The Netherlands are popular and well visited among different getaway spots. This country of tulips, windmills and bicycles stretches out over a predominantly flat landscape of reclaimed land. Sophisticated urban centers and sleepy rural towns are contained within the expansive vistas broken here and there by canals, castle walls and dikes. Europe's most densely populated region is located within an area of the Netherlands called the Randstad. This urban hub is spread in a circle from Amsterdam. The metropolitan centers buzz with the activity of seasonal festivals, cultural activities, vibrant art scenes and excellent pubs and restaurants.
The cultural heritage that flavors much of Dutch life and lines the country to attractive getaway spots can be traced back through time. During the 1600s the Netherlands dominated the world both economically and culturally. The Dutch East India Company established trading links with the East and West Indies bringing back an abundance of merchandise and cultural influences. The Golden Age reached its zenith in the artworks of the Dutch Masters - Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Jan Vermeer. Today their paintings hang from the walls of the cities' numerous museums and galleries.
Most people traveling to the getaway spots of Netherlands head for the unique experience of its capital city, Amsterdam. The other parts are largely unaffected by tourism, particularly the areas outside the Randstad. The southern parts of the country are transformed by undulating landscapes of shifting sands and heath moors, best experienced within the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Still south, tucked between the German and Belgian borders, lies the historical city of Maastricht.
The most lively and lascivious among getaway spots is Amsterdam with a unique atmosphere that belies the caricature of the dour Dutch. Radiating out from the Dam Square, the historic centre of the city is ringed by quaint canals and cobbled streets, thronged with bicycles, tourists, house-boats, students, and street performers. The city wears two faces: on one, it smiles and beckons hedonistic youth with its notorious Red Light District and liberal view of marijuana use, while on the other it offers some of Europe's finest museums and art galleries.
Different types of accommodations are represented in Amsterdam for you to choose. Surely, your choice will be based on your tastes, preferences and even budget. You may stay at the modern three-storey hotel in the noisy downtown with shops and cafes nearby or choose comfortable getaway cabins somewhere in the calm park zone.
For the tourist the joy of Amsterdam is its compactness. The old part of town is a pleasure to explore on foot, strolling across ancient bridges and down narrow lanes past gabled houses, dropping in to browse in inviting souvenir boutiques crammed with blue and white Delft china and wooden clogs. Pavement cafes and cozy bars offer rest and refreshment. An alternative is to take a circular canal-boat cruise and see the city from the water, peering in on the lives of the locals who live on houseboats lining the waterways.