In Amsterdam, you’ll definitely need to know one word: gracht. It means “canal,” and with over 160 of them, they’re very important for navigating the city. “The Venice of the North” has more water within its city limits than its southern cousin; its name even means “Dam in a Watery Area” (not very catchy, we admit). Hotels in Amsterdam are just the beginning of your exploration of this unique and charismatic city.
Things to Do in Amsterdam
The big draw in Amsterdam is its museums, and with accommodation near the Museum Quarter, you’ll have your very own time machine. At the Rijksmuseum, see art from the Middle Ages to the present day, including paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer; plus, you’re sure to give a “ship” about the historical objects, like the stern of the HMS Royal Charles from the English Civil Wars. Then, you’ll be all ears at the Van Gogh Museum, one of the most popular in the world, and you can return to the present day at the Stedelijk Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s so much to see here, you’ll wish you had a real time machine!
North of the Museum Quarter, don’t hide from the Anne Frank House and Museum, the safe house where she wrote her famous diary. Take a tour to see the Secret Annex for yourself, then visit the museum to see the diary, plus original drawings and photographs. If you’re feeling a little somber, brighten up your day with a visit to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, or stop by a coffee shop for a little pick-me-up before heading back to your Amsterdam accommodation.
Getting To & Around Amsterdam
Flights to Amsterdam will land at Airport Schiphol (AMS), the Netherlands’ main international airport. You can hook up with the train directly under the airport for travel directly to Amsterdam Centraal station in the city centre, or you can take one of the numerous bus lines to your destination. Once you’ve made it to your accommodation in Amsterdam, the city’s excellent public transport—and compact size—make it easy to get around without car hire. There are also tons of bike paths, so you can ditch the motor altogether and see the sights like a local.
Best Time to Travel
The ideal months for Amsterdam holidays depend on what comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands: Do you think of Sinterklaas, tulips, or slightly cheekier activities? Holland celebrates Christmas in early December, and it is spectacular: Parades, parties and decorations fill the city. April sees the landscape pushing up tulips, which add a pop of colour and make for beautiful photo ops; plus, April has Queen’s Day, the Dutch independence day, and is the driest month. No matter when you end up visiting, Amsterdam is sure to charm you.
If you’re ready to learn fun words like apetrots and stroopwafel, check out Wotif’s selection of Amsterdam hotels and book today. You’ll be really proud (apetrots) when you find caramel-filled waffles (stroopwafel) with no problems.
There are only eight windmills left in greater Amsterdam; a tour to Volendam and Marken will take you on a tour of two Dutch fishing villages, and onward to see the traditional Dutch windmills and polders. Sampling two famous cheeses, Gouda and Edam may put you in the mood for putting on some clogs, or klompen as they are known in Dutch.
Cutting edge couture
When you think of Amsterdam, fashion might not immediately spring to mind, especially if you have just klomped around in a pair of clogs. However, the city is quickly establishing itself as an alternative to the established catwalks of Paris and Milan. Blending practical tailoring and offbeat accessories, it has an ageless appeal and may just encourage you to dive into the nearest boutique for an asymmetrical bag or tilted hat. Try Van Baerlestraat for boutiques, P.C. Hooftstraat for high-end labels, and the Waterlooplein flea market for bargains.
Something that may already have your attention is Amsterdam's profusion of coffee shops. In another display of the city's open-mindedness, (and despite recent changes in smoking laws) cannabis is likely to be on the menu. If fruit teas and aromatic smoke aren't for you, the cafes are still worth visiting for their distinctive atmosphere and the convivial conversation. Head to the botanical gardens to find out what a 400-year-old potted plant looks like, and take a restful stroll in the subtropical house and medicinal herb garden.
The tragic story of Anne Frank is retold in a museum dedicated to her life and linked to the house in which she and her family hid from Nazi persecution. It was here that Anne wrote her diary, which was eventually published and has become one of the world's most widely read books. Other notable museums are the Rijksmuseum, which features the masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age, and the Van Gogh Museum, which has the largest collection of his paintings in the world.
Capturing the canals
In contrast to the colorful red light district, a candlelight cruise along the canals will provide a more reserved evening of entertainment. Illuminated at night, the 17th century bridges will have you reaching for your camera, and the Reguliersgracht is perhaps the most photographed stretch of water in Amsterdam. Hop on one of the many trams to Leidseplein to enjoy snazzy cocktail lounges and cool clubs, and join the in-crowd to dance the night away. Hide