Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun February 07 2016

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  • Worldwide Scott | February 7, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Starting A European River Cruise in Amsterdam? Do These 7 Things First.

    Starting A European River Cruise in Amsterdam? Do These 7 Things First.

    Photos by Worldwide Scott

    In recent years, Amsterdam has become quite the hub for European river cruises, with many of the biggest and best names in the business starting grand river sojourns in the Dutch capital.

    Typically, cruisers will only have a day or two on the ground in Amsterdam before setting sail, and since that is a short amount of time to see the best of the city, here's seven things I think you have to do to get a true taste of the city in that time.

    1. Get Your Sea Legs (So To Speak)

    As you're going to be spending the next week or so on the river, you are going to need to get your sea legs under you, and no better place to start than on an Amsterdam canal cruise. There are many different types of cruises on offer from the large — and slightly impersonal — glass-roofed boats to the small, fun, and funky tours from Dam Boat Guys. My personal favorite, though, is the open boat Eco tour from Canal Company on a small boat called a sloop. It guides you around the canals slowly with the ship captain highlighting points of interest along the way, and since it's open-roof, your selfies will come out splendidly.

    READ MORE: 7 River Cruise Ships That Should Be On Everyone's Short List

    2. Feast on a Rice Table

    The history of Amsterdam is intrinsically linked with Indonesia, as it was a Dutch colony. With many Dutch moving to Indonesia, the spicy, lip-smacking flavors of the native cuisine were a sweet surprise and quickly became sought after. When guests from back home would visit the islands, the Dutch would lay out a massive spread of Indonesian specialties called a “Rice Table” to show off. The tradition continue all over town today, with two of the best spots being Blauw and Sara Cita, both serving up a spicy smorgasbord that will have you re-thinking what you thought you knew about Dutch food.

    3. Have a Drink at a Brown Cafe

    Amsterdam is rich with history, and nowhere is this history more fun to observe than in the city's myriad Brown Cafes. Many of these cafes have been open since the 1600s, and walking through the door is like stepping back in time. Most will offer traditional Dutch delicacies to pair with your beer like cheese, sausage and bitterballen. Two of the most authentic and atmospheric are T'Smalle & Cafe Papeneiland.

    4. Walk the 9 Little Streets

    This especially scenic stretch of tiny streets in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Amsterdam Canal Ring hosts a range a quirky shops and boutiques. A stroll through the 9 Streets offers the quickest slice of true canal life for those with only a couple days in town. If your feet get tired, pop into Pancakes! for some great Dutch pancakes or The Bluespoon Bar at the Anzac hotel for canal-side tipple. 

    5. Hit One of the Famous Museums

    If you only have a couple days in town, you will certainly want to spend more of your time relaxing than running around. Therefore, I don't recommend trying to see the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage and Rembrandt House all in one go. Just pick one — you'll probably be back one day anyway. 

    6. Hit One of the Lesser Known Museums

    PHOTO: Our Lady in the Attic.

    In addition to the world famous aforementioned museums, Amsterdam is home to a handful of lesser-known museums like The Canal Museum, Museum of Bags and Purses and my personal favorite:  Our Lady in the Attic. This wonderful site dates from the era when Christians had to worship in secret within city limits, and a local citizen built a whole church in the attic of his tiny canal home. The house may be tiny, but the church is grand. Along the way, you will get a real walkthrough of what life was like in Amsterdam canal houses.

    READ MORE: Amsterdam: I Went For Vincent

    7. Ok, Alright, You're Going to Anyway, So Go Ahead and Take a Peek at the Red Light District

    You're curious, and all your friends have told you about the Red Light District, so go ahead and poke your head around. Just don't be surprised if you aren't shocked or offended, as most of the time this area is fairly sedate, resembling Bourbon St. in New Orleans on canals.

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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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