Introducing The Netherlands
Famous for its clogs, cheese, tulips, windmills and of course flat and low lying land (hence the nickname 'The Low Countries'), one fifth of the Netherlands actually sits below sea level and half of it rests no more than one metre above.
The Netherland's capital, Amsterdam, is one of Europe's many treasures. A hugely popular tourist destination and with good reason, it is situated on the gorgeous Amstel River and full of the famed UNESCO World Heritage Listed canals of which there are 165 to explore. The waterways divide the city up into blocks, as would streets in a regular town, with each area having its own theme, characteristics and vibe. Winter even sees the canals freeze over and the opportunity to take to their surface on ice-skates for a truly magical winter wonderland experience.
Hiring a bike is a great way to get around the city - not to mention keep you fit on your holiday – and it'll ensure that you really blend in with the locals too, as will tucking into the regional delicacy, raw herring. It's nowhere near as bad as it sounds, it's actually quite delicious (especially washed down with one of the extraordinarily potent local beers such as Maximator) and served just about everywhere, though we especially recommend the Altena stall in the Museum Quarter. While you're there, take the chance to wander around some of Europe's most interesting Museums such as the Amsterdam Historich and the Amstlekring. The city is full of cultural must-do's with an abundance of elegant architecture and art galleries such as Torch and Fons Welters, not to mention trendy cafes and bars that boast some very hip bands.
Of course an Amsterdam vacation would not be anywhere near complete without a trip through its world-famous Red Light District. There are many dens of iniquity, but even for the well-behaved visitors there's plenty of eye-opening innocent fun to be had from a safe distance.