Trains speed in from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to Centraal Station to the north of Amsterdam city centre, packed with restaurants and bars. Ringed by canals, its hub is Dam Square and the imposing Royal Palace. Leading from Dam Square are Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk shopping streets. To the east is the famous Red Light District around Oude Kerk (Old Church) and Chinatown’s vibrant restaurants around Nieuwmarkt. To the south-east is Waterlooplein square where Rembrandt’s House is now a museum and the stallholders at the daily flea market hawk second hand clothes and antique curiosities.
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Circling the city centre is the horseshoe-shaped canal loop of Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht and the semi-circular Singel canal. Lined by elegant houses converted into Amsterdam hotels, waterside restaurants and cycle-friendly paths, the 17th-century canals epitomise Amsterdam. The 9 Streets between Leidsestraat and Raadhuisstraat are a haven for Dutch designs and vintage fashions, while southwards is the Singel canal’s colourful Bloemenmarkt flower market and the café-lined squares of Rembrandtplein and Muntplein.
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Southwest of the city centre and beyond the canal loop is Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter, housing world-class cultural gems like the Van Gogh museum on Museumplein, the biggest collection of its kind, and the Rijksmuseum, the largest art gallery in Holland. Boutique and top-end Amsterdam hotels cluster in this area along with exclusive shops. West of the Museum Quarter lies the greenery of Vondelpark and eastwards is the eclectic De Pijp neighbourhood, crammed with eateries and bars and populated by everyone from students to artists.
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South of the Jordaan and the canal loop and west of the Museum Quarter is the verdant space of Vondelpark, the lungs of Amsterdam. Relax with the locals on the weekend in this popular park, a favourite spot for picnics, bike rides, in-line skating and free concerts and also home to the Film Museum and an open-air theatre. The elegant neighbourhood also includes the designer shopping streets of Cornelis Schuytstraat and Jacob Obrechtstraat. The Vondelpark area is a short walk from Museumplein and south-west of the lively cafés and terraces lining Leidseplein square.
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West of the city centre and canal loop is the Jordaan district, a former working-class neighbourhood transformed into a hub of quirky shops, eclectic restaurants and bars and cutting-edge art galleries like Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam on Rozenstraat. At the Jordaan’s northern border is the Second World War hideaway of Anne Frank’s House. Many of Jordaan’s residences are traditional Dutch houses, making it an appealing place to stay in Amsterdam. To the east of the Jordaan neighbourhood is the canal loop and the 9 Streets shopping area.
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