- A living museum of bygone ages.
- Metropolis of the Netherlands.
- See and explore the city’s 90 small islands – districts.
- Teaming with uniquely beautiful canals.
- Exquisite art collections and a paradise for flower – lovers.
- Romantic, captivating images from the famous Keukenhof Gardens.
- Delicious local, Chinese and Indonesian cuisine.
- An atmosphere of tolerance and free expression.
- Most regular bicyclers in Europe.
A “City Break must” for several good reasons.
Amsterdam is the capital and the main commercial and financial centre of The Netherlands. Uniquely located on the IJsselmeer in the west of the country, it dominates the wild waters of the North Sea.
Multitudes of tourists and short city break visitors crowd in Amsterdam each year, mainly for
- the city’s unique and excellently preserved historical attractions,
- some of the finest art collections in the world,
- that characteristic colours and features of Amsterdam’s old districts.
Surely you wonder, “What about the Red Light District?” Regardless of the opinion you may hold about exhibiting women like products behind show windows, it would be a gross mistake to portrait Amsterdam in your mind in such a way. Amsterdam is a city with many wonderful features, attracting scores of people that have seen beyond that media projected image of a “sex paradise”.
Best Time for your Short Holiday
Amsterdam is rainy, gloomy and quite cold for 2/3 of the year, but you should never visit the city, even for a short city break, without extra warm clothing. Winds often cause unpredictable weather phenomena.
November – February
During the winter visitors and tourists are scarce, mainly because of the harsh weather. But do not let that frighten you. Short city break visitors who would love to visit Amsterdam but hate crowds and congestion should definitely consider winter for their visit. The snow spices even more the romantic old districts of the city. Streets are actually easily strolled till late November. Some canals freeze in February and locals indulge in ice skate gliding.
Another advantage of a winter short city break to Amsterdam is the extremely low accommodation prices. New Year’s Eve is bit crowded and though fireworks are more than impressive, prices in clubs, restaurants and hotels explode.
March – May
In the spring, tulips rule. Their season, from around the 15th of March to the early days of May, signifies the start of tourist arrivals.
April is considered by many as the ideal month for short city breaks to Amsterdam: majestic flowery scenery all around the city, relatively tolerable numbers of tourists and, probably, an excellent weather.
On the other hand, if you prefer crowded spaces, Queen’s Day weekend and Liberation Day are excellent times for a short city break. Especially, the end of April and the first weeks of May Amsterdam transforms into a gigantic party house, full of concerts, cultural events and football matches. Of course prices start to rise, and as May passes, scores of tourists crowd the city’s main sights.
June – August
Summer weather combines diverse features: some rapid heavy could interrupt the usually warm air. For locals, now is their chance to get as much sun as possible, so the streets, parks and canals are alive with bicyclers and strollers. Not the best season if you want to get some low priced accommodation options and avoid endless queues. Note that in August, several good restaurants and bars are closed – locals take their leave in August.
September – October
Most short city breakers choose autumn for a return visit to Amsterdam. The city is clothed with more serene and peaceful attires, and accommodation prices are more than appealing. Also, during the autumn, several cultural events are held and museums open their doors to visitors for free.
Also, in fall you will have the chance to taste some exceptional local dishes (Stamppot, pea soups), as well as Bok bier, a locally produced ale that is their favorite beverage.
Amsterdam stretches on a flat and low-lying area, largely on the south bank of the IJ (meaning “water”), a bizarre body of water that used to be a bay. Some refer to it as a river but others insist that is actually a lake. Remember, always type with both letters capital!
IJ is now an extension of the IJsselmeer (previously called “Zuiderzee”, a shallow North Sea bay) connecting with the North Sea through canals. Interestingly enough, some districts are actually below sea level, either because of land that was claimed back from the sea or from drainage projects of several small lakes and marshes.
Except for the innumerable canals, the city of Amsterdam is divided by the famous Amstel River, flowing from south to north, down to the IJ.
The City’s character
Amsterdam, if anything, is a bit crowded. Traffic jams in its surprisingly (for such a great metropolis) narrow streets are quite often, but that gave Amsterdam one of each most distinguishing traits: the bicycles, which serve as the main transportation option for a large portion of the city’s inhabitants.
Boasting a prolific history of more than 700 years, Amsterdam is often described as a living museum, enhanced by the captivating scenery of old canals running between old patrician houses. The modern districts, on the other hand, often seem to gasp for air due to pressing overpopulation issues.
As the nominal capital of The Netherlands (Hague serves actually as the government’s seat), Amsterdam hosts the Royal Family only for short periods of time, in the famous Royal Palace.
Most short break visitors to Amsterdam are surprised by the lack of bulky or gigantic monuments found in other European metropolis. Amsterdam is distinguishing flavor is best depicted in the narrow streets of the old districts, alive with people on their daily routine. Still the celebrated days of the old is reflected in patrician gabled houses, in brick – made facades lined with sandstone and in lavishly decorated towers and churches.
Another distinctive feature: Amsterdam’s gigantic network of canals that divide the city’s neighborhoods into 90 “isles”, connected by almost 1,300 bridges.
Unique City Break Feature: an rare amalgam of history, refined art, flowers and bicycles!