Amsterdam, everyone’s city

Amsterdam, everyone’s city

One of Europe’s most visited capitals Amsterdam isn’t just about the red

lights and the smoke-filled cafes. Its relaxed atmosphere, the cultural history

and varied activities on offer make it a desirable city amongst all age groups

while the quality of its offerings keep people coming back for more and are

also attracting many new visitors every year.

History, culture,

art, canals, parks, red lights and coffeeshops; there are many reasons why

Amsterdam sees so much tourism per year. One of the main reasons that people

visit Amsterdam for a short stay is the cultural history. Amsterdam’s

increasing cultural appeal and the easy going atmosphere sets it apart from many

other European capitals and invites all ages to join in and enjoy what is on


It may be a

compact city but there is a lot to do in and around Amsterdam. The last visitor

survey carried out by the Amsterdam Visitor and Convention Board revealed that

the range of visitors coming to Amsterdam is becoming increasingly diverse

particularly in the age category where the largest group is 21 – 30 year olds

at 29% out of the over 10,000 interviewed and all other age groups forming

around half of that percentage. It also showed that Amsterdam is attracting a

higher percentage of newcomers where the percentage is almost equal to that of

the return visitors. The top four countries in terms of visitor numbers remain

Great Britain, the US, Germany and the Netherlands while Brazil, Russia, India

and China add to the newcomers list.

So, what is so

appealing about Amsterdam?

Just wandering

around the city is a favourite past time amongst people of all ages. The 17th

century city centre offers great sites of canal side houses and a maze of

picturesque canals that you can also explore on a boat tour. With around fifty

museums to choose all covering a broad range of topics it is no wonder that

cultural history plays a major role in attracting short stay visitors. The many

cafes, restaurants and bars, along with the relaxed Dutch culture, make it an

ideal place to have a no hassle, free-spirited short break. While there are

many activities for all ages there are also fun things for the 18 – 30’s group

particularly, for visitors with children and for those who just want to relax

during their short stay in Amsterdam.


Visiting museums

is one of the most popular activities in Amsterdam because there are so many to

choose from and many offering world-famous collections. From the large and

famous like the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum to the smaller but

equally loved Anne Frank House and the Amsterdam Historical Museum there is

something to suit everyone’s tastes. The NEMO museum that sits over the IJ

tunnel near central station is particularly popular with children while the

likes of the Van Gogh get you interested even if you’re not a huge art fanatic.

And Amsterdam just wouldn’t be Amsterdam without the likes of the Hash Museum,

the Sex Museum or the Erotic Museum.

Markets and shopping

When in Amsterdam

one of the things you should do is have a good rummage through the markets. This

is also a great time to mix with the locals, pick up a few bargains and

identify some great treats. The most raved about is the Albert Cuyp Market

which is in the Pijp area just south of the historic canal belt. The central

Jordaan district has a couple of popular markets too; Noordermarkt and

Lindenmarkt. If you are staying in our short stay apartments in the East then

try the Dappermarkt which is a general market where you can pick up vegetables,

meat and other bits and bobs that will be useful to have in the apartment. Flea

markets are a huge hit amongst the Dutch so join in with the haggling and head

to one of the best at Waterlooplein. There are also a number of great shopping

areas including Kalverstraat by Dam Square, P.C. Hooftstraat near Vondelpark

and Utrechtsestraat which runs south from Rembrandt Square.

Sin city

The younger crowds

tend to go for the sin city appeal. The Red Light District and the many

coffeeshops dotted around the city leave nothing to the imagination when you

are up close but will have you always curious to see what the fuss is all

about. Cannabis and prostitution are both legal in the Netherlands, although

both have strict guidelines. The Red Light District isn’t as seedy as everyone

assumes and the majority of people walking through it are there just to see it

with their own eyes while those in coffeeshops are usually in there for the

purpose of smoking cannabis. Other appealing activities amongst the younger

groups include partying in the bars and clubs, the most popular being Melkweg

and Paradiso.

Mix with the locals

Amsterdam is great

for relaxation and it’s something that the locals enjoy too. It’s hard to

believe that in such a small city that there are forty parks and so there is

bound to be one near your chosen short stay apartment. Escape into a park

during the day for a quiet stroll, a jog in the morning or some fun time on the

playground with the kids. In the summer prepare a picnic at the apartment and

head out into a park for unwinding or even sunbathing. The most popular park is

Vondelpark which is just a short walk away from Leidseplein. We also have a

number of apartments in that area too.

Another great way

to make like the locals is to get on a bike. Almost 60% of Amsterdam’s

population cycles every day and there are just under 900,000 bikes in the city.

There are a number of bike rental companies including MacBike, Bike City and

Yellow Bike and many short stay visitors rent a bike during their leisure or

business trip for a number of reasons: speed of getting around Amsterdam;

convenience, go where ever whenever you want; cheaper than public transport;

and parking is free! Biking in Amsterdam is also safe as there are designated

lanes on the main roads. Most of the rental companies also offer bike tours so

you can get to see all the sites on a bike which makes a fun activity for all.

The Dutch ‘cuisine’

Holland is not

famous for its cuisine but while you are here why not try some of the local

favourites, some of which you can take back to your short stay apartment to

enjoy later. The Dutch love their fried foods and amongst the favourites are

kibbeling (battered fish bites), frikandel (meat sausage), Flemish fries,

kipcorn (crispy coated chicken sausage) and kroket (mashed meat sausage with a

crispy coating). While you’re out exploring Amsterdam or visiting the markets

you can also pick up raw herring, freshly made stroopwafels (caramel filled

biscuit) and loempia (Chinese spring roll). When thinking about stocking your

apartment fridge the supermarkets sell packaged stroopwafels, kibbeling and

frozen fried foods but you can also choose from readymade options such as

lasagne, pizza, nasi (Surinamese rice dish) and bami (Surinamese noodle dish).

Tour the canals

This is a must do

for all. You can explore the USECO listed canal belt on a boat tour with a

guide giving you bits of interesting information as you cruise along the many

canals. There are boat tour companies running tours from outside of the central

station and just a little further down the road on Damrak, right next to the

main entrance into the Red Light District. Another great way to see their

beauty is to walk along them, stopping to take pictures on the humpback bridges

or for a breather in one of the canal side cafes with outside seating. The

Brouwersgracht canal, which runs through the northern part of the

centrally-located Jordaan area, is arguably the prettiest of all the canals

while the Prinsengracht canal is equally as beautiful and runs all the way from

the Brouwersgracht past the Jordaan, cutting east through the southern canal

belt all the way to Amstel River. You will find some great sites along the

route such as the Anne Frank House, Western Church, Leidseplein and

Utrechtsestraat. Where ever your Amsterdam apartment is there is sure to be a

canal nearby.

Other great finds

These include the Begijnhof,

which is an inner courtyard which was established as a 14th century

convent and housed the Beguines. There you will find the English Reformed Church

and an old wooden house that dates back to 1528. The Red Light District is home

to an interesting little museum called Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in

the Attic) which served as a secret Catholic church in the 17th

century when practising Catholicism was forbidden.

Also located in

the Red Light District is the Old Church which is one of the most popular

attractions in Amsterdam and certainly one not to miss during your leisure or

business short stay; a very random location for such a well-visited and

beautiful old church. Stick around in the area and you can take pictures by the

Belle statue which is of a female sex

worker posing in a doorway with an inscription that says ‘respect sex workers

all over the world’ or keep looking down as you walk near the Old Church for

the bronze sculpture in the cobblestones of a hand caressing a breast.

The old Jewish

quarter is a wonderful place to visit and is filled with history. Opposite the

Jewish History Museum, which makes a great outing on its own, is the Portuguese

Synagogue which was built in 1665 and played an important role in Amsterdam’s

Jewish community.