This fascinating city is the capital of the Netherlands, and a cultural and business hub. In 2012, it earned second place as the 'best city in which to live in' by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Amsterdam attracts flocks of tourists throughout the year. For travellers that favour hot weather, the best time to travel to Amsterdam is in July or August. The climate in Amsterdam is never really extreme, so off-season travel is ideal for saving on the cost of accommodation and exploring the city without the high peak crowds. There are a variety of annual festivals held in the city throughout the year. Every January, on the third Saturday, is Tulip Day, which takes place at Dam Square. Amsterdam International Fashion Week is also held in January. Each year, in April, is the Imagine Film Festival, which promises ten days of screenings from a wide range of genres. For those that enjoy their food, the annual Dutch Raw Food, and Taste of Amsterdam festivals take place in June.
The main language spoken in Amsterdam is Dutch. Restaurants and snack bars are numerous. These serve up a wide range of authentic cuisines, including traditional dishes from former colonies. The cost of living tends to be expensive in the tourist 'traps'. Restaurants, transport, and grocery shopping prices are often lower than in the UK, while clothing and shoes can be more expensive. If you plan to use a taxi, ask for an estimated cost before getting in to the car. Amsterdam is in the Central European Time Zone, which is GMT +1.
There is a wide choice of hotels to select from in Amsterdam to suit a variety of budgets. Most hotel accommodation includes an early morning breakfast. Low cost hostels are available from around 24 Euros per night, while hotel rooms can be rented from around 45 Euros. Prices can vary significantly from one hotel to the next, also the time of year usually factors into the cost. Buses and trains serve Amsterdam Schipol Airport. Travelling by rail from Amsterdam airport to the city centre takes around a quarter of an hour, while travelling by bus usually takes about 30 minutes. Taxis are quite expensive with charges including a start cost, a charge per minute, and an additional charge per kilometre.