Amsterdam city centre is a compact area stuffed with top holiday attractions. Even better, you can get around by boat, on foot or, as many of the locals do, on a bike.
While many cities have great art galleries, few have such a popular Red Light District as Amsterdam. And if you fancy a day out of the city, it’s easy to hop on a bike or jump on a train.
Rather than wandering aimlessly around the city, short break visitors may be interested in guided tours of Amsterdam from ‘Amsterdam City Tours’. Test tours provide knowledgeable Amsterdam experts to show you the sights. There are many tours available and they can be tailored to your personal needs.
Only Venice can rival Amsterdam for its canal network. They make the city atmospheric, near traffic-free and easy to get around. The web of canals that radiate over much of the historic city are lined with attractive 17th century buildings and crossed by small bridges.
A stroll around the Jordaan or the Grachtengordel districts is a delight. If you need even more water, head for Oosterdok, the revamped dock area east of Amsterdam Centraal Station. Here you’ll find the Nemo science museum and the Maritime Museum with a fine collection of antique boats and barges.
The Rijksmuseum is one of the great art galleries of the world and an Amsterdam city break landmark.The Rijksmuseum collection covers early religious works to masterpieces of the Golden Age.
Over one million visitors a year go to see the works of Rembrandt and the other great names of Dutch art.
The Rijksmuseum is the centrepiece of the Museum quarter – Museumplein – home to the two other major Amsterdam museums, the Stedelijk and the Van Gogh museums as well as several smaller galleries and arts centres.
Amsterdam’s Dam Square
Dam Square is at the very centre of Amsterdam life. The city was founded here when a dam was built on the river Amstel. Today it’s known for its laid-back culture, as a shopping area with food stalls and restaurants, and for its street performers. Having said that, the square itself is nothing special.
The highlight is the Royal Palace or Koninklijk Palace, although it’s no longer home to the Dutch Royal family. Other sights include Madame Tussauds, the war memorial, the Nieuwe Kerk and Beurs van Berlage, now used for concerts and exhibitions.
Amsterdam’s Anne Frank’s House
The Anne Frank House tells of the suffering of a Jewish family in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, so vividly recorded in Anne Frank’s own diary. A visit takes about an hour but you could queue at least that long to get in.
There are no guided tours. A brochure gives brief details and there are TVs playing video loops. The secret Anne Frank annexe is in its authentic state, empty of furniture but with contemporary artefacts. No photography is allowed. Next door is an exhibition centre, a cafe and a souvenir shop.
Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum
This world-famous Amsterdam museum has the world’s largest collection of the Van Gogh’s work. The permanent collection features about 200 paintings and 500 drawings by Van Gogh and his friends Gaugin, Monet and Toulouse Lautrec, among others.
Van Gogh’s paintings are on the first floor. In the summer season museum queues can be long. It’s worth checking on a Friday night for any special cultural events when you can view the paintings in relative freedom from the crowds.