Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Amazing Amsterdam

If you're looking to travel to a European city that's prettier than Paris, more cutting-edge than Berlin, and a whole lot more fun than London, then consider a trip to Amsterdam.

The city is a pleasure-seekers wonderland that's packed full of beautiful canals, gorgeous gabled houses and above all, a free-spirited attitude that means that just about anything goes in this magical city. But it's not just the infamous red light district and liberal approach to soft drugs that have made Amsterdam a top tourist destination, as the sheer beauty of the city and the relentless creativity seen in lifestyle blogs such as Chapter Friday has meant that it's a must for any global traveller.

Amsterdam had its own special golden age in the 17th century and a quick tour of the beautiful Southern Canal belt will quickly reveal the charms of this magical period. One of the biggest pleasures about visiting Amsterdam is wandering along its many canals and criss-crossing its picturesque bridges – just be sure to take a quick canal boat tour!

But it's not that Amsterdam is stuck in the past, as a free ferry ride from the Centraal Station across the IJ lake will take you to the up-and-coming Amsterdam Noord area that is an atmospheric land full of hip design studios, futuristic cinemas, decadent warehouse parties and the occasional luxury restaurant!

Dutch cuisine might not be as famous as its European counterparts, but a brief visit to the city will reveal a satisfying selection of exquisite pastries, famous cheeses, as well as the universally-appreciated pancakes! As befits a northern European location, Amsterdam also has some great beers on offer too with Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch being recognised Dutch brands.

Amsterdam is also something of a shopper's paradise with the Jordaan area in particular being packed full of bespoke design houses and artisan jewellery workshops. Further afield, music fans would be more than well-catered for by the comprehensive offerings at the Concerto record store, and if you're looking to explore Amsterdam's heritage as part of the Hanseatic League, then a trip to the Het Hanze Huis is a must as the shop offers a great selection of teas, sweets and other culinary delights of this splendid age.

And finally, the cultural heritage of Amsterdam offers no end of surprises with art lovers spoiled for choice with an excellent selection of galleries. Key amongst these is the world-famous Van Gogh museum that is packed full of the post-impressionist painter's most iconic works. But it's not just the highbrow attractions that Amsterdam offers, as the Katten Kabinet is an art museum depicting pictures of cats, whereas the Vondelpark provides the perfect way to spend a sleepy summer afternoon amidst its leafy landscapes and grand vistas.

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