Golden Age canals lined by tilting gabled buildings are the backdrop for Amsterdam's treasure-packed museums, vintage-filled shops and hyper-creative drinking, dining and design scenes.
Amsterdam's canal-woven core is laced by atmospheric narrow lanes. You never know what you'll find: a tiny hidden garden; a boutique selling witty, stylised Dutch-designed homewares and fashion; a jewel-box-like jenever (Dutch gin) distillery; a flower stall filled with tulips in a rainbow of hues; an old monastery-turned-classical-music-venue; an ultra-niche restaurant such as an all-avocado specialist or one reinventing age-old Dutch classics. Fringing the centre, post-industrial buildings in up-and-coming neighbourhoods now house creative enterprises, from art galleries to craft breweries and cutting-edge tech start-ups, as well as some of Europe's hottest clubs.
You can't walk a kilometre without bumping into a masterpiece in the city. The Van Gogh Museum hangs the world's largest collection by tortured native son Vincent. A few blocks away, Vermeers, Rembrandts and other Golden Age treasures fill the glorious Rijksmuseum. The Museum het Rembrandthuis offers more of Rembrandt via his etching-packed studio, while the Stedelijk Museum counts Matisses and Mondrians among its modern stock. And for blockbuster displays, the Hermitage Amsterdam delivers: the outpost of Russia's State Hermitage Museum sifts through its three-million-piece home trove to mount mega exhibitions.