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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam NetherlandsIn Amsterdam the Royal Mile, known as Paleiskwartier is home to endless shopping, superb restaurants and various cultural attractions.

The area extends from Centraal Station to include Damrak, Dam, Rokin, Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk. You'll find a complete range of flagship stores, world-famous entertainment venues, notable museums and the Dutch Royal Palace at Dam Square.

The impressive Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace) is replete with history and dominates the city skyline.

The building has been used as a reception palace by the Dutch royal family for almost 200 years, and when it is not closed for state functions, visitors are invited to take a look inside.

Wandering through the marble galleries and well appointed reception rooms, you’ll feel the grandeur of the 17th century come alive as you learn all about the symbolism hidden in the architecture.

Sing on stage with Lady Gaga, test your IQ with Einstein or have your picture taken with The Avengers at Madame Tussauds' where hundreds of life-like wax models have been brought together in this world-renowned museum.

The new interactive IamArt exhibit allows you to (literally) get inside the masterpieces of famous Dutch painters, including Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

For high end shopping, there’s no better place to start than one of Amsterdam’s oldest and grandest department stores - which opened in 1870.

Amsterdam NetherlandsDe Bijenkorf's flagship store overlooks Dam Square and features over 21,000 square metres of fashion and designer brands, shoes, cosmetics, accessories and luxury shop-in-shops.

And then there is Bitterzoet - this music venue has established itself as one of Amsterdam's core music spaces and clubs, attracting a musically eclectic fan base: from rock lovers through punk, hip-hop, soul and funk to reggae - and everything in between.

The venue, with its slick design and quirky stained glass windows, is a wonderfully intimate space to enjoy your favourite bands or perhaps discover something completely new.

Anyone with an interest in Dutch drinking culture should head down to De Drie Fleschjes, the oldest proeflokaal (tasting room) in the city.

Located at the base of the Nieuwe Kerk, this authentic tavern was established in 1650, serving up Jenever, liqueurs and local beers to generations of patrons.

Nearby, the Wynand Fockink distillery has been serving traditional fruit brandies and liqueurs since 1679 and is the perfect spot to try out different varieties of Jenever served from a traditional tulip-shaped glass.

Kalverstraat is Amsterdam’s main shopping street and is home to all the shops you'd expect to find in a large European city - like H&M, Zara, Mango, Urban Outfitters, Pull & Bear and UNIQLO.

Amsterdam NetherlandsContinue your retail adventures by crossing Dam Square and heading up Nieuwendijk, where you’ll find even more major brands.

To escape the crowds, we’d recommend popping along Beurspassage - a covered arcade with an exquisite vaulted ceiling with coloured mosaic tiles and gilded chandeliers.

The Nes is a backstreet concealing a wealth of cultural surprises. Here you’ll find Vlaamse Cultuur House De Brakke Grond, an art space championing everything Flemish in the Netherlands; visual art, literature, dance, theatre and music.

The varied schedule, garden courtyard and atmospheric café make this unique space well worth checking out. Then, it’s all about innovative, dynamic performing arts at Frascati, a small independent theatre.

Oh and before I forget ask anyone on the street in Nieuwmarkt where the closest kaas vendor is. Kass is the Dutch name for cheese and in my opinion you have not ever had any cheese if you have not tasted Old Amsterdam in Holland.

One of the city’s oldest districts, Nieuwmarkt, is also known to many as Amsterdam’s Chinatown. Many lively cafés, bars, restaurants and quirky shops surround the market square.

It makes it the perfect place to spend a few hours browsing and people-watching. You'll find the city's best Asian restaurants here, and it’s the most interesting place to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

From Monday through Friday, the main square at Nieuwmarkt is home to a small market with cosy stalls selling vegetables, flowers and cheese.

Amsterdam NetherlandsThen, on Saturdays, the entire square is taken over by the weekly organic farmers’ market. Here you’ll find everything from locally-grown fruits and vegetables to candles and cosmetics.

During the summer, you’ll also find a weekly flea market on Sundays - so be sure to take your haggling to new levels as you rummage for vintage bargains.

Finished in 1614, the Zuiderkerktorenor Zuiderkerk Tower is 68 metres high and houses the oldest bell in Amsterdam. It originally hung in the Oude Kerk, and it still rings to this day.

For exceptional city views, it’s possible to climb the tower as part of a guided tour. Tours can accommodate groups of up to 10 people, and they take about 30 minutes. The church itself is open to the public, and you can explore the interior and exhibits without needing a tour guide.

Rembrandt House Museum is a beautifully restored townhouse capturing the legacy of the legendary painter. Rembrandt lived here for several decades when he was at the height of his career, and the museum provides a multifaceted insight into his life and work.

See where he created many of his most famous works in his studio, admire a large display of original etchings and explore the living quarters for a glimpse into his day to day life.

From karaoke bars and burlesque nights to hidden jazz venues, this part of town is buzzing with late night entertainment choices.

Paleis van de Weemoed is one of the best-known cabaret and variety bars in the city, whilst De Engelbewaarder is an excellent pub for Sunday afternoon jazz sessions.

Amsterdam NetherlandsOr suppose you’re one of those people looking for any opportunity to belt out songs in front of strangers.

In that case, some of the city’s most notorious karaoke bars are located here - including Casablanca's and the best (and worst) place to finish your night: The End.

No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a boat tour on the Amsterdam Canals, You can order your ticket online and receive it by email on your smartphone.

Find a boat and they can scan your ticket at one of the participating companies and enjoy your cruise. Canal Cruise Tickets are valid for a year.

There is no reservation needed, just hop on at one of the departure locations as shown on the interactive maps.

Canal Cruises last for at least one hour. Check the Canal Cruise company's website or the box office for departure times.

All boats are equipped with toilets and heating and are suitable for all types of weather. Audio guides are available in multiple languages.

What about beaches in the Netherlands...?

South Beaches

Wassenaaris an 8-kilometre long, relatively calm beach, surrounded by a rugged dune area that’s ideal for walks and cycling.

Noordwijk is located in the heart of the Dutch flower bulb area and is near the famous Tulip fields of Keukenhof.

Amsterdam NetherlandsKatwijk is a bit smaller than some of the other beaches but is quite nice to visit. Amongst old fisherman’s houses and a lighthouse remind visitors of the area’s fishing history.

Scheveningen, in Den Hague, is the most popular beach area in the Netherlands. It is well-known for its annual events, such as the Kite Festival and the Fireworks Festival.

The lesser-known beach in the Hague is Kijkduin, a large area with gorgeous dunes and shell paths. It is beloved for its calm atmosphere, great views and nice little shopping streets and terraces.

In summer, Zeeland has the most hours of sunlight in the Netherlands. It's where droves of German tourists come for a warm sunny holiday near Middelburg & Vlissinger.

Domburg is the oldest bathing site in Zeeland and attracts many tourists to the region. The area’s seawater and beaches are said to benefit your health and are used for various wellness activities.

Cadzand is the most Southern beach in the Netherlands. The 11-kilometre sand beach is surrounded by dunes, and you’ll find various good eateries that offer local seafood.

North Beaches

Beaches on the Wadden Islands - The Wadden Islands are wonderful holiday destinations filled with nature and great sights.

Amsterdam NetherlandsThe North Sea beach of Schiermonnikoog is amongst the broadest in Europe, and the cleanest in the Netherlands. Its shallow waters are great for swimming, and the windy climate attracts many windsurfers.

Terschelling has a 30km-long, clean sandy beach, giving you a good chance to find a nice, private spot. The dunes are great to traverse by bike, and every year this island hosts the popular theatre festival Oerol.

Vlielandv is a calm island that hosts a village, forest areas, beautiful dunes full of nature and a wide beach that’s great for seal spotting. For some more rugged nature, this is a great place to look.

Texel is the biggest of the Wadden Islands and it has eight nice, guarded beach zones. The further south you go, the more nature you’ll find. Even though it is a desired location, it doesn’t get too busy compared to mainland beaches.

Popular beaches in North Holland in the Randstad area, and knows many large seaside spots.

Bloemendaal aan Zee are two of the more popular beaches and is surrounded by the nature area Kennemer Duinen. Many nice cafes line this spot and you can often find all kinds of big beach parties.

Zandvoort has a 9-kilometre long, 100-metre wide sandy beach that is beloved by sunbathers. It is easy to reach from Amsterdam. Its white sands have earned Zandvoort the nickname "Pearl by the Sea". Explorers will come across two gorgeous dune areas full of plants and wildlife, a naturist area and a circuit park that is used for Formula 1 races.

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