Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam. Photo by zak mc.
Short Trips out of town
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. . .
Zaans 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 town); The 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 marathon.
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
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 table) speciality.
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.