Make sure you pack some comfy shoes because you won’t want to miss one second of sightseeing in the Dutch capital. Among its quaint cobbled streets and stunning canals, this popular city has a lot to offer and so much to do that you’ll want to make a second visit.
Amsterdam is a short and sweet hop from the UK – just over an hour by plane – and is a great location for a city break at any time of the year. The centre is a mere 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station, where you’re greeted by the hustle and bustle of shops, restaurants, museums and galleries. But watch out for the multitude of bikes – they have the priority over pedestrians here.
See the sights
Explore Amsterdam by foot or, for a few euros, buy a tram pass that allows you to hop on and off the trams all day long. No trip to the city would be complete without visiting Anne Frank House located in Jordaan – but book tickets well in advance as they sell out quickly.
Take a ride on the ferry from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Noord, where you’ll find the IJ-Hallen flea market. It’s held once a month and you can find everything from designer clothing to fine china. If you have room in your suitcase, it’s a great place to grab yourself a few bargains.
While you’re in Noord, and if you’re not scared of heights, A’dam Lookout has a sky deck with stunning views of the city that you won’t get anywhere else. If you’re feeling really daring, try the Over The Edge experience, Europe’s highest swing, hanging off the side of the building 100 metres above ground level and perfect for thrill seekers. There’s also an outside and an indoor bar for all pre and post-swing jitters.
Haarlem is a 15-minute train ride from Centraal Station. The locals refer to it as “little Amsterdam” because it has the same feel as the centre of Amsterdam but without the thousands of tourists. Here you’ll find small boutique shops selling clothes, chocolate and even tea. For a minimal charge, visit the Grote Kerk, a crossed-shaped church in the centre of Haarlem where you can discover plenty of Dutch history and gaze at the stunning stained-glass windows.
Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam and is a great place to visit in spring and summer. Rent a bicycle and ride around before stopping for a picnic in the sunshine, or take a guided bike tour for a few euros each. Free concerts are held in the open-air theatre during the summer months.
Food, glorious food
Restaurants and cafes are plentiful in Amsterdam, so you’ll never be left hungry. For a quick sweet treat, stroopwafel – made from thin layers of baked dough with a sticky caramel filling – are widely sold across the city and are well worth the calories. Voted number one in Holland for fries, visit Manneken Pis for the best-tasting frites around; plus, with more than 20 different sauces on offer, you’re sure to find the perfect condiment to go with them. There’s usually a queue, but the fries are worth waiting for. In the evening, a great place for a meal and a cocktail or two, with fantastic live music, is 5&33. The restaurant offers a wide range of food and sharing plates – the tagliolini black truffle is a must.
Where to stay
Staying in the centre of Amsterdam is essential, as everything the city has to offer is right on your doorstep. Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam is a luxurious stay, and the perfect place to unwind after a day of immersing yourself in the sights. The hotel offers state-of-the-art technology in all bedrooms, Egyptian cotton sheets, sleek decor and contemporary bathrooms. A 24-hour gym, indoor pool and sauna are also accessible for guests at no extra charge.
Need to know
• English is spoken everywhere in Amsterdam so there should be no language barrier, although learning some basic greetings in Dutch goes a long way with locals.
• We stayed at the lovely Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam, with superior king rooms starting at £156 per night without breakfast. Visit Parkplaza.com
• Eurostar trains run from London St Pancras to Amsterdam, or flights go daily from most UK airports.
Please check Gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus for travelling advice following the outbreak of the coronavirus