Amsterdam Travel Guide

A city as famous for its flowers and museums as it is for its liberal attitudes to sex and drugs, Amsterdam is one of the top urban travel destinations in Europe. The Dutch capital is full of old-world charm, with houseboats, canals, cobbled streets and distinctive Dutch architecture that belong to another age. The city is said to have more museums per capita than any other in the world, and they provide a treasury of historical information and world-class art for culture lovers. Museums dedicated to icons such as Rembrandt, Anne Frank and Van Gogh are perennially popular and the famous Rijksmuseum is reason enough for some people to visit the destination. Visitors will find quirky options such as the Amsterdam Sex Museum as well, hinting at the modern, liberal character of this exciting place.

Travellers head to Amsterdam for a lively nightlife, awesome art galleries, great shopping, the enticing Red Light District, the picturesque canals, coffeeshops that sell more than coffee, and to liberally sample the indigenous Heineken beer. The city's restaurant scene will delight foodies, and its calendar is bursting with exciting and creative events and festivals.

Best time to visit Amsterdam

Summer (June to August) is the most popular tourist season in Amsterdam, though spring (March to May) is arguably the best time to holiday in the city. The weather may be unsettled but this is when Holland's great flower shows are in full bloom, providing a bonus for tourists. The King's Birthday in April is also a major event, when street parties abound in Amsterdam.

What to see in Amsterdam

-Enjoy a performance at the Concertgebouw, one of the finest concert halls in the world.

-Marvel at four centuries of Dutch naval history at the National Maritime Museum.

-Wander around the glorious Van Gogh Museum, one of Amsterdam's most loved attractions.

-Explore the tiny wartime hideaway of Anne Frank House and see the famous diary.

What to do in Amsterdam

-Take a boat tour through Amsterdam's picturesque canal network.

-Learn about the brewing process and sample the beer at the Heineken Experience.

-Picnic or cycle in Vondelpark, the city's most popular green lung.

-Treat the kids to a day of fun at Efteling theme park.

Beyond Amsterdam

Amsterdam is conveniently close to many wonderful cities and towns in the Netherlands and is truly a destination that promises exciting excursions. The quaint city of Haarlem is a short train ride away; the Hoge Veluwe National Park provides a taste of Dutch countryside; Maastricht, the oldest city in the country, is a good weekend getaway; and all the attractions of The Hague, including the Peace Palace, are within easy reach.

Getting there

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the main air travel hub of the Netherlands, is located nine miles (15km) southwest of Amsterdam. There are regular direct flights to Amsterdam from the US, the UK and all over Europe.

Did you know?

-Amsterdam started out as a humble fishing village and took its name from the Amstel River.

-There are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are permanent residents.

-Amsterdam has three times as many bridges as Venice.