There is something to be said about a city where bicycles almost outnumber people and canals are one of the best ways to take in the sights. The city of Amsterdam is made up of a series of 90 islands joined by more than 1,200 bridges. The winding narrow passageways, cobblestone streets and stately 17th century homes that spread along the canals add to the allure. In fact, the city is so steeped in history that nearly 7,000 buildings and homes are considered protected monuments dating back to the 15th century.
Yet for those who prefer the more modern masters, Amsterdam is almost as famous for its contemporary architecture. Check out Renzo Piano’s very futuristic bow shaped NeMo (National Center for Science and Technology) building. And architect Bruno Albert's "Barcelona" housing complex on KNSM Island has a residential circle shaped building that boasts a courtyard resembling an Italian opera house with small balconies.
Cross That Bridge
If you’re a bridge aficionado, Adriaan Geuze’s bright-red pedestrian and cyclist swirly shaped bridge that links the peninsulas of Borneo and Sporenburg adds a sense of whimsy to the skyline. Another marvel is the bridge in the old city center (on the corner of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht), from which visitors can see no fewer than 15 other bridges.
Or maybe just pull up a chair and soak in the charm. We’ll take a koffie verkeerd (or café au lait) at a canal-side café to get a happy buzz without even needing those space cakes.
Amsterdam isn’t the only sun-dappled city of bridges. You might also want to head north and explore Copenhagen.