This laidback city is easygoing as ever. The art, music, beer, football and coffee shops are among the best the planet has to offer. Wander past dainty brick buildings along the cobweb of canals as the morning mists rise off the water and you’re back in the age of Rembrandt. Ferry to the Oostelijke Eilanden (Eastern Islands), where Amsterdam’s former dockland is being transformed into one of the coolest quarters of town and you’ll see why contemporary Dutch architects and designers are ranked world-class.
Author United Ailrines Photography United Ailrines
DAY TWO / Today is devoted to Amsterdam classics. Eat an early breakfast at the hotel so you can beat the queues at the Anne Frank House, a 10-minute walk along the canal behind The Dylan. Inside, the hinged bookcase that obscured the entrance to the Frank family’s wartime hideaway stands ajar. The room where Anne wrote her diary still contains pictures she pasted on the walls.
Catch a Canal Bus and cruise along the waterways as the glass-topped boat offers prime views of the grand façades along the way. You’re heading to the Rijksmuseum, and since you’ve bought a boat ticket that includes museum entrance, you can skip the queue outside. Most of the museum is closed for renovations, but in a way this is convenient, as its top hits—a bitesize chunk of Rembrandts, Vermeers, and Golden Age greats—have been gathered in the part still open.
Step out from the age of pepper and pearls to savor a modern-day consequence of the era at 3Sama Sebo, just behind the museum. People from Indonesia, once a Dutch colony, have so long been integral to Amsterdam that their cooking is an essential part of local cuisine.
Stroll after lunch across Museumplein (Museum Square), where young folk from around the world stretch out on the grass basking in the late-summer sun. At the Van Gogh Museum see the vibrant Paris self-portraits and the colorful Japanese prints that so inspired the great painter. Then take your credit cards on a joy ride down P.C. Hooftstraat just across the way, Amsterdam’s trendiest shopping street for designer fashion.
Your Canal Bus ticket is valid all day, so hit the water again—on the Red Route, which transports you from the Rijksmuseum to the Westerkerk (West Church), where it’s just a short walk back to a hot bath and change of clothes at the hotel.
Dinner is around the corner from the hotel at Envy Delicacies, where Dutch cuisine throws off its conservative cloak and sashays into the realm of rack of lamb with thyme-and-chocolate sauce and scallops baked in pata negra with truffle mousseline.
A taxi can take you to the Concertgebouw in time for a concert. You’re in for a fine experience. The orchestra is one of the best in the world, and the elegant old hall has excellent acoustics. Afterward, duck down the side of the building to Café Welling, a typical “brown café”—its wood-paneled walls stained by eons of tobacco smoke. Don’t be surprised if members of the orchestra you’ve just heard wander in for a nightcap.