Unmistakable and unique, Amsterdam's canals and gabled houses give the city an historic elegance recalling its seafaring past. Add a wealth of galleries and museums, fine dining and a buzzing nightlife, and you have the ideal city break destination.
If you're looking for a break from the bustling centre, be sure to take a walk along the peaceful canals of the Jordaan district.
The highlights of Dutch cuisine include herrings served every which way (raw, cooked and pickled), smoked eel and chops with mayonnaise. Gouda and Edam are the best known cheeses, but there are plenty of others to sample. For pudding, select applegebak, traditional Dutch apple pie, or find a pancake house or poffertjes stall, selling light, fluffy mini pancakes with choice of toppings.
A legacy of the Netherlands' colonial past is the rijsttafel, a feast of up to 25 Indonesian dishes served together with rice. Wash it down with a lass of pils or wheat beer, and don't forget to try a Jenever or Dutch gin.
There are plenty of souvenirs to bring home from Amsterdam; a pair of clogs; some pretty Delftware; a bottle of Jenever or, if you're lucky, a diamond from the diamond factory. At the flower market or at the Keukenhof, you can order bulbs to be shipped home.
In the city centre, Amsterdam's top department store can be found on Dam Square, while nearby is Damrak, once a busy canal, now a busy shopping street. For something more interesting, you'll find the small boutiques and antique shops amid the canals of the Jordaan district are a rich hunting ground.
Take a canal boat tour for the perfect introduction.
Catch your breath in bustling Dam Square, packed with buskers and street performers.
Hire a bicycle and join the Dutch obsession with cycling: it's the ideal way to see the city.
Smell the flowers at the Bloemenmarkt and order some bulbs to be sent back home.
Climb the tower of the Westerkerk, then explore the charming little streets of the Jewish Quarter nearby.