But as with every new city, there are complications that can arise if you're not prepared.
id Latt reports on what's happening in Amsterdam and the lessons he learned on the road.
For American travelers headed to Europe, Amsterdam is an excellent gateway. It's a compact city, hosting dozens of world-class museums, miles of picturesque canals, well-maintained parks, narrow streets with Old World charm, hundreds of outdoor cafes and cozy bars.
Most importantly, English is the second language. So don't worry if you need help. You don't have to ask, "Do you speak English?" because everyone does.
Even with so much going on, the scale of the old city is very people-friendly. Most buildings around the canals are three to five stories tall.
Cars and trucks avoid the narrow cobblestone streets, leaving pedestrians and bicyclists in charge. Every few blocks there is a central square ["plein"] with cafes, shops and markets.
Because the Dutch love gardens, many neighborhoods boast a park with large expanses of open space where families and friends can walk, picnic or just hang out. Besides Oosterpark, Hortus-Botanicus, Museum Square, Vondelpark, and Westerpark, there are dozens of smaller public and private parks, scattered through the city.
Even a small museum like the Museum Willet-Holthuysen has a lovely formal garden in back. In summer months, you'll see mobs of young men and women from the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Spain partying together, usually drinking and often singing""mostly in bars, around the squares and walking through the Red Light District. Keeping to the quieter parts of town, families with kids visit the museums, canal cruises, and entertainment centers. Couples get around town on bicycles or take long walks, hand in hand, along the canals taking in the sights and enjoying being together.
What's great about Amsterdam is that the city works for all of them.