Amsterdam’s canal-woven core is laced by atmospheric narrow lanes, where you may find everything from tiny hidden gardens to boutiques selling witty, stylized Dutch homewares and fashion. You can also sample the city’s many microbreweries and ultra-niche restaurants including an all-avocado specialist and one reinventing age-old Dutch classics.

As in other modern cities, the city’s population is increasingly younger. Like other parts of the Netherlands, it is largely service-based, with banking and insurance forming its mainstays.

The Hoxton

Made up of five 17th-century canal houses straddling the Herengracht and Singel canals, the first Hoxton outside London delivers a coolly sophisticated vibe that feels both trendy and timeless. Guests can look forward to an eclectic interior design featuring brass accents, dark parquet floors, and homey touches like stacks of books and Roberts radios. Rooms are available in three sizes-Shoebox, Cosy, and Roomy-with some offering traditional details like beamed ceilings.

The hotel’s restaurant and bar lottis serves internationally inspired brasserie-style dishes, and the Apartment is a unique meeting and event space. There is also a helpful concierge on hand to help plan your day or night.

The Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum houses the world’s largest collection of paintings and drawings by Vincent van Gogh. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that are included in the ticket price.

The original museum building designed by Gerrit Rietveld soon proved too small to house the growing number of visitors and in 1999 a new wing was opened by Kisho Kurokawa on Museumplein, which better accommodates the museum’s collections.

The paintings are arranged chronologically and show the progression of Vincent’s style from dark landscapes to more tortured works. Upgrade your ticket to include a multimedia guide (available in eleven languages). The museum is accessible with the Museumkaart and iAmsterdam card, both of which offer free admission.

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands and one of the most important art museums in Europe. Its collections focus on Dutch Golden Age art and have significant holdings of Western European and pan-Asian artworks too.

Highlights include a room dedicated to dolls’ houses – the furniture pieces that decorate many of the canal houses along the city’s waterways and another with 17th-century Delft Blue porcelain. Then there are paintings by Rembrandt like The Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s Milkmaid.

The museum was designed by Pierre Cuypers and is a beautiful building reminiscent of historicist palatial town halls. If you’ve got time-slot reservation tickets then queues may be a thing of the past but even without them there is usually quite a crowd.

The Red Light District

The infamous Red Light District (De Wallen) offers a carnival of vice with skimpily-clad commercial sex workers behind window brothels. It’s not for everyone but it’s an interesting place to visit if you don’t mind picking your head up off the sidewalk and strolling into the streets.

The area is also home to museums and Amsterdam’s oldest church, Oudekerksplein. And you’ll find some trendy restaurants, coffee shops and galleries in the historic center of the city.

Take a walking tour or experience the district’s history and culture on a canal cruise. Just remember that sex work is still a job, and you will need to respect people’s privacy.

The Leidse Square

Located almost opposite the entrance to Vondelpark at the southern end of Amsterdam’s central canal ring, Leidse Square is a hub for transport and a centre for nightlife. There are countless bars, pubs, coffeeshops, theatres and international eateries.

Music venues like Melkweg and Paradiso are also situated here, as well as cinemas, intimate dance clubs and the city theatre called Stadsschouwburg. It’s no wonder folk singer Andre Hazes sang about this square in his song Mijn Leidseplein (My Leidse Square).

Staying in one of the many apartments on the square will ensure that you have a central base to explore everything the city has to offer, including the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, just a short walk away.

The Jordaan

The edgy, character-rich Jordaan neighborhood is home to several of Amsterdam’s biggest hotspots. Take a self-guided tour for insight into this unique district’s history and to experience its famous Jordaanse gezelligheid (Jordaan friendliness).

Stop at Noorderkerk, a 17th-century Protestant church with distinctive architecture, to climb the tower Anne Frank once looked out of her window. Then continue northwest along the venerable houseboat-lined canal, past a 1979 bronze sculpture of writer Theo Thijssen and one of his popular characters, Kees de Jongen.

The western end of the Jordaan contains many centuries-old almshouses, known as hofjes, that provide supervised housing for students, seniors, and people needing help. These cute houses are often painted in pastel colors.