Liberal to its very core, Amsterdam is a beautiful city to explore by foot or pedal power. Staggered atop a myriad of winding canals connected by ornate bridges; the Dutch capital has been inspiring artists, writers and holidaymakers for hundreds of years.
Despite its reputation for attracting young British revellers to its infamous coffee shops, Amsterdam’s new marijuana laws have set about realigning the city’s image and reputation. The deeply embedded beauty and spiritual soul of the city, alongside its almost incomparable portfolio of museums and galleries, have become the selling point of this most intoxicating and rewarding city.
Whilst there is so much to see and enjoy in Amsterdam that you may be rushing around the city from one beautiful site to the next; the ‘Venice of the North’ is best explored slowly, allowing you to fully absorb every wonderful experience.
As a relatively small capital, it is possible to take in much of Amsterdam without really breaking a sweat. However, if you are to get just one true taste of the indelible culture this stunning city has retained, head over to the Rijksmuseum.
One of the world’s most revered museums and galleries, the Rijksmuseum is perhaps best known for its extensive collection of works by the great Dutch Masters. Also if you have rented bicycles to explore the city (which we’d highly recommend!), the 2013 renovation of the Rijksmuseum means you now can cycle directly through the celebrated museum.
As the most international city in the world, Amsterdam’s culinary choices are incredibly varied, so you’ll have plenty of choice when picking a place to eat. From the wonderful stroopwafels (crispy pancakes with a gooey, caramel filling) found on almost every street corner to the haute cuisine served up by some of the continent’s finest chefs; there is something for every palate and appetite in Amsterdam.
However, we reckon a trip to the Dutch capital is not complete without a visit to 5&33, serving up beautiful tapas and cured meat dishes. As well as serving delightful freshly prepared sharing plates, 5&33 also provides a gallery space for local and international artists to display exhibitions – perfect to peruse whilst letting your meal settle.
If you enjoy a glass or two of top quality plonk, head over to Bubbles and Wine, a long bar which evokes the spirit of a well-stocked wine cellar. With over 50 wines by the glass and 180 by the bottle available, you’ll be spoilt for choice in this popular Dutch haunt. The wines are skilfully paired with delightful foody sides including Asetra caviar and truffle cheese.
Even if you’re not the most knowledgeable in the nectar of the vine, the experienced and friendly staff can help guide you towards a smart choice.
With a façade and interior comparable to the beautiful galleries and museums dotted around the city, The Grand Amsterdam is a beautiful place to rest your head. Set on the banks of one of the city’s canals, the hotel can trace its history back to the 15th century where it served as a convent, before becoming royal lodgings for Dutch Admiralty.
Offering luxury suites with butler service, and boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant, the hotel is idyllic for visitors to the city who have spent the day exploring by foot or by bike.
If you want something a little bit different to start the new day in Amsterdam, then Bakers & Roasters in Amsterdam Zuid is definitely worth a visit. A combination of New Zealand and Brazilian influences make this a truly unique proposition.
The menu is jam-packed with filling options such as the delicious Navajo Eggs, which are blessed with pulled pork, avocado, mango salsa and chipotle cream. Definitely enough sustenance if you’ve got another day of exploring Amsterdam planned.
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Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Bert Kaufmann, Ed Webster