AMSTERDAM is a city proud of its past, with a rich history built on maritime trade and a long tradition of excellence in the arts, especially painting.
Yet the Dutch city is also a forward-looking place, full of hot young designers, recently redeveloped museums, and progressive ideas. Quirky, innovative, and fun, Amsterdam is best enjoyed with a slow pedal by bicycle, a stroll along its canals, or an hour spent on a café terrace watching the world go by. So if you’re on a business trip with very little free time or a short layover, check out some of these sites!
Wide awake thanks to time-zone changes? Bourbon Street Music Club (Leidsekruisstraat 6–8) will keep you going until 5am; part of Amsterdam’s notable live jazz scene, and also features funk and soul.
Enjoy an early stroll along Prinsengracht, an illustrious canal flanked by historic merchants’ houses. See flowers unloaded at the floating Flower Market, then have a café breakfast in hip Jordaan district.
Spend the morning in Old Town, the center of Amsterdam’s 17th-century Golden Age. Tired feet? Take a one-hour canal-boat tour and see the maritime city from the water.
Have a light lunch of salad or Dutch croquettes at the cosy Café Luxembourg(Spuistraat 24), one of the great cafés of Europe thanks to its grand interior and terrace, which are perfect for people-watching.
The area around The Dam by the royal palace is the place to browse some excellent department stores, such as upmarket de Bijenkorf (Dam 1), for fashion, design objects, and homewares.
The Rijksmuseum not only has a superb collection of Dutch Masters, but also furniture, silverware, ceramics, and Asian artefacts. A comprehensive Rembrandt retrospective runs until May 17. I hihgly recommend securing tickets online beforehand if you plan to visit any museum as the lines re extremely long. The Van Gogh musueum was nice, but a bit underwhelming an very crowded in my opinion.
Rent a bike and wander into De Pijp district, known for its street markets, and multi-ethnic restaurants, from North African to Korean. Try rijsttafel, the much-loved Indonesian feast of multiple little dishes served with rice.
Check out the infamous Red Light District for some great “ambiance.” Sit and chill in one of the endless cafe’s that line the canals, catch a sex show, or sho ptill you drop at surrounding boutiques.
Time to hit the epicentre of Amsterdam nightlife, around which you’ll find late-night restaurants and the Municipal Theatre: Stadsschouwburg, which dominates the western side.