|The entrance to Amsterdam's botanical garden - Hortus Botanicus|
Earlier this week I wrote about Amsterdam's hidden canal gardens - open to the public on the third weekend in June every year - a great chance to visit the city, and explore the green spaces behind the tall, thin houses along the canals. But if you're there for this annual event, you should also visit Hortus Botanicus - the botanical garden at the heart of the city, which is home to more than 6,000 different plants.
Founded in 1682 for the city's apothecaries to grow their medicinal plants, the three-acre gardens have survived as a peaceful haven within this bustling city. Head for any one of the seven glasshouses and you'll be impressed. One spans three climates and features a roof-top walk, which makes for interesting viewing. There's also an orchid nursery and butterfly house. Outside there are numerous beds organised by geographical region and there's also a great cafe - noted for its cheesecake, which provides a good option for lunch if you're out sightseeing. All in all, definitely worth visiting.
And then there's the Flower Market within walking distance of Hortus Botanicus. Although we were warned by locals that it's lost some of its original appeal due to the huge number of stalls selling tourist tat, it still offers wonderful flower displays and a huge selection of bulbs (below). Great for a break from the seedier side of Amsterdam!