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Travel Guide for Amsterdam

Each year, more than 5 million people travel to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. The 800-year-old city is famous for its historical architecture, narrow houses, and vast system of canals. With so much to see and do, Amsterdam is the perfect place for a European city break.

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Top Attractions in Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a hotbed for history buffs. In fact, the city is known for its many museums and art galleries, including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Anne Frank House. Famous around the world for its risqué Red Light District, a visit to De Wallen, as its known locally, is a must when in Amsterdam. Take a stroll through the area in the evening to catch glimpses of the ladies of the night through the shop windows. Other must-see sites in the city include the medieval architecture in Amsterdam’s Old Town, the Amsterdam Dungeon, Rembrandt House, and the Royal Palace Amsterdam.

Canals in Amsterdam

With 165 canals winding through the city, there’s a reason Amsterdam is also called Venice of the North. A great way to get acquainted with Amsterdam is to take a canal cruise. Most cruises along Amsterdam’s UNESCO-protected Canal Ring last about an hour and showcase many of the city’s most interesting sites.

Many tourists enjoy a trek outside Amsterdam to check out some unique sites. A visit to Kinderdijk is a must to see the 18th-century windmills. Located just 60 miles outside the city, it’s well worth the trip. About an hour from Amsterdam, Delft is well-known for the blue-and-white pottery made there, including hand-painted tiles and jugs. Gouda, also about an hour from Amsterdam, is famous for its cheese. Rounds of Gouda are abundant around town and tastings are always available.

Eating Out

Unlike other European cities that are famous for their foods, Amsterdam is not known for its cuisine. Still, there are many delicacies to tantalize the taste buds. One local favorite, Hollandse Nieuwe, consists of raw herring served with chopped onions and gherkins. Bitterballen are a type of meatball covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried that are popular in pubs across Amsterdam. Stamppot, or mashed potatoes mixed with another vegetable, and rookworst, or smoked sausage, are a common entrée at many restaurants. Salty black licorice, pea soup called snert, croquettes, thick-cut french fries known as patat, and crepe-like pancakes called pannekoek are other local favorites.

stamppot in Amsterdam

For dessert, stroopwafel is a must. Made by sandwiching a sweet syrup between two cookies made from baked waffle batter, stroopwafel is one of Netherlands best-known treats. Poffertjes are another tasty pastry. These small, puffy pancakes are usually served with a pat of butter and powdered sugar.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Nightlife in Amsterdam

A great way to spend an evening in Amsterdam is by taking in a concert at Concertgebouw. Known for its amazing acoustics, Concertgebouw is one of the busiest concert halls in the world. About 700,000 people attend one of the more than 900 events at the concert hall each year. Alternatively, party the night away at one of Amsterdam’s many nightclubs, from massive warehouses to small dance clubs.

Transportation

Riding a bike in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. All of the major sites are centrally located and close to one another. One of the best ways to get around Amsterdam is by bike, and there are special bike paths throughout the city. It’s easy to rent bikes at train stations and shops across Amsterdam.

Public transportation is another great way to get from place to place in Amsterdam. There is an excellent system of buses, trams, and trolleys. While driving is not recommended within the city, a ride through the countryside is always nice. The best places to rent a car in Amsterdam are at the airport or in Overtoom, which is just 10 minutes from the city center.

Climate

Spring in Amsterdam

From July through August, it’s mostly sunny skies in Amsterdam, as each of these months gets an average of 200 hours of sunshine. Temperatures tend to hover around 68 degrees Fahrenheit in summer but can reach as high as the upper 70s, with August being the warmest month of the year. For tourists heading to Amsterdam in the spring or fall, it’s a good idea to carry an umbrella, especially in November, which is the wettest month of the year. Winters are often windy and cool, with temperatures dipping down to the 30s and 40s in January and February.

When to Go

There is no bad time of year to go to Amsterdam, though most tourists visit between April and October. July and August are the most crowded months to visit since they have the nicest weather and kids are on school vacation. Anyone wanting to see the tulips in bloom should plan to travel to Amsterdam between mid-March and early May. Expect larger crowds at top attractions and higher prices on hotels and airfares during these peak seasons.

Autumn in Amsterdam

Autumn is the ideal time to visit Amsterdam. From September to October, the weather is usually still quite nice, crowds are lower, and there is a good chance of finding affordable rates on hotels in Amsterdam. If you don’t mind cooler weather, you’ll find the best rates and the fewest tourists during the winter months.

Flying to Amsterdam

Visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is one of the oldest and busiest international airports in the world. Home to Air France-KLM, the national airline of the Netherlands, Schiphol works with 108 partner airlines that offer flights to more than 300 destinations in 95 countries around the world, making it easy to find affordable flights to Amsterdam.

With an array of shops, eateries, offices, hotels, and more, Schiphol is often referred to as an airport city. You can even take a walk on the roof at the Panorama Terrace, get married, relax in an indoor park, or visit the Rijksmuseum Museum annex. Schiphol serves more than 60 million people each year and is just 20 minutes from the center of the city by train. The ride costs about $4, while a taxi will set you back $40 to $60 and take about 30 minutes.
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