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Plan your next trip to Amsterdam

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Holidays to Amsterdam: Discover the Dutch capital

Thanks to its proximity to the UK, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam is just a quick plane or train trip away. This makes it an ideal destination for an action-packed city break - you'll never run out of things to do in Amsterdam!

Picture long walks along the city's romantic canals, visits to world-famous museums and art galleries, and nights out in the neon-soaked Red Light District. Whether you’re there to delve into Amsterdam’s history, have a family-friendly holiday or if the city is a stop on a longer trip through Europe, we’ve got all the very best deals and tips for your next Amsterdam holiday.

What's more, Amsterdam is one of the easiest trips for holidaymakers from the UK and has a lot to offer no matter when you decide to visit, whether that's at the height of summer or for the city's excellent Christmas markets.

Travel tips for Amsterdam

If you're already thinking about booking an Amsterdam holiday in the near future, our round up of travel tips is a great place to start. From the best time to visit this city to the easiest way to get there from the UK, here are our top tips for planning an Amsterdam holiday.

When is the best time to visit Amsterdam?

Like many of the bigger European cities, there's no wrong time to visit Amsterdam; each season has its own set of pros and cons.

☀️ Summer: This is the most popular time to visit Amsterdam, especially during the school summer holidays. Expect warm weather, longer queues at Amsterdam's key attractions and higher prices for flights and accommodation.

🍁 Autumn: A contender for the prettiest time of year to visit Amsterdam, this is an ideal time to explore the city's outdoor spaces. Apart from admiring the autumn foliage, you'll also get a kick out of the cheaper holiday prices!

❄️ Winter: Winter holidays in Amsterdam are all about cosying up in cafes or pubs; better yet, time your stay to coincide with the city's Christmas markets!

🌸 Spring: With King's Day and tulips both on offer, spring is a great time to be in Amsterdam. The city looks its best at this time of year and you can get some fantastic holiday deals too.

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Getting to Amsterdam

As mentioned, Amsterdam is very easy to get to from the UK. Flying is a popular choice, where a flight from London to Amsterdam will get you into the city in about an hour. A number of low-cost airlines operate this route.

Another increasingly popular option is to go via train. You can catch the Eurostar from London and get to Amsterdam by connecting through Brussels in Belgium. It's certainly a more scenic way to get to Amsterdam and you can expect the journey to take around 5.5 hours in total.

If you're happy to be flexible with time, there are a few other options available, including train-and-ferry packages, long-distance buses and, of course, jumping in your own car and going on an epic road trip.

Top tips for your Amsterdam break

Rent a bike: The city is full of cyclists and bicycle lanes, so it is easier to get around on a bike than it is through other means of transportation. But, if you are staying central, it's also fairly easy to get around on foot.

Learn the cannabis etiquette: Educate yourself on the rules of Amsterdam's cannabis culture to avoid doing something illegal.

Explore beyond central Amsterdam: There is more to Amsterdam than just the Red Light District, so take some time to explore beyond the centre.

Eat local specialities: Chunky chips, waffles, poffertjes and cheese are all local classics that you should definitely indulge in.

Where should I stay in Amsterdam?

There are plenty of accommodation options available in Amsterdam. If you'd like to keep things cheap, you can expect local hostels that are full of character - and with enviable locations right in the centre.

In fact, your biggest decision will be whether you'd like to stay in the centre of it all or slightly on the outskirts for a quieter experience. Hotels, houseboats or hostels - central Amsterdam will provide you with a suitable option for you to rest your head.

A more central stay is recommended for first-time visitors and those seeking a nightlife-heavy holiday, while couples and families may want to consider the outskirts of Amsterdam. For an especially unique and authentic experience, you should rent a houseboat; book this in advance, especially during spring and summer!

Book your dream accommodation in Amsterdam


The best neighbourhoods in Amsterdam

  1. City centre: An absolute must-see, you'll find some of the city's most important sights here, like the Royal Palace and Amsterdam Museum. This is the ideal spot for shopping too; take a stroll along Kalverstraat or Leidsestraat for inspiration.

  2. Jordaan: One of the city's most popular districts, Jordaan's narrow streets are filled with trendy cafes, restaurants and shops. But there's sightseeing to do here too, as this is where you'll find the Anne Frank House.

  3. De Pijp: Multicultural and endlessly artistic, a visit to De Pijp should be high up on your list of priorities. This neighbourhood has the highest density of cafes and restaurants in all of the Netherlands. Don't forget to see the Albert Cuyp market, officially the largest open-air market in Europe.

  4. Red Light District: Love it or hate it, you'll need to visit Amsterdam's Red Light District to decide for yourself. Full of nightlife venues and bars, you can have a pretty fantastic night out in this neighbourhood.

  5. Amsterdam Noord: Amsterdam Noord has emerged as the coolest district in the city in recent years, offering a wide range of eateries and entertainment options. Plus, you can take the free ferry here, which is a highlight within itself!

The top 12 things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the best cities in Europe. There is so much to see and do that you won't have a spare second to feel bored. Amsterdam has all the typical attractions you'll find in a major city, like family-friendly sights, museums, shops and a multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants. However, there are also more unusual spots that you can't find anywhere else, such as the infamous Red Light District.

In addition, Amsterdam is famous for its cannabis coffee shops, but take note that the local government has been considering banning tourists from entering these cafes so it's important to keep up with the latest updates.

All in all, Amsterdam is ideal for a weekend away. While the city is not known for being cheap, there are many free or affordable activities on offer. Even if you only have a few days to work with, you can cover a fair bit of ground. Here are some of our favourite things to do in the Dutch capital.

1. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House is a must-visit while in Amsterdam. As the name suggests, this is the house where Anne Frank hid with her family to escape the persecution of Jewish people during the Second World War, and it's where she wrote her famous diary.

Located on Prinsengracht, the house has been converted into a museum, and it's popular to visit all year round. Tickets usually go on sale two months in advance, so be quick to book the time slot you'd like. While most tickets need to be booked online in advance, some additional tickets are released on the day too. No matter when you buy tickets, expect to queue when you get to the museum.

The history of how the family lived in the secret annex is brought to life as you walk through the very walls and through the hidden entry to the attic where they resided for years. The story is heart-wrenching and the mystery of who ultimately betrayed the Franks remains. Even though the history and topics covered are difficult, Anne Frank House is an essential stop on any Amsterdam holiday itinerary.

2. The canals

We've all seen photos of the gorgeous canals in Amsterdam. While there are only three main canals, there are over 150 in total. The city has an impressive 100km of canals with about 90 islands and around 1,500 bridges to help you navigate the city and explore.

The three main canals are Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. The canals are mostly used for boating and it's worth enjoying a boat ride during your stay. Don’t try taking a dip though - the water isn't suitable for swimming.

3. Red Light District

Whether you end up loving it or not feeling so sure, the Red Light District is one of Amsterdam's most unique sights.

In the Red Light District, you'll find many things that you would never see in the UK. There are brothels, sex shops, museums and even a Red Light District pub crawl. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam (although not on the street), and the Red Light District gets its name from the neon lights in the windows of the 'storefronts'. In general though, the Red Light District is friendly and safe - although perhaps not the best spot for families or the faint-hearted!

4. Heineken Experience

Of course, drinking beer can be a fun experience in itself! You might not think that learning the history of beer or how it's made would be as interesting as drinking it - but the Heineken Experience sets out to prove you wrong. The Heineken Experience takes you on the journey of Heineken, which started out as a small brewery and ended up being the world-famous beer brand it is today.

Each tour lasts about 90 minutes. You can take it at your own pace, and it all ends with a chilled beer or two. To receive a discount, book the Heineken Experience online.

5. The Avocado Show

The Avocado Show is a cafe dedicated to serving you sit-in and takeaway meals containing - you guessed it - the most famous of all the superfoods. But don’t be fooled into thinking that only vegetarian or vegan food is served here! There are plenty of dishes that include your favourite proteins, such as chicken, bacon and salmon.

The Avocado Show is not just a dining experience. You can also buy some merchandise during your visit, including cookbooks, clothing, accessories and even a giant avocado inflatable pool float.

6. The 9 Streets

This quaint and quirky small neighbourhood is home to funky shops, cosy cafes, artisanal food shops and loads more. This is Old Amsterdam at its best with plenty of beautiful places to get that perfect holiday snap; simply grab a pastry and your camera and go for a little wander. The 9 Streets are located right in the middle of Amsterdam's UNESCO World Heritage Site canal belt. Highlights here include the Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market, and the Anne Frank House is just around the corner.

7. Vondelpark

Known as the lungs of the city, Vondelpark is a huge 120-acre public park in Amsterdam-Zuid. First opened in 1865, the park currently welcomes around 10 million visitors each year. The vibe here is super relaxed and it's a great place for a stroll and to feel like you're far away from a built-up urban scene.

Between June and August, there's an open-air theatre that hosts live entertainment and music events.

8. Grab a coffee, Amsterdam-style

Once you've been there for a while, you may be feeling more open to what Amsterdam has to offer. In this city, after all, a coffee shop might not only be a place to get a cappuccino but also to participate in the recreational use of cannabis. While cannabis is not legal in the Netherlands, you are permitted to use cannabis sold from and in licensed coffee shops. Whether you'd like to participate or are simply curious, you could always join in on a coffee shop tour of Amsterdam.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Keep in mind that the rules around cannabis usage in Amsterdam can and do change, so it's worth reading up on the latest guidance.

9. Take the kids to the Science Museum

For those on a family holiday in Amsterdam, you'll be pleased to know that there are kid-friendly venues that appeal to a wide variety of interests. To enrich your kids’ minds and reward their curiosity, take them to the NEMO Science Museum, where they can participate in science experiments and discover how things work. A visit here normally lasts 2.5 hours and costs around 17.50 euros per person. As an extra bonus, the museum is only a 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station, which means that you can throw in some additional exploration of central Amsterdam.

10. Travel back in time

Located to the southeast of the city, the Castles and Gardens region is a spectacular spot that transports you back in time to the medieval age of wealthy Dutch merchants. Conveniently located only 30 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station and well within cycling distance, some must-see towns in the Castle and Gardens region are Muiden, Naarden and Weesp.

If you love all things Game of Thrones or fairy tale movies, then you are in for a treat with the region's majestic castles and gardens. If you only have time for one, take a guided tour of Muiden Castle, believed to date back to the 10th century.

11. Escape the city

Most holidaymakers rarely get beyond the magic you can find in central Amsterdam, but there is much more to this city than its centre. Found on the other side of the IJ River, the NDSM Wharf is an old shipyard that's become a hub for good food and entertainment.

Known as a cultural hotspot, the wharf is filled with bars, live music venues and markets; it also plays host to festivals throughout the year. You can even do some bungee jumping from a crane or simply catch some sun on the beach. It's an unmissable venue for spending the day with family or friends.

12. Be romantic

While the city certainly has its wild side, Amsterdam also happens to be a top choice for a romantic getaway or even a honeymoon.

The first thing you'll need to do is find the right hotel. There‘s no shortage of romantic places to stay in Amsterdam, ranging from high-end accommodation like the Amstel Hotel to more affordable options such as the Volkhotel.

Discover the city's romantic side by taking lengthy walks through the beautiful parks or enjoy an idyllic bike ride through the city and its surrounding countryside. Complete your romantic Amsterdam city break by watching the sunset on top of the A’Dam Lookout observation deck.

Discover even more things to do in Amsterdam