The cultural capital of Europe and the Netherlands's largest urban centre, Amsterdam is home to close to 1.5 million people. Boasting a rich architectural heritage, this city of contrasts offers its 3 million annual visitors something new to discover at every turn.
Amsterdam's visitors get to discover the city's many distinct identities: night-owl Amsterdam flaunts its numerous "bruin cafes" (brown coffee shops), bars and nightclubs, which have cemented its reputation as a hip city; heretical Amsterdam, with its famous Red Light District; environmentally-friendly Amsterdam, with its many electric trams and downtown streets overrun with cyclists, who have long since supplanted drivers; and, last but certainly not least, Amsterdam, city of the arts, the land of inspiration for Rembrandt, who experienced his greatest success here. The pearl of the Netherlands is home to some 40 museums, including the impressive Rijksmuseum, which showcases the masterpieces of the Golden Age, and the famous Van Gogh Museum.
The "Venice of the North" is aptly nicknamed and a canal-boat ride is a must when visiting Amsterdam. Indeed, the city is criss-crossed by a network of canals that divide the city into 100-odd small islands and graced with a host of bridges, locks and floating houses, to the great pleasure of strollers. Its districts are best explored on foot or by bicycle, be it the historic city centre, which extends around the magnificent Centraal Station, the famous Red Light District or, again, über-hip Jordaan, a former working-class neighbourhood that was reclaimed by Bohemian and other artsy types.