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AmsterdamAmsterdam

Amsterdam home to Seventeenth-century buildings, to cannabis smoking cafes also its famous Red Light district. Few cities fuse history with modern urban flair like Amsterdam. It’s a way of life in Amsterdam, to commute to work, go to the shop and meet a date for dinner. With all the bike rental shops around, it’s easy to gear up and take a spin. If locals aren’t on a bike, they may well be in a boat. With its canals and also a massive harbour, this city reclaimed from the sea offers countless opportunities to drift. Hop in a canal boat or one of the free ferries behind Centraal Station for a wind-in-your-hair ride.

You can’t walk a kilometre without bumping into a masterpiece in the city. The Van Gogh Museum hangs the world’s largest collection by tortured native son Vincent. A few blocks away, Vermeers, Rembrandts and other Golden Age treasures fill the glorious Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam is famously gezellig, a Dutch quality that translates roughly as convivial or cosy. It’s more easily experienced than defined. There’s a sense of time stopping, an intimacy of the here and now that leaves all your troubles behind, at least until tomorrow.

You can get that warm, fuzzy feeling in many situations, but the easiest place is a traditional brown café or at any restaurant after dinner. Where you’re welcome to linger and chat after your meal while the candles burn low. Amsterdam is ripe for rambling, its compact core laced by atmospheric lanes and quarters. You never know what you’ll find: a hidden garden, a shop selling velvet ribbon, a jenever (Dutch gin) distillery, an old monastery-turned-classical-music-venue.