Fitness & fun
Great weather, a picnic blanket and a book is all you need in the Vondelpark. Surrounded by tourists and Amsterdamers, you can just make yourself comfortable and watch the street artists and other people go by. There is also a film museum and several open air stages with performances in the summer.
The Westerpark district around the Westergasfabriek is becoming more and more a cultural and party quarter. The rooms of the former gasworks play host to festivals and exhibitions.
Like in many other big cities, the capital of the Netherlands is also seeing lots of popular beach clubs opening: chill out at Strand Beach or relax at Zuid City Beach. The North Sea beaches of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal are also only half an hour away from Amsterdam. You can enjoy true Ibiza feeling on the beach in Bloemendaal with its many beach bars, barbecues and parties.
Are you the kind of person who needs to keep active? Amsterdam Wakeboardschool not only offers wakeboarding, as the name suggests, but you can also try out water-skiing, wake-skating and knee-boarding and beat the waves.
If you go to Amsterdam in the winter, it will obviously be a little too cold for that. But don't worry: the Amsterdam Light Festival has been taking place in the winter for a number of years now and it is a perfect distraction from the bleak winter mood. With light art on land and over water, illuminated bridge tunnels that reflect in the water and light sculptures, installations and images lighting up the historic centre of Amsterdam, it is an unforgettable experience for young and old.
By the way: you can find an overview of all festivals in Amsterdam throughout the year at www.amsterdamfestivals.com, from dance festivals and outdoor film and theatre festivals to food festivals.
A few little facts
The famous 'Grachten' – narrow canals – weave their way through the whole city centre; there are even more canals than in Venice! A boat tour is a great way to see lots of sightseeing attractions, house boats and impressive villas. Don't miss out on this experience!
The preferred form of transport in Amsterdam is the 'fiets', or bicycle. It is quite simply part of life there, because nobody is too fine to jump on their bike and ride to work or to the supermarket. The picturesque alleys are great to explore on foot too though. Taking a stroll past the inviting cafés and small boutiques is a perfect way to discover the city centre.
You can visit a unique location at Sloterdijk station: De Amsterdamsche Tram is an old railway car that has been restored and which even has its own lovely terrace.
You'll find true big city flair every Saturday at the Albert Cuyp market in the multicultural district of De Pijp. Along with the exotic food stalls, we also recommend the enticing street market with its spices, waffles and much more. The Oudemanhuis book market is the best place to find a new read. If you enjoy a bit of a rummage for some true treasures, Zipper in Huidenstraat is the place for you: second-hand and vintage fashion like American jeans, glamorous dresses and leather jackets await a new owner. By the way, the shops in the city centre are open on Sundays too!
The NeighbourFood Market, one of the exciting food festivals in the Westergasfabriek, is a great opportunity to try out local specialities from organic farmers, bakers, cheese makers and restaurants. Yummy!
Dishes from the former colonies are now also very popular in the Netherlands. Nasi goreng (fried rice with meat) and saté (chicken skewers in peanut sauce) can be found on nearly every corner. The 'eetcafés' are comfortable and affordable. Typical Dutch dishes include 'bitterballen' (breaded, deep-fried meatballs), 'vla' (thick pudding in different flavours), 'pommes spezial' French fries with ketchup, mayonnaise and onions, or white bread with 'Hagelsag' (chocolate sprinkles). Our tip: the Pancake Bakery doesn't only offer tasty and gooey pancakes with chocolate sauce, banana and cream, but also unusual savoury varieties filled with chilli con carne or gyros kebab meat.
Art & culture
The country's three most important museums are in Amsterdam: the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum with the world's largest collection of the master's work, and the Stedelijk Museum.
The Anne Frank House is on the Prinsengracht. That is where the young Anne Frank hid with her family for years during World War Two. Nowadays, visitors can view the back part of the house and learn something about the history of National Socialism in the front parts of the building.
You can learn about technology at the Nemo Science Museum, with its exhibitions about how energy works, or where you can make your own liquorice.
Good to know
The Dutch love their royal family! That's why they love to celebrate Koninginnedag on 30 April every year. In honour of the monarchs, a street party is put on that attracts over one million people wearing crazy costumes in their national colour orange, surrounded by animal balloons and extravagant wigs – so either watch from the sidelines or immerse yourself and join in! There is also a flea market all over the city where everyone can sell their old CDs, clothes and delicacies.
By the way: if you don't want to miss the beautiful tulips in bloom, travel there between March and May. The whole city transforms into a colourful sea of petals.