Amsterdam: The perfect city break with markets & museums

Think of Amsterdam and the first thing that probably comes to mind is the red light district and pungent coffee shops, but these aren't the only reasons the Netherlands' capital attracts millions of visitors every year. Amsterdam really is so much more and is perfect for a city break.

Amsterdam Canal © Artur Bogacki -

Known as the 'Venice of the North', Amsterdam is actually built on reclaimed land and is made up of several canals with over a thousand bridges. If you prefer the more leisurely way of sightseeing, take a river cruise or join in with the locals who cycle their way around the capital. Head to the outskirts for a more scenic bike ride to traditional Dutch villages, passing the occasional windmill as you go.

For culture vultures

Amsterdam has plenty of cultural sights. If the sun's shining take advantage of the many parks including Vondelpark, the most famous in the Netherlands. Events take place in each park all through the year, and in summer many host open air concerts.

New Rijksmuseum, photo courtesy of Amsterdam Marketing

For art lovers, the Van Gogh museum is an absolute must, and you can also choose from the other 41 museums and 140 galleries to keep you entertained. The Rijksmuseum, which has recently finished an impressive 10 year renovation, is over 200 years old and home to masterpieces by renowned Dutch and international artists. Enjoy a beer at the Heineken Experience, with an outdoor terrace on which to enjoy the famous beverage after the tour. In the evening, be entertained at one of the countless shows within the 65 theatres and concert halls in the city.

Dam Square Amsterdam, photo courtesy of Amsterdam Marketing

Dam Square is the heart of the city and a hive of activity, with historical monuments such as the Royal Palace and the Amsterdam Historical Museum where you can learn more about the history of this region, or just sit back and savour a meal at one of the square's many surrounding restaurants.

For outdoor lovers

Markets are popular in the capital with the most famous being the Albert Cuyp, the busiest outdoor market in Europe and with over 300 stalls, you are guaranteed to find a bargain. For an even more colourful market, head to the Flower Market to see the iconic tulip amongst others in full bloom.

Tulip Bulbs in the Flower Market © Rob Gerritsen

The Leidseplein area is a lovely place to sit and people watch. This busy square is graced with outdoor bar terraces and street performers and is popular with ice-skaters in the winter who come for the outdoor rink and hot food stalls. You can't forget to shop either: Nieuwedijk and Kalverstraat are the best places to shop, and if you visit on a Thursday night you can take advantage of the late night shopping too.

The Sloten Windmill, photo courtesy of

Other attractions are the city's eight windmills, the Botanical Garden and the Artis Zoo - the oldest one in Holland. In fact, there are so many different areas to Amsterdam that a weekend here just isn't enough.

Amsterdam is also a really easy place to get around, with regular trams and bus services. Taking a ride on a tram is part of the Amsterdam experience itself, and shouldn't be missed.

Trams on the Damrak - courtesy of Amsterdam Marketing

Thinking of escaping for a city break to Amsterdam? Getting there is easy with direct flights from many major UK airports. Eurostar also offers a direct service from London St Pancras to Amsterdam. Check out our deals and discounts page to see if there's a flight or holiday deal to help get you to Amsterdam. Have you been to Amsterdam? Tell us about your experience...

Lisa Eldridge

Lisa Eldridge
Posted on Friday 29th November 2013 in: City Culture Europe

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