It’s not difficult to see why Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular city-break destinations. With a surprise around every corner, you never know what you might discover.
Situated in the province of North Holland, this city is not only the political capital of the country, but also one the cultural capitals of Europe. It truly lives up to this reputation! Take a bike ride around the canals, have your mind blown by the fascinating history museums, and sample a pint of Heineken in the brewery where it was first created.
Where is it? The Netherlands
Nearest airport: Amsterdam (Schiphol)
Main train/bus station(s): Amsterdam Centraal/Amsterdam Sloterdijk Coach station
Best time to visit? Go off-season if you want to avoid the crowds (Autumn-Spring). July and August (especially weekends) are extremely busy and can be very expensive.
Budget level? £££
How long should I go for? Most people stay in Amsterdam for 2-4 nights. Depending on the length of your trip, you might choose to have more or less, but we recommend at least two as there’s loads to see and do (plus it’s possible you might lose a morning or two to your hangover…).
Brush up on your history knowledge with a trip to the Anne Frank Museum. You’ll visit the real-life hidden annex of the famous diary-keeper, but book as far as possible in advance as it sells out early. No tickets are available on the door.
Perhaps one of the most famous attractions of Amsterdam – the Red Light District is sure to give you something to talk about on the way home! It’s one of the world’s most infamous districts, but beyond that there are plenty of awesome nightlife spots to be discovered. Don’t forget to put your cameras away though, photography isn’t allowed here.
Follow the adventure of a bottle of beer through the factory and immerse yourself in the Heineken experience as the smell of hops fills the air. As one of the most famous gastronomic institutions in the city, it’s a truly unmissable experience for anyone, not just beer lovers!
Head to the top of the tower for an incredible view over the city and, if you’re brave enough, have a go on the swing which goes right over the edge of the building. There’s a bar up there if you fancy soaking in the view for a while. The tower is on the opposite side of the water to most hotels and hostels, so you’ll likely need to hop on a free ferry from behind the main station.
It’s easy to spend hours relaxing in this enormous park in the city, complete with cycle paths and a lake. It’s also right next to a trio of art museums on Museumplein – the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum containing tons of paintings and the Stedalijk Museum of modern art.
If you want to make the most of Amsterdam’s awesome nightlife then there’s no shortage of buzzing bars and clubs to visit. A lot of the party scene is centred around Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein, so head here for a night to remember. Just remember not to drink on the streets or you could end up with a hefty fine.
The Freedam walking tour starts from the Old Church in the heart of the Red Light district and packs a ton of fascinating history and local information into the 2.5 hour tour. It departs at 11am, 1pm and 2pm every day.
If you’d rather see the city from the water then why not take a canal cruise? You’ll get an audio guide and a unique view of the city’s highlights.
Amsterdam is well-connected by train and coach. You can get the Eurostar direct from London, and you’re also well-positioned for onward journeys to France, Germany, Belgium, and further afield. In most cases, you’ll arrive and depart from Amsterdam Centraal – the main station.
Amsterdam Schiphol is one of the biggest airports in Europe and is very well connected to most major cities. Get from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal quickly by taking a Sprinter train, which runs every 10 minutes.
Amsterdam is as big a city as you’d expect for a capital. The public transport is excellent though, so don’t worry about getting from A to B. Trams and the metro run regularly until about midnight and night buses run later. Lots of the tourist attractions are in the centre though, so, if you prefer to walk, most places can be reached in under 45 minutes on foot.