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Escape to... Amsterdam: a city-trip worth repeating
While its stalwart sights such as the Royal Palace, floating flower market and Rijksmuseum greet you like old friends, Amsterdam's shops, cafes and galleries offer ever-changing riches, with each neighbourhood sporting its own vibe. This year is an especially good time to visit: it’s the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, and the city is honouring it in classic Amsterdam style: with elegance, pride and revelry.
Whether you’ve ever been to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, glorious inside and out, you should go this spring. In honour of Rembrandt van Rijn, the museum is showing its entire collection of the Dutch Golden Age master’s works – the largest Rembrandt collection in the world. That includes such masterpieces as The Night Watch and The Jewish Bride. Over at the Rembrandt House – where the he lived and worked for nearly 20 years – you’ll find more of his works and the exhibition Rembrandt’s Social Network: Family, Friends and Acquaintances. Another of the city’s great museums has a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition: Treasury! at the Hermitage Amsterdam offers a cross-section of masterpieces from the St Petersburg State Hermitage.
Grab sunny days with both hands by taking a bike or boat tour. There are bike tours aplenty, but some of the best are offered by Sarah’s Tours, customised to your interests. Joy Ride Tours features a countryside trip, which starts in the city and wends its way out to windmills and cheese farms. BoatAmsterdam is a new kid on the block in canal touring, run by an enthusiastic group steering electric-powered boats. Viator offers a wine and cheese candlelight cruise or a lavish dinner cruise, cooked by chefs on board, and the Blue Boat Company has a family-friendly storytelling tour, also in English. A visit to Keukenhof, a short jaunt away, is a must. The castle in Lisse dates to the 17th century, and the gardens were redesigned in English landscape style in the 1850s. Today, it enchants with its 800 varieties of tulips rocketing out of seven million spring flowering bulbs.
Eat & Sleep
Don’t miss Foodhallen in Amsterdam’s Vondel Park, perfect if your party can’t settle on one kind of food. Stands ring a central seating area in former tram sheds and it’s a cool spot with a lively vibe. For something more traditional, head to D’Vijff Vlieghen (The Five Flies) in the medieval centre, where goose breast and cream soups flow amid original works by Rembrandt. For top-end hotels, look no further than the 17th-century opulence of The Toren. A good mid-range option is the family-owned Hotel Fita, with its hearty breakfasts, while budget options include the Cocomama or Generator Amsterdam, two of the chicest hostels in the city.
This article first appeared in ING Expat Time