Amsterdam

Once you enter Amsterdam, it become immediately clear that it is unlike any other city in Holland, or the rest of Europe for that matter.

Historic 17th century architecture mixed with whimsical art pieces around town create a landscape of pride and playfulness that is hard to find anywhere else.  The rich artistic tradition is evident everywhere, with museums and tributes to the Dutch masters that have left their imprints in the annals of art.  Houseboats bob happily in the many man-made canals, and cafes line the cobbled streets.

Many of the lodging options in Amsterdam excel at mixing the historic style of Golden Age architecture with all of the convenience and modern touches of a 21st century home.  The best thing about staying in Amsterdam is the affordability of your accommodations, which not only offer modern conveniences but accessibility to all of the city’s sights.

Located in the middle of the attraction of Amsterdam’s museum district, Hotel Fita is a treasure.  The contemporary style with real Dutch sensibilities will make you feel as if you are staying in someone’s home rather than a hotel.  It’s location is ideal for walking around and exploring, and it is famous for its homemade buffet breakfasts.

Estherea is homey and comfortable, but yet luxurious.  Located along one of the city’s canals, the ornate decor sets a tone of elegance in this family-owned hotel.  There are numerous comfortable public spaces in the hotel that encourage guests to mingle with one another, and they serve free coffee and tea around the clock to sweeten the deal.

The epitome of luxury, the award-winning Hotel de L’Euorpe is the crown jewel of the Old City Center.  All of the posh appointments you can imagine are there, from marble bathrooms to luxurious beds to a gold-trimmed ceiling in the lobby to a restaurant that serves the city’s best French cuisine.

The bland and heavy Dutch cuisine of yesterday has been replaced in recent years with cutting edge, exciting fare that fuses global and traditional flavors.  This has turned Amsterdam’s once very ho hum culinary scene into one unique and delicious experience.  Cuisines from around the globe can be sampled in the city, thanks to young and adventurous chefs that have travelled the world in search of new flavors.

The finest example of the new Dutch cuisine can be found at Bolenius.  Traditional dishes have been lightened up and given a new look, and the restaurant boasts one of the largest kitchen gardens in the city, from which they take most of their seasonal ingredients.  Very modern Scandinavian decor complete the look of this unforgettable restaurant.

Located in Amsterdam’s Old City Center Cafe Luxembourg offers views of the nearby square, making it the perfect place to visit with friends and people watch.  The elegant interior adds to the aristocratic feel of the building, and the menu is cafe all the way: salads, soups, and more.

When a restaurant is a favorite of the locals, you know it has to be good.  Mamouche, specializing in Moroccan cuisine, is consistently packed with local residents who are there for the traditional North African dishes like lamb tagine and couscous.  They are known as much for their excellent service as they are their delicious food.

Amsterdam is an art and architecture lovers delight.  With unique gabled buildings and dedications to Dutch master Rembrandt and Vermeer everywhere,  you can never get enough of the city’s artistic delights.  Even the streets are named for the many artists that have honed their skills in Amsterdam.  The only way to explore and experience Amsterdam is by foot, where you can get a true appreciation of the lifestyle of the people.

Visit the many museums, showcasing the fine works of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.  Visit the Albert Cuypmarkt, one of Europe’s largest and most exciting street markets.  Visit the house of Anne Frank, where she penned her famous diary while hidden away from the Nazis.

Take a stroll along the Brouwersgracht, or the Brewers’ Canal, now home to posh mansions and luxury apartments.  Take a tour at the Heineken Experience, and learn about Gerard Heineken, founder of the Heineken label of beer and Amsterdam resident.

There is never a really bad time to visit Amsterdam.  The most popular time to visit is April through September, when the temperatures are comfortable.  If budget is a concern, the least expensive months are the colder months, from October through March.  Airfare is lower then, as well as hotel rates.

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