Becoming really trendy the last few years, there is more than one reason to visit the beautiful Amsterdam. By LESLEY BELLEW
1 HOP ON A BIKE
There are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam, so jump on one of the 800,000 bicycles to explore the city.
2 GET LOST IN THE ARTY JORDAAN
Jordaan is one of Amsterdam’s most charming neighbourhoods, where narrow streets and quaint buildings make up one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, dotted with art galleries, antiques shops, bars and restaurants.
3 SOAK UP CULTURE IN MUSEUMPLEIN
Home to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Museumplein is the cultural heart of Amsterdam. This leafy 19th century district with a large square features open-air exhibitions, markets and a large paddling pool for warmer days and an outdoor ice rink in winter. Tram numbers 3 and 5 go straight there from the central train station.
4 TAKE A CANAL CRUISE
Created in the 17th century to keep the sea at bay, Amsterdam’s UNESCO-protected canal belt is the quintessential picture-postcard vision of the city. It is pretty by day and night – when the bridges are lit by fairy lights.
5 SNACK AT A HERRING CART
Raw herring is a Dutch speciality, so give it a go! Haringhandels (herring carts) can be seen all over the city so ask for a ‘broodje haring’ to get the fish served in a small sandwich with pickles and onions.
6 ANNE FRANK HOUSE
Reflect on the story of diarist Anne Frank at the Prinsengracht house where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for two years. The front of the house is now a thought-provoking museum but the back annex has been preserved to show what life was like for Anne and other families in hiding. Book online or get there early to avoid queues.
7 WAKE UP AND SMELL THE TULIPS
Buy flowers and bulbs at the Bloemenmarkt – the world’s only floating flower market, which lines the Singel with colourful flower stalls. When visiting Amsterdam in spring, take the 20-minute trip to the tulip fields at Bollenstreek which stretch in colourful stripes across miles of lowland fields between Harleem and Leiden. To understand more about the Netherlands’ love affair with Tulips, visit the Amsterdam Tulip Museum in the Jordaan district.
Top Tips: A bit more to discover in Holland…
IJmuiden offers a beautiful beachfront with extraordinarily wide beaches, a modern promenade and beach huts. Cruise passengers can just cross the road from the Felison Cruise Terminal to find direct access to the Blue Flag beach. Hire a sand yacht , surf the waves or take a nature walk in the National Park Zuid Kennemerland, which has a protected dune landscape. Visit the medieval ruins of Castle Brederode, the embattlements on the Fort Island – part of the Unesco World Heritage Defence Line of Amsterdam – or call in to the IJmuiden Sea and Harbour museum – all easily reached from the port.
The New York Times has called Haarlem ‘a classic Dutch city with a village feel’. The magnificent, historic centre breathes the atmosphere of the Golden Age and was home to the famous painter Frans Hals. It has also been named the best shopping city in the Netherlands. Go to it!
Eurostar from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford to Brussels-Midi. Change for Thalys hi-speed train to Amsterdam Central. Journey time approx. four hours.
Direct to Schiphol Airport, with a direct train service to Amsterdam Central. City Jet, easyJet, British Airways, Flybe, KLM and Air France all offer regular flights from the UK. Journey time from London approx. one hour five minutes.