion of bitterballen (fried meat croquettes), one can relax and make plans for the evening. Want a thrill? The A’DAM lookout tower has Europe’s highest swing with an amazing panoramic view of the city (Amsterdam Tower, Overhoeksplein 1, vis-à-vis central station, ferry 901).