Having spent a lifetime staring at her reflection in the cat's-cradle of canals that crisscross the city; it's surprising that Amsterdam is such a down-to-earth place. Much less surprising is the fact that Amsterdam frequently tops the polls when it comes to choosing Europe 's most popular city break. In fact, Amsterdam has got so much to offer that it can be difficult knowing where to begin.
Often dubbed 'the Venice of the north' Amsterdam's 165 canals stretch for more than 100km and provide the best way of seeing the city. Hop on a tour boat and an architectural showcase of pastel facades, gabled roofs, hunch-backed bridges and needle-thin gothic spires slips by. If you've got the energy you can hire a bike and join the hordes of other cyclists who pedal their way around the capital.
Amsterdam is synonymous with art and the city boasts 141 galleries and a further 42 museums, which should be enough to satiate even the most culturally ravenous. The city's list of museums runs the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous: so whether you want to ogle at the titillating tableaus in the Sex Museum , brush-up on 8,000 years of smoking history in the Hemp Museum , or gaze at the world's largest collection of Van Gogh paintings; there's something to suit all tastes.
Once you've had your cultural fill it's time to relax and indulge in a bit of café culture. Amsterdam's café scene is celebrated across the world for a number of very different reasons. During the winter months the cosy interiors of Amsterdam's 'brown cafes' provide a welcome pit-stop for visitors, while in the summer months the same tables spill out onto the cobbled streets for anyone wanting to sit and watch the world go by. Then there are the 'coffee-shops', where rather than being hit by the rich aroma of roasting coffee beans you're more likely to disappear into a haze of pungent smoke.
Amsterdam's nightlife is enough to turn most European cities green with envy. After dark traditional watering-holes jostle for custom with slick designer bars, close to a thousand different restaurant menus reflect the city's cosmopolitan fabric (Amsterdam is home to more than 175 nationalities) and the city rarely falls asleep until the small hours.