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.
The Dutch capital plays host to several hundred festivals every year, so the chances are there’s going to be something worth seeing during your visit. New events spring up all the time, but there are a few staples of the events calendar that are especially worth keeping an eye out for, alongside performance favourites including the annual Holland Festival (June) and De Parade (August).
Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam in the colder seasons is a breath-takingly picturesque sight, with deep snow common and frozen canals providing natural skating rinks. Adding to that winter wonderland atmosphere is this annual festival, which sees the streets illuminated with light installations from December to January. Sparkling with colourful reflections, the always-stunning canals look their absolute best. And as a bonus you’ll get to enjoy the city’s famous Christmas markets if you come at this time of year.
On 27 April, the King’s birthday is celebrated with a huge, city-wide street party that sees locals dress in orange, impromptu flea markets spring up everywhere and the canals jammed with brightly decorated boats.
Beer is big in Amsterdam, and never is it bigger than at this annual festival, held each autumn. Join the thousands of visitors who flock to the Beurs van Berlage to celebrate the local bock beer style on the last weekend in October.