Trying to decide on a favorite city in Europe is an almost impossible task, but Amsterdam has become my top go-to destination in Europe. The city’s canal district, relatively free of cars, is one of the most pleasurable cities around which to stroll – as long as you pay attention and don’t get in one of the many cyclists’ way.

And while the appearance of the water makes it clear taking a dip is not the smartest option, all those waterways adds to the city’s ambiance and calmness. Sure, Amsterdam has a lively night life – but again the lack of traffic in the city center is a huge factor in reducing the noise at all hours of the day.

But what makes Amsterdam - and much of the Netherlands – incredibly special is the city’s breathtaking architecture. The old merchants’ homes that line Amsterdam’s canals are each unique in their own way. As façades during the Dutch golden era were taxed based on their  width, It was almost a contest who could build the most narrow house. And many of them boast delightful pops of color, either due to the spryly colored doors and shutters, or the nooks full of flowers that help these neighborhoods come alive.

Most hotels offer a boat tour if you don’t know a local; plenty of tour operators line the canal. The next best option is to rent a bike or borrow one from the place at which you’re staying. But honestly, during my last quick trip to Amsterdam, I was happy to just traipse about the various canals, explore the Amstel and peek around the various public squares. Just enjoying the city for its sights and textures is one of the most rewarding benefits in the event you travel to Amsterdam.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

Another canal blessed with flowers

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

Just be sure you can find space for your bicycle!

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

Hollyhocks grow like (ahem) weeds

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

Plenty of selfie moments await

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

Homomonument, a tribute to gay citizens who have suffered

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

The Amstel

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

The still early a.m. water makes for lovely scenes

Amsterdam, travel, Netherlands, architecture, Leon Kaye

These homes have managed to survive for centuries

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.