Known for its canals, row houses, old-world charm and progressive, bike-centric culture, picturesque Amsterdam is a destination that should be on the list for every bride-to-be considering a romantic European mini-moon that is an eclectic mix of old and new, culture and nightlife, and is readily accessible from the States.
Getting to Amsterdam is a breeze — which is key when you're planning for just a few days away. A seven-hour direct flight from most East Coast airport hubs, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport connects to the compact city center via a 15-minute train ride; once on the ground, most everything you'll want to see or do is walkable, bikeable or a short Uber ride away. Cycling in Amsterdam is more than a pastime, it's a way of life: the ratio of bikes to residents is 1:1. Most hotels will have bikes on-site for guests to borrow or rent; otherwise, the concierge team will be able to point you in the direction of the closest bike rental facility.
A Dose of Culture
Amsterdam is home to an impressive roster of cultural institutions, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam and the Anne Frank House, as well as a number of quirkier cultural offerings, including museums dedicated to bags and purses, cats, fluorescent art and, yes, the world's oldest sex museum. A smart way to organize your days is to plan to visit 1-2 sites each day, allowing for plenty of time for an afternoon pint and people watching from a sidewalk cafe or one of the city's many terrace bars, Amsterdam's version of a beer garden. Strolling or cycling through Amsterdam's lush parks is a must — Vondelpark, the city's largest green space, is located adjacent to the Museumkwartier and makes for a perfect picnic destination after a morning museum visit.
Photo: Courtesy of Pulitzer Amsterdam
__ Amsterdam After Dark__ Sleek hotel bars, serious cocktail dens, traditional Dutch pubs known as "brown cafes" — a completely different side of Amsterdam heats up as the sun finally sets, which can be as late as 10 p.m. in the summer season. Door 74 is credited with introducing the speakeasy-style cocktail bar to the city and remains a sought-after destination. Tunes Bar at the luxe new Conservatorium Hotel, which overlooks Vondelpark, is a prime example of the next-gen wave of hotel bars that are upping the ante when it comes to both ambiance and cocktail offerings. At Tunes Bar, "G&T's" are the signature cocktail and can be made with more than 40 kinds of gin and six kinds of tonic. Curious about the city's infamous Red Light District? Sign up for one of the tour offerings with Amsterdam Red Light District Tours, which are led by local resident guides and depart nightly.
Sightseeing By Sea
There's no better way to see Amsterdam than by boat. Gliding through the city's canals and waterways, past pedestrian promenades, under bridges — you get a completely different sense of the city from the water. Daytime, sunset, after dark, you really can't go wrong with choosing a boat tour, although a honeymoon-worthy splurge would be a private boat tour for two, complete with Champagne and a romantic dinner, such as can be arranged by the Pulitzer Amsterdam, a chic, art-filled hotel that occupies a series of interlinked row houses in the city's historic core. The Pulitzer's resident boat, a stately 1909 salon boat called "Tourist," has hosted many historic guests over the years; a sunset cruise aboard her would indeed be a memory for a lifetime.