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Culture, canals and coffee shops, Amsterdam is not only Europe’s capital of fun, but is a great place to unwind and take things easy.  Tolerant, welcoming and a lot of fun, Amsterdam is a city that likes to take things at a leisurely pace during the day but gets into party mode at night. So, whether you’re looking to recharge those batteries or wear them down a little more, you’ll find Amsterdam has options for both. And what a setting! Beating Venice in the canal stakes, cities really don’t get much more picturesque than this. The old town and the centre, which is where you’ll want to base yourself, is a delight of arched bridges, 17th century narrow gabled houses, houseboats decked with flowers and canal-side cafes and eateries. 

Packed with museums and galleries, Amsterdam is a jewel in Europe’s cultural crown. The Rijksmuseum is one of the best art galleries in the world, including paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and art lovers will also enjoy the Van Gogh Museum. Visit Anne Frank’s House to see where the famous diarist and her family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War.  



This month represents your last opportunity to see "Recent Ouija", the extraordinary collection of large-scale, computer-generated video art by Ed Atkins at the bath-tub shaped Stedelijk Museum. Much of the work centres around a beery himbo by the name of Dave. stedelijk.nl

The fact that this year's King's Day street party falls on a Monday (27 April) means that the preceding weekend promises to be something of a royal knockout. The ubiquitous orange bunting and rivers of beer that accompany this outpouring of national pride should bring a smile to even the most staunch republicans.

A kiss on the hand can be quite continental, and Amsterdam has long been a friend to the diamond trade. A trip around the historic Gassan factory in the Jewish quarter will cost you nothing - the same can rarely be said of the gift shop at its conclusion. (175 Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat, gassan.com).


The world's most respected documentary film festival, IDFA, colonises Amsterdam's delightful city-centre cinemas 18-29 November. From commercial fare to passion projects, all artistic bases are covered. www.idfa.nl

Headquartered in a mysterious mirrored tent just off bustling Leidseplein, the Amsterdam Fringe Festival (3-13 September) is a dazzlingly diverse spectacle of performing arts, bringing weird and wonderful acts from all over the world to showcase their talents in Amsterdam venues large and small. amsterdamfringefestival.nl

"New for Now" is the first fashion-focused exhibition at the recently renovated Rijksmuseum. It considers the change in women's and men's clothing from 1600 up to and including the early 20th century, via the publishers of elaborate etchings and illustrators, arguably the Anna Wintours of their day. rijksmuseum.nl

For more than 20 years, the Comedytrain International Summer Festival has been bringing big names in stand-up from around the world to one of Amsterdam's best-loved (and literally underground) comedy clubs, Toomler, for English-language hilarity. comedytrain.nl

Running throughout most of June, the Holland Festival has one of the most impressive performance schedules on the planet. This year's edition features everything from a new "multimedia opera" by the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei to free classical music recitals at the Conservatorium hotel. hollandfestival.nl

Participate in the annual Springsnow festival, which celebrates the beauty of the elm seeds that rain down over Amsterdam at this time of year. Share your photos as you follow the prescribed route for maximum confetti-like action. springsnow.nl

Key Areas

The sedate residential district near the Amsterdam Hilton isn't usually top of many thrill-seeker's Amsterdam wish lists, but that changes every two years thanks to the amazing ArtZuid sculpture trail. This year's eye-popping fiesta of open-air art is curated by the former Stedelijk Museum director Rudi Fuchs and features work by Georg Baselitz, Jaume Plensa, Tony Cragg and KAWS. artzuid.nl

It's hard to believe given her doe-eyed looks, but the iconic cartoon bunny Nijntje (known as Miffy outside of the Netherlands) celebrates her 60th birthday this year. A slew of Japanese and Dutch artists have imaginatively customised giant statues of the adored rabbit, some of which can be seen dotted around the Museumplein. They'll be auctioned in aid of UNICEF next month. nijntjeartparade.nl

One of those only-in-Amsterdam developments, De Ceuvel is a polluted inland harbour that's been reborn as one of the city's hottest hangouts, replete with upgraded houseboat workshops, vegan-friendly cafe and sustainable biogas production. deceuvel.nl

De Hallen is a spectacular multipurpose development housed in a 19th-century tramshed that's become a magnet for trendy types of late. There are crafty shops and stalls galore, as well as a glass-covered indoor food market. dehallen-amsterdam.nl

Following on from last year's #metamarathon stunt by the actor Shia LaBeouf, the Stedelijk modern art museum is hosting 12 conceptual "situations" by strange but superstellar artist Tino Sehgal throughout 2015 (10 Museumplein, stedelijk.nl).

Take a bracing walk along the River Amstel, or, better still, charter a boat for the evening to take in the spectacular illuminated art installations of the third Amsterdam Light Festival (until 18 January, amsterdamlightfestival.com).

Day Trips

The Teylers Museum in nearby Haarlem is testament to the astonishing legacy of an inquisitive mind. Everything from ammonite fossils to Roman coins are lovingly displayed here thanks to Pieter Teylers, who bequeathed his fortune for the advancement of religion, art and science. www.teylersmuseum.nl

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