From its charming cobbled streets to its vibrant art scene, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam is the ideal city break candidate. Made up of unusual museums, art galleries, quirky cafés, restaurants and epic clubs, a holiday to Amsterdam will be a memorable one.
Hop on board one of Amsterdam’s infamous canal boats and lose yourself on the meandering waterways that intersperse the city. For those keen to stay on dry land, you should look to explore the city on two wheels. Cycling on your Amsterdam holiday is a must. If you’re looking to take it easy you’re in luck. Café culture is big in the Dam, so you’ll never be too far from the perfect spot to linger over a coffee or do some people-watching – the perfect city break activity.
If you’re looking for a destination steeped in history, you’re in the right place. While its scenic streets are modern hubs filled with restaurants and shopping opportunities, there’s a fascinating past to uncover too. Head to the Amsterdam museum to learn about the local communities, or visit the Canal House to delve deep into one of the city’s most iconic mainstays. During the festive season, don't miss the Amsterdam Christmas market.
The old centre
As the name suggests, this charming part of the city is part of Amsterdam’s original settlement. Perfect for those in search of history and culture, you’ll find traditional architecture and iconic monuments dotted around this area. Remembering your camera is a must.
With plenty of hustle and bustle, this vast square is located in the city’s Chinatown, adjacent to the infamous Red Light District. Popular with tourists, there are a number of coffee shops and cafés to dip into, as well as spectacular architecture surrounding the area.
This part of the city is particularly charming, harking back to the 17th century. While it might serve as the ideal place for a leisurely walk, there are a number of art galleries and museums to visit. When you’re done there, make sure to browse the many vintage and antique shops found in the area.
Visit the Rijksmuseum
While Amsterdam offers plenty of museums worth uncovering, the Rijksmuseum is one of the most iconic. Its stunning exterior is matched by the many exhibits found inside, with art from the middle ages right through to the present day. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous Rembrandt paintings that are displayed here.
Amsterdam is home to a range of retail outlets, meaning you’ll be well-catered to, whether you fancy shopping in high-end boutiques or charming vintage haunts. Immerse yourself in the real spirit of the city with a visit to the Ij Hallen flea market in the centre of the city. The ideal place to find a hidden gem or antique artefact, it’s well worth a trip if only for the atmosphere.
Enjoy a picnic in the Vondelpark
The Vondelpark should be top of your to-visit list on a holiday to Amsterdam, especially if you’re visiting in spring. The largest green space in the city, it is often found jam-packed with locals eating, drinking and socialising. There are also some particularly beautiful monuments here, with a number of sculptures including one designed by Picasso. Visit in summer and you might be lucky enough to experience one of the free outdoor shows too.
Go cycling around the city
While the image of tourists biking their way around Amsterdam is somewhat of an iconic one, it’s also the best way to travel around the city. Quintessentially Dutch in style and a cheap way to traverse its cobbled streets, you can pick up a bicycle in any of the rental shops in the area. If you fancy, you can even take a guided tour with other cyclists.
Sightseeing in Amsterdam
There’s plenty to keep you occupied in Amsterdam, whether you’re seeking fascinating history or captivating culture. The canal network has led the city to be referred to as the Venice of the North and no getaway to Amsterdam is complete without a trip on the waterways.
If you’d rather immerse yourself in the authentic side of the city, nothing beats a visit to Amsterdam’s vast squares. Filled with character, the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are tourist hubs and offer the ideal spot to linger over a coffee or do some people-watching. Nieuwmarkt, Westermarkt and Noordermarkt are old markets and offer a great setting for a leisurely walk as you explore ancient monuments and iconic sculptures.
Amsterdam’s an appealing destination at any time of year, with four distinct seasons and a calendar jam-packed with events. If you want to avoid the peak tourist season, the best time to visit Amsterdam is during the spring or autumn. In July and August, the city fills to the brim with visitors, which means you may pay more for accommodation and find crowds at top attractions.
Spring is a great time to visit Amsterdam, when the tulip bulbs burst into bloom in the fields surrounding the city. April and May are considered the best months to visit for tulip fans. Summer may be busy, but it has undeniable charm, with a warm and balmy climate - ideal for enjoying a picnic in the Vondelpark or sunbathing at Zandvoort. You’ll need to dress warmly in the winter, as fog rolls in from the sea. Yet crisp days and freezing canals make it the prime time for winter weekend exploring.
Amsterdam hosts hundreds of special events and holidays throughout the year. One of the highlights is King’s Day, taking place at the end of April. During this time the entire city turns into an open-air party to celebrate King Willem-Alexander, with residents wearing shades of orange and dancing outdoors until the wee hours of the morning.
Start your springtime celebrations in Amsterdam by visiting in March for the opening of Keukenhof Gardens, or in April for tulip season. In June, the city celebrates with the Roots Festival and Open Garden Days music festival, while the gay pride parade livens up the canals in August. Cultural events are a big draw in the autumn, including Museum Night in November. As the winter chill sets in, there’s nothing like visiting Amsterdam’s Christmas markets to enjoy a warm cup of mulled wine as you shop for traditional souvenirs.
Cuisine in Amsterdam
While Holland isn’t renowned for its haute cuisine, you’ll find a number of treats to indulge in on your next getaway. For a hearty street food that features on many menus around the city, try bitterballen. Resembling meatballs, they are traditionally covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried, making a tasty snack. Usually served with hot mustard, it is certainly an authentic way to experience Dutch cuisine.
Of course, Amsterdam is famed for its sweet treats. Stroopwaffels are a favourite of many - a sweet, buttery caramel sandwiched between cinnamon-baked waffles. You’ll find them in any supermarket or café in the city, best served slightly melted over a steaming hot cup of coffee. Delicious.
Restaurants in Amsterdam
You’ll find an endless number of restaurants in Amsterdam, but it’s the cafés that tend to serve up the most delicious dishes. Brunch is big in this capital city, and favourite dishes are hot buttered toast with chocolate sprinkles and hearty oatmeal with fruit. For a real tasty treat when on your getaway, make the most of moreish poffertjes. These small pieces of batter are served up in pancake houses across Amsterdam, and heavily dusted with icing sugar.
A city break is one of the perfect forms a cheap holiday can take. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in art and museums or just take a tour of the city’s scenic surroundings, it should be next on your list of getaways. When it comes to Amsterdam city breaks, from its bustling squares to its laid-back old town, it’s a beauty. Take a tour of the canals, indulge in delicious Dutch treats or take in a spot of shopping – there’s more than enough to keep you busy.
Booking your holiday to Amsterdam with easyJet holidays is the ideal way to enjoy your next trip without the hassle. Better yet, you’ll save on your city break when you book your flight and hotel together with easyJet holidays.
Not fallen in love with Amsterdam? Have a read of our other city break destination guides for further inspiration on your next trip.