Amsterdam holidays from
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Explore the best of Amsterdam
Meander alongside the glistening canals, by foot or more famously by bicycle, on your Amsterdam holiday. Criss-cross over the clusters of bridges, relax at an al fresco café and soak up every drop of culture – any time of year.
Take a Dutch city break in the capital of Amsterdam. Find worldly wonders in the famous Rijksmuseum, let your eyes feast upon the masterpieces of the Van Gogh Museum and feel moved when you visit the Anne Frank House Museum. When you’re ready for a break from exhibitions, amble around charming Jordaan. With its collection of captivating galleries, cushy pubs and quirky markets, it’s a must-visit neighbourhood. Hop on a ferry to Amsterdam North and see the cityscape from high in the sky on Europe’s highest swing, A’DAM Lookout. Take your pick from our wonderful selection of Amsterdam hotels and book flights to Amsterdam – just a short hop from London.
Carefully selected Amsterdam city breaks
Best hotels in Amsterdam for all types of traveller
Looking for a simple stay with a great location? The three-star Leonardo Boutique Museumhotel Amsterdam makes for a brilliant base to explore the city. Book a stay at the Inntel Amsterdam Centre to be close to the heart of the action. Nearby is Dam Square, a brilliant starting point for touring the city’s smaller lanes and canals.Or the Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Landmark situated in the Oostenburg district, known for its industrial and artistic character, sitting pretty along the Wittenburgervaart. Choose a five-star break at the Pulitzer. Occupying 25 historical canal-side townhouses, this hotel bursts with character, romance and modern art. Dine al fresco in the enchanting garden on the terrace and in the afternoon sink into leather chairs and sip flavourful cocktails in the bar. With incredible views of the River Amstel, the beautiful 17th century Estherea offers unique character and personal service.
Amsterdam city hotels we recommend
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Make the most of your Amsterdam holiday
Slip down the canals by boat, join the peloton of cyclists or jolt along merrily in a tram. One of the most charming qualities of Amsterdam is that your journeys through it can be as eye-opening as where you end up. Enjoy a historical city in motion with no shortage of highbrow and lowbrow distractions.
What are the best things to do in Amsterdam?
1. Amsterdam has the highest density of museums in the world. One of the biggest, the recently remodeled Rijkmuseum, is very accessible. It includes Rembrandt’s famous The Night Watch as well as face to face encounters with his moody portraits. Seek out Vermeer’s stunning intimate scenes of everyday life, still emotional hundreds of years later.
2. If Impressionism stirs your soul, then visit the Van Gogh museum. Though the artist only sold one painting in his lifetime and was dogged by anguish and depression, his swirling artworks have brought light to millions of viewers. Don’t miss the Sunflowers.
3. Anne Frank house and the Jewish museum both attempt to piece together the persecution millions faced in thirties and forties Europe. Be prepared for crowds in Anne’s hideaway. There are plenty of smaller museums too, though you might tire of people sniggering at the Sex Museum. On the way back from Anne Frank pop in to the Tulip Museum. These sculptural flowers once crashed an entire economy. Wall Street would be proud.
4. The Red Light district of Amsterdam is famous for putting its dwindling numbers of sex workers in window displays, much to the amusement, bemusement or alarm of passing tourists. But the area, known a De Wallen, is also full of trendy cafes and bars. Visit before tourism and new permits start to thin the crop of hidden gems.
5. Amsterdam is famous for its lagers – the giant brewer Heineken owns Amstel among its many beer brands. Whilst its factory is no longer in the city, you can still tour the former brewery, pull your own pint or bottle your own lager. But perhaps you prefer your beer a little craftier. Brouwerij ’t IJ is next to one of Amsterdam’s surviving inner city windmills and makes artisanal pints.
6. When you want to escape the haze of the cafes, Amsterdam’s outdoor spaces are there for you to enjoy. First up should be the recently regenerated Amsterdam Noord district, so hop on the ferry. The former manufacturing quarters have had an industrial facelift and there’s now plenty of event spaces and the A’DAM tower. This tower has Europe’s highest swing. Whether you choose to strap into the ride or not, you’ll still get excellent views of the city from the top.
7. Visit the Vondelpark, a big, beautiful park with an open-air theatre. See if you don’t wander in on a free music concert, or get roped into a salsa class. On a sunny day, stroll along the canal to Westerpark, where the premises of a gas factory merge with a park, creating an edgy space to explore.
8. The Netherlands has a bigger population of bicycles than it has people, so it’s easy to equip yourself with a pair of wheels. You’ll find yourself freewheeling over hundreds of bridges – including the pretty Magere Brug, a slender white drawbridge. And don’t let winter blues keep you indoors around Christmas – the Light Festival on the canals sees the water lit with a series of beautiful installations.
9. Vogue has labelled De Pijp Amsterdam’s coolest neighbourhood. Whilst it competes with Nine Streets and Rozengracht for this title, it certainly has the largest open-air market: Albert Cuypmarkt is ideal if your idea of shopping involves edible free samples of Edam. If you like ducking in and out of trendy boutiques, Nine Streets has enough of them to fill your suitcase, and plenty of Scandi modern furnishings have filtered into the shops: RAINS, the specialist Danish mac manufacturers, somehow make anoraks look trendy. No guarantees if your dad puts one on, though. Dutch brands include kings of couture Victor & Rolf, and recently revived Scotch & Soda. Revive yourself with a coffee at Screaming Beans.
10. Exploring beyond Amsterdam is easy. Whilst Americans and Parisians will be catching the trains to France, you don’t need to look so far afield for a change of scene. The Netherlands have plenty of other treasures. Waterland, Efteling and Keukenhof exude rustic charm – whether waterways, fairy tales or tulips. Not satisfied with seeing Dutch still lifes in the Rijkmusum? Hire a car and head south to the Keukenhof gardens to see the real thing: thousands of tulips blooming to create amazing patterns, stretching towards the horizon.
Where is the best area to stay in Amsterdam?
You can’t miss it: thriving streets alongside heaps of historic buildings – the city centre is everything it should be. Dam Square, a brilliant starting point for touring the city’s smaller lanes and canals. Book a break on the water’s edge at the Estherea. Recognised for its canals, narrow gabled houses and tiny bridges, experience Amsterdam by boat on a sightseeing cruise. In wintertime, it’s here you can catch the extraordinary Light Festival, which brightens up the gloomy season. Stop by the beautiful Bloemenmarkt (floating flower market) along the Singel canal.
On the outer waterways, the Nine Streets neighbourhood is great for relaxing afternoon strolls. Make a trip to Waterlooplein Square, where you’ll find the Rembrandt House Museum, the Flea Market, and the Jewish Historical Museum. Amsterdam has the highest concentration of museums of any city, and Dutch Art is widely renowned. See fine examples of their work in the Museumplein museums. Book a stay at the NH Amsterdam Museum Quarter, close to The Van Gogh Impressionist masterpieces, the renovated Rijkmuseum and the Stedelijk’s modern art collection. For more modern gems – literal ones – head towards the Diamond Museum or to the nearby P.C. Hooftstraat street for shopping.
If you’re curious, wander through De Wallen – known around the world as the Red Light District. It’s one of the oldest parts of the city and has plenty of character. Stay just a five-minute walk away at the Radisson Blu Amsterdam and you’ll find there’s more to this neighbourhood than meets the eye. Alongside the curtained windows, there are now a variety of hip cafes, eateries, live jazz venues, barbers and even a radio station. Or escape the city’s bustle for the lush verdant expanse of Vondelpark and stay at the Park Plaza Vondelpark. Take a relaxing stroll or bike ride through this tranquil green space. Picnic under a leafy canopy of trees in summer or catch a show at the open-air Openluchttheater. Afterwards, you can enjoy refreshments at one of the many lively cafés lining the nearby Leidseplein square. During the cooler months, you’ll appreciate the warming speciality teas at the modernist Blauwe Theehuis.
Which holiday type in Amsterdam is right for me?
If you’re looking for a stay with a twist, the W Amsterdam boasts an incredible rooftop bar, the W Lounge. You can also enjoy striking views at the on-site Mr Porter restaurant as you dine on delicious dishes. However, the best culinary attraction sits just across the street: Michelin-starred restaurant, The Duchess. With French-Italian inspired menus, this exquisite eatery is a must-visit (be sure to leave room for a delectable dessert).
When dusk falls, Amsterdam comes alive with a variety of nightlife. If a mouth-watering cocktail or a tipple of wine tickle your fancy, there an abundance of chic spots across the city with a dash of panache. Explore the area of De Pijp, where you’ll find hip bars on every corner. Try the ultimate wine and Champagne bar, Bubbles & Wines, near the Royal Palace. With a choice of 50 wines by the glass and 180 by the bottle, you’ll need to make more than one visit. Make tracks to Amsterdam’s top hotel bar, the Pulitzer for cocktail sensations, with colourful, nectar-like drinks, snazzy-suited mixologists and a quirky, cool atmosphere.
Explore Amsterdam’s Latin Quarter, De Pijp is an eclectic part of the city, where you will find hip bars, terraced cafés and fantastic cuisine from all over the world. You can try Surinamese curries before sampling fresh beer at the Heineken Brewery. Or venture to the Albert Cuypmarkt street market, Europe’s largest day market, where you’ll find cheese, clothes and local produce. De Pijp’s beatnik flair has enticed creatives since the 60s. Book a break nearby at the Sir Albert.