Tell someone you’re going to Amsterdam, and you’ll be met with a chuckle and a knowing smile. Yes, everyone will think you’re going for the hookers and weed, but there’s much more to Amsterdam. The Netherlands’s permissive attitudes are the product of a long history of liberalism and tolerance that dates back far before the advent of drug tourism and prostitutes’ unions. A refuge for Protestants and Jews in the 16th and 17th centuries, Amsterdam earned tremendous wealth as the center of a trading empire that stretched from the New York (sorry: New Amsterdam) to Indonesia. The city’s wealth served as an incubator for the artistic achievements of the Dutch Golden Age and the economic and political birth of modern Europe. Today, Amsterdam is a diverse and progressive city as famous for its art museums and quaint canal-side cafes as for its coffeeshops and prostitution.
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The Amsterdam Top 5
The heart of the museum is the second-floor gallery of art from the Dutch Golden Age.
Don’t miss the intricate organ case designed by Jacob van Campen, architect of the Koninklijk Palace.
A calm square lined with cafes and bars, making it one of the best places in the city for relaxed people watching.
Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh only painted for about a decade, but he left behind a remarkable legacy of paintings and drawings, as well as his left ear.
Whether you come for the art, music, or the sanctuary, tread lightly—you’re walking on 35 generations of Amsterdam’s dead.