Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands is one of the most popular cities in Europe with good reason. It's stylish, unequivocally picturesque, offers a fascinating history to be appreciated, and features incredible nightlife with an alternative flair. Amsterdam is intensely urbanized with a population of around 800,000. As a cosmopolitan city, with an ever-changing population there are many holiday apartments available in Amsterdam. Accommodation is usually found along the main canal routes, but cheaper accommodation can be found in the surrounding suburbs, which are well served by the bus and metro system.The city itself actually sits at 2 meters below sea level. There are 165 canals with a combined length of 100 kms.
Fun Facts about Amsterdam
- There are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people, and two times more bikes than cars.
- All buildings sit on top of stilts, thanks to the city's swampy soil. The Royal Palace alone sits on top of over 13,000 wooden poles.
- Amsterdam's international airport, Schiphol, actually sits 4 meters below sea level.
- Amsterdam has more canals than Venice
- Over 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam allow you to buy up to 5 grams of cannabis (marijuana or hash). You can't smoke tobacco in said shops, but you can smoke the cannabis.
Where to Stay in AmsterdamAmsterdam is broken up into seven districts and each one has a very distinct character, try to find the district that suits you and then secure your perfect apartment in this area of Amsterdam. Dam Square is a great base for short-term visitors as it is right in the centre of all the action so a lot can be seen in a short time (although, if near the Red Light District, be prepared for minimal sleep). That said, all modern Amsterdam apartments are very soundproof and like hotels, should be able to make sure your few hours of sleep are not disturbed by revelers . Jordaan is a current favourite of many - still close to the action, but in a much more relaxed residential setting complete with cool shops and where bikes rule the quiet streets. Although a few minutes away by tram, Leidseplein has plenty of its own interesting sights and services, and is a hub for transportation in the city. Rembrandtplein, named for the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, is one of the busiest squares in the city and is a hotspot for nightlife.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Your credit card can easily get an intensive workout in Amsterdam with an array of big box department stores, exclusive boutiques, and intriguing antique stores to choose from. For unique finds head to The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes) for great boutiques and vintage stores. Designer labels can be found in the museum district and Dam Square is home to the biggest department store of De Bijenkorf. Amsterdam has the most museums out of any city in the world. Two must sees are the Anne Frank House, a touching insight into the city's WWII history, and the Van Gogh Museum, a delight for art lovers with the largest collection of the most famous Dutch painter's works. Outside the museums, get lost in the maze of the Amsterdam's core with a boat ride on the canals and past the 2,500 house boats. Did you know about the city's great beaches? Strand West is open all year, and a quick train right to the nearby town of Zandvoort offers up one of the country's most favourite sandy spot. Camera-happy tourists can fill up many memory cards by hitting Amsterdam's famous sights. The Royal Palace, Public Library, and Reguliersgracht (Seven Bridges) are photogenic delights. There are also about 30 parks in Amsterdam, giving visitors plenty of opportunity to escape from the bustle of the city and relax. Vondelpark, the largest in the city, offers great people-watching and the chance to catch some free concerts in the summer. Head to Amstelpark which offers a range of activities and attractions, including the Rieker windmill which dates back to 1636.
Dining in AmsterdamFor culinary adventurers, Amsterdam is the place to sample raw herring. Herring carts, called haringhandels, can be found throughout the city and serve up the small fish with or without a bun. Dutch pancakes are more similar to crepes but are a must-try for new city visitors; head to The Pancake Bakery for legendary pannekoeken and choose from an unusual array of toppings. Not to be outdone by famous beer-making neighbours (Belgium and Germany), the Netherlands serves up their own brewed delicacies that should be sampled. 't Arendsnest gives a great and intensive introduction to Dutch brew.
Nightlife in AmsterdamAmsterdam's nightlife is one of its most attractive qualities. The best bar and club scenes are to be found in Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein which offer a variety of venues. LGBT clubs are found all around the city, but must are near Reguilerssdwarstraat and Warmoestraat. The red light district is something to be seen and experienced.
Getting Around Amsterdam
There is one major international airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol that is located about 20 minutes southwest of the city but with easy access via public transport. Another easy way in and out of the city is via train, with the main station near the city centre. The best way to get around is via bicycle, rentals are inexpensive and the city is built for it with generous paths throughout. Alternatively, the public transportation system is impressive with a network of buses, trams, ferries and more to get you around the city. Cards are available for purchase to allow for unlimited use in specific time frames.