Venice Hotels Articles

July 29, 2010

Have a Dam Good Weekend in the ‘venice of the North’

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most visited cities, renowned for many and rather diverse reasons – art and culture, political liberalism, picturesque streets and canals, lager and pancakes all spring to mind. Geographically speaking, it’s a fairly small city, making it easy to explore on foot, or if you prefer to join the 700,000 locals who get around Amsterdam by bike. This compact capital is the most multicultural city in the world, home to 177 different nationalities, which gives some idea of how it became such a unique, cosmopolitan, and fascinating place to stay.

Amsterdam is made up of many different quarters, each with its own particular ambience and style, all bounded by the charming canals, graceful bridges and quirky architecture. Canal cruises are a popular choice for relaxed sightseeing, particularly in the summer. Colourful, tall houses and dizzying churches characterise the cityscape, and the streets are packed with attractions for all tastes.

Where else in the world could you find celebrations of fine art like the Van Gogh and Rembrandt galleries, just streets away from the world’s oldest museum dedicated to sex? More thought-provoking fare for modern historians can be found at the moving Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht, and at the ambitious Homomonument which stretches across Westermarkt, commemorating the struggle of gay men and women against persecution during and after the Second World War.

International visitors to Amsterdam enjoy the lively, welcoming atmosphere and a busy calendar of events throughout the year. Summer is the peak season, with the national arts festival in June followed by the Gay Pride weekend and the bizarre, traditional cross-dressing parade of Hartjesdag in August. There’s also the venerable Amsterdam Tournament, a fun, three-day competition of pre-season friendly matches between the hosts, AFC Ajax, and three more club sides from the cream of international football.

Amsterdam is also a haven for pretty young things, with many stylish independent fashion and crafts boutiques to be found in the Jordaan district. It’s also home to fine food and drink, with open-air markets, delightful little bakeries and coffee shops, and of course the Heineken experience in its original brewery, which, oddly enough, features a chance to try driving a wagon with real shire-horses.

Airlines, ferries and rail serves Amsterdam from all over Europe. It boasts hundreds of hotels, from international chains and hostels to quirky, artsy listed buildings, meaning that a weekend break in Amsterdam can be tailored to suit any budget and any style. As the city is so accessible and compact, yet full of things to explore, it’s a perfect destination for a short city holiday – whether you want to sample the exhilarating summer party atmosphere, or go for a romantic getaway, skating on the frozen canals in winter before warming up in the colourful bars.

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