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In this Destination Guide you will find information for : Amsterdam

Essential Country Information:

Netherlands flag

The Netherlands (Holland)


♦Capital: Amsterdam

♦Currency: Euro € (EUR)

♦Time Zone: +1 GMT

♦Phone Code: +31


♦Best time to visit: March to May

♦Must eat: Poffertjes (small pancakes)

♦Must drink: Amstel Beer

♦Don't miss: Anne Frank House


♦Number of times visited: 2

Getting there and transportation: Located in northwestern Europe, next to Germany and Belgium, The Netherlands is a very accessible country both by air and road. It has a big air transportation hub located in Amsterdam, where KLM, the national airline, flies to many destinations around the globe with a very modern fleet. It's easy to reach the capital, Amsterdam with a non-stop flight from America, Asia, South America and only one transit from Australia and New Zealand. 
Other airlines which offer good offers and routes to The Netherlands are Air France, Delta Airlines and Martinair  (charter). 
Alternatively if you are flying from Europe all major carriers offer flights to Amsterdam and even to other main cities like Rotterdam or Eindhoven. Low cost airlines also offer great packages when visiting for the weekend, as it's very popular to go on a late Friday and come back early Monday. 
Transavia
Ryanair and Easyjet are the major low cost airlines with the best prices when travelling light. 
It's also a good idea to travel by train or bus from nearby cities from Germany and Belgium specially. Alternatively you can also catch train services with connections from Paris, London or Zurich. Eurolines  connects Amsterdam to many European capitals, a cheap option if you are travelling with luggage and don't mind hitting many hours on the road. 
Once in the country, transportation is effective, punctual and efficient. There are many ways of getting around the big cities with integrated public transportation systems. However in The Netherlands the best way of transiting is by bike! A lack of steep hills, easy traffic and a green-education to save on gas emissions has made many cities ideal to get a cycle and discover the city by this practical mean of transport. You can rent bicycles from €5/10 a day or for longer periods of time.  

Weather and temperature: The Netherlands enjoys a temperate climate, with mild Summers and moderately cold Winters. The best time to visit, and to see the tulips in bloom, is roughly mid-March to mid-May, when also temperatures are very pleasant and there are less crowds. Summer in the Netherlands can be warm, but in the capital it can get very crowded, specially during July and August.However, no matter the time of year you visit, prepare for cool, rainy weather. Even summer days can be grey and wet, so always bring an umbrella. Winter's are mild with temperatures around 10C, at the coast or at Amsterdam it's not often they will go below freezing. The more east you travel the colder it can get. 
Food and drink:  In the Netherlands typical Dutch food tends to be wholesome and hearty, rather than elegant. Large cities and towns, however, have a wide range of restaurants specialising in international dishes. A Dutch breakfast table usually consists of fresh bread, cheese, sausage, butter and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), jam and often a boiled egg, along with a cup of strong coffee. Lunch is a rapid affair, such as snacks, salads or sandwiches. Dinner, eaten between 1800 and 1900, is a more substantial meal, usually some combination of meat or fish with potatoes and veggies. Holland is famous for its cheeses, available in jonge (young), belegen (mature) and oude (old) versions.  
Specialities include: Vlaamse frites  (French fries, though literally translated as Flemish fries) is a popular snack, customarily served with a gob of mayonnaise, though curry or peanut sauce make more exciting toppings. Erwtensoep, thick pea soup flavoured with sausage, makes a filling repast; some version of it is often served by the local pub in winter. Poffertjes, tiny pancakes often laced with Grand Marnier and dusted with confectioners sugar, are a teatime favourite. Herring fillets  are widely available from street stalls and accompanied by pickles and onions. Smoked eel  (gerookte paling) is another seafood speciality. Stamppot, traditional mash-up of potatoes with endive, turnips or some other earthy vegetable, customarily accompanied by smoked sausage. 
As for drinks, Coffee, tea, chocolate drinks and fruit juice are widely popular. Beer is good, with pilsener-style lagers the most popular. The local spirit is jenever (Dutch gin), normally taken straight and chilled as a chaser with a glass of beer, but it is sometimes drunk with mixers. It is available in numerous flavours. The most popular beer brands in Amsterdam are Amstel  and the ubiquitous Heineken, which is also produced in the city. Dutch liqueurs are excellent and include Curaçao, Parfait d’Amour, Triple Sec (similar to Cointreau) and Dutch-made versions of crème de menthe, apricot brandy and anisette. 
Source: Worldtravelguide.net
"Cofeeshops":   In the Netherlands, the concept of a coffee-shop is not only related to a simple place where to enjoy a fresh coffee. It's also the place where people go to relax, chill, play games, socialise, drink and eat light meals or snacks. Thanks to the relaxed approach of the Dutch on Cannabis, (known as weed, hash or marijuana) it's legal to smoke and consume this light drug in the licensed coffee-shops around the country. It started back in the 1970's with the growing hippy community. Weed and hash were illegal at that time, but places like the Paradiso or the Melkweg were famous to have great artists playing and people would enjoy some good music there while sharing a joint. In 1972, the first coffee shop opened its doors, the Mellow Yellow.  
Mostly located in the capital, Amsterdam has about 250 coffeeshops and most of them are located in the Red Light District. There are many kind of shops, from psychedelic to bohemian and hipster style and from very local ones to more touristic places. Each of Amsterdam coffeeshops has its own atmosphere. You can enjoy a drink only if you wish, or consume some local cakes and snacks containing a little of the light drug. 
How to order weed in an Amsterdam coffeeshop? They are not allowed to make any advertising, but the licensed ones are easy to recognise by a green and white licence sticker in the window.  Just ask the person at the counter for the menu, and they’ll give you what you need. You can obtain it mixed within cakes if you are not a smoker. Only take small pieces at the beginning as it can take up to 2 hours to work its way into your bloodstream. As a general norm, a gram of weed can get you high in about 6 times and you can make at least 3 joints from a single gram. Ask for advice if you are not sure, people in the shops are there to make sure everything is safe.
Attention:  The Netherlands have a special tolerance policy on soft drugs, but be aware that it's only allowed to consume in low quantities and inside the premises of the coffeeshop. Smoking weed, is allowed only inside the coffeeshops and not in publilc. Other things to take into account are that possession of drugs is punishable, but with a maximum of 5 grams of cannabis (weed or hash) the police will just seize the drugs. You can give them up and you will not be prosecuted. When going to the the coffeeshop they might ask for your ID, you need to be at least 18 or 21 in some places. Note that you can buy up to 5g per day from one shop. But you are only allowed to come twice a day to the same coffeeshop. Alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden inside the coffeeshops. 
This information is provided as informative only. Planet Airlines  does not encourage or promote the consumption of any drugs.

Author's Comment:

The Netherlands is such an interesting country to visit in so many ways. The cities and towns are the right size to visit for a weekend, if you are looking for a cultural visit, there's history and art at every city. However if you want to relax, The Netherlands has one of the most chilled atmospheres in Europe with loads of cafes to sit outside and watch life pass by, enjoy both national and international cuisine and for those seeking night adventure, there's hundred of bars and clubs offering late night entertainment! 
The Netherlands, has one of the most trendiest and open-minded society's in Europe, it's impossible not to miss the Red-light district of Amsterdam or visit some of the many "cofeeshops" where cannabis (weed, hash, marijuana) is sold and consumed legally. As well the countryside is not to be missed with lots of green open spaces, not too far from any city and naturally the tulip farming which is one of the most typical photographed scenes in Holland. 
It's a very inviting country with friendly people with everyone speaking a good level of English, highly connected infrastructure with Europe and a centre for leisure and tourism! A very recommended country to visit not only once but several times to escape the hassle and over-crowded feel of bigger metropolis! 

Amsterdam Tourism Information:

Amsterdam Canals
Amsterdam Canals
Introduction: The capital of the country, is known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses. Many streets resemble those of the 17th-century Golden Age. Amsterdam has a great architectural history and everything is dominated by water. It is a meeting point for all different cultures around the world and has a welcoming open attitude towards visitors. The city is well known for its museums, red light district, coffee shops but also the great variety of eating and drinking places and night life. It is also one of the most open and tolerant cities in Europe, with a large gay scene. 
It is a beautiful and romantic city with antique houses, lovely bridges, famous canals and lot's of culture and art to see. It's a great destination for leisure, night life or culture to visit year round!
Transportation:  Once you arrive to Amsterdam, you will realise that transportation is very easy to follow and understand. The city is not big, and getting around is quick and efficient thanks to an advanced transport network of trains, trams and busses. A lot of the signs are in English which also makes a big difference, and helps to navigate easily around the city. 
When arriving to Amsterdam by plane, take the train from the airport terminal to the city centre. It costs around €4.50 for a single ticket and within 15 minutes you will reach the central station of Amsterdam. (Centraal). Also depending where you are staying in the city there are other connections which are easy made by bus. For more information on the routes and timetables please click here for the official transport page. 
However when visiting the city, it's easy to walk around the centre without much need of taking public transport. Amsterdam lacks many hills or steep streets, which also makes it ideal for cycling. Consider renting a bike to see the scenes, the canals, the narrow streets and bridges which make for an ideal picture! Cycling is very safe and you will find numerous cycle paths. There are many shops around the city which rent the bikes for around €7-10 per day. 
Below you will find the transport maps for Amsterdam. 
 
 
 
 
amsterdam bicycles
A city dominated by Bicycles!
 
metro interior designs
Artistic interior on the trains
What to see and do?  Without a doubt, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s top short-break destinations. It’s a compact, instantly likeable city, that’s appealing to look at and pleasant to walk around. Also the city, embraces tourism openly with many events happening year round. The Dutch people are able to speak near-perfect English, on top of their own native Dutch and often French and German too. So no matter where you come from, Amsterdam will welcome you with open arms. The city has a very big culture, historical and artistic scene. Not to be missed are the Anne Frank Huis, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, with the wonderful collection of Rembrandt paintings. Below you will find the highlights to any visit.
  • Anne Frank Huis: The foundation for Anne Frank was set up in 1957 to reflect on the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during World War II at the Prinsengracht house where diarist Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years after feeling persecution in Germany. The front of the house is now a thought-provoking museum but the back annex has been preserved to give an idea of what life was like for Anne and the families she hid with. Note: Waiting times are often lengthy, so visit early in the morning or book online in advance to beat the queues.

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House

  • The Red Light District: The city is all about being free, open minded and tolerant. The best area to see it live is at the famous Red Light District. It might not be suited for all ages, specially during the weekend evenings, but as you walk the main street you will see, sex shops, live sex shows, erotic-women in windows, lap-dancing, and more. The district is loved by the stag (and hen) parties, coachloads of curious tourists, and those seeking night entertainment. However the area is one of the most historic parts of town, and not all is seediness. If you continue walking you will reach China Town for plenty of restaurants and cheap bars. To get there, the area is located between Warmoesstraat, Damstraat, Geldersekade and Prins Hendrikkade, trams 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 14, 16.

 
Red Light District
The Red Light District
 
Red Light District
Clubs along The Red Light District

  • Van Gogh Museum: is one of the most popular museums in the world, attracting visitors from every corner of the globe. You will find the largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh, more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters. Having originally opened on Museumplein in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has been expanded and modernised over the years.
  • Rijksmuseum: is one of Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museums. Its vast collection showcases iconic art and a wide variety of artefacts that reflect more than 800 years of Dutch and global history, including paintings by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and others.
  • The Grachtengordel (Canal Belt): Amsterdam wouldn't be the same without its canals. Taking a walk along them is one of the city’s greatest pleasures. The streets are bicycle-crazy, but relatively car-free. Most of the inner city dates from the 17th to 19th centuries. The grand canals of the Grachtengordel ('Canal Belt'), laid out in the 17th century, the most notorious are the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. It's very recommended to also walk around the canals at night when the city takes a cosy light from the street lights which reflect the water and make for a magic scene.
  • Take a canal boat trip: Take to the water onboard one of the many companies which offer daily services accross the popular cancals in amsterdam and see the view from the bottom. Most tour boats leave from docks in front of Central Station. Lovers and Canal Bus, are the best companies which offer the services, they offer both tours and hop-on-hop-off options.

 
amsterdam city
The city's typical scene with the canals
 
Amsterdam canal boats
Amsterdam canal-tour boat Company
 
Amsterdam canal boat
Boat on the canal

  • Hire a cycle: as already mentioned above as a mean of transport in the city, in addition it is actually a typical thing to do as a tourist attraction and discover the city over two wheels. There are over 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, apparently more bikes than people! Cycling in Amsterdam is a way of life, made easier by the city’s unbeatable network of cycle routes and flat landscape. There are various ways of hiring one. You can join a tour, hire a cycle per hour (from the various docking stations around the city) or hire per day, which is the best flexible option and cheapest actually. 

  • Jordaan neighbourhood, wandering into this area might feel like stepping back in time. Originally a working class area, the Jordaan’s narrow streets and quaint buildings now make up one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, dotted with independent art galleries, antiques shops, courtyard gardens and atmospheric bars and restaurants.
  • The Nine Streets, this is the area for shop-lovers! While many visitors head straight to the busy chain-store mecca of Kalverstraat. The combination of the nine streets, or locally known as De Negen Straatjes are some quaint cobbled streets that connect the main canals between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat. You’ll find over 200 retailers, including a fine selection of independent boutiques, vintage shops and speciality stores selling everything from designer dresses to handmade cosmetics. If you’re looking for souvenirs visit the Local Goods Store in De Hallen or the I amsterdam Store in the Central Station.
  • See the tulip fields, if you’re visiting Amsterdam in spring, then take the short 20-minute trip out to the world famous tulip fields, Bollenstreek, with colourful stripes across miles of lowland fields between Harleem and Leiden. If you can't go to the fields but still want to see the tulips then head to the most famous place to buy tulips and bulbs in Amsterdam, the Bloemenmarkt. Located at Bloemenmark, Singel 1012. 

Suggestion, visit Haarlem: If you’re in Amsterdam for more than a few days, then head out of the city to explore the surrounding area. Just a short hop from Amsterdam lies a rich landscape of gorgeous countryside, beaches, castles, windmills and historic towns, all easily reachable from the city centre. Just 20 minutes from Amsterdam Central by train, the picturesque city of Haarlem overflows with history and culture, plus a great selection of shops, cafes and restaurants. In the surrounding countryside you’ll also find plenty of old castles, fortified towns and ruins, of which Muiden is one of the most spectacular examples. 
Accommodation:  Staying in Amsterdam is reasonable for all budgets thanks to a very diverse offering of Hotels and Hostels suited for all pockets. Hotels directly in the city centre, are more expensive (€75-90 per night) but as you walk a little further (or cycle) you will soon find cheaper accommodation options. You can find plenty of Hotels which offer good options depending on location, value for money and ambience. Hotels can be costly around the Summer and the weekends as Amsterdam is very popular for weekend trips, stag/hen-parties and friend get-a-ways. Always try to book in advance. Prices are around €50-60 per double room per night for cheap Hotels. Hostels are widely popular and can be found all over the city from around €20 per bed. Other accommodation options like Airbnb is getting also very demanded for private accommodation if you are on a tighter budget.  
Recommended duration:  Amsterdam is the perfect city to get away for a weekend to relax and escape bigger cities. Its ease of transportation, location of everything centralised, comfortable to walk and being a very open-calm-pretty city makes it an ideal stopover for any traveller in the area. If you are only coming to relax and enjoy the spare time then as mentioned a weekend would be ideal. However it can get very crowded during the Summer and the spring specially with the Tulip season. So it's advised to plan well in advance with flights, Hotels and any tours. If you want to absorb the culture, explore some of the outskirts and enjoy the city atmosphere a more comfortable stay of 3 to 5 nights would be ideal, out of the weekend. 

Amsterdam Photo Gallery: