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Conveniently compact, it’s easy to see a lot of Amsterdam even on a short visit. To help you narrow down the choice, here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks of the best attractions in Amsterdam.
1. Canals. Often referred to as the Venice of the North, Amsterdam and its canals are intimately connected. Discover the historic Canal Belt, which in 2010 was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the water itself by taking a canal tour. We particularly like the dinner cruise on the Henry Schmitz, an antique riverboat that drifts past some of Amsterdam’s most beautifully lit bridges.
2. Museums. Amsterdam boasts dozens of museums covering almost as many topics. Choose from Old Masters at the renowned Rijksmuseum, modern art at the Stedelijk and photography at FOAM. There are even museums devoted to tulips, bags and cats.
3. Anne Frank House. Somewhere between a museum and a memorial, the Anne Frank House is a moving testament to the girl who has become a symbol of the Jewish Holocaust. Visit the Secret Annex where the Franks lived in hiding between 1942 and 1944, and where Anne wrote her famous diary until the family was betrayed and deported to Auschwitz.
4. Jordaan. Put away your map for a while and wander into the Jordaan. Once a working-class neighborhood, characterized by narrow houses and higgledy-piggledy streets, it is now home to residential backwaters, independent boutiques (we love Chocolatl), and traditional Dutch pubs known as “brown cafés” for their wood paneling and smoke-stained walls. Try Café ’t Smalle, which also has a small, canal-side terrace.
5. Hortus Botanicus. Founded in 1638, this is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world. Although only 1.2 hectares in size, it is home to some 6,000 plants. In the warmer months, the gardens are a riot of colors and scents. In the colder months, duck into the greenhouses which showcase palms, cacti, and other plants from warmer climes.