Famous for its "Red Light District" and winding canals, Amsterdam is home to less than 1 million inhabitants which gives it a "village like" atmosphere. In this "Venice of the North" where hundreds of miles of canals provide transportation to just about any area of the city, road traffic (and noise) is limited and many people prefer to navigate the streets on a bicycle. A lively city exuding diversity and tolerance, Amsterdam is home to more nationalities than any other country (180 at last census).
When to visit
If you are looking to enjoy the biggest street party of the year, then head to Amsterdam on "King's Day" (formerly known as "Queensday"). April 27th (26 if the 27th falls on a Sunday) is the national celebration of the King's birthday. During Koningsdag, the city bursts with orange on the streets, canals, parks and kids show off their various talents in the Vondelpark. In June, artists from all over the world flock to the Holland Festival to showcase their music, operatic, dance and theatrical talents. Another exciting time to visit the Dutch capital is through mid-November until mid-January. The entire city becomes then the stage of the Amsterdam light festival, an international art festival focusing on the use of light as artistic expression.
Amsterdam's climate is typically mild throughout all seasons due to its proximity to the North Sea coast. Spring and summer are the warmest seasons, with daily temperature averages of 70F/2C. Humidity is low although the city experiences measurable rain in the summer and many cloudy days. Daylight lasts until 10 pm in mid-summer, which makes it an ideal time for long walks in the evening. Winter temperatures range from highs in the 40s F/10s C to lows around 30 F/0 C.
The city offers plenty to do besides visiting coffee shops or the Red Light District, from canal cruises to bicycle tours and bbq in the leafy oasis of the Vondelpark. Amsterdam also offers many shopping options from vintage items at the Waterlooplein flea market to luxurious brands on the PC Hooftstraat. The Kalverstraat is the main shopping street with renown international brands but if you are looking for more local flavors then head to the small boutiques at De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets). You can also shop for beautiful tulips and other flower bulbs at the Bloemenmarkt (flower market), a complex series of stalls and shops floating atop a canal in the heart of the city.
Amsterdam overflows with some of the finest art museums in the world. At Museumplein (Museum Square) you will find the Stedelijk Museum exhibiting modern art, the Van Gogh Museum and you will be able to observe Rembrandt's famous De Nachtwacht at the Rijksmuseum. Temporary art exhibitions are also commonly found in churches, such as the World Press Exhibition held every year in either the Nieuwe Kerk or in the Oude Kerk (a 700 year old church). Other very popular attractions in the city include the Royal Palace on Dam Square as well as the Anne Frank’s house, where Anne and her family remained hidden from the Nazis during World War II for two long years.
Tips & Recommendations
• Try one of the many typical Dutch delights: poffertjes, stroopwafels, bitterballen or Hollands nieuwe haring.
• Avoid walking on bike paths--they are expressly meant for bikes.
• If you drive while in Amsterdam, take care not to let the meter expire. Tickets are very expensive.
• Rent an “omafiets” (Dutch bike) and discover the city by bike, as it is the typical Dutch way to get around the city.
If you prefer a small, intimate accommodations, Sleep at Amy's is a good choice. If your focus is on good value for price, try this 2-star property. Don't miss nearby Beurs van Berlage and West Indisch House. A nearby station is Amsterdam Central Station. Artis Zoo is nearby. For business travelers, this location provides close proximity to Felix Meritis.
The small and cozy Emily's Elegant BB offers a homey ambiance. Offering 2-star rooms, this is a great option for good quality at a low price. Bustling WTC Station Zuid takes you to all points of interest in and around Amsterdam. The young at heart will enjoy Artis Zoo. This property is an excellent choice for visitors to WTC Amsterdam. A number of exciting events are held at the nearby Bosbaan.
The small and cozy View Bed & Breakfast offers a homey ambiance. Spui is located close to this location, as is Leidseplein. The neighborhood's many attractions include The Melkweg, Stadsschouwburg and Paradiso, all within easy reach. This lodging is not far from Artis Zoo. You'll find several tourist attractions and plenty to do at DeLaMar Theater every season of the year.
With fewer than 20 rooms, Xaviera's Amsterdam Bed and Breakfast offers the intimacy of a small accommodation. The rooms here are rated 2-star(s). Attractions just a short distance from this location include Museumplein Amsterdam and House of Bols. Not far away, Artis Zoo offers fun times. Booking a room here puts you near Olympic Stadium. This accommodation is a convenient base for accessing Concertgebouw Amsterdam.