Amsterdam Travel Guide
Amsterdam is the hippest place on planet Earth. It has coffee shops where you can buy and smoke marijuana right alongside your coffee. It has a celebrated red-light district with red-lit window brothels that is proudly on display and an essential stop on any tour of the city. It has a city center saturated with atmospheric "brown cafés." It has more bicycles per capita than any other city in the world, with over 400 kilometers of lanes set aside for them. It has disparate ethnicities and nationalities woven into its fabric, with a diversity surpassing that of all other European cities. It has a progressive city government that is rooted in the 1960s and continues to question and defy established mores. And all this before we even get to Amsterdam's storied 165-plus canals and 1,200 or so bridges, its myriad parks and timeworn squares, and its seemingly countless small art museums and hole-in-the-wall galleries. Amsterdam, in fact, is a city brimming with life, at once joyous, vibrant, youthful, rebellious, and unapologetically, even gleefully, sinful. Here is a city that practically guarantees that a trip to it will be a realtime "trip."
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, located in the province of North-Holland in the western part of the country. It is built on 90 islands, ringed by one hundred kilometers of canals at the terminus of the Amstel River. It is 21 miles (33 km) northwest of Utrecht, or 108 miles (173 km) north of Brussels, Belgium.
Amsterdam's visitor lures are varied and numerous, but among the priorities one might suggest the Rijksmuseum which houses a fabulous collection of the Dutch Masters; the Van Gogh Museum, devoted to the artist's works; the legendary Amsterdam Red-Light District, De Wallen (and there are organized, guided tours available for this); the city's cannabis-coffee shops, the most popular among them the Greenhouse, Barney's, Bulldog and Abraxas; Oude Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam, dating from the 13th century; the hugely-popular Vondelpark, where hippies congregated and even slept during the 60s and 70s; Waterlooplein, Amsterdam's permanent market of knickknacks that surprises and delights visitors and residents alike; Anne Frank's house, in the secret annex of which the young Jewish girl and her family hid from the Nazis; and of course the city's famous canals, the most alluring of the lot being the Prinsengracht, followed by Keizersgracht and Herengracht, all three lined with monumental, 17th-century buildings from the "Dutch Golden Age."
Amsterdam's after-dark party scene is centered principally on two of the city's main squares, Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein, the latter crammed with bars and pubs that are especially popular with residents and Dutch visitors. Rembrandtplein, for its part, is rife with dance clubs and tourists, and just as lively. Rembrandtplein is just off the Red-Light District, while Leidseplein is a little way to the south of there. And for a slice of local nightlife, there's De Pijp, Amsterdam's bohemian quarter, adjacent to the Jordaan district, which has scores of pubs, bars, ethnic cafés and restaurants, as well as several of the city's famous coffee shops and even the smallest of Amsterdam's three red-light districts.
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