The low down on Amsterdam’s highs
Treats, chills and hidden thrills
Touch down at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and light the touch paper of your Dutch adventure. From the laid-back to the full-on, Amsterdam is a city that doesn’t do things by halves. Quaint or edgy, artsy or low key, you’ll fall in love with this city’s split personality. Chill in the coffee shops, idle down the network of canals, pedal over the cobbles or revel in an artistic dazzle that veers from masterpiece to modern.
When should I book flights to Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is cool whatever the season. Choosing ‘when’ depends on the mood you want to catch her in. Spring is for calm, for flowers and for art. Summer is for partying and festivals. Winter is for shopping, culture and the magical sparkle of the festive season. The crowds are thinnest in late autumn or just before the tulips bloom in March. That’s when you’ll get the best flight deals. If you want a real bargain, then timing is everything. Book flights to Amsterdam around 4 months before you go, and you can save almost a third of your fare.
Where can I fly to Amsterdam from?
With Amsterdam just a short hop over the North Sea, you’ll find every UK carrier has a fat roster of flights. Dutch airline KLM tops the list, with routes from cities such as Cardiff and Southampton. Plenty of Easyjet’s orange-tailed planes buzz over to Amsterdam, too. They offer flights from all London Airports, as well as Edinburgh, Belfast and Bristol. And of course British Airways keeps the flag flying from Heathrow and Gatwick. It’s an easy trip to make – allow 90 minutes from Edinburgh and just an hour from London.
Try our new Airport Guide to find all the different transport options from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam
Getting from Schiphol to Amsterdam
There's no need to jump on a bike here (unless you want to). Public transport-mad Amsterdam makes sure your trip from Schiphol is simple, quick and cheap. Catch a train at the airport and you’ll be at Centraal Station in 20 minutes – and just €3.90 lighter in your pocket. Or hop on to the Amsterdam Airport Express bus and watch the sights whizz by for €5. If you want to arrive as chilled as the local coffeeshop, hail a taxi to take you straight to your hotel porch. It might cost you €50, but your driver will give you the low-down on all of Amsterdam’s many highlights.
Do things differently in Amsterdam
Time spent in Amsterdam can mean serious play time – from the heady atmosphere of its coffeeshops, to a stroll among the red-lit canals of De Wallen. Not everyone wants to walk on the wild side of the canal, though. And Amsterdam does chocolate-box pretty, too. Bounce around the Old Centre on a bike to see dreamy canals, arched, white bridges and hidden gems like the Esnoga synagogue. Then be wowed by the visual goodies on offer at the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum. Peace can be found in the cloisters of the Begijnhof, and sombre insight in the museum of Anne Frank’s House.
Amsterdam When to Go
Most of the city’s 3three million to 4 four million annual visitors come in the summer months between June and September. June sees the longest days, with the sun rising just after 5 a.m. and setting after 10 p.m. Evenings on the canals are particularly beautiful, with the bridges decorated with fairy lights and the sky a peacock blue. And while the streets are busy, they don’t throng with visitors as they do in peak months. The summer festival season kicks off in June with the Holland Festival of classical and contemporary music and a string of cultural events in Vondelpark, the city’s largest green space.
July and August are Amsterdam’s busiest months, with the longest queues at museums and galleries. These are the sunniest months as well, though temperatures rarely climb out of the seventies and drop into the low fifties in the evenings. During the Grachtenfestival canal festival in mid-August, waterside concerts pop up at some 100 makeshift venues throughout the city.
Autumns are cool and damp, with overcast skies and frequent rain showers. Winters run from November through March and, though generally quite mild, bring sporadic flurries of snow. The mercury rarely drops below 30. During these months, Amsterdam is almost empty of visitors, except for the annual High Times Cannabis Cup in November and for Oudejaarsavond (New Year's Eve), when the city holds one of northern Europe’s bawdiest parties.
Spring is a great time to visit Amsterdam. Between late March and May, Holland’s famous tulips are in bloom, most spectacularly in the vast Keukenhof gardensGardens, where beds are a riot of brilliant reds, blues, and pinks. And in April, the city hosts its biggest annual festival, Koninginnedag (Queen's Day).
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