Affectionately known as "Venice of the North," Amsterdam is the political and cultural capital of Holland. The city has 1,281 bridges, 165 canals, 50 museums, eight windmills and a host of attractions that can't be found anywhere else. Amsterdam represents the best of Europe. Medieval relics fill the city along with outstanding museums, cultural institutions and high-tech headquarters. Modern architecture, notorious red light districts and liberal cafes are tucked among historic buildings and along narrow streets that are separated by canals. Visitors can explore the area on foot or see the city from the water on a canal cruise.
The Canal Ring, which achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010, is Amsterdam's most unique attraction. This fantastic network of canals is dotted with 2,500 houseboats, dinghies and official ferries that carry residents between the islands.
Amsterdam is also famous for its art museums, which house more than 22 works from Rembrandt and over 200 paintings created by Van Gogh.
Music and performances are also celebrated in Amsterdam. The city's orchestras and concert venues are world renowned. With 16,000 concerts held each year, there are plenty of chances to see one of the things that Amsterdam does best.
Amsterdam is an accessible destination with great hotels, excellent tourist infrastructure and an unlimited list of attractions that are a flight away.
The busy Airport Schiphol is located just 15 km from the heart of the city. Schiphol has regular flights to and from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and most major cities in the United Kingdom, including Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Southampton. Airlines serving these cities include British Airways, Delta, Alitalia, Flybe, easyJet and KLM.
Flights from London also travel to Rotterdam The Hague Airport. British Airways operates flights from Heathrow, and CityJet travels to the London City Airport. Rotterdam is located 60 km from Amsterdam.
The Eindhoven Airport has regular flights to London's Stansted Airport that are operated by Ryanair. This airport is located approximately 100 km from Amsterdam.
Direct trains from the Schiphol take visitors to the central station in 20 minutes. Trains run four times an hour, and buses are also available. Hotel shuttles provided by a third-party carrier are an excellent mid-range option for those carrying luggage.
Passport and Visa Requirements
Tourists from the United Kingdom and most non-EU countries can visit the Netherlands for 90 days in any six-month period without securing a visa. Passports must be presented at the time of entry. Anyone who plans to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months must apply for a temporary residence permit.
Local Laws and Regulations
In Amsterdam, the legal age to drink beer and wine is 16. Anyone who wants to enter a smoking cafe or purchase liquor must be 18.
Smoking is banned in all bars and restaurants except cafes. If it is permitted, there will be a separate smoking area.
Foreign tourists are allowed to drive in the Netherlands. Anyone who does not have an English language driver's license must carry an international driver's license.
Cafes are permitted to sell small amounts of soft drugs and cannabis although it is technically illegal. There is no tolerance for possessing hard drugs.
Prostitution is legal and regulated in Amsterdam.
Transportation in Amsterdam
Public transportation is the most convenient way to travel around Amsterdam. Tourists can purchase passes that are valid on local buses, trams and the city's metro system.
Amsterdam is ideal for bicycling or walking. More than half of the city's residents bicycle daily, and cycle rentals are available for tourists too.
When to Visit
Amsterdam is a great place to visit during any season. The tourist season begins in April when the tulip fields bloom. The majority of tourists arrive between April and September when the weather is at its best. Travel is slower in the fall and winter, but there is no distinct low season. Amsterdam has a mild maritime climate with temperatures that remain above freezing in the winter and average around 22 degrees Celsius in the summer.