Instant expert: Amsterdam

10 Jan 2017

Think you know what Amsterdam has to offer? Think again.   

Amsterdam at a Glance

Population: 813,000
Official language: Dutch
Currency: Euro
Flying time from the UK: 65 minutes from London, 85 minutes from Manchester. From December 2016, it will be possible to take the Eurostar train direct from London to Amsterdam in four hours.  
Timezone: GMT +1
Visas: No visa required for British citizens
Tipping: Small tips (one or two euros) in restaurants are appreciated, but not expected

10 Things You Need to Know

1. There are 180 nationalities living in Amsterdam. It's considered one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

2. English is widely spoken - it's more rare to find a local that does not speak it fluently.

3. The city is known as the Venice of the North because of its 165 canals and 1281 bridges. There are an estimated 2,500 houseboats. The canal ring was named a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2010.

4. The Dutch colonial past has had a noticeable impact on Amsterdam's restaurant scene. Try the Indonesian rijstaffel (translates as "rice table"), raw herring, sweet and savoury pancakes and chips from a hole in the wall (served with a big dollop of mayonnaise).

5. The city came 11th in 2016's Mercer Quality of Living Rankings, denoting the best city in the world in which to live. That's 28 places above London.

6. The crime rate in the Netherlands has gone down every year since 2004.

7. The city has more bicycles than people and three times more bikes than the cars.

8. Taxis can be really expensive. Use the trams, metro or buses instead -- an unlimited travel card is the best value.

9. Anne Frank's House, the Van Gogh museum, and the Rijksmuseum are always popular. Buy tickets in advance and be prepared to queue.

10. John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their famous honeymoon ‘Bed-in-for-Peace’ at the Hilton Amsterdam in 1969.

When to visit Amsterdam

Spring is an ideal time to visit because the flowers are in bloom. Swing by the Botanical Garden (De Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam), one of the oldest in the world and home to more than 4,000 species of plants. The autumn is also pleasant, with fewer tourists, but just before the city enters the winter chill. Amsterdam has a cool climate with highs of 17°C in summer, but lows of 3°C in the winter.

Amsterdam is Best For…

The insatiably curious. There are 75 museums here to explore. Whether your passion is handbags, cats, gin, sex, photography or Dutch naval history, there is a museum here for you.

Bargain hunters. There are lots of markets in the city, selling flowers, antiques, and food. Waterlooplein bazaar in the Jewish District is one of the oldest. If you like a good freebie, the best city views are from the roof terraces of the Amsterdam Central Library or NEMO Science Center - no euros required.

Beer lovers. The city is home to the Heineken brewery, but there is also a plethora of microbreweries and brew pubs to visit. Make time for Brouwerij 't IJ, Butcher's Tears and In de Wildeman. The annual Craft Beer Festival takes place in June.

Cycling. You will be in happy company if you are a cyclist. The famous art museum Rijkmuseum even has a bike lane running through it.  Expect to pay around 16 EUR per day from one of the many bike rental shops.

Water babies. There really is nothing better than exploring Amsterdam via the canals. Rent a pedalo, take a boat tour, or hop aboard the free ferry across the bay to the Amsterdam Noord district.


A photo posted by Niki (@nikibrunoamsterdam) on

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