holiday in Amsterdam?
A mesmerizing, characterful and tolerant city latticed with 17th
century canals, humming with bicycles and studded with towering
medieval buildings and wonderful museums, Amsterdam walks a narrow
line between sublimely straight and ridiculously bent, catering
admirably to both culture vultures and Potman Pat party people.
There's considerable raucous and disruptive stag night carousing in
• The Dutch are mainly honest but drug tourists or East Europeans
may have sticky fingers.
• The weather changes in an instant; beware the chill wind!
for Bulb fields, April for National Museum Week, 30th of April for
the wildly OTT Orange Festival)
Avoid: December- February
But... although winter is cold, days are short and often damp
and grey, there's wonderful canal skating if it's cold enough,
and if not Amsterdam is loaded with indoor attractions like museums
and coffee shops.
Current Amsterdam temperature and time.
Things to Do
This is a superb strolling or biking city, with endless scenic canal views; veg out on a canal boat when the cobbles have worn your
shoes through. The bargain price 'Museumboot' (boat) stops at
about 40 museums.
Must-sees are: The Jordaan district for real, tourist-free, Dutch
living with lovely canals, good restaurants, entertaining little
shops and an excellent flea market (at Looiersgracht); Begijnhof
(a square of very old and beautiful buildings), Oude Kerk (a stunning
14th century church in the red light district), Koninklijk Paleis
(a royal palace you can wander); the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh museums
for the best of Dutch art; Anne Frank Huis (for a look at World
War II realia - living behind a bookcase for two years).
And don't forget to visit the bars, coffee shops and red light
district - tacky but fascinating. The best place for coffee shops
Netherlands is a very small, packed country with very efficient
public transport so there are a lot of Amsterdam short trip possibilities
(less than one hour) including...
Schans, gorgeous old wooden houses 20mins from the 'Dam; Delft (a well preserved ancient town of famous blue & white pottery);
Bloemenveiling (flower auction); the Barrier Dam; Edam (a medieval
Hague (a smart, interesting business and political centre with
a decent beach); Rotterdam (a funky port); Keukenhof Gardens, March- May (a superb flower park
- take the train to Leiden,
then a bus).
January, if canals are frozen, 'Eleven Cities Journey' skating
mid March, Blues Festival, 2 days.
*April 30, Orange (Queens) Day, is the city's biggest, widlest street party.
May, 2nd Sat, Windmill day
end of May, Drum Rhythm Festival (indoors)
*June, Holland Festival (varied arts)
mid July, North Sea Jazz Festival (weekend only)
Sept, 1st Sat, Flower Parades
Nov, 2nd or 3rd Sat, Sinterklaas Parade
Nov, Cannabis Cup competition
For some precise dates or more information see: European
Festivals or Arts
There is a huge range of restaurants and cafes for every
taste and budget in Amsterdam. Indonesian is particularly good
due to the ex-Dutch colonies in SE Asia.
The best weird experience is the Indonesian 'Rijsttafel' (rice
It's also worth visiting traditional pubs ('Brown Cafe') such
as De Dokter.
Trivia: New York, USA, was called New Amsterdam until the Great Britain took control; similarly the Australian continent used
to be known as New Holland.
The Netherlands is generally safe, but the extremely liberal attitude
of the Dutch has attracted some undesirables so stay away from dodgy
non-tourist areas and take the usual precautions.
Bag snatching (by East Europeans) happens on trains, especially
those from Amsterdam to/from Schipol Airport, is quite common.
Museums and Galleries
fantastic choice for all tastes including the superb Van Gogh
Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Rembrandt
House, Sex Museum, Cannabis Museum and Anne Frank's House among
Note the bargain price 'Museumboot' (boat) stops at about 40 museums.
Classical Music, Dance, Opera and Theatre
Amsterdam is home to fine orchestras e.g. Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra, superb opera e.g. at Muziektheater and stunning, varied
theatre e.g. at the Carré Theatre.
For English information on (and tickets to) most entertainment
and cultural activities in the city go to the AUB (Amsterdam Uitburo/council
culture office) in Stadsschouwburg theatre on Leidseplein.
Alternatively visit the VVV (tourist information) office.
Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk (churches) hold magnificent organ music
concerts and Vondelpark open-air theater is excellent in summertime.
Live Music and Clubs
an everchanging mix of great clubs featuring every kind of music
imaginable, from rave to jazz to world music.
Check 'Time Out Amsterdam', 'What's On' or 'Arena' - in English
- for event information and listings.
Bijenkorf department store; Kalverstraat, Nieuwendijk and Leidsestraat
for boutiques and department stores; the Spiegel quarter for books
and antiques; Singel Canal for the floating flower market; diamond
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