The very best of... AmsterdamWednesday 29 July 2015 by Irina Catana Discover the best that Amsterdam has to offer, from the flower markets to the museums, the parks and the canals.
The best things to see and do
Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most unique and wonderful cities, with no shortage of places to visit. If art is your thing, take a trip to the Van Gogh museum or the recently-refurbished Rijksmuseum, which offers a jaw-dropping tour of Dutch art, sculpture and history. Another museum that is well worth a visit is the Anne Frank Museum, which brings the teenager’s WWII diary to life in awe-inspiring detail, with many thought-provoking exhibits about the experience of Dutch Jews during the Holocaust. If you prefer the great outdoors, take a stroll around the food and flower stalls of the Albert Cuypmarkt, Amsterdam’s biggest and busiest market, or simply hire a bike and meander around the delightful canals and cobbled streets– you’ll be hard pushed to find a more charming city anywhere.
The best food and drink
Eating out is very much part of Dutch culture, and Amsterdam offers plenty of choice for every taste and budget. Modern Dutch cooking is all about creating wonderful flavours with quality meat and seafood, but the city also offers up a world of international cuisine, from incredible Asian restaurants to Indonesian and Caribbean cuisine influenced by the Netherland’s fascinating colonial past. Amsterdam is also a great city to head out for a drink, whether it’s in one of the city’s infamous brown bars and coffee shops, or one of the many high end cocktail bars, street cafes and live music venues. After a big night out, grab a cone of fries with mayonnaise – it’s the perfect late night snack!
The best way to get around
Pretty much everyone in Amsterdam gets around by bicycle – they’re cheap to hire, cost nothing to run and are the perfect mode of transport around the narrow bridges and pedestrianised lanes of this wonderfully flat city. If you don’t fancy pedal power (or it’s raining), the tram, bus and metro network are all excellent, and you can use the same ticket across all three. It’s also a lovely city for walking, particularly if you want to soak up the sights and sounds of this atmospheric city at a relaxed pace. Taxis are easily found in the Amsterdam, but many of the central streets around the canals are one-way or pedestrianised, so don’t be surprised if you’re taken on a circuitous route home!
The best events and festivals
Amsterdam is a great city for big events, offering an incredible programme of over 300 festivals taking place throughout the year. The biggest festival is King's Day on 27th April, which celebrates the birthday of the country’s King, Willem-Alexander; around 400,000 people take to the streets dressed in orange, for a day of drinking, dancing and celebration. In June, the Holland Festival celebrate’s film, theatre, dance and pop music, with events taking place all over the city. If classical music is more your thing, the Grachtenfestival in August hosts free classical concerts on the city’s canals, as well as in courtyards and private homes.