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Holidays to Amsterdam
Amsterdam - the pleasure capital
Tell the folks you're off to Amsterdam and you'll get a series of raised eyebrows and maybe more. And yes, Amsterdam can fulfil all those party wishes plus, but there's a much larger aspect to this beautiful city.
Amsterdam is shopping, art and coffee, it's walking through 16th century alleys, revelling in the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, chilling in a small bar and watching the world go by.
Amsterdam is the ideal city for cheap weekend breaks. You can fly in, fly out, see all there is and be back in time for work on Monday with a big smile on your face.
Romantic weekend breaks are a specialty - not because of any particular canal settings that we can think of, more because there is just so much to see and do in this compact little city. Shopping should please her, a beer or two should keep him happy.
Museums, galleries, restaurants, nightclubs and bars, Amsterdam has everything for last minute holidays or those just wanting a short city break. Roam the streets, take in the Van Gogh Museum (that's your must do), cruise the canals, hire a bike, go shopping. That's what city breaks Europe are surely all about!
Eating out in Amsterdam
Cheap, expensive and everything in between
Amsterdam's coffee shops are famous, but you can actually just sit in many (the vast majority) and sip on coffee and partake in cake of the non-brownie kind with ease. Amsterdam also has excellent restaurants at reasonable prices. The big clues are anything in a touristy area will be over-inflated and relatively bland. Search the hidden alleys for your foodie treasure.
The budget options - a Royale with cheese? There are plenty of fast food options and if you love mayo with your chips, Amsterdam is your place. If you're close to Centraal Station, start your budget food hunt on the Damrak; there are restaurants as far as the eye can see! We like Ah to Go, a sandwich bar and deli on Damrak.
Mid price options - The Pantry on Leidsekruisstraat 21, is good value and serves up traditional food. Naughty you if you intended to leave Amsterdam without trying local fare, and The Pantry serves up a tasty selection, including meatballs. Meanwhile on Prinsen-gracht 703, Iguazus will cheer up the meat lovers with its Brazilian-Argentinean grub. Try the chimichurri sauce and there are fish dishes as well.
Splurge - go all out at De Kas, in the old Amsterdam Greenery on Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3. A unique location and fresh, local produce makes for an interesting Amsterdam experience. The cooking style is rural Mediterranean.
What to wear, when to go
Its lovely coastal aspect makes sure that Amsterdam never gets too cold in winter. That said it gets wet and an umbrella is a good last minute throw in. The winters can get down to 3-4C and summers will climb to 20-22C or so.
Spring and autumn are delightful (all those tulips) and layered clothing will protect you from the vagaries of a spring storm.
Amsterdam - prettier by the year
There is truly something about Amsterdam that draws visitors back time and again. some say it's the friendly coffee shops and restaurants, for others it's the walk-around compactness of a vibrant and youthful city. Either way, there's plenty to enjoy in Amsterdam and you'll spend many a weekend break soaking this place up.
The Anne Frank House - you probably covered this place in history classes, but the real thing is sad and inspiring at the same time. She lived here for two years before capture by the Nazis and the very ordinariness of the place is striking. It's not sombre, nor maudlin; but it is moving.
Old Amsterdam - much of the pleasure in visiting Amsterdam is in the walking around. Devouring old alleys, strolling down the main thoroughfares and looking at the 17th century buildings is a delight. Stroll down the canal streets, stop for a coffee or a beer and just enjoy Amsterdam.
Ears to Van Gogh - the man was a certifiable genius (!) and the proof is on the walls of this place. Sunflowers may be iconic, but there is plenty more where that came from and it's all a joy. Other artists from the period are represented, so the Van Gogh Museum is well worth the queues and the effort. The world's largest collection from Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) features more than 200 paintings and 600 drawings.
The Jordaan - this old world neighbourhood is a feast for those who love narrow alleys, picturesque canals and the 17th century houses that line them. You'll also find a series of quirky boutiques and sweet little shops.
Concertgebouw - if you love music or are a sound aficionado, check this place out. Built in the 19th century the home of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has some of the best acoustics in the world. There are free concerts on Wednesdays at 12.30pm.
The must see - is the Heineken tour. What else is there to say? It's your average beer factory tour, but the free samples are generous and the history of beer, the making of beer and the ongoing delight of beer is surely of interest to everyone... isn't it?