48 hours in . . . Amsterdam, an insider guide to navigating the city's canals and beyond

48 hours in . . . Amsterdam, an insider guide to navigating the city’s canals and beyond

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writer visited pre-pandemic.

High art, hijinks and haute cuisine

Amsterdam is a city that celebrates individuality, encourages quirkiness and delights in difference. It has a long history of riches and rebelliousness. The glory-days of the 17th century, the über-cosy 1800s, the counter-culture explosion of the 1960s – they’ve all left tidelines along Amsterdam’s canals: opulent gables, Rembrandt and Van Gogh, barrel-lined cafés, gardens of rare blooms, marijuana-selling ‘coffeeshops’, and Miss Marple bicycles.

Now Amsterdam is sweeping into a new Golden Age, making a fresh mark with galleries, sharp shops, award-winning restaurants and hipster cafés. Bristles of audacious architecture have shot up round the city edges but the cobweb of gable-lined canals is still at its heart, with funky stores in the criss-crossing alleys of Negen Straatjes, new galleries to the west in the Jordaan, world-class museums and chic boutiques south around Museumplein, a market and further foodie paradise in De Pijp, and hot new quarters opening up all the time.