Financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is first and foremost a city, which epitomizes open-mindedness and tolerance: its red-light district, cannabis-cafés and “anything goes” attitude certainly make it one of Europe’s most unconventional cities to visit.
Situated on the confluence of the Amstel and Ij rivers, Amsterdam provides a deep and safe natural harbour for international shipping, thus making it one of the great commercial centres of Europe: the city is connected to the North Sea by the North Sea Canal and to the German industrial heartland by the Amsterdam-Rhine canal. The city boasts one of the world's oldest stock exchanges and is famous worldwide as a centre for the diamond-cutting industry. It also hosts the headquarters of many international and Dutch companies, including Philips and Heineken. Tourism, with about 3.5 million visitors each year, plays an important part in the economy of the city. Amsterdam is served by excellent road and rail links, as well as Shiphol airport, but it is also one the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
The city’s top attractions remain the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum, two of the finest art collections in the world, and Anne Frank’s house. With its rich cultural, architectural and historical heritage, charming canals and famous red-light district, Amsterdam caters for every taste. Football fans will enjoy watching the city football club Ajax Amsterdam and large numbers of visitors are drawn to the city’s festivals, notably the Koninginnedag and Gay Pride.
Deliberately unconventional, Amsterdam with its ethnically diverse population and relaxed atmosphere remains one of the most engaging European destinations for a city break.
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