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.
Food and Drink
Traditional Dutch food is hearty and heavy, with a focus on meat and carbs. However, the dining scene in Amsterdam is multicultural, and if you’re in the mood for a particular cuisine, chances are you’ll be able to find it.
From crispy bitterballen (meatballs) and kroketten (croquettes) to sweet, chewy stroopwafel (caramel waffles) and fluffy poffertjes (mini-pancakes), the city’s markets do an excellent line in traditional snacks. The massive Albert Cuypmarkt is always a safe bet for any of the above, and a whole lot more.
Amsterdam is full of irresistible cafés. In Jordaan, you’ll be spoilt for choice, but look out for the inviting green and white awning of Winkel 43 on Noordermarkt and you won’t be disappointed – its apple pie is legendary. De Pijp is also known for its café culture. In the hectic central areas like the red-light district, meanwhile, cafés abound but quality is not always assured. Play it safe with a visit to perennial favourite De Koffieschenkerij, known for its lovely, leafy outdoor space.
Steer clear of eateries with a persuasive waiter stationed outside – a sure sign of a tourist trap. Just as during the daytime, Jordaan and De Pijp top the list of evening eating districts, but venture further to the west and you’ll find some more unusual choices, such as the Foodhallen indoor market – excellent for international street food favourites from burgers and tacos to ramen and bao buns.