Small and charming, The Netherlands is characterized by its elaborate canal system, blooming tulip fields, windmill-dotted landscapes and miles of cycling routes. Its capital, Amsterdam, is a stylish yet bohemian city whose 17th century Golden Age has left a fascinating legacy of artistic heritage, the gabled townhouses that were once home to wealthy merchants lining beautifully maintained canals.
There really are only a few cities that can lay claim to as many remarkable museums as Amsterdam; its Museum District houses works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and modern art at the Stedelijk, making it a must-visit destination for art and architecture aficionados. The city is also famously home to Anne Frank’s House, a fascinating museum dedicated to the poignant story of the Jewish wartime diarist.
You could easily spend days exploring the 40-something museums in the city yet many of Amsterdam’s sights and delights are to be found by simply walking or cycling the pretty cobbled streets. Cycling is a quintessentially Dutch mode of transport and is made easy by the flat landscapes, dedicated cycle lanes and priority on the roads, virtually everyone cycles here and it’s not only a practical but also a fun way to explore!
The Amsterdam Canal District is a UNESCO World Heritage site with 165 canals encircling the city, criss-crossed by more bridges than Venice. The attractive flower-lined waterways are symbolic of the city’s grandiose past and a trip by canal boat provides a peaceful way to see the city from a different viewpoint. The connecting canals and cobbled streets with independent cafes, galleries and shops are a wonderful way to pass an afternoon, locals flock to the Nine Streets district for its laid-back vibe and alfresco dining choices.
Head to Amsterdam between late March and mid-May for the spectacular bloom of tulips, when the surrounding countryside comes alive with color and a host of festivals and parades take place in and around the city.