When you think of Amsterdam breaks, what comes to mind - canals, cyclists, great museums, cool coffeeshops and the red light district? Amsterdam is much more than a destination for stag weekends and hen parties, there is so much to do and see that Amsterdam is perfect for either a city break or a longer holiday.
If you want to immerse yourself in culture there are 44 museum to choose from, many of which are world class, or you can explore the canal ring – a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you fancy a shopping break, there are over 6,000 shops and 32 markets to browse.
Night owls will find plenty to amuse them in the city’s 1,500+ bars, cafés and clubs. While for families, there are 40 parks, a fabulous zoo in the heart of the city and, when the weather is good, a great selection of urban beaches accessible by public transport.
When booking your Amsterdam holiday and researching your destination, you’ll soon find that your itinerary just grows and grows. And when you leave, you’ll be planning your next trip to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is truly the perfect city to explore. The compact nature of the city means you’re never far from the next sight, museum or attraction on foot. And if you get tired of walking, the tram system is simple to navigate and always on time. You can even choose to do as the locals do and hop on two wheels.
But what is there to see and do in Amsterdam? Museums and art galleries are a must-see in the Dutch capital and the perfect place to start. There’s the world-famous Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Royal Palace Amsterdam, as well as a few lesser-known treats and eye-openers. The Heineken experience offers something for beer lovers, while foodies that like things a little more refined can take their pick from some of the city’s finest restaurants. Many of the street food vendors shouldn’t be ignored either.
The nightlife rarely stops in the city with over 1,500 bars, cafes and clubs including classy offerings, hipster hangouts and options to party all night. And if you need somewhere to rest sore heads or tired legs, or just to give the kids somewhere to run around, there’s plenty of parks, a zoo, and a great selection of urban beaches accessible by public transport.
We know you have a postcard-perfect picture of Amsterdam in your mind. One made up of canals, bikes and clogs. But a trip to Amsterdam is so much more. And there’s no better way of immersing yourself into the nuances of the city than through where you decide to stay.
‘The Dam’ is packed with quirky neighbourhoods, classic canal-side town houses, and creaking houseboats. And when it comes to its neighbourhoods there’s plenty to choose from. If you want the action of Dam Square on your doorstep and to get a true flavour of the jam-packed heart of the city, then the classic spot of Centrum is for you. The narrow streets are lively with revellers spilling out onto the cobbles in summer. Just make sure you watch out for the trams, at any time of year.
For something that’s still central but offers a taste of how the locals do things, Jordaan is a real gem. Just a quick hop over a canal from Leidseplein, Jordaan promises trendy boutiques, buzzing markets, independent shops and friendly cafes.
Just outside the heart of the city, upmarket Oud West is full of fantastic shopping, world famous museums, contemporary cuisine, and the green spaces of Vondelpark. Away from the traditional canals and coffee shops, the city continues to grow with the new up-and-coming area of Nieuw-West offering an under-the-radar taste of the new Amsterdam.
Stay in the heart of Amsterdam with all the top things to do and see on your doorstep.
For plenty of buzz and your choice of bars restaurants and shops, this is a great base in Amsterdam.
This western part of Amsterdam has become home to upmarket shops and restaurants.
This up and coming area is great for budget travellers with a choice of affordable hotels and places to eat.
Your base for your Amsterdam holiday can make all the difference to ensure it truly is a trip to remember. The city is packed with a variety of different accommodations, such as 5 star offerings, chic boutique hotels, budget stays and quirky places to lay your head for the night.
You can choose from a range of locations to suit the needs of your stay, whether you want to be right in the middle of the action, close to the best green spaces in the city, in an up-and-coming neighbourhood, or live like a local for a few days.
If you want to immerse yourself in culture there are 44 museums to choose from, many of which are world class. You can spend hours wandering around the magnificent Rijksmuseum, gaze in wonder at the works of Van Gogh, squeeze into the tiny rooms of Anne Frank House, or sample a pint at the famous Heineken museum. If you fancy learning something new about a quirky and interesting subject, Amsterdam is bound to have a museum for you.
The waterways of the city simply can’t be ignored. You’ll see them around every corner and under every bridge as you make your way through the city on foot or by bike. When walking, always remember to look up to view the dainty and beautifully created furniture hooks on the front of every building. That’s how they manage to get the furniture into such tall and tightly packed houses.
Why not take to the water on a boat tour to see a very different view of the city and to explore the canal ring; a UNESCO World Heritage site? Or even enjoy your dinner aboard a floating restaurant?
The museums and galleries for an Amsterdam culture fix
Some of the top sights to visit on a trip to Amsterdam.
Not enough time and so much to see? Our pick of Amsterdam's 'Don't miss' sights.
A must-visit museum in Amsterdam for any art and architecture lover.
When it comes to the culinary scene, an Amsterdam city break promises everything you’d expect from a trip to a capital city -and a little more. You no doubt know all about French fries with mayonnaise (that’s patat to the locals), waffles and Dutch cheese. But did you also know about the 10 Michelin stars spread throughout the city’s restaurants? From upmarket offerings, rustic restaurants and worth-a-try street food vendors, you won’t be disappointed. We’ve written an article about where to eat in Amsterdam here.
Amsterdam is awash with food trends, including vegan restaurants, Scandinavian cafés and ramen hangouts. For veggie lovers, try Betty’s – a little out of town but worth the trek (even if you’re a meat eater). Those looking for Nordic cuisine should head to Selma’s for their excellent coffee and unpronounceable lunch dishes. Umaimon is not to be missed for authentic ramen – don’t let its Leidseplein location put you off. Failing all that, stick with a Dutch classic: apple pie!
amsterdamfoodie.nl / @AmsterdamFoodie
Amsterdam's nightlife comes in every shape and sound you can imagine, and some you've probably never even heard of. Stay classy with a trip to Bubbles and Wines Champagne Bar, or go all hipster underground at the Door 74 speakeasy nearby. If you'd rather take your life and liquor cheap and cheerful, try Cafe Cuba, or Cafe Soundgarden, where cheap cocktails and beers flow respectively. After hours live music lovers flock to Melkweg, while techno heads have a smorgasbord of late night / early morning clubs to choose from – try Warehouse Elementenstraat for starters.
vickyflipfloptravels.com / @VickyFlipFlop
The lively student district of De Pijp is the ‘Latin Quarter’ of Amsterdam.
5 unmissable addresses for serious coffee connoisseurs.
Tuck into the best of the Dutch capital’s diverse dining scene.
The ultimate guide to Amsterdam’s best bars
If you fancy some time out shopping during your Amsterdam city break, there are over 6,000 shops and 32 markets to browse. Take your time wiling away the hours on the city’s two main shopping streets – Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat – before settling into one of the local cafes or bars to inspect your purchases. We’ve also written a guide on some of the hottest shopping spots in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has distinct seasons. Unlike some European cities, when you gaze out the coffee shop window in Amsterdam you know just what season it is. From the occasional covering of festive snow and crisp days in winter, to the scorching summer heat, anytime of year is the best time to go to Amsterdam.
Whatever season you choose for your city break to Amsterdam, you’ll find plenty of local flavour and things to do. The citizens of the city really know how to do summer. When the sun shines, you’ll be swept along with how the locals do things here. Lounge in the city’s green spaces or take a canal-side seat and soak it up. Spring in Amsterdam gives a taste of what’s to come in summer as the city begins to move outside. The Tulip Festival runs from mid-March to mid-May, while the real highlight for residents and tourists alike is King’s Day at the end of April. Just don’t forget to wear something orange.
As the nights draw in and autumn is upon Amsterdam, the city begins to move back indoors. The contrasting autumnal colours make for fantastic photos, while the museums and cafes really come into their own.
With so many museums, restaurants and markets the weather is never a problem in winter. And with bars a plenty, the partying never stops. For a NYE experience like no other make Amsterdam your essential night out to bring in the new year with style and plenty of fireworks. Check out our guide on where to escape the cold in Amsterdam during winter.
In a city with this many museums, cafes, bars and restaurants the weather is never an issue.
With the tulip festival, King's day and the weather getting warmer, spring sees Amsterdam start to move outside.
When the weather gets sizzling hot, Amsterdam calls for a day by the water
As the nights draw in, dance, drink and eat your way around the ‘Dam.
Dutch blogger, Anne de Buck (yourlittleblackbook.me/), shares some of her favourite addresses in Amsterdam.
Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.
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