A city break in Amsterdam is a long-time favourite and if you’ve been lucky to visit the city you’ll understand why. Amsterdam can often be associated with stag dos and the red-light district, but there really is so much more to it than that. The city is filled with beautiful architecture, culture and festivals which appeal to everyone. If you’re still undecided, then here are some great reasons for a city break in Amsterdam.
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Museums and Galleries
Amsterdam is drenched in history so it’s no big surprise that you’ll find arguable some of the best museums and galleries in Europe here. The famous Van Gogh Museum can be found in Museum Square. The museum contains over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and letters from the late artist. It’s the biggest collection in the world and well worth a visit. On Fridays, it stays open late and you can often find musicians, DJ’s and performers there. Anne Frank’s House is a moving museum where you can see Anne’s hiding place as well as the diary itself. The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s grandest museum and here you can expect to learn about Dutch history and culture as well as enjoy the well-kept gardens, all for free!
Amsterdam is where Van Gogh studied so it’s no surprise that the city celebrates art. One thing that you may not know about Amsterdam is that you can stay in many art hotels. These hotels, as well as providing a place to sleep also gives you access to art displays. The Dutch Design Hotel Artemis is one of these hotels. The hotel has regular exhibitions which change every few months, as well as many pieces from Dutch artists within the lobby. The Dutch Design Hotel Artemis is located just on the outskirts of the city and a short tram ride away from Museum Square. At the hotel, you’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable stay in one of the 256 rooms as well as enjoy art displayed by artists. These hotels are a great way to soak up local talent without having to travel far!
There is certainly no lack of festivals in Amsterdam. No matter what time of year you visit there’s always something on! You may not know this but dance music in Amsterdam a very big deal and there are many festivals dedicated to it. The biggest ones are Dekmantal Festival (June-August) and C.R.A.F.T. Festival (June). Kings Day in Amsterdam is a very big deal and if you can make it to the city during the festival then you’ll be rewarded with colourful street parties, markets, and parties galore. The day is dedicated to the King’s birthday and is a tradition held 27 April every year. Other festivals (I can’t list them all) include the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre shows, Amsterdam Gay Pride and Amsterdam Kookt food festival.
Amsterdam takes its food seriously and if you’re a foodie you won’t be disappointed with what’s on offer. There are 16 Michelin starred restaurants in the city, so fine dining is certainly an option. The Hotel Okura has 5 restaurants, 2 of which are Michelin star so well worth a visit if you fancy an upmarket meal. There are also many traditional Dutch restaurants around to sample local cuisine and our contractor Dorota recommends Haesje Claes for an authentic meal in a historical building. Amsterdam is also home to the Supperclub where you’ll be fed a 4-course meal on a bed which will turn into a club experience after the meal has finished. The restaurant Ctaste is dining in complete darkness which is supposed to heighten your taste senses (and make a mess). Living room restaurants are also a thing in Amsterdam and you can dine out in someone’s living room and make some new friends.
Amsterdam nightlife will not disappoint, wherever you fancy a few cosmopolitans, a quiet beer or a wild club night, you’ll find it in the city. As I mentioned the dance music scene is very popular in Amsterdam and the clubs will mainly stick to this genre. Big clubs include Escape, Studio 80 and Westerunie, all of which offer big DJ’s, big tunes and lasers. If you’re more into the cocktail scene, bars such as Twenty Third and Tales and Spirits are perfect. If you want to keep it casual, you can relax in one of the cities many cafes. The brown cafes are where you can sample traditional Amsterdam culture. Popular haunts include In‘t Aepjen, Café Karpershoek and Café In de Wildeman. The north side of Amsterdam is also gaining a reputation for being up and coming with many uber cool bars and restaurants popping up.
The canal isn’t just there for pretty pictures, there’s also a lot of buzz and activity around it. A canal cruise is one of the best ways to see the city and there are many you can try. You can take on your standard canal cruise in a traditional canal boat or opt for a more active option of a canal bike or hire your own mini boat for the day. We have a few cruises on our site which you can book before which are the hop-on, hop-off Amsterdam Boat Tour or a more subtle and romantic Candlelight Cruise.
You’ll find lots of local markets sprinkled around the city, where you can buy food, souvenirs, flowers, and art, basically anything you want! The most popular markets are the Rembrandt Art Market (pretty self-explanatory), the Mercatormarkt, where you can buy local produce and the Zuidermrkt, where you can buy local produce from the locals! At Christmas, there’s also a great range of Christmas Markets which really are lovely.
Bikes are a big deal in Amsterdam. If you want to explore the city like a local, there really is no other way than to hire a bike. There are many, many bike hire companies you can use, they are easy to find and affordable. If you fancy a little structure to your bike exploration, then you can also take on a bike tour of the city. There are many available and it’s a great way to see all the important parts of the city, we do have one on our site if you want to be super organised.
With tulips being the national flower you can expect to see them all over the city. The most spectacular flower show must be Keukenhof, which is actually about 30 mins away from the city. The flower show is one of the most famous in the world and if you are in the city from March-May then I’d recommend you go see. For something a little closer you can go see Tulip Island in Vondelpark, which is an annual tulip display from July-September. Finally, a trip to the floating flower market really is a must. The Bloemenmarkt is round all year and is a floating marketing on barges on the canal.