Compact and densely packed with old gabled buildings, the world’s most photographed city is renowned for its tranquil houseboat-lined canals. It’s easy to forget when bicycling around the narrow streets — occasionally stopping for refreshments in snug cafés — that the world’s first ever stock exchange was set up here. Or, indeed, that a notorious red-light district lies in the vicinity.

Unlike its fellow waterway-centric city of Venice, Amsterdam  is no museum piece. From the canals, young internet entrepreneurs strike deals across Europe from their houseboats. With its outward-looking orientation and genuinely international business climate (representatives of 177 different nations live and work here, and more than 1,400 foreign companies have set up offices), the city is well equipped to deal with business visitors. The rise in smart restaurants, trendy shops and stylish luxury hotels has been prolific in recent years.

Most Amsterdam businesses are located in the city centre or in the new commercial district in the southwestern part of the city around the World Trade Centre, where an astonishing array of innovative architecture is revitalising the city edge.

-Money: The Euro (€). Euro-denominated traveller’s cheques and credit cards are widely accepted in main hotels, shops and restaurants. Smaller establishments may accept cash only.

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