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Amsterdam’s metropolitan area has a lot to offer — Tourists who visit Amsterdam generally concentrate all their attention on the city’s historic center.

No wonder. Amsterdam has the largest and best-preserved 17th-century city center in Europe. It’s like a huge open-air museum but one that is lively and full of joy. There’s something unique and interesting around every corner, and most visitors agree that Amsterdam has a ‘special feel’ you won’t find anywhere else.

Downtown Amsterdam is small enough to criss-cross on foot, but there is so much to see and do that you simply cannot take it all in within just a few days.

That said, tourists who don’t venture beyond the center of Amsterdam miss out on lots of good stuff. While not all of Amsterdam’s neighborhoods would be of particular interest to tourists, the boroughs of East, South, West and North each have a lot to offer.

Beyond that, Amsterdam’s metropolitan area — which, considering this video, includes pretty much all of the province of Noord Holland (North Holland) — is nothing short of a treasure trove:

No wonder that in recent years the city of Amsterdam and its tourist office have started encouraging visitors to look beyond the city’s center. There is lots to discover — not just in Amsterdam’s various districts, but also in its greater metropolitan area.

Some of our suggestions would include excursions to

Mind you, there also is a practical reason behind the promotion of Greater Amsterdam.

As a place to live, downtown Amsterdam’s 80,000 residents rate their district higher than those of any other Amsterdam borough. They give it 8.1 out of a possible 10 points.

But the number of people settling in the area — which covers just 8 km² — is steadily increasing, as is the number of tourists (11 million a year). In addition there is a steady increase in the number of itinerant workers in the area.

The locals — but also the city’s managers — would like to see the center a little less crowded. Measures have already been introduced to reduce the number of visitors during special events.

Next time you visit Amsterdam you can do your part exploring the city’s other neighborhoods as well.

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This post was last updated: Nov. 28, 2011