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Irene Clunie, Short Break Specialist

"When visiting the picturesque city of Amsterdam, I find a canal cruise is a must! This allows you to glide through several of the famous canals while taking in the spectacular surroundings and historic landmarks – a great way to see more of the city. My top tip is to go during the evening when the canals are lit up."

Amsterdam at a glance

Founded in the late 12th century as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel, Amsterdam is now the largest city in the Netherlands and is undoubtedly the cultural centre. Known for its friendly, free-spirited liberalism, Amsterdam is home to a creative mix of outstanding museums, picturesque canals, the red light district and millions of bicycles.

The city is made up of 90 islands with 400 linking bridges, many of which are beautifully lit at night. Steeped in old world charm, Amsterdam is home to 7,000 historically registered buildings, many of which exist along the city’s narrow waterways. Construction of Amsterdam’s canals began in 1613 with numerous merchant houses springing up in the city centre. Today many of these historic homes and businesses have been lovingly preserved, some of which have been converted into museums and hotels, so that they continue to be a part of the Dutch landscape. 

Amsterdam is a virtual hive of eclectic experiences, with many art galleries, religious sites and gardens to explore.

Perfect if you’re looking for:

  • Historic sights
  • Café culture
  • Arts and culture

Getting around

Canal tours offer a unique perspective of many of the city’s historic buildings and bridges, while the city’s narrow streets are best navigated by bike. Known as a cyclist friendly city, it is estimated that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than people. It should come as no surprise then that special traffic lanes and signals have been devised for cyclists in the city.

Dining in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is filled with all kinds of international cuisine, however, there are many Dutch foods that visitors must try! Open-air cafes in the summer time are atmospheric and are great to pass time and people watch. Dutch cheese is a firm favourite, with many charming shops selling a delightful selection of gourmet and aged cheeses.

Must-try local dishes:

  • Stroopwafel - The UK supermarkets stock these thin waffles, but the freshly made ones in Amsterdam are amazing. Buttery waffles sandwich the gooey caramel syrup.
  • Oorlog French Fries - A firm street food favourite, crispy fries are served in a paper cone topped with mayo, peanut sauce and raw onion.
  • Herring - A typical fish in the Dutch diet, the herring is also a street food favourite, served with onions.

Shopping in Amsterdam

If you're looking for the best souvenir to bring home, or a gift for a friend, you are sure to find a great find in the city. Amsterdam is famed for creativity and so shopping is a great, unique experience with many fashion boutiques and independent gift shops to browse in. 

Osprey Holidays top tips

For aerial canal views, check out the rooftops of the city's churches, the Zuiderkerk, Oude Kerk and the Westerkerk.

Get your tailor-made city break itinerary

Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Amsterdam designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:

  • All travel and transfers on days of your choice
  • Accommodation from our handpicked range of Amsterdam hotels, to suit your budget and requirements

Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.

Important information
Population 2,332,773
Languages Dutch
Currency Euro
Visa Information No visa required for UK citizens
Average temperatures

(monthly highs °C)

Interesting facts

For a really fun way to get around the city, hire a bike and join the hundreds of locals who are mad about cycling!

Distance from airports
Schiphol 18 km
Railway stations
Amsterdam Centraal

Things to do in Amsterdam

  • Rijksmuseum: The Netherland’s premier art museum, with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals.
  • Anne Frank Huis: explore the secret annexe used as a hideaway by Anne Frank and her family.
  • Van Gogh Museum: a chronicle of the painter’s life, this museum houses many of his most famous paintings, including ‘Sunflowers’.
  • Vondelpark: A large city park just south of the Leidesplein, where there are often free concerts and an open-air theatre in summer.
  • Oude Kerk: a majestic 14th century church with a world-famous organ.
  • Rembrandt House Museum: Rembrandt bought this house in 1639 and the fascinating interior looks much the same as it did when he lived there.
  • Jordaan: A lovely area to wander round, with lots of picturesque canals, cosy cafes and speciality shops.
  • Canal Tour: A great way to see the city is to take the ‘hop on, hop off’ canal boat which takes you around most of the sights.
  • Albert Cuypmarkt: the city’s largest market boasts a variety of stalls selling Dutch cheese, fruit and vegetables, as well as clothes and household goods.

Osprey Holidays top tip

Tickets for Anne Frank Huis can only be purchased online directly from the museum. 80% of tickets go on sale at noon exactly two months in advance and are for a specific date and timeslot. The remaining 20% of tickets go on sale at 09:00 on the day. There is a high demand for tickets and all timeslots usually sell out. The museum is open until 22:00 during the summer months and 19:00 in the winter. 

Click here to book

Excursions in and around Amsterdam

We offer an extensive programme of tours and excursions within the city and further afield.

Canal Cruise

Enjoy a one-hour boat tour on the UNESCO World Heritage canals of Amsterdam. Explore this lively city from another perspective and relax as you cruise along the water past iconic sights and famous landmarks. 

Marken, Volendam & Windmills

This tour takes you north of Amsterdam through the lovely Dutch countryside to the windmill village of Zaanse Schans, the fishing village of Volendam, and historic Marken. Choose from the Classic tour, or the All-in version which includes the opportunity to see how traditional Dutch clogs are made, visit an operational windmill and an authentic 1940s home and take a 30 minute boat tour across Markermeer.

Grand Holland Tour 

A comprehensive tour of The Netherlands' other cities, you will travel to the charming model village of Madurodam before moving on to The Hague for a guided walking tour around the picturesque Binnenhof area to see the Houses of Parliament and working palace of the Dutch King. Next, it's on to Delft, home of the famous blue pottery. In Delft there will be free time for lunch before a visit to the Royal Delft Blue Experience. Finally, it is on to Rotterdam where you will enjoy a one hour river cruise.

Keukenhof Gardens

Every spring the 32 hectares of gardens that make up the Keukenhof are in bloom. With over 7 million bulbs planted, the Keukenhof features many different gardens of different styles, including English landscape, traditional Dutch, and Japanese. Choose from morning or afternoon departures. All depart from the centre of Amsterdam.

Hop On Hop off City Sightseeing

With 9 stops around the city you can enjoy the best attractions the city has to offer. Learn about the sights as you go with a fun audio guide.  There is also the option to add on a one hour canal cruise.

                                                                                                                        Rijksmuseum Skip the Line Guided Tour 

Home to some of the most famous Dutch and European art, the Rijksmuseum is a must for art lovers. On this guided tour you will admire works by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn as well as others from the Dutch Golden Age.                                                                                       



We would be happy to arrange an excursion for you. To discuss options with a member of our knowledgeable team or to book, please contact us on 0131 243 8098.