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Your Amsterdam holiday

Amsterdam emerged as a fishing town in the late 12th century – its name taken due to its proximity to a dam on the river Amstel.

During the 15th century, the town saw rapid development and trade innovation, paving the way for the Dutch Golden Age from 1585 to 1672. In this period Amsterdam was a financial hub with the strongest market in the world. The first multinational corporation, The Dutch East India Company, was created in 1602 and soon had a far-reaching geopolitical power.

While Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in the world, the cityscape expanded and changed, and some of the most important buildings were erected, including many of the beautiful canal homes and the former town hall and current Royal Palace in Dam Square. Immigration increased during the 17th century, leading to a deliberate city plan that involved the creation of four major canals that emerged at Amsterdam’s waterfront, the IJ Bay.

Holland’s modern history is marked by the German invasion of the country in May 1940 and the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. The city’s entire Jewish community was nearly wiped out, and with it the city’s historic diamond trade that was mostly controlled by Jewish businessmen.

The cultural openness of the city has roots in Amsterdam’s central role in the 1960s and 1970s as a hippie hub. The 1970s also saw a spike in immigration from Suriname (a former Dutch colony), Morocco, and Turkey.

Best time to take a vacation to Amsterdam

  • Amsterdam has an oceanic climate, which means winters are mild. The best time to travel to Amsterdam is between April and September, when the weather is mild and comfortable. The summer months have an average temperature of 20°C. Spring has an average temperature of 10°C. The winter months have an average temperature of 4°C, while fall has an average temperature of 8°C.

Insider tips for Amsterdam travel

  • Concertgebouw

    Visit this popular historic concert venue to hear the world's most beautiful orchestra concerts and acoustic bands.

    Brasserie Vlaming-Amsterdam

    This casual restaurant that locals patronize regularly serves home-style Dutch fare.

    Gartine

    This top-rated restaurant serves authentic Dutch cuisine. Everything is fresh and prepared to order.

    Greetje

    Greetje serves high-end Dutch cuisine in an exceptionally classic atmosphere. Book ahead of time to reserve a table.

    Alto Jazz Cafe

    Enjoy live jazz at this popular bar.

Amsterdam highlights

  • Ride a Bicycle

    If you want to see Amsterdam the way 40% of its locals do every day, get on a bike. With well-kept bike lanes running through the entire city and respected by drivers, biking in Amsterdam is a safe and environmentally friendly way to see the diversity of neighbourhoods within the city.

    Many places offer rentals for less than €10 a day, and there are a host of bike tours that will take you through town or to the countryside to see the classic Dutch windmills, clog and cheese factories, and some of the natural beauty that surrounds the city.

    Take a Walk

    Take in the vibe of the city by simply strolling. One walk that won’t disappoint is along the Western Canal Belt, where you can peek into cafés, explore museums, and get a good look at the 17th-century architecture of the bridges and building façades.

    Start at the Herenmarkt, a small square featuring the former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company.

    Alternatively, check out Jordaan, the once working-class neighbourhood now home to a number of new art galleries, boutiques, and coffee shops.

    Shop Outdoor Markets

    Head to the world-famous street market, Albert Cuypmarkt, for a chance to savour and take home Dutch cheese, olives, fresh vegetables and fruit, or a sweet syrupy stroopwafel. Crafts, clothing, and even cosmetics and cameras are on sale at low prices. The city’s immigrant population—Surinamese, Turkish, and Moroccan, among others—set up regular stalls as well, making the market a great way to experience the multicultural Amsterdam of today.

    The Noorderkerk market, located in front of the 17th-century Protestant Noorderkerk church, hosts a flea market on Mondays (8am to 2pm) and a bird market on Saturday mornings, followed by a farmers’ market in the afternoon.

    For flower lovers, there is the Singel flower market, which stands on top of two houseboats. Admire a wide variety of tulips, narcissus, and other beauties—or take them home as bulbs.

Top Amsterdam attractions

  • Anne Frank House

    No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to this historic house. Avoid the long lines buy purchasing your ticket online.

    Prinsengracht

    Take a relaxing boat tour on this amazing body of water.

    Openbar Bibliotheek

    This waterside public library has more than 500 free computer stations, three restaurants, and periodicals from across the world.

    The Jordaan

    This neighbourhood offers the charm of New York City's Greenwich Village. Dine, shop, and entertain yourself.

    Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room

    Sample and learn about all the rare cheeses the Netherlands produces.

    Museum Het Rembrandthuis

    Visit the former residence of Rembrandt while viewing his classical artwork.

    Vondelpark

    Take the kids to this historic park built in 1850. Bike, hike, jog, or just enjoy a tasty picnic.

    Tassenmuseum Hendrikje

    This specialty museum showcases the world's best purses and handbags.

    De Negen Straatjes

    This quirky neighbourhood offers clothing stores, galleries, and restaurants.

    Amsterdamse Bos

    Visit one of the largest parks in Europe. The park houses 150 indigenous species of trees and more than 200 species of birds.

  • Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum

    These are two unmissable spots for getting your fill of the art and history of Holland. The Dutch Golden Age is on full display at the prestigious Rijksmuseum, which features classics by Rembrandt and Vermeer, among other famous works.

    The Van Gogh Museum boasts the largest collection of the Post-Impressionist’s work, with more than 200 paintings and 500 drawings that track the artist’s development. From his self-portraits to sunflowers, the collection and other exhibitions show the depth of Vincent Van Gogh’s talent, torment, and influence on 19th-century art.

    Anne Frank House

    Visit the historic home where the 13-year-old Jewish Anne Frank wrote her famous diary, while she and her family hid from Nazi persecution during Germany’s occupation of Holland in 1940. Kept in a similar state as during the war, the home is a memorial to Anne Frank, her family, and the more than 100,000 Dutch Jews sent to concentration camps.

    Vondelpark

    This 120-acre public park is the green jewel of Amsterdam, complete with expansive lawns, bike paths, ponds, and flower gardens. A perfect place for people-watching, the park also hosts an open-air theatre and concerts during June, July, and August. Catch classic and contemporary films at the Netherlands Filmmuseum located in a 19th-century pavilion inside the park.

    Red Light District

    In the city’s Red Light District, known as De Wallen in Dutch, scantily clad women can be seen posing in red window displays offering, well, themselves. At the numerous “coffeeshops” in Amsterdam, the sale and consumption of cannabis is permitted.

    Still, exercise tact, as “drug tourism” has become a concern and many shops keep cannabis menus behind the counter.

    Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday

Where to stay in Amsterdam

  • Old Centre & Central Station

    The Avenue hotel offers both comfort and design with its nine historic buildings featuring unique decoration in every room. Less than half a mile from the city centre, the hotel is complete with wireless Internet access and its own café.

    The newly redesigned Renaissance Hotel, just a short walk from Central Station, welcomes you in after a day of sightseeing with its brand-new lobby, Renaissance Bedding, and HDTV. Enjoy a delicious Mediterranean dinner at the restaurant Scossa, or have a drink at the hotel’s lounge bar, 2B. The Renaissance also hosts catered business events and offers luxury suites and club rooms.

    Canal Belt

    The four-star Albus hotel is a smaller, stylish boutique hotel with spacious rooms and queen-sized beds. Centrally located and easily accessible by trams and trains, the Albus offers a selection of luxury suites complete with a Phillips 32-inch flatscreen, a Nespresso coffee machine, high-speed Internet, and a state-of-the-art Sensiq communication system.

    Vondelpark

    The Bilderberg Garden hotel, steps from the city’s best museums and Vondelpark offers luxury, taste, and an intimate, friendly atmosphere during your time in Amsterdam. Rooms are complete with air-conditioning, robes, slippers, and a mini-bar. The hotel also features the famous French-Mediterranean–style restaurant De Kersentuin, serving both lunch and dinner.

    If you need more choice, check out our Amsterdam hotel offers.

How to move around in Amsterdam

  • Climate

    Amsterdam generally has a cool climate with warm summers. Best time to visit is flower season, April and May, or in the warmer months, June to September.

    Getting Around

    Best bets for transportation are to go on foot, by public transport, or by bike. Driving is discouraged in the city centre as many streets are for pedestrians and bikes only.

    Public transport consists of the GV bus, metro, and tramlines. To ride any and all of them, purchase an OV-chipcard at a station or supermarket.

    Trams run regularly until 12:15 a.m., night buses from midnight to 7 a.m., and the small blue Stop/Go bus from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (it runs through Old City and makes all requested stops).

    Cruises, electric boats, water taxis, and buses traverse the canals, and there are three free ferries that take pedestrians and cyclists over to Amsterdam-Noord across the IJ waterway.

    Think about car hire in Amsterdam if you want to explore the environs of the city. Head out to Volendam, a magnificent little village a few dozen kilometres outside of town.

    From The Airport

    From the Schiphol International Airport, there is a Direct Rail Link that runs every 10 minutes to Amsterdam’s central station for under €5. Purchase tickets before boarding the train to avoid a €40 fine. There are also Connexxion airport shuttles leaving every 10 minutes that service a number of major hotels.

    Dialing code: 00 31 (20) for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam restaurants

  • While frites are more a staple of Holland’s neighbour Belgium, those served at Vlaams Friteshuis (Voetboogstraat 33) have been a favourite in town since 1887. Smothered in mayonnaise, mustard, or a whole host of other special sauces, these freshly made crunchy frites give American French fries and English chips a run for their money.

    As you stroll through Old Town, make sure to pause at De Bakkerswinkel (Warmoesstraat 69). This renowned cafe and bakery is known for its delicious bread, scones, pan au chocolat, and excellent coffee and tea. Serving sandwiches, quiche, and soup in addition to its baked goods, De Bakkerswinkel is a good place for a light lunch on your way to the next sight.

    Located near the hip neighbourhood of Leidseplein is Blue Pepper (Nassaukade 366), a trendy and intimate restaurant featuring modern Indonesian cuisine. Choose from three menus of the day or order a la carte and enjoy such dishes as lamb satay, grilled scallops with black bean sauce, chili dumplings, or banana and caramel fritters.

    This down-to-earth and affordable Dutch-French bar/restaurant is a favourite of locals and visitors alike. Located across a canal from the Anne Frank House, Cafe De Prins is known for its no-frills, friendly atmosphere and quality pub food that goes well with one of the local beers on tap. Try the cheese fondue and, during the summer months, see if you can get a table outside to enjoy a great view of the canals. Though small and often crowded, this local gem is worth the wait.

Health & Safety

  • Health

    The health infrastructure of Holland is excellent, and should you be in need of assistance, you are sure to receive it. Pharmacies are well stocked and open seven days a week. If possible, try and obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before departing home. There are also a number of clinics and public hospitals, and nearly all practitioners speak English.

    Useful Numbers

    Fire or Police Department: Dial 112
    Medical Emergency: Dial (020) 555 55 55
    Amsterdam Foreigners’ Police: (020) 559 63 00 (8:30am to 4pm)
    Clinics and Hospitals: AMC Hospital, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam Zuidoost, (020) 566 91 11. Slotervaartziekenhuis Hospital, Louwesweg 6, Amsterdam, (020) 512 93 33. VU Hospital, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam, (020) 444 44 44.

    Safety

    Amsterdam is a relatively safe city, though caution is necessary in the Red Light District and near Central Station. Keep an eye out for pickpockets and avoid walking alone after dark.. In case of emergency, keep a copy of your travel documents on your person at all time.

    Drugs

    Soft drugs, such as cannabis, are legal for “personal use” in the country. But selling or carrying more than five grams of cannabis can result in fines, and large quantities (over 30 grams) in prison sentences. Hard drugs (LSD, cocaine, and heroin) are strictly forbidden.

Amsterdam Holiday Packages

Hotel only £47.20

1 Golden Tulip Amsterdam West

4 stars
4.4 / 5 33 reviews

Molenwerf 1 Map

Sophistication and convenience set in the heart of NetherlandsWhether in the Netherlands capital for business or leisure, visitors find convenient base in Golden Tulip Amsterdam West with... More

Hotel only £62.13

2 Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Centre

4 stars
3.9 / 5 38 reviews

Nieuwezijds Kolk 19 Map

City centre snoozingLocated in a pedestrian zone, the Inntel Hotel Amsterdam Centre is centrally located, with major attractions within walking distance. The hotel features a daily breakfast... More

Hotel only £102.13

3 Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam

5 stars
4.4 / 5 165 reviews

Prins Hendrikkade 108 Map

Stay 3 nights and get 15% off

Art Deco Hotel by the Canal The Grand Hotel Amrath is housed in a beautiful old shipping building, styled by hand-wrought brickwork, beautiful statues and elegant ironwork. Large windows allow... More

Hotel only £72.95

4 Hampshire Hotel - Amsterdam American

4 stars
3.7 / 5 41 reviews

Leidsekade 97 Map

Book in advance and save 10%

Enjoy history in the heart of AmsterdamThe Eden American Hotel Amsterdam is a unique hotel in a city full of historic monuments. In fact the building itself is an officially listed monument. The... More

Hotel only £73.68

5 Bilderberg Garden Hotel Amsterdam

5 stars
4.0 / 5 48 reviews

Dijsselhofplantsoen 7 Map

Free wifi and Nespresso

A breath of fresh air near the historic centre The Bilderberg Garden Hotel Amsterdam is located near the historic city centre of Amsterdam and surrounded by open, green spaces. The intimate... More

Hotel only £46.54

6 Grand Hotel Downtown Amsterdam

4 stars
4.1 / 5 34 reviews

Eerste Constantijn Huygenstraat 10A Map

This 4-star Amsterdam hotel is found between Museum Square and Leidse Square, within walking distance of most attractions. Situated between Leidseplein and Vondelpark, Grand Hotel Downtown... More

Hotel only £88.84

7 Movenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre

4 stars
4.4 / 5 31 reviews

Piet Heinkade 11 Map

Save 10% on your stay

Relax by the water’s edgeThe Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre combines excellence of service, design and functionality in creating a hotel that is ideal for working travellers and tourists... More

Hotel only £60.09

8 WestCord City Centre Hotel Amsterdam

3 stars
4.0 / 5 21 reviews

Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 50 Map

Trendy, bright, welcoming guest rooms in the heart of the cityWestcord City Centre Amsterdam is a centrally-located hotel and an ideal base for travellers who want to explore this historical,... More

Hotel only £60.51

9 Die Port van Cleve Hotel Amsterdam

4 stars
3.6 / 5 67 reviews

Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 176 Map

Stay 2 nights get 10% discount

Enjoy elegant, old-world Amsterdam at this historic, centrally located charmerJust blocks from the historic, breathtaking Dam Square stands the Die Port van Cleve Hotel, a classic 121-room tribute... More

Hotel only £78.21

10 De Roode Leeuw Hotel Amsterdam

4 stars
3.8 / 5 57 reviews

Damrak 93-94 Map

Fall Sale! Stay 5+ nights Pay 20% Less

Right in the heart of everything Amsterdam Hotels in Amsterdam don't come much more centrally located than the Hotel Amsterdam De Roode Leeuw, which is right in the middle of the financial,... More

Hotel only £71.42

11 Bilderberg Jan Luyken Hotel Amsterdam

4 stars
4.1 / 5 37 reviews

Jan Luykenstraat 58 Map

Includes Free WIFI and pure herbs bath products

Take on the town from an original townhouse The Bilderberg Jan Luyken hotel is in the hub of Amsterdam's historical city centre, with tourist attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum just steps... More

Hotel only £52.98

12 Hotel Arena Amsterdam

4 stars
3.8 / 5 39 reviews

S Gravesandestraat 51 Map

Distinctive decor and urban convenience meet at this Amsterdam hotelThe Arena Hotel Amsterdam presents a distinctive decor to guests, showcasing the contrasting colours of black and white in... More

Hotel only £82.28

13 Swissotel Amsterdam

4 stars
4.2 / 5 82 reviews

Damrak 96 Map

Haven for the heart in central AmsterdamA quiet and comforting hotel in the heart of Amsterdam's historic city centre, the Swissotel Amsterdam is ideally situated. Whether guests are travelling on... More

Hotel only £53.63

14 WestCord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam

4 stars
4.1 / 5 32 reviews

Hendrikje Stoffelsstraat 1 Map

Stay in styleThe WestCord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam is located near Amsterdam's World Fashion Centre and just 10 minutes away from central Amsterdam via public transport. Seven conference rooms... More

Hotel only £73.08

15 Albus Hotel Amsterdam City Centre

4 stars
3.7 / 5 34 reviews

Vijzelstraat 49 Map

Style, elegance and a central city locale mark this boutique gemThe chic, cosmopolitan Albus Hotel Amsterdam City Centre is the ideal destination for travelers looking for style and elegance... More