Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is well known for its casual look on life because of its fairly lax view on drugs, personal freedoms and the gay lifestyle. The city is also known for its three excellent museums, Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frankhuis (Anne Frank�s House) as well as its rich European history. Tourist information can be obtained at: www.visitamsterdam.nl.
The airport is serviced by bus, train and taxi service. Buses No. 197 or 370 depart from outside the airport terminal for the trip to the train station in the city center. Trains can be taken for the 20-minute ride between the airport to the central train station, costing about �2. Taxis can be hailed outside the terminal and cost about �40.
If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, invest in the Amsterdam Card, good for 1to 3 days of sights and transportation, costing from �26 to �46. Armed with the Card, visit the sights: Koninklijk Paleis, the Royal Palace; Westerkerk with its 85m high bell tower and fabulous views of the city; Rijksmuseum, the country�s largest art collection with works from the Dutch masters; the Van Gogh Museum, with the largest collection of his works anywhere; Stedelijk Museum, the Netherland�s best collection of modern and contemporary art; Ouder Kerk, Amsterdam�s oldest building which houses art exhibits; Anne Frankhuis, canal house in which Anne Frank was hidden during WWII and from where she wrote her famous diary; Rembrandthuis, former home of Rembrandt now housing his sketches; Heineken Museum, housed in a former brewery; and for something different, the Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum. Wander the streets and experience: Dam Square, in the oldest part of town; Statue of Anne Frank; Jordaan, trendy section of town with gabled houses and cafes by the canal; Begijnhof, quaint courtyard of historic almshouses; Schuttersgalerij, the Civic Guard Gallery which is a glass-covered gallery with portraits of 16 to 18th century dignitaries; Gouden Bocht, stretch of the canal lined by luxurious patrician houses; Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market; and the Bridge of 15 Bridges, lit up at night and from where you can see another 15 of the city�s bridges.
Amsterdam is an attractive capital, a dense mix of the simple and the sophisticated. The city is one of the world's best hangouts, a place where you can soak up history or art, and spoil yourself with a beer or a self-rolled smokestack.
The entrance to Amsterdam's museum quarter is the Rijksmuseum, the country's foremost art museum and an easy place to overindulge on old masters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and Steen. The Van Gogh Museum nearby houses about 200 paintings by Vincent, including famous works like The Potato Eaters and The Yellow House in Arles. Also worth visiting is Anne Franks house west of the city centre which attracts over half a million tourists each year. It was here that the Jewish Frank family went into hiding to try to flee deportation during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. It's worth getting here early as the queues can be lengthy, especially in the afternoon.
The Heineken Reception Center has been entirely refurbished and is now called the Heineken Experience. One of the best parts of this mix of entertainment and instruction is, no doubt, the 'Bottle Ride' which alleges to make you feel what it is like to be a beer bottle. You take a seat on a moving platform and follow the route that each beer bottle in the brewery follows, finishing up in the striking bar area where you get to sample a few glasses of the world famous golden beer. A cruise along the canals is a must for any tourist in Amsterdam.
Cruises along the cities canals go all year round and the potential range from standard canal cruises lasting one hour, to cruises of four hours including dinner, and in the evening you can experience special candlelight cruises. Or for the more lively, there is the option of a pedal-powered, four-seater "canal bike", available for rent all over the city.
Amsterdam's red-light district is in reality a very pretty part of town and an eye opening few hours for the unversed to walk around. Like many cities in the world there are a huge number of brothels in Amsterdam but unlike other cities there are a large number of red lit windows in the Red Light District where prostitutes sell sex in their day-glow bikinis. These windows offer safety systems for the girls and there is also a prostitutes union. By the way taking a camera into the Walletjes, Amsterdam's red light district, is a severe infringement of good manners. One of the district's security crew may destroy your film or even ask you to leave. Overall Amsterdam is a combination of the simple life and la dolce vita, a container for history, culture and magnificent, buzzing variety.