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A Whistle-Stop Tour of Amsterdam
Stereotypically, Amsterdam is famous for canals, tulips and windmills – all of which are very much in evidence – but the Netherlands’ capital is one of the most diverse destinations, with a lively cultural scene and a rich history. We’ve highlighted a few attractions that’ll allow you to taste the essential flavour of the city, even if time isn’t on your side.
Stereotypical or not, it’s hard to avoid the network of intersecting waterways that cover a quarter of the surface area of Amsterdam. All in all, 165 canals, with a combined length of over 60 miles, form the Amsterdam Canal Ring. The Canal Ring was added to the UNSECO World Heritage List in 2010 and taking a guided boat tour, by day or by night, can provide an excellent introduction to the beautiful, historic fabric of the city.
Similarly, if it’s tulips you want, as cut flowers or bulbs, Bloemenmarkt Amsterdam, or Amsterdam Flower Market, which consists of a series of small stalls located in floating barges that line the Singel Canal, west of the city centre, should be on your itinerary. Once upon a time, the Singel Canal encircled the city but, nowadays, the oldest of the main canals bustles with many shops and cafés as well as the world famous flower market.
However fleeting your visit to Amsterdam, you really have no excuse not to sample Amsterdam street food, at least once. If ‘broodje haring’ – raw herring served in a sandwich with onions and pickles – seems too adventurous, try ‘kibbeling’ – battered, deep fried, white fish – as a cooked alternative. Also, look out for authentic Dutch thick cut fries, known as ‘patat’ or ‘frites’. All these delicious snacks are available from street market stalls or food trucks all over Amsterdam.
Around the square known locally as Leidseplein, situated at the southern end of the central canal ring, you can find the Stadsschouwburg, or Municipal Theatre, and the Lido Theatre, to name but two, cafés, bar and restaurants and several high-profile music venues, such as Melkweg and Paradiso. Also on Leidseplein, Hostel Leidseplein offers affordable, comfortable accommodation right in the centre of Amsterdam. If you have time for a museum visit, three world-class, and recently renovated, museums, the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, the Van Gogh Museum, are gathered close together in the Museum Quarter, or ‘Museumplein’, which is located south of Leidseplein.
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