You’re travelling to Europe for business? Why not push back your return date by a few days and spend some time in Amsterdam? It’s a beautiful city to discover by boat, on foot, or like the Dutch, on a bicycle.
Along The Canals of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is said to be the Venice of the North, and its network of canals has been recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site. Why not embark on a mini-cruise along some of the city’s 165 canals? You’ll find yourself transported back, as if magically, into the 17th century, discovering Prinseneiland, Bickerseiland and Realeneiland, picturesque man-made islands built to house the shipyards. Should you wish to alternate cruising and sightseeing, the hop-on, hop-off service offered by Amsterdam Canal Bus is an excellent option. Night cruises are also available, with the bridges and ancestral houses all lit up.
Walking The Dutch Museums
Culturally speaking, Amsterdam has a lot to offer. Here are three of its most famous museums:
- The Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’ largest museum, is a must. It houses more than a million works of art, including 5,000 paintings from 1400 to 1900.
- The Van Gogh Museum is also worth a tour, with more than 200 paintings and 500 drawings by the great artist.
- The Anne Frank House is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Highlight of the tour is the Achterhuis, the secret annex where Anne and her family hid for two years before being betrayed and taken away to a concentration camp. Her diary is also on display. If you’re traveling by boat tour, don’t blink, or you may miss it.
Cycling Around Town
In Amsterdam, bicycles truly rule, with more bikes than inhabitants. Follow their example and ride around the city, on the lookout for Amsterdam’s treasures, big or small. A bicycle ride is also the best way to visit parks. Among them, Vondelpark, with its summer concerts, and Westerpark, with its cinema. Bike rentals are to be found all around the city. One of them, Amsterdam-Velo, offers a 2-1/2 hour sightseeing tour of the city.
Dutch Food Trip
WORLD CUISINE. The Dutch love exotic cuisine. Amsterdam has more than 700 restaurants from many foreign countries, including Indonesia, a former Dutch colony. Why not go for a rijsttafel at the Blue Pepper? Picturesque with its plethora of small plates covering the table. On Saturdays, the restaurant offers a supper cruise on a luxury boat.
LOCAL CUISINE. Simple, generous, savory – Dutch cuisine is prepared with fine local products. The Wilde Zwijnen restaurant is a fine example, and its menu varies with the seasons. Even if the place is called “wild boars,” they also feature fish and vegetarian food.
Don’t pass on the opportunity to spend an evening in a bruine kroeg (brown cafe). The equivalent of British pubs, there are literally hundreds of them in Amsterdam. The concept: a friendly local setting where beer is served, but also jenever malt spirits, as distilled by the Dutch since the 16th century. Some of these cafe-pubs date from the 17th century and are well worth a visit.
Contemporary And Historical Hotels
CONTEMPORARY. The Citizen M is a favorite of business travellers who appreciate modern design. Located in the south part of the city, 15 minutes away from the great sightseeing sites, it was chosen as one of the world’s trendiest hotels by Trip Advisor and Conde Nast and Fortune magazines.
Prinses Irenestaat 30
HISTORICAL. Those who prefer a more traditional setting will opt for the Ambassade Hotel, an historical building located along the Herengracht canal, in an ancient 17th century merchant’s house. Offering an impregnable view on the canals, the hotel is also renowned for its library of more than 3,000 books signed by writers who have stayed there over the years and its vast collection of works by artists of the famous experimental CoBrA movement, displayed in the rooms and hallways.
Practical Tips For a Netherlands Getaway
- During the summer, enjoy one of the city’s several beaches.
- For tulip lovers, the Keukenhof, the world’s largest garden, is a must.
- Avoid driving in Amsterdam. It’s highly impractical, and parking is very expensive.
- As a rule, leave 5% to 10% tips in restaurants, bars and when taking a taxi.
- Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, though, everybody speaks English.
- The “I Amsterdam Card” gives free access to numerous museums, all buses, trams and metros, and includes a free boat cruise on the canals.