Amsterdam Travel Guide
There are more canals in Amsterdam than in Venice. But do not let this fool you. The city has as many facets as a 40-carat diamond polished by one of the city’s gem cutters, from the capital and spiritual “downtown” of a nation ingrained with the principles of tolerance, to a veritable Babylon of old-world charm. While impressive gabled houses bear witness to the Golden Age of the 17th century, their upside-down reflections in the city’s canals, symbolize and magnify Amsterdam’s contradictions.
Best Time to visit Amsterdam
Best time to visit Amsterdam is from mid March to early May, when tulip bulbs flourish, and during the summer, when everybody goes outdoors, filling up the parks, canals and cafes to enjoy the sunshine. Plus, during the summer there is a variety of cultural events and festivals.
The best time in Amsterdam for sightseeing without worries of others getting in the way of your view, is in late autumn and throughout the winter months, Christmas holidays excluded. If this is too cold for you, visit Amsterdam in May, early June, mid September and October, with moderate crowds and more sunny days. The best time for shopping is January and July with huge discounts up to 70%, as all shops want to clear out their inventory.
Don’t miss the chance to visit Amsterdam on King’s Day, the world’s largest street party (takes place on the 27th of April), when everybody is dressed in orange celebrating the birthday of the king, in the streets and canals of the city. There are also large-scale, DJ and artist-driven events at the outskirts of the city, like Kingsland Festival Amsterdam. Book your accommodation well in advance, since Amsterdam is fully booked on that day.
Kings Day Celebrations
Accommodation in Amsterdam
The city of Amsterdam is one of the top European short-break destinations. Hotel rates are moderate during spring and autumn, when the city is less crowded. If you don’t mind low temperatures and cold winds, winter has the lowest hotel prices. Hotels are especially busy in top periods such as Summer, Easter and Christmas.
If you are traveling on a budget, stay away from the city centre, as prices are high especially during high season. Look for hotels near Amsterdam Central Station or Jordan district, which are located only 20 minutes away from city centre, or choose from plenty of hostels and dorms. It’s always better to book in advance for best rates.
Book your stay in Amsterdam using the map below or visit booking.com
Things to do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 7,000 registered historic buildings. The city has an amazing collection of museums and the most popular ones get very crowded in the summer peak season, so get your tickets in advance.
Rijksmuseum is the country’s national museum, with a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and The Stedelijk Museum is all about modern art, contemporary art and design. Visit also the Hermitage Museum, the largest satellite branch of the famous museum from Saint Petersburg, or check Madame Tussauds to see your favourite stars cast in wax.
Take a walk around Vondelpark which stands out for it’s size and lively atmosphrere or take a one of two hour canal cruise with commentary on the surroundings, or even cruise the canals yourself with a pedal or rented boat.
Visit the Red Light District with many sex shops and peep show bars, or one of Amsterdam’s 250 Coffee Shops, that sell cannabis products.
Top Tours & Activities in Amsterdam
Shopping in Amsterdam
With everything from multi-store department stores and exclusive boutiques to antiques and contemporary Dutch design, Amsterdam inspires even the most discerning shopper. In Amsterdam’s city centre you will find the two main shopping streets, Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat, with exclusive shops like Paul Warmer, Filippa K, Shoebaloo and outlets like H&M, Zara, Esprit and Pull & Bear. The P.C. Hooftstraatis Amsterdam’s most exclusive shopping street, featuring high-end brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, DKNY and Mulberry.
Famous Dutch designers like lingerie guru Marlies Dekkers, have shops on the Cornelis Schuytstraat. For art galleries, jewelers, boutiques and vintage stores, head to De Negen Straatjes, located in the heart of the city’s historic canal district. The best known department stores are situated near Dam Square: De Bijenkorf offers a broad selection of high-end brands and Magna Plaza accommodates lots of trendy shops. With such a wide range of shops Amsterdam is a great shopping destination.
Where to eat in Amsterdam
There is a large diversity of restaurants in Amsterdam, especially if you are looking for Asian cuisine, and although some of it is tailored to the fairly bland local tastes, it is possible to find quite fiery food if you look for it. The influence of the Dutch colonial past is apparent, as can be seen in the wide array of Indonesian and Surinamese restaurants. As in other cities with a large number of tourists, better value can often be found in streets that are not main tourist corridors.
Most Asian restaurants are clustered at the Zeedijk near the Nieuwmarkt and it is often dubbed as Amsterdam’s Chinatown. It’s also home to many tokos, small Asian grocery stores that sell Eastern food and spices. Chinatown offers plenty of Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants, usually good value. Indonesian restaurants are usually of excellent quality, but Indian ones can be expensive. For a budget meal, check out the various Middle Eastern restaurants around the Damstraat and Muntplein. The numerous falafel bars have a good value, often sporting an “all you can pile” salad bar.
Top Restaurants in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has a great nightlife and one of Europe’s largest and most vibrant gay scenes. Many clubs are situated around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein in the Canal District, but you can find nightclubs in Oost and near the Westerpark. DJs keep the crowd going with everything from techno, dub step and trance, to hip-hop, funk and deep house.
Lounge and designer bars pop-up across the city catering to the city’s younger and more trend susceptible crowd. If you’re a beer lover consider visiting a beer shop or tasting room in the Binnenstad or the brewery in Plantage. There are some excellent beers you can get from this part of the world, such as wheat beer (witbeer).