Amsterdam

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.

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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.

Nightlife

Amsterdam’s nightlife is legendary, and whether you’re looking for a big night out at a club, a few quiet drinks or a drag show, this city has got you covered. Don't believe the stereotypes, which typify Amsterdam's nightlife by the lurid, in-your-face atmosphere of the red-light district – the city has a lot more to offer besides coffee shops and sex shops.

Leidseplein is the ideal area for a pub crawl, with a serious density of bars that tend to attract a young and noisy crowd. Rembrandtplein is its rival for the crown of most beloved nightlife district, and also has a good variety, from major clubs and cocktail bars to cheap-and-cheerful Irish pubs. Touristy Dam Square draws massive crowds after dark. All of these areas offer larger clubs alongside more intimate bars. Across the city, a wide array of buildings such as gasworks, schools and warehouses have been repurposed as clubs and venues.

De Pijp is another key nightlife district, and with the concentration of great restaurants here, you can find plenty of places to fuel up before heading out for the night. This area is more about coffee shops and bars than mega-clubs, but it’s easily walkable and filled with character.