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Amsterdam is a one-of-a-kind destination, featuring diverse architecture and a sprawling network of UNESCO-protected canals. In fact, the capital of the Netherlands has more than 150 canals running for over 100 km. Sightseeing in Amsterdam includes visiting world-class museums, acclaimed cultural venues and vast entertainment options. But you should also check out the city's sprawling parks and local breweries. To make the most of your visit, consider renting a car in Amsterdam to explore nearby tulip fields and historic windmills.

It’s your choice: Where to go in Amsterdam

Canals encircle the downtown area of Amsterdam. Take a boat ride to experience Singel, Lord's, Emperor's and Prince's canals, spanned by many bridges and lined by trees and colourful multi-storey houses. Admire the tall tower of the Western Church, built in the Dutch Renaissance style, next to Prince's Canal. Look out for the Anne Frank House nearby too. The house tells the tragic story of the Jewish family who hid here during the German occupation and their capture just before the Allies liberated the city in 1944. The Rijksmuseum (National Museum), exhibiting the world's most prominent collection of artworks by Dutch Masters, is a must-visit during your holiday in Amsterdam. Marvel at masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer, such as 'The Night Watch' and 'The Milkmaid,' and see period furnishings and arts & crafts objects. The Van Gogh Museum is another highlight, displaying the largest existing collection of Van Gogh's paintings, including 'Sunflowers' and 'Almond Blossom.'

Things to do in Amsterdam

The Royal Palace, occupying Dam Square - the founding site of Amsterdam - epitomises the Dutch Golden Age. Discover the grandeur of this neoclassical palace on a guided tour and lay eyes on stylish furnishings, elaborate chandeliers and works of art depicting mythological scenes. During the Reformation, many Catholic churches became Protestant places of worship, including the New Church, which features a striking mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles. For a taste of a local icon, visit the Amsterdam Heineken Experience, a museum housed in the former Heineken factory. Learn all about the production methods, while also sampling the beer itself of course. The Red Light District in Amsterdam may be known as a more seedy part of the city, yet De Wallen, which is home to the district, features historic attractions such as the Old Church making it well worth a visit. Beautiful fields full of flowers are a short drive away from Amsterdam. Tulips and other flowers in various colours stretch as far as the eye can see. Or to enjoy water sports, drive to Zandvoort, a coastal town some 30km west of Amsterdam.

Important info about Amsterdam

On Amsterdam holidays, you're never far from somewhere to relax and take in the laid-back atmosphere. Many canals and waterways criss-cross the city, while there are plenty of sprawling parks and green areas too. A network of roads extend from the centre of Amsterdam over bridges in all directions, and ferries provide transport services over the IJ River. Parks, such as Vondelpark and Oosterpark, abound with lush greenery inhabited by herons, parakeets and other wildlife. Visit the parks to relax, admire works of art and take part in fun events. Famous local products include excellent cheeses, such as Gouda and Edam, while you'll find lots of restaurants serving authentic Dutch dishes as well as microbreweries producing fantastic craft beer. Eateries serving international food are also in abundance, catering to all tastes and dietary requirements.

Weather in Amsterdam
Facts
Country North Holland
Language Dutch
Currency Euro
Time-Zones CET
Country Code +31 20

Good to know

Direct and cheap flights to Amsterdam are available from all major cities of Great Britain and Europe. The shortest route from Schiphol Airport to the city centre is about 15km. Drive to the outer ring that encircles downtown, consisting of Nassaukade, Stadhouderskade and Mauritskade streets, and cross Singelgracht canal (don't confuse with Singel) where appropriate. That way, you avoid driving down one-way streets where cyclists have priority. If not stated otherwise, the speed limit in Amsterdam is 50km/h. Speed limits are 100km/h on open roads and up to 130km/h on motorways, but these largely depend on traffic and other conditions. Seatbelts in front and back seats are mandatory and the blood alcohol limit is 0.5 milligrams (a small beer). To rent a car in Amsterdam, you need to be at least 19 years and have a driving licence valid for at least one year. In the Netherlands, you drive on the right-hand side.

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What to taste in Amsterdam

Bitterballen, meat rolled in eggs and breadcrumbs and fried, is a delicious snack typically enjoyed with lashings of mayonnaise and mustard. Stamppot, meanwhile, is a traditional Dutch meal consisting of mashed vegetables, potatoes, and sausage or bacon. Vegetarians will find many restaurants serving tasty meat-free versions. Stroopwafel, meanwhile, is a much-loved dessert which consists of two fried layers of dough with syrup in between. You shouldn't miss Dutch pancakes either, which are available in sweet and savoury versions. When it comes to traditional Dutch beers, the piquant Witbier and sweet Bokbier are your go tos. Coffee aficionados ought to try a Koffie Verkeerd, the local version of caffe latte with a lot of warm milk.

What to bring to your friends from Amsterdam

A bottle of Jenever would make a fine gift for fans of gin. This traditional Dutch beverage is available in two versions - Oude (old recipe) and Jonge (new recipe). Local cheeses also make wonderful gifts for foodies and cheese lovers. Some notable types of cheese are Edam, Gouda, Leyden and Boerenkass. The Netherlands is famous for tulips. Their bulbs make a great gift, especially if you accompany them with a stylish vase. Clogs, with illustrations of windmills and tulips, also make for wonderful presents. Or why not buy a book about Amsterdam for passionate readers? 'Tulipmania,' for fans of flowers and 'The Hiding Place,' a historical novel, are a couple of good options.