Four centuries after the Golden Age, a period of prosperity and artistic achievement that transformed Amsterdam from a fishing village into a wealthy hub of international trade, this delightful city is in the middle of a  renaissance. Amsterdam is built on a manageable scale; walking and biking along the famous canals are ideal ways to view the 17th-century gabled merchants’ houses as well as to visit the many flower markets, cafés and secondhand bookstores. Glass-topped boat trips and (if the winter gets cold enough) ice skating along the waterways offer other perspectives, especially at night, when many of the city’s bridges are illuminated.

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