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Bikes and canals and a sense of calm make for the best of Amsterdam.
CNN Insider Guides are thoroughly checked for accuracy. Given the fluid nature of the travel industry, however, some listings may fall out of date before guides can be updated. The best practice is to confirm current information on official websites before making plans to visit any business or attraction.
(CNN)The biggest city in the Netherlands (population 820,000) is a triumph of resourcefulness and lateral thinking.
Space is at premium in Amsterdam, where much of the land has been reclaimed from the sea.
The city's planners turned this to their advantage: Amsterdam's canals soothe rather than imprison the city.
They provide its order, its calm.
That calm is regularly disturbed by the trill of bicycle bells, but as long as you give the cyclists a wide berth, it's the perfect city for pedestrians.
No longer hostage to a tourist industry propped up, at least in part, by its now locals-only coffee/cannabis shops, travelers have no excuse for not discovering the best of Amsterdam.
Seven One Seven
In Amsterdam, hotel rooms sometimes look like paintings.
Guests are spoiled in this best of Amsterdam, 18th-century throwback, a grand building restored in the 1990s and well located on the Prinsengracht, a short walk to the Leidseplein.
There's a strong fine arts theme, with plenty of paintings to browse in the public parts of the hotel and other artistic curiosities in all the suites.
If the weather's fine there are two pleasant garden areas to have breakfast in.
Each of the hotel's 122 rooms features custom wallpaper.
Between entry and check-in, there's a nice, typically Dutch counterpoise.
The Andaz occupies a handsome, venerable former public library building, and retains its echoey stateliness.
But books? Nope, even at registration, which is all done by tablets.
The theme follows you; here ancient, there modern.
Rooms are neat minimalist, an elegant use of space, but lightly tattooed with discreetly-placed locators, like an XXX -- the symbol of Amsterdam -- embossed on the furniture, and frescoes pointing to the city's past and present.
If you have a favorite philosopher, chances are there'll be a room at De Filosoof in his name, and you can wonder if they've interpreted him as you might have done in their choice of colors and decoration.
Some of the rooms are on the small side of cozy, but it's a comfortable place close to the Vondelpark.
A journey through the life, the different influences, the setbacks and the troubled mind of the Netherland's standout modern master.
This best of Amsterdam collection is the most complete of Van Gogh's works anywhere.
The experience is thorough, with paintings and sketches complemented by audio-visual reference points.
The museum is airily designed across two main buildings and looks over the Museumplein, a far nicer place to stroll that it was before its redesign in the late 1990s.
Van Gogh Museum, Paulus Potterstraat 7, 1071 DJ Amsterdam The Netherlands; +31 20 570 5200
The People of the Labyrinths
Dutch art need not be confined to the masters.
This is a nation proud of its radical palette and its independent sensibility in art and fashion.
This clothing brand -- POTL for short -- has become an international success in the 28 years since Geert de Rooij and Hans Demoed set up their boutique for hand-crafted, rainbow-bright clothes.
Seeing the real stuff rather than the cyber-retailed versions is worthwhile, even with the high price tags.
The People of the Labyrinths; Van Baerlestraat 42-44, 1071 AZ Amsterdam, Netherlands; +31 20 664 0779
Museum of Bags and Purses
Ever thought designer handbags were a purely modern indulgence?
Here's the biggest concentrated proof they've been status symbols, fashion statements and, of course, useful for all sorts of reasons for the better part of a millennium.
Nowhere in the world is there a larger assembly of purses, bags and vanity sets, and nowhere explains a greater variety of purposes for them, from 17th-century flea catchers to look-at-me, label-conscious accessories.
The collection is now housed in a striking canal house, and makes for a fascinating browse.