AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – it is a spider-web of a city, where bucolic canals, charming footbridges and cobbled side-streets offer surprises on every mid-17th century corner.
Around one corner, the stepped gable façade of a merchant’s house; around another, a Michelin-starred restaurant; next you’re gazing at the work of the troubled geniuses of the Dutch Golden Age – Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Here are my 6 things to see and do in Amsterdam this autumn. Read them, then ignore them. And do your own thing. After all, that's when the best adventure happens.
1. Soak it up – by hiring a bike
A bike is a rusty ‘n’ trusty fundamental in Amsterdam; it’s cheap, it’s green, it’s how all Amsterdammers get around, royalty and riff-raff alike. It’s egalitarianism on wheels, for hire all year round. You'll find places to rent a bike all around the city.
2. Lay your head – where Rembrandt laid his
Jordaan: This former poverty-pit and final home of the bankrupt Rembrandt, is today the epicenter of Amsterdam’s independent art scene. A romantic haven of crooked streets, boutique shops, bountiful galleries and canal-house hotels.
Need a play to stay? Budget Places
3. Sights taste better – with a canal view
Amsterdam by open-topped boat is a wind-in-your-hair must. Especially exploring the mighty 400-year-old Canal Ring – recently added to the UNESCO world heritage list. If that doesn’t float your boat, the remarkable canal-side mansion house museums will.
For an instant trip: Amsterdam Canal Cruise
4. A classic evening – starts with art-house cinema
The EYE Film Institute Netherlands is a film buff’s mecca, just 3 minutes’ free ferry ride from Amsterdam Central Station. This mothership of cinema regularly plays host to screenings, shows, and festivals. If it’s on, it’s inside.
Discover what's on: EYE
5. Drink to you – in a famous hang-out
For a thick slice of intellectual hubbub, try Café Welling. Much-loved hangout of Holland’s literary crowd, this ‘bruine café’ has the traditional dark-wood paneling and tobacco-stained walls you’d expect. Open weekdays and weekends.
Where is it? Café Welling
6. Eat like a king – where the food is a masterpiece
They say no one comes to Amsterdam to eat. Clearly they haven’t eaten at Restaurant Greetje. Here, inelegant cuisine is out, whilst old-fashioned local classics are in your mouth and entirely devoured, quicker than you can say ‘Dutch masterpiece’.
Book your spot: Restaurant Greetje