Amsterdam may be one of the most colorful cities in the world. Whether it's taking in the breathtaking paintings at the Van Gogh Museum, or gazing in wonder as you stroll through the 400 year old De Hortus Botanical Gardens, the colors of Amsterdam will draw you into its unique spirit. From the Royal Palace of Queen Beatrix, to the Living Tomorrow display of the "home of the future", Amsterdam is a study in contrasts. Wander through the oldest zoo in the Netherlands or discover the life of the legendary Anne Frank. Marvel at the distinct architecture and visit the world's narrowest house, or attend one of the many performance art and theater experiences.
The exhibits at Amsterdam's museums vary from stunning portraits by Rembrandt, the world's largest diamond, waxen celebrities at Madame Tussaud's, or modern masters at the Stedelijk. The main museums are all in walking proximity to each other.
This city has the most famous "Red Light District" in the world, but aside from the obvious, there are other reasons to visit this area in the daylight. Some of Amsterdam's most beautiful buildings can be admired here. It is also the best place for unusual shops and interesting pubs and restaurants.
Amsterdam's cosmopolitan outlook is reflected in the wealth of its international cuisine. A tantalizing array of restaurants and cafés offers delicacies from all corners of the globe. From sushi bars to a restaurant in a genuine Bedouin tent, if you are ready for a culinary adventure, there will be something to satisfy you.
Things to do:
Anne Frank House: Discover the life of Anne Frank.
Artis Zoo: The oldest zoo in the Netherlands.
Diamond factories: Amsterdam, Holland's Diamond City.
Royal Palace: Queen Beatrix’s Palace.
Madame Tussauds: Here you can meet famous people face-to-face!
Van Gogh Museum: Here you will find the largest collection of work by Van Gogh.
Heineken Experience: What does it feel like to be a beer bottle?
Rembrandt House Museum: House where the world famous painter lived.
When to Go to Amsterdam
The Netherlands is at its best when the temperatures climb and cafés and restaurants spill across sidewalks to lure happy groups to dine on canal boats moored alongside. Unfortunately, because such weather is so transient, you could find yourself sharing your sun-dappled experience with too many others for comfort. From tulip-time onward, museums, galleries, and tourist sights become overwhelmed by visitors, and it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain accommodation reservations. The cultural calendar runs from September through June, but there are often festivals and open-air events scheduled for the summer. However, if you can, try to avoid visiting Amsterdam at the height of summer.
Weather-wise, the best months for sightseeing are April, May, June, September, and October. The maritime climate of the Netherlands is very changeable, though, and during these months expect weather ranging from cool to pleasant to wet and windy to hot and surprisingly humid. Winters in Amsterdam can be very cold from December through February and March.
Grand Sofitel Demeure
Grand Sofitel Demeure, Oude Zijde. Once a Prinsenhof (Prince's Courtyard) that welcomed such illustrious guests as William of Orange and Maria de Medici, this grandly renovated hostelry now has a guest book littered with names like Mick Jagger and President Chirac of France. Café Roux opens out onto a glorious courtyard for the enjoyment of afternoon tea.
Crowne Plaza City Center
The Crowne Plaza Amsterdam City Centre is located right in the historic heart of Amsterdam, near Central Station.
The Plantage. Elegant enough to please Audrey Hepburn, extroverted enough to welcome Madonna, this grand dowager has wowed all onlookers since it opened its doors in 1867. You'll feel like a visiting V.I.P. yourself when entering the magnificent lobby, a soaring salon covered with wedding-cake stucco trim and replete with a grand double staircase that demands you glide, not walk, up it.
Hotel de l'Europe, Oude Zijde.
Owned by Freddy Heineken's daughter, this hotel is one of the comeliest tulips in Amsterdam, thanks to its storybook facade and that ruby-and-tangerine gilded lobby, a top spot to perfect the art of high tea.
Seven One Seven, Western Canal Ring.
Suavely fusing grandeur with tasteful glamour, the guest rooms here are minimuseums, replete with classical antiquities, framed art, flowers, and objets and candles on tables and fireplace mantels. The plush library is a setting designed after Sherlock Holmes's own heart.