Amsterdam: A Unique City Tour

Mary Elizabeth Collins

Amsterdam is an ideal luxury travel destination with some of the world’s finest museums, charming, hospitable people, a rich history and luxurious five-star hotels like the Hotel De L'Europe and the Waldorf Astoria. Don’t miss a visit to the Michelin-starred Librije’s Zusje restaurant.

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is a cosmopolitan city with a bohemian atmosphere where visitors can enjoy the warm hospitality of its jovial and welcoming people. Known as the Venice of the North–for the canals that cross the old town–the city is also famous for a relaxed vibe that takes visitors back to the 17th century while keeping all the conveniences of a modern metropolis.

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In the streets of this lively and vibrant city, there is always something special going on. There are traditional music shows, outdoor concerts, and plays presented in parks and squares, particularly at the amphitheater of the Vondelpark—the city’s most famous park—with beautiful gardens and streams. Amsterdam’s old architecture can be appreciated in the houses along the canals. Sharing a grandiose past, the homes take us back to the splendor of earlier times.

Bike rides are a pleasant and enjoyable way to see Amsterdam, slowly riding through its lovely streets and squares. Stop at Oud-Centrum is the old quarter where you’ll find Dam Square and the magnificent Royal Palace. Despite not being the official residence of the royal family, it is usually the venue chosen by King Willem-Alexander for celebrations and official receptions.

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One of the city’s most emblematic areas is the Museumplein with parks, gardens, and museums including the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum –three of Europe’s most relevant art institutions.To make the most of your Amsterdam experience, you should become familiar with some very fashionable districts such as Jordaan, next to the canals, with renowned restaurants, upscale boutiques, and the Anne Frank House museum. Also recommended is a tour of De Pijp where the old Heineken brewery is located, and that is well worth a visit.

Other attractive sites in the Dutch capital are the commercial streets Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat. De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt (Red Light District) is the place where the girls offer their services and show their charms in red-lit windows. Nearby, in Zeedijk, stop to eat at one of the excellent restaurants in Chinatown. And let yourself be captivated by the Jewish Quarter, where you can visit the impressive Jewish Historical Museum, the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre) and the old Portuguese Synagogue.

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For antique collectors, the best bet is to go to Spiegelkwartie (Mirror District), with its concentration of small shops filled with authentic treasures. Another exciting activity is visiting Amsterdam’s markets. One of the most famous is the Albert Cuypmarkt in De Pijp, where you will find everything from fruits, cheese, and fish to decorative ornaments, clothes, and cosmetics. In fact, it is the perfect place to buy a pair of clogs, the typical wooden shoes traditionally used by Dutch farmers. Not to be missed is the legendary Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) arranged on platforms and barges moored at the edge of the Singel Canal. In this beautiful floating market, you can buy tulip bulbs and enjoy boat rides.

Among the many and varied accommodations in the city two great five-star hotels stand out: the Hotel De L’Europe and the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, home to the Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam restaurant, awarded two Michelin stars.  ■

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