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.
The small and cozy Xaviera's Amsterdam Bed and Breakfast offers a homey ambiance. Offering 2-star rooms, this is a great option for good quality at a low price. Recommended attractions: House of Bols, Heineken Experience and Albert Cuyp Market. Not to be missed in Amsterdam are the museums Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. The world-class Concertgebouw Amsterdam is close by. Olympic Stadium is a nearby destination.
Looking for something that's a cut above? You'll find it at 3-star Tulip of Amsterdam B&B. Experience the personalized attention offered by this intimate lodge with fewer than 20 rooms. Amsterdam Dungeon is within easy walking distance, as are Canal boat tours and Tuschinski Cinema. Nieuwmarkt, Chinese Buddhist Temple Amsterdam and Red Light District are within a short walk from here. In Amsterdam, Oude Kerk displays interesting characteristics. Stopera is easily accessible.
Stay at the 3-star Las Vegas for an enjoyable Amsterdam experience. The rooms here are small in number and the hospitality is highly regarded. Vondelpark, located nearby, is an interesting landmark. The location of nearby Artis Zoo is one good reason to stay at this accommodation. The major local venue, WTC Amsterdam is close by. Nearby is picturesque Olympic Stadium .
With its 4 star rating, The Posthoorn guarantees a comfortable stay. Intimate and authentic thanks to its small size and handful of rooms. West Indisch House, Canal boat tours and Amsterdam Dungeon are popular destinations you can easily reach from this accommodation. The famous landmark Jordaan area is conveniently close, as are Damrak and Main post office. The nearby Zuiderkerk is well worth a look. Artis Zoo is one of several nearby options for fun and entertainment.