High culture meets good times in Amsterdam, a city as popular for museum-hopping mini-breaks as it is for raucous hen or stag trips.
Its iconic 17th-century canal houses, delightful cafés and fleets of vintage-style bikes project an air of wholesome, timeless charm. But make no mistake: there’s more to this destination than Rembrandt and tulips.
Arriving at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
From London City Airport you'll touch down at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, located to the southwest of the city. This is the Netherlands' biggest air travel hub, so it has excellent public transport connections. Jump on a train here and you’ll be at Amsterdam Centraal station in less than 20 minutes. The journey will cost around €5, though you’ll have to pay a small surcharge for a disposable ticket if you don’t want to invest in an OV-chipkaart (this is much like London's Oyster card; you can use it across all forms of public transport and top it up as you need).
With trains departing every 10 to 15 minutes, this is the most convenient and affordable option. However, the buses won’t break the bank either, and will still get you into the city centre within about half an hour.
And of course, should you prefer to just go straight to your accommodation, you’ll find plenty of taxis waiting outside the airport. Expect to pay about €40 to get into the centre. Your driver should offer you a flat fare for the journey, so check what it is before you get in.
One of the highlights of Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter, this majestic 19th-century building houses one of the finest collections of Old Masters anywhere in the world. It’s famous for its works by Rembrandt, most notably the Night Watch; however, this atmospheric masterpiece is just one of 8,000 works of art on display.
The top-heavy structure of the Stedelijk Museum is unmistakable. Like the Rijksmuseum, it sits on the Museumplein public square. However, you won’t find any dark and moody Old Masters lurking amid the airy galleries here, which are dedicated to great works of 20th- and 21st-century art.
Buying flowers while on holiday may feel like an indulgence too far – but then you are in the flower capital of Europe. Even if you're not buying, the colour, life and atmosphere of this world-renowned floating flower market make it a must-see. You’ll never be more keenly aware of being in Amsterdam than when you’re surrounded by tulips in their thousands.
Anne Frank House
It looks like any other house from the outside, but this unassuming building on the Prinsengracht canal is the place where Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution for over two years. Today it is a poignant museum documenting the lives of the Frank family.
A leisurely bike ride or stroll along the canal network, or Grachtengordel, in the centre of the city is one of the loveliest – and most wallet-friendly – ways to spend a few hours in Amsterdam. Each new stretch of water reveals yet more beautiful merchants’ houses that demand to be photographed. Factor in time to stop at some of the inviting cafés that beckon along the way.