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Discover the real Holland and experience the true essence of Dutch culture for yourself. Admire the stunning tulip fields bursting with vibrant colour, taste award-winning cheese, take a relaxing canal cruise around the city or explore the pretty, flat landscape like the locals do - by bike.
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- ByCruise Critic5 Must-Try Cruise Excursions in AmsterdamAmsterdam is a city on the water, by the water, which makes it an easy destination to reach by an ocean or river cruise. The capital of the Netherlands, which sits along the North Sea and the Rhine River, offers a rich tapestry of the arts, culture and history that exists in harmony with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. To make sure you experience the best that Amsterdam has to offer, Cruise Critic recommends booking at least one of these five hallmark cruise excursions. 1. Canal Cruise Can you truly say you've been to Amsterdam without sailing down one of its famous canals? Tons of short tours are available to give an overview of Amsterdam's distinct neighborhoods, its canal homes that date from the 1500s and the chance to sail through the city like a local. Combine a canal cruise with museum visits to the Rijksmuseum (national museum) or the Van Gogh Museum for a full-day tour. Or, for a more festive atmosphere, book a trip down the canals at night with wine and cheese or music and cocktails. 2. Anne Frank House Anne Frank was a Jewish girl living in Amsterdam when World War II broke out. She hid from the Nazis in an attic for two years and documented the experience, which later became published as "The Diary of a Young Girl." Since then, the book has been translated into more than 70 languages, with tens of millions of copies sold. It's her story that attracts more than a million visitors each year to the site where she lived, which is now a museum and one of Amsterdam's top tourist attractions. Due to its rightful popularity, tours often sell out in advance. Be sure to book tickets to skip at least part of the line, and explore the tremendous impact Anne Frank has had on the world -- but book them early. 3. Windmills of Kinderdijk You won't find one of the Netherlands' iconic windmills down just any side street in Amsterdam, but the sight can be sated with a short 90-minute trip south to Kinderdijk. Located just outside of Rotterdam, at the convergence of the Lek and Noord Rivers, this village in South Holland is known for the preservation of its 18th-century working windmills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As synonymous with being Dutch as cheese, clogs and tulips, a visit to the windmills can actually be paired with a visit to a clog museum or cheese farm. As for tulips, Keukenhof -- located 45 minutes from Amsterdam, in Lisse --hosts the blooms in one of the world's largest gardens. However, the site is highly seasonal, open for just a few weeks each year; consider visiting if you are in the area late March through mid-May. 4. Pub Crawl Hop on a pub crawl to experience the other side of Amsterdam's abundant culture -- its drinking culture. Organized tours offer one drink in a number of locales to experience the variety of the city's bars and clubs in a bustling center of nightlife, like Leidseplein Square. Or, arrange an independent crawl with friends and set out to meet some locals -- you'll find that they're quite friendly. (For the LGBTQ crowd, Amsterdam is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world.) After a night of drinking, Dutch snacks like stroopwafels or street fries (heads up: they're eaten with mayo) will hit the spot. If you're looking to swig some beer -- and maybe even learn a little -- don't miss the Heineken Experience, which opens daily at 10:30 a.m. 5. Red Light District While it's an area best known for women seductively posing in windows (and what happens thereafter under the cover of darkness), the Red Light District can actually provide an eye-opening look into the industry of sex workers. The Museum of Prostitution offers insight into the life and regulations of sex work, for a more academic approach to the subject. Walking tours sometimes stop here for some history on the "world's oldest profession." More than good for a gawk, the Red Light District is best experienced by night, but is also full of life during the day. You'll see -- or smell -- Amsterdam's infamous "coffee shops" where marijuana is legally sold and consumed. Museum Ons' Lieve Heer Op Solder, known as "Our Lord in the Attic," is an unforgettable journey through a preserved 17th-century canal house and the church hidden in its attic during a time when celebrating mass in public was prohibited. This district is a part of Amsterdam that exudes many examples of tolerance beyond prostitution -- from drugs to religion.11 items