Pretty houseboats bob on tree-lined canals and bike bells ring in the air. Tall slender buildings line the waterfront. This could only be Amsterdam. A capital city with small village charm, it’s an enchanting destination bursting with history and culture. For an unforgettable trip to the capital of the Netherlands, here’s everything you need to know about Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has more canals than Venice (165, to be precise) with a combined length of over 60 miles. Over 2500 houseboats reside on the water, as well as a handful of shops like Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market where you can peruse bulbs and bouquets. Flowers, particularly tulips, are synonymous with Holland and Amsterdam. The best place to see colourful carpets of tulips is at Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest flower gardens just outside Amsterdam. If you visit between March and May you’ll witness a floral spectacle like no other.
As a city with a rich cultural heritage, you’re never far from a museum in Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s main showcase of history and art featuring awe-inspiring paintings from many famous Dutch masters. Go to see Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ and Johannes Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’. For some regency splendour, head to the Van Loon Museum, an opulent 17th century building stuffed with fine furniture, paintings and porcelain.
For more aristocratic grandeur, Amsterdam’s Royal Palace – which is still in use by the Dutch Royal Family – is a work or architectural wonder. Originally built as the city’s Town Hall, it’s open to the public to visit and admire the baroque décor.
The Dutch love their street food, so be sure to make the most of their signature snacks when you’re out and about. Pick up a stroopwafel (syrup waffle) and place it over a hot cup of coffee and the waffle will slowly heat, melting the syrup inside. On a more savoury tip, bitterballen are another must-try – deep-fried spheres of finely shredded beef with a crunchy outer crust. Wash them down with an ice-cold Dutch beer. You’ll be spoilt for cheese choice, too. Stop by one of the many cheese stores for some locally produced Gouda.
With few roads, cycling is a great way to explore Amsterdam. Consider a bike ride pedalling around the city’s meandering streets. To go further afield, it’s easy to leave the city and reach the countryside cycling through pretty villages with traditional wooden houses and windmills.
If you’re inspired to go Dutch and visit Amsterdam, click here to discover a Trafalgar tour.