The attractive city of Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination, and it's about more than just the famous Red Light District. If you've got a couple of days to spend in this beautiful Dutch city, here are just a few of the places you can go to truly experience the Amsterdam culture.
Soak in the history
Amsterdam is city proud of its history, and it has the museum density to prove it. For an immersive understanding of the city's colourful past, the Amsterdam Museum should be your first stop.
Then, take a stroll through the Van Gogh Museum if art is your passion, or climb the steps of the Anne Frank Museum for an emotional reminder of tragic times passed.
For art enthusiasts, the world-class Rijksmuseum is another famous spot that should be on your list. This museum is packed with more than 8,000 classic paintings, such as work from Rembrandt and Vermeer, in a stunning exhibit that is itself a work of art.
Get wild with the animals
If you've landed in Amsterdam with your family, the Artis Royal Zoo is a great location to while away the day. After viewing the many delightful animals ranging from alligators to zebras, kids can also enjoy the petting zoo to get up close and personal with some of the safer inhabitants.
The Artis is the oldest zoo in Europe and is located right in the heart of this stunning city, so is an easy stroll from many other historic sights.
Taste the local drop
Are you a fan of Heinek?en? A quick trip to Amsterdam gives you the chance to see where the brewing of this international beer first began. Take a self-guided tour through the brewery to learn about the history of Heineken, experience what it takes to make this drop and enjoy a few cold ones as you go.
If Heineken isn't your cup of tea, the 300-year-old Hoppe cafe and bar is sure to provide you with a drink more your style.
Tour the Red Light District
Once the sun goes down, it's time to leave the kids and head out to Amsterdam's famous Red Light District. Even without partaking in any of the activities and products on sale along this unique strip of the city landscape, being there should give you a few choice tales to tell when you return from your trip.
There are three potential Red Light Districts in Amsterdam, but De Wallen in the city centre is the biggest and best known. As one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam, the buildings themselves may be just as exciting to see as the shows within.
Fortunately, you don't even have to go in to experience what's on offer. Window shopping is a big market in the Red Light District, as the businesses cater to the curious tourist.
Discover the secret garden
Once you're up the next morning, take to your feet to explore some of the quieter, more private areas in the city.
As well as offering stunning architecture, the Begijnhof hides a secluded garden where it's easy to forget the din of the city beyond. Originally used as a 14th-century convent, Begijnhof is now a popular tourist spot and place of worship.
Arrive at any time of the day and you will likely spot a few other visitors making the most of the serenity, but don't worry too much about being disturbed – noise levels rarely rise above a whisper within the walls of this secret garden.
Cycle along the canals
Amsterdam is well set up for cycling, so grab one of the many rental bikes available and peddle your way along the picturesque canals.
There are 165 canals circling the city, with attractive buildings bordering the paths. Lined with trees, shops, galleries, art and houseboats, cycling along the water is a great way to see as much of the Amsterdam culture as possible before you leave.