Many people would agree that Amsterdam doesn’t need a sales pitch, since it already manages to attract over 12 million tourists per year, making it one of the top ten tourist destinations in Europe. Home to numerous coffee-shops, the Red Light District and many renowned art museums this (in)famous city will host a very special event in April 2013.
When to Go?
Queen’s Day (held on April 30th) has been drawing millions of visitors and locals to Amsterdam annually. In 2013 the celebration will be even more momentous since it is both the last Queen’s Day (from 2014 King’s Day will be celebrated on April 27th) and the investiture of the new King. Reigning Queen Beatrix will abdicate her throne to her oldest son Willem Alexander, who from then on will be known as King Willem-Alexander – all this accompanied by the biggest ‘street party of the year’.
How to Go?
Amsterdam is a great hub for travelling to and fro whether it`s by car, train or plane. There are flights to Schiphol from most of the major European, Asian and American cities. If you prefer a more laid back mode of transportation hop on a train from Paris, Brussels or Cologne and you can be at Amsterdam Central Station in just a few hours.
As you’ll be visiting a city built on the seafaring trade it’s only fair that you drop by The National Maritime Museum, Het Scheepvaart Museum, which is dedicated to the maritime history of the Netherlands. The museum also displays many shipping and sailing artifacts including the replica of the Amsterdam, an 18th-century ship which sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies.
Tourists didn’t used to venture to the northern part of the city until the Eye Film Institute opened its doors to the public last year. Part cinema, part museum, part mellow restaurant/bar, it’s all housed in a new building that’s a feast for the eyes. Tip: you’ll need to take a ferry from behind Central Station to reach it.
If you schedule your trip around the first Sunday of the month, then make sure to check out the Sunday Market in the Westerpark, a quirky, hipster-friendly market where you can buy anything from freshly baked bread to LPs and even children’s toys. It is also worth taking a stroll in the park since you won’t just find green in the area, but also bars, restaurants and even a cinema.
Are you travelling with kids or are you a Doctor Doolittle at heart? If so, make sure to visit Artis, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. In addition to the zoo, Artis has a planetarium, an aquarium, a zoological museum and a geological museum.
One of the best places to get your art-fix (once you’ve done the ‘compulsory’ Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House visits) is FOAM, a photography museum exhibiting international and local photographers from all eras.
Eat and Drink
Ask any Amsterdammer what’s the best place to savour Dutch cuisine and the majority of them will say Moeders. This cozy place in the heart of the Jordaan serves lekkere stampot, steaks and fresh fish from the market.
If you want to relish the bustle of Leidseplein from a safe distance, make sure to check out De Balie. Whether you just want to take it easy after a day of sightseeing with an appeltaart, have a drink or indulge in dinner before or after a concert at the Melkweg or Paradiso, this is the place to be.
You’ll need a lifetime to try out all the great Asian restaurants in town, but here are the top three if you’re in desperate need of some spice in your life: Me Naam Naan (Thai), Long Pura (Indonesian), New King (Chinese).
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam is a great place if you want to spoil yourself. Not only does it boast a great location (close to Amsterdam Central Station) but the Skylounge bar and restaurant on the 11th floor offers an amazing view of the city.
Further into the city centre with many bars, restaurants and the great Albert Cuyp street market, close-by Between Art and Kitch is a great alternative to the boutique hotels now blossoming all over the city. Beware though, if you’re not keen on climbing the stairs this might not be for you.
There are plenty of cheap and cheerful hostels around the city and one of the most popular is the Flying Pig. They have three hostels in Amsterdam, all in great locations and with plenty of fellow backpackers who’ll make sure you’ll get as little sleep as possible during your stay.
Here are additional options for where to stay in Amsterdam.