Free-thinking, easy-going and friendly - Amsterdam's quirky character is instantly captivating. The city's picturesque canals and flowered streets make the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon spent sitting at a quiet coffeehouse or browsing a local market. But Amsterdam is also a city rich in culture and history, which is reflected in many of its most famous attractions.
One of the most famous authors of the last century, Anne Frank's seminal book exemplified the trials endured by ordinary Jews during the Holocaust. Over the course of two years during World War II, the young author chronicled the experiences of three Jewish families hiding from the Nazis in the attic of a house in central Amsterdam. A visit to this historic home is a moving experience, as visitors are shown around the tiny space where Anne and her family found refuge.
A staggering collection of over 200 paintings, as well as sketches, drawings and notes from one of the Netherland's most beloved artists is housed in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum. The city's most popular museum traces the Dutch master's artistic development - as well as his mental decline - over the course of seven distinct periods. In addition to work from the eponymous painter, the museum often hosts traveling exhibits by some of his most revered European contemporaries.
Albert Cuyp Market
For over 100 years, the Albert Cuyp Market has been drawing huge crowds with its colorful and diverse range of stalls and displays. Today, this street market is one of the busiest in Europe, with thousands of shoppers browsing the 268 stalls selling fresh produce, meat, textiles, fashion and trinkets. The market caters to Amsterdam's remarkably multicultural population, making it the perfect spot to pick up some authentic Moroccan delicacies or Turkish garments.
On a canal bank in the city's central district, an elegant yet unassuming house provides visitors with a snapshot of Amsterdam during a more repressive era. Hidden in the attic of this 17th century townhouse is a clandestine Catholic chapel. When Catholicism was outlawed in the Netherlands during 16th century, this attic was once used as a place of secret worship by the city's Catholic population. Despite its humble location, the chapel is surprisingly opulent, complete with marble columns and a stunning painting by Jacob de Wit.
Amsterdam's flagship museum, the Rijksmuseum, is in the midst of a large-scale refurbishment, so only a fraction of its collection is currently on display. Nevertheless, this spectacular museum remains one of the city's finest attractions, drawing thousands of visitors every week. The original building was designed by renowned Dutch architect Josephus Hubertus Cuypers, though much has been added since its opening in 1885. Many of the key works from the 17th century Golden Age of Dutch are on display in the Philips Wing of this enormous complex, including the museum's most famous work, Rembrandt's The Night Watch, which is now illuminated in special LED lighting.