Amsterdam Travel Information
Built around a spider's web of canals, wherever you go in Amsterdam you
always seem to be walking beside or over water!
to sample the world class museums, beautifully preserved architecture
and friendly, cosmopolitan atmosphere that is unique to this vibrant
In the evening, try a candlelight cruise, the nightclubs of Leidseplein,
or an eye opening visit to the infamous Red Light district!
You'll find tiny bars and smoky 'brown cafes', exotic nightlife, grand
canalside houses - and flowers everywhere.
All these things
together conspire to a pageant of enjoyment which is fresh at any time
Amsterdam Travel and Flight
Amsterdam is a unique, colourful capital of Holland and major port with a lively,
multicultural mixture, Amsterdam offers a range of experiences, whether you
visit for the fine 17th-18th century architecture, lots of
museums and galleries, or the well-known tolerance of its 700,000 or so
citizens. It was formed out of marshland in the early 13th century, when
the area around the river Amstel was dammed (so giving the city its
By the 17th century, it had grown to be a centre of commercial and
naval power, headquarters of the Dutch East India and West India
companies, and Europe's richest city. It was during this "Golden Age"
that the semicircle of concentric canals fanning out from Centraal
Station were constructed along with the elegant merchants' houses that
line them; an ancient tax on the width of buildings explains their tall,
narrow construction – some even slant forward to allow furniture to be
Occupying a wider area of 12 km east to west and 6km
north to south, the city has an attractive, compact centre crisscrossed
by tree-lined canals (with around 1,200 bridges), and an atmosphere
reminiscent of a provincial town. Its focal point is Dam Square, a
lively, tourist-orientated meeting place that also houses the Royal
Palace. Between Dam Square and Centraal Station lies the old town with
its busy shopping streets, medieval buildings and varied entertainments,
including the red-light district (in an area known as De Wallen).
Amsterdam has a famously liberal attitude to drugs and sex;
prostitutes – who pay taxes – can be seen openly in windows and some
"coffee shops" sell marijuana legally (take note if you just want a
cappuccino!). However, the De Wallen area is usually busy – particularly
during the day – and reasonably safe, although street drug dealers
should be ignored and the usual precautions taken with regard to
To the southwest of the centre, on the outer
side of the Singelgracht canal, can be found the Museumplein area
boasting 3 major museums, the Concertgebouw (concert hall), Vondelpark
and Leidseplein, another bustling square of shops, restaurants and bars,
not dissimilar to London's Leicester Square. Also worth exploring is the
fashionable, slightly off-beat Jordaan and 9-Streets districts, to the
west of the centre, with their narrow shopping thoroughfares, charming
courtyards and canals.
Holland province. 53km north east of The Hague. 61km north of Rotterdam.
14.5km north east of Schiphol Airport with frequent trains to Amsterdam
Built on 90 islands
on the south side of the River Ij, at its confluence with the River
Amstel, forming a long inlet at the south west corner of Ijsselmeer
(inland sea). Connected to the North Sea by a 27km ship canal.
Places to Stay
Full range from luxurious to modest,
from old-world charm to modern sophistication. Reservations advisable at
any time, especially in tulip season (March to June). You will generally
pay more for a canalside spot.
Things to Do
Daytime: walking tours (guide books from the tourist office), taking in
the city's 7,000 or so listed buildings and monuments; over 40 museums
and 140 art galleries, including the famous Rijks (Dutch masters) which
has an "annexe" at the airport, Van Gogh and Stedelijk (modern art), all
in or near Museumplein (Rijks partially closed for renovation until
2008; Stedelijk similarly closed until mid-2006; main works on display
at other museums); Rembrandt's house; Anne Frank's house; Royal Palace;
diamond-polishing factories; Heineken brewery; Erotic Museum and tours
of red-light district; Madame Tussaud's; Westerkerk church with
panoramic city views from the tower; Nemo science and technology centre;
Hortus Botanicus gardens; Artis Zoo; Tropenmuseum for anthropology;
Vondelpark; canal trips; pedal-boating on canals; ice-skating in winter
(when canals often freeze over); sailing and windsurfing; cycling;
flower shows in spring and autumn.
Nightlife: numerous bars,
clubs, discos, cabarets and a thriving music scene – Rembrandtplein and
Leidseplein are particular night-time hotspots; more than 1,000 Bruine
(brown) cafes (traditional Dutch pubs); rich offering of theatres (some
with shows in English), cinemas and concert halls, especially
Concertgebouw and Muziektheater; walks or boat trips along flood-lit
canals; famous red-light district; casino.
View the Royal Palace
on Dam Square and visit the West Church, with a golden orb, carillon of
47 bells and superb views of the city.
The Royal Palace, overlooking Dam Square
The floating flower
market on the Singel canal is an impressive sight, as are the diamond
cutters and polishers whose expertise can be viewed in traditional
Visitors are really spoilt
for choice from Amsterdam's wealth of high quality museums. For art
visit the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum; for
history don't miss the Anne Frank House, the Maritim Museum and the
Amstelkring; for science try the interactive New Metropolis Museum,
while for a glimpse of a unique Amsterdam lifestyle, step aboard the
Over 700 restaurantes to eat, which tend to be intimate and characterful.
There are a large
amount of Indonesian restaurants and Argentinian steakhouses, plus a
wide range of international options including Chinese, Indian, tapas,
Turkish, Lebanese and Japanese sushi. A very good selection in the
Jordaan district. The Dutch are not known for their own cuisine, except
for pancakes; fish is often heavily on menus, and cheese or cabbage
soup are the local specialities. For a delicious, cheap snack have a falafel
with self serve salad like the locals.
Excellent, with a wide variety throughout the city centre. Main shopping
areas include fashionable PC Hooftstraat and pedestrianised de
Kalverstraat; upmarket shops around Museumkwartier and Spiegelkwartier;
antiques on Nieuwe Spiegelgracht; innumerable small speciality stores in
the lanes of the old town and around Jordaan district. Magna Plaza is a
pleasant shopping centre (one of the few in the city). De Bijenkorf on
Dam Square is a well-established department store. 21 markets including
Cuypstraat, the oldest street market, and Singel Canal's floating flower
Half day: Edam and
windmills; tulip fields (in season); Volendam and Marken. Full day:
Aalmeer flower auction; The Hague and Delft; Alkmaar cheese market;
Brussels and Antwerp.
An excellent network of trams and buses, though Amsterdam is best explored
on foot; Centraal Station is the city's public-transport hub. Circle
tram 20 stops at all the main tourist attractions. A pass allows
unlimited travel on bus, tram and metro (4 lines). Many locals ride
bicycles and these are widely available for hire – although cycling on
the roads can be dangerous. Water and regular taxis (both expensive).
Four ferry boats. If you are taking your car, be aware that parking is
very limited and
it may be better to park outside the city and use public transport.
Amsterdam is a delight to explore on foot, but for the best views take a
boat trip along the historic canals. Alternatively join the locals and
hire a bike, or take advantage of the city's cheap and comprehensive
Who is it for?
Mostly younger crowds may enjoy the relaxed laws;
art lovers will go for the museums and galleries; historians for the
buildings and monuments; couples for the sheer romance. Particularly
attracts British and American visitors.
Various direct flights from the UK
to Amsterdam airport are available at discount rates from your local
airport with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and British Airways. The flight
time to Amsterdam is approx 1 1/2 hours.
Amsterdam is a
strollers and shoppers paradise, with something for everyone. Try the
narrow streets of the historic Jordaan area for charming boutiques and
unusual specialist shops, and the Spiegel Quarter near the Rijksmuseum
for art and antiques.
There is a great choice of high street
stores on the Kalverstraat and for exclusive designer items there is the
PC Hoofstraat. Good buys in Amsterdam include cigars, diamonds, bulbs,
cheese, Delftware and Marken pottery which all make great souvenirs.
There is an amazing choice of restaurants from modest local cafe's
to international restaurants. Amsterdam's thriving cafe society really
comes to life in the summer when pavement cafes fill the streets and
squares, while the traditional Brown Cafes (pubs) will give you a taste
of local social life.
Leidseplein is a lively area, day or night,
and here you will find bars and smoky jazz clubs. Finally, no visit
would be complete without a stroll round the infamous Red Light district
- flagrant but fascinating, it shows yet another aspect of this unique
The Red Light District, Amsterdam
Daily average temperatures (Approx) 'C
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> Amazing Amsterdam lives its life on the street
> Come and
catch the spirit of your warm hosts
> Experience a 'brown cafe'
or join the Dam Square crowd
> Canals, bicycles and trams galore
Take a ride on the trams
> Pulsating night life - not for the