A fountain of culture over the water
A city of diamonds for some, a forbidden paradise for others, Amsterdam welcomes a multitude of tourists who, between the bicycles and the canals, do not have enough eyes to see everything. In fact, there is never a dull moment in this city, where tradition and modernity mix, where the gentle, slow rhythm of the water contrasts with the nocturnal bustle and the endless coming and going of bicycles. Tulips, art, literature, architecture, cafés... they call it the Venice of the North for a reason. Amsterdam is also a progressive and open city, the absence of curtains on the windows reflecting the mentalities of the population. Amsterdam feels like home to anyone and all.
A stay in Amsterdam will include shopping and trips to vibrant neighbourhoods (including the famous Red Light District), museums, flower markets, and historical landmarks. You will also take time to stroll along the canals, crossed by charming little bridges and lined with old buildings that look as if they are reaching for the sky: a romantic setting that invites you to daydream. On foot or by bike, getting lost in this village-like capital is a real pleasure to share your partner or just your friends.
From Dam Square, the heart of the city, you only have to take a random path to discover an interesting neighbourhood. This road leads to the Grachtengordel, an area characteristic of Amsterdam with its Germanic architecture. This path overlooks the Jordaan, the trendy and vintage district loved by artists and young bohemians alike. This avenue leads to the business district. From here we reach the Museumplein, which houses some of the most important museums in the Netherlands. And then the Red Light District, perhaps the equivalent of our Parisian Pigalle, where we are more willing to show what other cultures hide...
The Amstel flows under each of Amsterdam's 1,500 small bridges. This river gave its name to the city, but also to a famous Dutch beer brewed in Amsterdam: Amstel. In fact, Holland produces some of the most consumed beers in the world! The Dutch are also great consumers and producers of cheese: Gouda, Leerdammer, Edam and Mimolette are the most famous. You can sample these delicious specialities in the many cafes and terraces that line the canals or during a picnic in the Vondelpark.
How to get there?
Practically all major airports in the UK fly to Amsterdam, or it is also accessible by train from London St. Pancras International.
Where to stay?
There is no shortage of accommodation in Amsterdam! Couples will be tempted by a romantic hotel overlooking the canals, while families or groups of friends may prefer an apartment in a typical city house.
Papers and visas
The Netherlands is part of the Schengen area, so there are no border controls for European Union citizens. For UK visitors, a passport is now mandatory for entry due to Brexit.
The Netherlands is part of the Eurozone , so the currency is the Euro. Be careful though, some restaurants and supermarkets in Amsterdam only accept local cards, so make sure you always have some cash.
The cost of living in Amsterdam is similar to other European capitals (including Paris), but it is possible to find accommodation that is not too expensive if you book two or three months in advance. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure that the tourist tax is included in the price when booking, as it is one of the most expensive in Europe: 7% of the room price plus €3 per night! For B&Bs, the tax rises to 10% of the booking price. You should also be aware that some accommodations add a 5% surcharge for payment by credit card, so it may be a good idea to pay for your booking in advance on a site such as Booking.com to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Sockets are not the same as in the UK, so an adaptor is necessary.
When it comes to activities and museums in Amsterdam, prices can be quite high. And while children and the under-18s often benefit from advantageous discounts, this is rarely the case for students and senior citizens. To save money, we recommend the Amsterdam City Card. It costs €57 for 24 hours, €78 for 48 hours, €95 for 72 hours, €110 for 96 hours or €118 for 120 hours, and can be purchased online before your stay or directly at the airport, at the tourist office, from the GVB (Amsterdam's public transport company) or in certain hotels.
The Amsterdam City Card gives you free access to the city's public transport, bike hire and over 70 museums and activities, including the Rijksmuseum and the A'DAM Lookout. It also includes a cruise on the Amsterdam canals and offers discounts of between 25% and 50% on car hire, in certain car parks, at museums and in certain restaurants. While the Amsterdam City Card can save you a lot of money, make sure it's worthwhile for your stay, depending on what you want to visit and whether or not you plan to use public transport: Amsterdam is a city that's easy to visit on foot or by bike!
April and May are the best months to visit Amsterdam, as there's very little rain and it's also tulip season! Summer is still very pleasant, even if there are a lot of tourists. Autumn is the most romantic time of year, with the trees turning red and the leaves falling on the canals. Avoid winter, though, as it can be very cold.
Amsterdam is a very safe city. Nevertheless, stay alert and take care of your belongings: scams and thefts are rare, but not non-existent. Finally, you may want to avoid the red light district at the very end of the evening. The emergency number is 112.
Do not attempt to bring cannabis back to your country of residence, it is illegal and many checks are carried out on trains, coaches and planes as well as at the land border.
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