Planning to celebrate a bachelorette party (or "hen do," as the Brits say) in Amsterdam? Here are a few unique ideas to take your girls' weekend beyond the basic tourist bars.
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Charter a Private Boat
If your group of girls is large enough, why not chip in for a swanky private boat to carry you through the canals while you sip Champagne? The staff at Amsterdam Boats specializes in custom charters on restored "salon" boats bedecked with elegant wood-paneled interiors and dripping with class. It's a luxurious spin on one of the must-do activities for Amsterdam visitors, the classic boat tour that takes in the city's famed canals, which have defined the city of Amsterdam since at least the 17th century (and, in the case of the innermost canal, even earlier).
Groups of five or less may consider renting the only gondola in Amsterdam. Whoever said the Venetian vessels were relegated to Italian waters, or that they could only carry couples?
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Have High Tea
Balance your nights drinking cocktails with days savoring scones with cream, tiny pastries, and dainty sandwiches...oh, and tea, of course. The striking 1920s architecture at the Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam makes an afternoon especially elegant. Enjoy a more casual respite at Hofje van Wijs, in a quiet courtyard near the Red Light district. De Bakkerswinkel has three locations to choose from for leisurely ladies' afternoons. Gartine offers treats from the owners' garden.
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Bag a Museum...About Bags
Maybe you've already seen the 'big three' Amsterdam museums, or maybe you want to keep your weekend a little more lighthearted than to include tales of Nazi occupation.Whatever the case, most women would enjoy a visit to the Tassenmuseum in Amsterdam, also known as the Museum of Bags and Purses, which proves this love affair between women and their handbags is centuries-old. Browse a stunning collection of more than 3,500 pieces, including everything from embroidered pouches of 17th-century England and Art-Deco-inspired vanity cases to 1970s Chanel shoulder bags and fabulous Fendis from just a few seasons ago.
Want yet another museum dedicated to a fashion accessory? Try the Nationaal Brilmuseum (National Glasses Museum), located in the trendy 9 Straatjes district for a retrospective of spectacles from centuries past. Downstairs there's a modern-day optician, while the upper levels contain the proprietor's trove of optical fashions. Afterwards, don't miss out on a stroll of nine of the most fashion-forward streets in the city (see below).
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Shop the Nine Streets
There's a reason the Negen Straatjes neighborhood makes the number-one spot on my list of Amsterdam's best shopping areas. The retail therapy in the "Nine Streets" doubles as a trip through one of the quaintest quarters of the city. This three-block-by-three-block (hence, the Nine) area of water-woven side streets straddles Amsterdam's main canals and features favorite cafés and restaurants, chic fashion boutiques, long-established vintage stores and countless independent traders of all kinds in between.
Once you've exhausted all nine streets, there's also a lesser-known 10th Street (Tiende Straatje): Hazenstraat, a side street of Elandsgracht in the Jordaan district. Follow Berenstraat west to Elandsgracht (across the canal, Prinsengracht) to find yet another street full of food and fashion. Antique lovers can continue down Elandsgracht to find the most famous antique market in the city: Antiekcentrum Amsterdam at Elandsgracht 109.
Updated by Kristen de Joseph.