Amsterdam. The Dutch capital which is recasting itself as one of Europe’s most dynamic cities. When people say Amsterdam, the thought of the red light district and the smokey ‘coffee’ shops come in to mind. Amsterdam is still pretty much this, all this Is what brings the tourist to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is famous for its tolerance of soft drugs and prostitution. At night the red light district is a different world. Something that would look out of place in any other city but looks normal in Amsterdam. The red neon windows spring out between bars and houses are not to miss. A clean up has forced most brothels coffeeshops to close down. These have been replaced with hippie cafes and nice new arty restaurants.
Away from the red lights and the smoke filled coffee shops, Amsterdam has a very homely charm. From the time-worn taverns to the quirky little fashion and home decor shops. Be like the locals and work your way through the different neighbourhood’s on bike, its the best way to see the city.
First-timers are surprised to learn Amsterdam is so small with less than 800,000 residents and a compact city centre you can cycle right around in a couple of hours making it pretty much the perfect size for a city break. Visit the Jordaan area once a crowded slum but is now trendy and no chance of finding an old gritty boozer here.
Filled with arty cafes and trendy little shops. The Jordaan is a beautiful neighbourhood, especially along the Prinsengracht, with the steep gabled houses over looing the canal. Not far from here is the Anne Frank house, the attic rooms where the Frank family hid during World War II reached through a door behind a hinged bookcase.
Amsteram is filled with history and is definitely an eye opener. Amsterdam is a city built on art with notable museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. The Moco museum offers a modern touch to the art scene in Amsterdam showing some of Banksy and Roy Litchenstein’s best work. If you have a few hours to kill then hop on one of the canal cruises, an interesting way to see and learn how the city has developed over the years.
For a sporting experience then head to the Amsterdam Arena. A stadium filed with history from the glory years of Cruyff and Van Basten, the 54,000 seater stadium soon to be named the Johan Cruyff Arena offers amazing tour around the stadium. Visiting the home and away dressing room and finishing off with the spectacular trophy room. The Dutch have produced some pretty good beers over the years, this can be seen in the Heineken experience. The old brewery which has now been turned in to a great experience telling the history of the world famous brewery. A very detailed tour of how the company grew over the years and how their beer is made, finished off with a chance to pull your own beer and taste your craftsmanship.
The casual and laid backed lifestyle in Amsterdam makes it a perfect city get away. It may take several trips to see everything as the city has so much to offer.