Quick Guide to Amsterdam
Boasting more canals than Venice, Amsterdam is great for a cheap city break, as well as for a longer holiday. There are certainly enough attractions to keep visitors busy as well as plenty of lovely day trips to places like quaint Delft, known for its chinaware, and Keukenhof, where more than seven million tulips paint a vivid landscape in spring.
This charming city is just a short journey across the channel and almost as soon as you arrive you can be wandering the leafy canals and exploring the beautiful side streets of The Netherlands' capital city. With quick journey times and cheap fares, it's easy to see why Amsterdam holidays have consistently grown in popularity and why that trend is set to continue into 2017.
Alongside this increase in popularity, the city has earned a bit of a wild reputation thanks to its liberal attitudes, Red Light District and party potential. But just one visit will show you that there's plenty more than just hedonism in this historic European town.
Amsterdam is a place where it's easier to bike than walk, where weed-based cafes are the norm and a certain laissez-faire attitude remains supreme. Walk through leafy gardens, past scenic canals and discover every nook and cranny of this inimitable Dutch city. And don't you dare leave without fitting in a visit to the famous Anne Frank Museum - it's well worth the queues.
Fab holidays for:
History lovers, Biking enthusiasts, Canal cruises
Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport
Did you know?
Despite being nicknamed Venice of the North, Amsterdam actually has more canals than the Italian city.
Other Destinations in Netherlands
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Amsterdam Weekend Breaks
Amsterdam is a cyclist's dream, with more bikes than people in the city - an estimated 880,000! So if you're going for a weekend away, sightseeing from the saddle is definitely going to help you cover ground. You can book a bicycle from MacBike for a full 24 hours for less than €9 so it's a cheap way of getting to know Amsterdam.
Amsterdam also has a winding route of canals that provide an easy way to see all the sights in one leisurely trip. A canal cruise goes from as little as €11! And the tour guides will let you into the secrets of the city as you float past some of its attractions.
Don't forget to purchase an IAmsterdam card - not only does it give you unlimited trips on trams (getting you around the city whenever you need), it even allows you to queue jump at museums and cuts the cost of your weekend. There's really no downside.
Beware that some of the most popular museums come with their fair share of queuing. If you're dying to see the Anne Frank House, pick your time slot online and reserve your tickets. Take advantage of the late openings from April to October when it's open from 9am to 10pm.
Top 5 Cultural Activities
This is a fascinating and beautiful city to wander around. Better yet, grab a bike and cycle your way through all these fantastic destinations!
- Art museums
- Any holiday in Amsterdam should include some of Europe's best art museums, including the Rijksmuseum in Cuypers' extravagant 19th century building, and the Van Gogh Museum in an altogether more modern structure.
- Anne Frank Museum
- Arrive on Prinsengracht early to skip the queues for the enduringly popular Anne Frank Museum. Wander around the house and imagine what it was like to live through World War II as Anne Frank.
- Heineken Brewery
- One of the three largest beer producers in the world, beer fans will love the Heineken Brewery. Part museum, part entertainment, it's definitely worth a trip.
- A floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt sells everything from tulips to narcissus on the Singel canal.
- Cafes and clubs
- Of course, there's no forgetting the nightlife, coffee shops and the generally laid-back mentality that has long made holidays in Amsterdam popular across the age spectrum. Christmas in Amsterdam is especially lovely, with the Christmas markets lighting up the streets and selling all sorts of hand crafted goodies!
Events Not to Miss in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a stunning city all year round, through all the weather and all kinds of celebrations. If you plan your trip well, you may just catch some of the city's greatest events.
When the tulips fill the fields in a burst of red is many people's favourite time of year. Through the month of April, more than 500,000 tulips are placed around the city, in museums, private homes and other city institutions. It's the tulip-filled fields that really take centre stage, however.
King's Day on the 27th April paints the city in techni-colour and happens to be one of Amsterdam's largest festivals. Springsnow is another favourite. When spring hits, the city is covered in an idyllic layer of cherry blossoms, or 'spring snow'.
Don't miss the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre extravaganza that takes place from May to September. Festivals, dance, cabaret, jazz, children's theatre, stand-up comedy and all genres of music liven up the always beautiful park for the summer months.
Just because winter hits and the temperatures drop doesn't mean Amsterdam isn't still a great option for a city break. The Light Show sets the icy surroundings alight while the Christmas markets should definitely be tried and tested (and tasted!).
How to get to Amsterdam
We're not sure whether Amsterdam's status as a great city break destination has anything to do with its proximity to the UK, but what it does mean is that there are a range of ways to travel there. If you just can't decide which way will work best for your Amsterdam holiday on your budget then let dealchecker's experts help with this handy guide:
Flight - Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is simply huge. It's one of the busiest airports in the world and it has an enormous size to match its status. We heartily suggest wearing comfy shoes on your flight because there will be no escaping long walks! There are plenty of airlines who fly to Amsterdam from the UK, which all means that prices have been driven down by the healthy competition between low-cost airlines. Even better news, a flight to Amsterdam takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half - depending of course on your departure point. So perfect for weekend breaks without taking time off work
Ferry - with three regular ferry routes between the UK and the Netherlands, taking the boat across the North Sea is a great way to save money if you have a little more time to play with on your Amsterdam break. If a direct route to Amsterdam is what you're after then you'll need ferries which depart from Newcastle and sail overnight to Ijmuiden, the ferry port for Amsterdam. Alternative routes travel from Hull to Rotterdam and from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. If you keep your eyes open, it's easy to find special deals too. For example Amsterdam mini cruises include return crossings with coach transfers from the port into the heart of Amsterdam. Some of them also offer the option to add on a couple of nights in the city too.
Driving - If you want to take your car with you on your holiday to the Netherlands, then all the ferry routes will let you do just that. But if you'd rather just hire a car when you arrive, that's easy too. There are a range of places to search for car hire, although the airport and the ferry port are your best bets for a cheap price. However, a car won't be of much use if you're sticking within the centre of Amsterdam. The city is much easier to traverse on foot or by bike, especially if you're staying within the canal rings, and the streets are narrow and easy to get lost in. It's definitely worth considering driving though if you want to explore elsewhere in the Netherlands. In general, the roads are good and you'll find that the cities are well signposted. In fact, Amsterdam would make a great place to embark upon a European road trip.
Train - It's pretty easy to reach Amsterdam by rail from London, and although the journey does take longer than the flight itself, it's fairly comparable when it comes to all the added checking-in and waiting around at airports. The Eurostar connects with the high-speed Thalys service in Brussels. If you want to save a bit of money, change to the normal rail services to Amsterdam Centraal Station instead, which will add about an hour on to your journey time.
Cycling - Amsterdam is most definitely a city made for bikes - there are miles and miles of dedicated cycle lanes all across the city and you'll find that it really is the fastest way to get around. There are so many places to hire bikes, including several places by Centraal Station - or if you're going on the ferry you could take your own!
Amsterdam is also a starting point for many river cruises which will get you to this city and beyond!
Where to stay in Amsterdam
You will find hotels in Amsterdam to suit every taste and budget so you won't have any trouble finding a good place to stay. If you're after a prime location then don't expect your room to be very large - outside the canal rings there is much more space, but you'll travel further each day to get to the main sights in the centre. An alternative is to look into let apartments which let you experience the canal house living that Amsterdam is famous for. If money's really tight then the best thing to do is book yourself into one of the youth hostels - but be warned these book up pretty early.
It's always nice to know a little about the area before you book your hotel, so here's a speedy run-down of the different areas!
The Old Town is close to Centraal and includes the Palace, the Jewish Quarter and the red light district - it's hard to come by a good cheap deal here but modern and funky hotels are cropping up.
The Western Canal Ring is known for its quiet leafy roads and pretty canals, and it's close to the centre without being busy.
The Central Canal Ring is the heart of the shops and the entertainment - accommodation is at a premium!
The Eastern Canal Ring and Plantage is all about parks and the Zoo with great access to the centre, particularly the Old Town.
The Museum Quarter is where you'll find the big cultural museums, as well as a bit more space - but without the quaint canalside charm. Neighbouring de Pijp is cosmopolitan and a great choice if you don't mind being a bit further out. Jordaan is arty and full of character.