Amsterdam city breaks
It's about more than canals, coffee shops and clogs!
Amsterdam has long been a favourite with Brits looking for city breaks: known as the Venice of the North, it has over 1,500 bridges, an intricate maze of canals, and houseboats adorned with pretty decorations. It boasts quaint, cobbled streets awash with amazing architectural feats, and some of the world's finest museums and art galleries.
There is also a plethora of beautiful gardens to enjoy, amidst dozens of world-famous attractions: but whether you head for the Red Light District, the Van Gogh Museum or Anne Frank's house, you won't be disappointed. And after a hard day's sightseeing, what better way to end the day than by sampling Dutch culture? This is the only place in the world where you can purchase a pair of clogs before a three-course meal of pancakes!
It's official: Amsterdam's beautiful, bizarre, and one of Europe's best city break destinations. Of course, there's so much to do and see here, you'll need a comfortable, affordable base to call home during your stay. Here at HomeAway, we have hundreds of Amsterdam apartments, spanning all nine exciting districts. You could opt for a traditional property overlooking the city's Old Quarter, a luxury penthouse in Grachtengordel, or even a beautiful houseboat in Jordaan! Whatever you dream of when planning your Dutch holiday, consider renting private accommodation through HomeAway Holiday Rentals.
Frankie Thompson's verdict on Amsterdam
Moeders Restaurant. Homely and atmospheric Moeders is doing its best to put Dutch cuisine on the map. Serving up tasty and heart warming home-cooked Dutch food like the famous Stamppot, Moeders is a quirky and fun restaurant with hundreds of photographs of mothers lining the restaurant’s walls.
FOAM. Amsterdam has more museums per capita than most cities in Europe but there's one museum a little different from the rest. FOAM is a photography gallery showing regularly changing exhibitions of thought-provoking work by the world's most renowned photographers and photo artists.
Vondelpark. Amsterdam has many pretty parks and the most popular is Vondelpark, close to Museum Square. Come here to get used to riding a bike with the two-wheeled locals before hitting the cycle paths and in warmer months you'll find a party atmosphere with people enjoying picnics and BBQs en masse.
Frankie Thompson is the HomeAway travel expert on Central European city breaks. She can also be found on her site As the bird flies.
Top places to visit in Amsterdam
Amsterdam's Old Centre is the most popular part of the city, famed for its medieval buildings, fantastic shopping and traditional coffee shops. This is where most canal tours begin and end, and where the wonderful flower market is held: if you want to be within just steps of the capital's main tourist attractions, there's really no better place to stay! You could book an apartment overlooking the 17th century Royal Palace or Rembrandt House, or simply spend your days perusing museums: admire the spectacular artefacts of the Allard Pierson Collection, or collect the courage for a trip to the Museum of Medieval Torture!
West Amsterdam is divided into two sections: the Old and New. The Old West is a beautiful area, characterised by 19th century architecture, while the New West was built post-WW2, and boasts a vibrant multicultural atmosphere. Wherever you decide to stay, you'll enjoy more peace and tranquility than in the tourist-led districts of the city, and the option of getting to grips with everyday life in Amsterdam. The area is well within easy reach of the Old Centre, and yet is characterised by windmills and beautiful parks. Head to Rembrandtpark on a sunny afternoon: it's the the ideal place to enjoy a family picnic.
The Canal Ring, or Grachtengordel, is the most picturesque part of Amsterdam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has housed the capital's rich and famous for centuries. Built in the 17th century for wealthy traders of the time, it boasts dozens of architectural examples, beautiful monuments and museums. One of the city's most famous sites, Anne Frank's House, is also located here, amongst some more unusual attractions: as well as the Cat Cabinet, a museum displaying art and artefacts relating to felines, you'll find dozens of pancake restaurants, and Boom Chicago, Amsterdam's foremost comedy club.
Jordaan is one of the most exclusive residential areas in the Netherlands, brimming with art galleries, gourmet restaurants and bespoke boutiques. The artist Rembrandt spent the last years of his life here, and his burial place in Westerkerk is a place of pilgrimage for visiting artists. Of course, if shopping is more suited to your interests, visit one of Jordaan's flea markets instead: there are stalls covered in bric-a-brac, vintage clothes and unusual antiques, held on cobbled streets throughout the week. Afterwards, go in search of pretty hofjes (inner courtyards), before spending the afternoon in the Piano or Houseboat Museums.
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South Amsterdam is often referred to as the capital's Museum Quarter, and is one of the most popular places to stay in the capital. The museums here are some of the finest in the world, and cover almost every interest: admire the work of Van Gogh, learn about the Amsterdam diamond trade, or simply enjoy a drink at the Heineken Experience! The Rijksmuseum is regarded as the most prestigious in the area, and houses the world's greatest concentration of artworks by the Dutch Masters. Afterwards, head to the beautiful Vondelpark for an afternoon picnic, or shop for quirky souvenirs at the Albert Cuyp Market.
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