Amsterdam may be a beautifully compact cosmopolitan European city on the banks of the River Amstel, but its history runs deep and its traditions remain true. And while it may be notorious for its red light district and the ability to legally smoke cannabis, there are so many other reasons to fall in love with Amsterdam.
Fine Dutch cuisine may not rate highly on the world culinary scale, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not tasty. From those delicious little pancakes (poffertjes) sprinkled with sugar to pea soup with ham and smoked sausage (erwtensoep), Dutch food is simple, hearty and incredibly flavoursome.
Walking through the streets of Amsterdam you’ll find plenty of small cafes or food stalls at which to stop and sate your appetite, but take a stroll just outside the city centre on the Javaplein and you’ll experience traditional Dutch food using the freshest local and seasonal ingredients.
Wilde Zwijnen is relatively new to the Amsterdam restaurant scene, but offers the chance to relax away from the often-bustling city centre streets. Open for dinner daily and lunch on Friday to Sunday, you can enjoy a real taste of the Netherlands, with three courses costing $45.
Thanks to its vibrant tourist industry, the options of where to stay in Amsterdam are vast. Whether it’s the narrow, but tall terraced houses that line the river or a grand hotel you’re after, you’re only limited by your own budget. But if you have a head for heights, then spend a night at the Faralda NDSM Crane Hotel, situated atop a monumental harbour crane beside the IJ lake. Drawing on Amsterdam’s industrial heritage, the Faralda has three luxury suites overlooking the river and offering panoramic views of the city centre. It may be one of the world’s most publicised hotel experiences, but that doesn’t make it naf.
What makes Amsterdam so appealing is that it’s a great small city, easily navigated on foot, or the ubiquitous bicycles that you see leaning against every fence and building. But possibly the most famous story to come out of the Dutch capital is that of the young Jewish girl Anne Frank, who famously had to go into hiding during World War II. From her hiding place in the family’s home, entered by a hidden entrance behind a bookcase, Anne penned her much-read and truly touching diary, which has been revered the world over. While many cities create shrines to their famous inhabitants as a way to attract tourists, the Anne Frank House, in the centre of Amsterdam, is somewhere we can all be reminded of the toll that war takes on the lives of everyday folk.