The Vibrant City of Amsterdam - Venice of the North
Traversed by canals and waterways, Amsterdam is an enjoyable city to visit for a leisurely boat trip or the vibrancy of a lively cultural haven. Amsterdam is well-known for its many museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum, and a wide spectrum of sights, sounds and foods, influenced by its colonial history. Amsterdam's landmarks fascinate visitors with its variety from the Old Church in the Red Light District, with its little attached houses, to the Royal Palace dominating the bustling Dam square in the heart of Amsterdam.
When is the best time to go?
It is holiday time on Koningsdag (King's Day), when the entire country celebrates King Willem Alexander's birthday. It's presently held in April and Amsterdam hosts a huge open air market. If Koningsdag falls on a Sunday, the market is held on the previous day. "Liberation" Day (Bevrijdingsdag) is always held on 5th May to celebrate the anniversary of the end of German Nazi occupation in 1945 and freedom in general.
What to note before getting there
Avoid surprise costly taxi fares by asking the taxi drivers for an estimated cost for your journey. For eating out, there are numerous restaurants and snack bars serving a variety of dishes including recipes from the former Dutch colonies - Surinam, NL Antilles and Indonesia. To get to the NDSM Werf (Wharf), across the IJ lake you can take a free GVB ferry (pontje) departing from behind the station. In the northern part of Amsterdam, the shipbuilding wharf is now a cultural centre. In the tourist centre of Amsterdam it's expensive. Restaurant prices, however can be cheaper than in the UK. Amsterdam's time zone is GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 during the summer.
There's a direct link train line connecting Schiphol International Airport station with the centre. Trains leave every 10 minutes from Platforms 1 or 2. The journey takes approximately a quarter hour and costs about 4 EUR. Bus 197 takes about 35 minutes to travel to Leidseplein. A taxi will cost around 50 EUR. Accommodation-wise, you can find cheap hostels from about 20 EUR per night and hotel prices start at about 45 EUR. Taxis in Amsterdam are expensive - a 10 minute journey will cost around 15 to 20 EUR, whereas a public transport 24 hour Day Ticket costs around 8 EUR for adults and around 3 EUR for children 4 to 11 years. Tram tickets are sold as singles.