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Travel Guide – Amsterdam

Meandering canals. Locals on bikes zooming by. Colourful tulip gardens. Busy boulevards full of excitement. It might feel like there is too much to see in Amsterdam thanks to the many things it’s known for. But don’t let that put you off; all these things and more come together to make it one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations and this travel guide to Amsterdam gives you the best sights to see. A city as rich in culture and history as it is in modern excitement Amsterdam has something for absolutely everyone.

Giving the city much of its character are the canals that radiate outward starting at the Central Station. Do it the Dutch way and rent a bike for a relaxed waterside ride or charter a boat for a more romantic ride. Cycle your way through one of the numerous tulip gardens showing off hundreds of varieties of Holland’s most famous export. Pick up some bulbs at the impossibly colourful Flower Market on Singel canal.

Being a city of culture with such a rich history, Amsterdam’s offering of museums is staggering. Visit the Anne Frank House to understand first-hand the tragic wartime story of this young heroine. Follow it up with a trip to the Rijksmuseum and see some of the world’s most iconic works of art from the old Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer and van Gogh. If you still want more, try out the Rembrandt House museum, the Stedelijk museum or the National Maritime Museum for a view of this city’s connection with the seas.

When you’re ready for a refreshing break, learn how one of the world’s most popular beers is made at the Heineken Experience, one of the most popular sights in Amsterdam. The entry price includes a fascinating tour of a Heineken brewery and of course, a beer tasting. Only a 15-minute walk away, kick back and relax with the locals in the Vondelpark, by far Amsterdammers’ favourite city spot for sunshine and green grass.

There are many exciting things to see and do near Amsterdam and with getting around this small country being so easy, day trips are very easy to do.

Zaanse Schans Windmills – This quaint Dutch town is home to a pretty family of windmills spinning slowly in the breeze. Only 20km from central Amsterdam.

Keukenhof Tulip Gardens – Nicknamed “the Garden of Europe”, this massive flower and plant garden is one of the largest on earth, with millions of bulbs being planted each year to bring an explosion of vibrant colour each spring. Definitely a thing to see near Amsterdam.

Rotterdam – Almost completely leveled in World War II this culturally vibrant city is also Europe’s largest port. Stop by for a change of pace from Amsterdam and enjoy seaside life.

Brussels – The seat of European government and all things official, don’t let the stuffy-sounding parts scare you off from a visit to the capital of Belgium. Just a few hours away by high-speed train, you can arrive in time for breakfast waffles.

Though the area most frequented by tourists is tight and compact, there is a lot shopping in Amsterdam, large and small. Big brands and small boutiques offer their wares to the keen shopper.

Kalverstraat – Arguably Amsterdam’s main shopping street, it hosts two shopping centres and several department stores like V&D and Bonneterie as well as a variety of well-known chains.

Flower Market - An incredibly large array of flowers, bulbs, seeds and plants are displayed in full bloom here aside a pretty canal.

P.C.Hooftstraat – Come here for your luxury brand needs as you’ll find all of the fanciest names all in one place.

Local markets – Seemingly any type of product can be found at one of the many markets in Amsterdam - antiques at Antiekcentrum, fresh produce at Boerenmarkt and second-hand clothes and fashion at the Waterlooplein flea market. A very different style of shopping in Amsterdam!

There are many popular examples of Dutch cuisine that you may already know and many more that you might not and food & drink in Amsterdam is a real treat. Sample something really traditional to get a true taste of Amsterdam

Maatjesharing – Pickled herring, best enjoyed like the Dutch do - with finely chopped onion and pickle dangled into the mouth.

Cheese – Gouda and Edam are very well known Dutch cheese but there are other varieties with a range of flavours waiting to be enjoyed, like Maasdam and Leyden.

Bitterballen – Satisfying balls of savoury beef and herbs crumbed and deep fried. A bar-stool favourite.

Stroopwafel – A layer of sticky sweet syrup sandwiched between two thin, chewy waffle layers. Very sweet!

Poffertjes – A popular snack food in Amsterdam, these small pancakes are fried until crisp and sprinkled with icing sugar.

Beer – The Dutch are known for their love of beer and many homegrown brands like Heineken and Amstel are known around the world. However, there is a whole world of Dutch beers waiting for you to try, from dark ales and porters to fresh new lagers.

Coffee – Enjoyed widely and available across the city in its many cafes and eateries. The local version of Café au lait, Koffie Verkeerd, can be enjoyed any time of day.

Wines & Spirits – International and local styles freely available. Try Jenever, a traditional Dutch juniper infusion reminiscent of gin.

Amsterdam’s streets are naturally restricted by the canals they follow, which means narrow roads and a lot of congestion. Luckily this also means that foot-friendly means of getting around are very much accommodated for. All public transport in Amsterdam run on the GVB joint ticketing system, making getting around a breeze.

By foot – The city is compact with most tourist destinations within walking distance of each other. Pedestrians are well catered to with most streets having a footpath. Avoid walking in the bike lanes as this isn’t appreciated in bike-mad Amsterdam.

By bike – Famous as a city of bikes it should be no surprise how much of Amsterdam you can see like a local on two wheels. Bikes can be rented from many vendors and there is a bike-sharing system available.

By car – Driving in Amsterdam is not advisable, especially in the densely-crowded city centre. Once out of the city driving is fine and roads are of a very high standard.

By metro – Mostly serving the suburbs, there is a small section covering the downtown area.

By tram – Trams run through the city centre and have many routes, making them an attractive option for getting around quickly.

By boat – whether for fun or to get from place to place, small ferryboats carry passengers along the waterways on set routes.

Currency – Euro (€).

Electricity – 230 volts, 50hz, European type-C plug.

Tips – Not expected but welcomed.

Payment / card – Accepted everywhere but have cash for markets and street stalls.

Time zone – CET / UTC+1.

Water – Safe to drink everywhere.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)

The airport is located 15km southwest of Amsterdam.

  • Finnair flights: Terminal 3
  • Check-in opens 2 hours before departure
  • Check-in closes 45 minutes before departure

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