Amsterdam Holidays

The vibrant Dutch capital

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is without a doubt one of Europe’s most appealing cities. A beguiling blend of historic canals, world-class culture, art and plenty more besides, it’s a real crowd pleaser. Its Unesco-protected canal network dates back to the 17th century, and there’s no better way to see them – and the stately houses that line their paths – than by boat. It’s also a great way to get your bearings and pick which neighbourhoods to explore, such as arty Jordaan or De Pijp – home to lots of independent boutiques, cafés and bars.

Amsterdam holidays are great for travellers who like to be kept busy. Culture vultures should start at Museumplein, home to the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum. It’s also worth embracing Amsterdam’s cosier side, holing up in one of its cute canalside cafés and exploring the city’s numerous parks, including the largest, the Vondelpark.

Holidays to Amsterdam can be a real feast for the taste buds – try Dutch delicacies such as raw herring, Gouda cheese and gooey Stroopwafels, while by night the city comes to life – pick from bars, pubs, live music and restaurants. And, if you fancy discovering the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam, its technicolour tulip fields, picture-postcard windmills and dramatic coastline are all easily reached from the city. There’s no doubt about it, this energetic city charms on every level.

All resorts in Amsterdam

Exploring Amsterdam

Three tips for a top trip

Get on your bike

Amsterdam is a cyclist’s dream, and exploring on two wheels is one of the best ways to get around. Hire a bike, or book yourself onto a guided cycle tour.

Venture north

Take a quick ferry from the back of Amsterdam’s Central Station to the city’s sometimes-overlooked northern area and check out its cool cafés and restaurants.

Visit the Vondelpark

Close to the museum district, Amsterdam’s largest park is a delight to walk around, during all seasons. Typically a number of al fresco events and concerts are held in summer.

Best attractions to see in Amsterdam

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

The Van Gogh Museum houses more than a thousand artefacts – spanning paintings, drawings and letters – from the world-famous Dutch Impressionist painter, including one of his renowned Sunflowers paintings.

Tulip fields

The Netherlands is celebrated for its tulip season, from March until May. Visit Amsterdam’s floating flower market, or head to the fields of the Bollenstreek region to see them in bloom.

Canal houses

Don’t miss the narrow, multi-storey houses that line Amsterdam’s canals. Many of these picturesque abodes were built in the 17th century to house wealthy merchant families.

Your Amsterdam questions, answered

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, and is located to the west of this European country. To the east of the Netherlands you’ll find Germany, to the south, Belgium.
The ‘Venice of the North’ has 165 canals – which stretch for more than 100 kilometres in total – and over 1,000 bridges. Well-known canals include the Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and the Singel.
Amsterdam is a year-round city-break destination, and there are cultural events and things to do whenever you visit. March to May are the most popular times to see the tulips in bloom, and the weather is usually mild. September and October also offer mild weather, and there are fewer crowds. Summer brings in a lot of tourists, so it’s worth booking your Amsterdam holiday well in advance to get the best price, and to book attractions in advance to avoid the queues. Amsterdam is cosy and charming in the winter, with a Christmas market held in December.
While Amsterdam isn’t considered a beach destination, there are a surprising number of beaches just a short train or bus ride away. During the summer months, a train runs from Amsterdam to Zandvoort aan Zee, which takes about 25 minutes, and you can enjoy a lively beach with golden sands. Amsterdam-Noord is on the metro and has a small lakefront beach where you can swim, while Bloemendaal is about an hour from the city, with a long beach with lots of bars and restaurants that give it a party atmosphere.
There’s all manner of things to see and do within easy reach of Amsterdam. Consider the medieval city of Haarlem, the Keukenhof flower gardens and the Zaanse Schans windmills.
Some of Amsterdam’s most famous dishes are sold on stalls by the roadside. Raw herring is a popular delicacy, and meat croquettes are sold everywhere, filled with duck or chicken. You’ll often see locals enjoying cones of chips with fritessaus; a type of mayonnaise, or bitterballen which are deep-fried meatballs. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll find plenty of chocolatey and sugary treats to sample. Try Dutch pancakes, often sold covered in powdered sugar or syrup, or stroopwafels, which are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee.
As a major European city, Amsterdam has a diverse food scene, with both local and international cuisine on offer. Street food is popular, with stalls selling Dutch classics, and there are also lots of fast-food places that serve the country’s deep-fried favourites, from fries to croquettes. There are restaurants offering dishes from around the world, with everything from cheap eats to fine dining, so it’s easy to find something to suit your budget.
Dam Square is considered the centre of Amsterdam. This medieval square is where you’ll find the Royal Palace and many of the city’s oldest buildings. The nearby Centrum area is popular with tourists, as many of the museums, galleries and other attractions are within walking distance. Jordaan, just to the west of Dam Square is also popular, with charming historic buildings, canal front walks, and lots of arty, indie shops that make it a colourful neighbourhood.
The centre of Amsterdam is quite compact and walkable, so it’s certainly possible to fit a lot into three days. Many of the major attractions are set close to Dam Square, so you could see the Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, and a couple of museums in one day. Boat cruises are an excellent way to see the city if you’re short on time, and hop-on-hop-off tours let you see the major attractions, without the walking, as well as giving expert commentary along the way.