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Stuart Messham
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When you can take canal cruises to meet Van Gogh, explore the world's first EDM museum and the world's largest graffiti museum and slurp slow drinks to finish at one of the city’s gloriously dingy brown cafes, it’s hard to argue otherwise…
Gaze at his works, ogle his palette and then meet the man himself…

See the city from the canals and visit the ‘Big Three’

Amsterdam is a city you can happily explore by foot, but its multitude of charms are somehow more enchanting when you do so via its UNESCO-listed canal belt.

Typical tourist cruises will stop at one of the city’s “big” museums where you can glide around its venerable expanse for as long as you please before reboarding.

The Rijksmuseum contains over 1 million objects and houses the finest selection of Dutch Golden Age paintings.

The Van Gogh Museum houses the world’s largest collection of the great man's work – including Thre Bedroom and The Potato Eaters – and also a technology-driven “immersive” exhibition where you can meet the artist himself.

The Stedelijk is a museum for modern art dating from the early 20th century and feature artists such as Wassily Kandisky, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Gilbert & George.

Paul Gaugin's 'The Painter of Sunflowers'.
Vincent Van Gogh's 'The Bedroom'.

Stimulate your senses at the EDM museum and the uber-chic NDSM-Wharf

Amsterdam is a city of DJs – counting Armand van Buren and Tiesto among its  spinnerati – so it’s rather apt that the world’s first EDM museum has been expertly mixed into the its cultural melee.

Our House Museum celebrates 40 years of electronic dance music culture through interactive installations, immersive shows and DJ-curated exhibits. You can gawp at and fiddle with the incredible machinery the pros use and playfully create new sounds on the drum machines, visual composers, turntables and the world’s largest analogue sequencer.

It’s a journey for the eyes and the ears with interactive exhibits curated by the likes of Carl Cox, FAC 51 The Hacienda and The Frankie Knuckles Foundation mixed with art pieces by Meeus van Dis, Dadara and veejay artists Phase One and Britta Möller.

STRAAT showcases big names and upcoming talent from all over the world.

Whether you’re an EDM fan or not, it’s really is a blast. As is NDSM-Wharf, a shipyard that’s been reimagined into the city’s hippest culture locale. A free 15-minute ferry ride from behind Centraal Station, it plays hipped-out host to the city’s edgiest hangouts, chic art spaces and some magnificently appointed vintage stores.

Graffiti admirers and aficionados must visit STRAAT, one of the world’s biggest street art museums, with a smiling Anne Frank on its façade; Retro enthusiasts should flock to NEEF Louis for vintage treasures and IJ-Hallen, Europe’s biggest flea market; and Pllek is industrial sass personified where you can relax, drink, start bonfires and look out on the spectacular river IJ. Pretty cool, really.


Experience burst of beautiful colour in the Oost district and decamp to the brown cafes for after-hours indulgence

The Dapparmarkt in the Oost district has been going since 1910 and boasts an incredible 200-plus stalls that ooze colour and variety. You’ll find flowers, fruit, veg, an incredible array of specility food stuff that echo the area’s cultural diversity, spices, textiles and loads of dutch classic, like stroopwaffels (a waffle cookie made from two layers of sweet baked dough held together by caramel filling) and Gouda (a sweet, creamy, very moreish yellow cow's milk cheese). The whole place is a wonderfully vibrant wake-up call that can’t help but make you smile, which you’ll do even more when you realise the very generous prices on offer.

No less characterful are the rather less alluringly named brown cafes (or brown bars) of the city. They are the dimly-lit Dutch versions of the venerable British pub where you can usually sample a sizeable array of liqueurs, plentiful beers on tap and largely cool, laidback staff happy to pass the time of day as they pour.

What better way to end the day.

They may be brown, but the city's brown bars are far from dreary. Your round!


Want to meet Van Gogh, admire graffiti you'd never wash off and drink beers you can't pronounce in super-cool, wonderfully dingy bars? Then you can fly to Amsterdam from Heathrow using KLM or British Airways. Cool is just a flight away.