Amsterdam is known for...
For every citizen within Amsterdam, there exists a bike and a half. That amounts to about one million bikes, more than four times the amount of cars in the city center. Amsterdam is the world’s leading city concerning urban biking. Around 400 kilometers of integrated biking paths exist, making the bike the best method of transportation in Amsterdam. The biking culture is wonderfully casual as well. No lycra-laden, hurried commuters, rather a lot of well-dressed biking aficionados that are fully committed to self-propulsion-even in the most extreme of weather.
Affectionately known as “the Venice of the North,” Amsterdam’s arteries consist of 165 canals. The main canals-Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht-form the iconic horseshoe infrastructure of the city. The canals were constructed during the 17th century when the Dutch were the global leaders in trade, art, science and military. These canals create a subculture of sorts, welcoming a cast of boats, bridges, canal houses and wildlife amidst their reflective surface-particularly when the weather is gorgeous. A view from a boat on a sunny day is truly the most elegant way to see Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is infamous for its liberal attitudes regarding what the Dutch consider to be “soft drugs.” The sale and consumption of small amounts of marijuana are tolerated within any of Amsterdam’s ubiquitous coffeeshops. The marijuana trade exists in a grey area of legality. The logic behind it being that by tolerating the sale of marijuana, law enforcement are able to concentrate their efforts on containing the spread of harder drugs. It is worth witnessing the Dutch’s alternate solution to dealing with marijuana in society.
Holland has had a long love affair with flowers. Since importing them centuries ago from Turkey and Iran, they have become the world’s main exporter of flowers and plant life. During the spring in Amsterdam, flowers sprout on a whim throughout the city’s many green spaces. Alongside the Singel canal is the Bloemenmarkt where plants, flowers and bulbs are for sale in great selection and abundance. An hour’s journey from Amsterdam is the Keukenhof park in Lisse, one of the world’s most gorgeous gardens.
The Dutch have graced the world with some of the most accomplished artists of all time. Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Escher-to name but a few. Amsterdam is not only a city, it is also a muse that inspires creativity. With over 50 museums and 140 galleries, Amsterdam is an art lover’s paradise. Best of all, for tourists and denizens alike, the purchase of an I Amsterdam card or a Museumkaart will allow free entrance into the vast majority of the city’s diverse museums-ranging from the Anne Frank House to FOAM, the photography museum.