Amsterdam is an incredibly diverse city. Old and new, calm and bustling, artistic and commercial, small-town and cosmopolitan atmosphere – there is no way to describe the city without contradictions. Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Holland’s capital…
Life on the canals
Depending on where they stand, the houses on Amsterdam’s canals (canal = ‘gracht’) can be crooked and leaning to one side, or imposing and elegant. Lining the canals of the old part of town, shoulder to shoulder, they were all built of brick, but when you look more closely, no two are alike. The finest residences are in the Gouden Bocht (Golden Arc) on Herengracht.
They have to be wood-panelled all round, but above all cosy and sociable: the ‘brown cafés’ that you find on almost every corner in Amsterdam. Some examples of this type of establishment, like De Oosterling or ‘t Smalle, are several hundred years old.
Every year on 27th April the Dutch all over the country celebrate their King. But only in Amsterdam do they hold a city-wide flea market, which turns into a big open-air party in the afternoon. To be part of it, dress from head to toe in orange and prepare to lose all your inhibitions.
In the historic parts of the city there are no less than 600 bridges. The most famous of which is the Magere Brug across the Amstel. At the junction of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht you can even take in 15 bridges all at once.
All around the globe
The shelves are filled with foodstuffs from Thailand, Surinam and India, and salsa music pours from the hi-fi system. If you want to see how cosmopolitan Amsterdam is, peek inside one of the tokos, the little shops that sell exotic provisions. (There are many to be found around Albert Cuypmarkt.)