For many travelers, Amsterdam ranks highly among the world’s “must visit” cities. A city built entirely on poles, Amsterdam is a maze of over 165 canals waiting to be explored. With part of the city listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, we recommend taking to the waterways to view this magnificent city as it was intended to be seen.
Amsterdam has been a key city in Europe since the 17th century when the Dutch Golden Age really came into full swing. Due to its skillful and innovative trading techniques, the city transformed from a small fishing village to one of the world’s leading financial and commercial centers, which remains true to this day. During the Dutch Golden Age, Dutch merchants sailed to the furthest corners of the world, flooding the European market with international goods. Many European countries and monarchs of the day, including Russia’s Peter the Great, looked to Holland and specifically Amsterdam’s model and global achievements, in hope of implementing and emulating some of the same infrastructure in their own countries to the same degree of success.
While the Netherlands managed to remain neutral during WWI, they did suffer mass food shortages. In WWII however, the Netherlands and Amsterdam were invaded in 1940. More than half of all Dutch Jews that were deported to concentration camps were from Amsterdam. This history has been starkly highlighted through the diaries of Ann Frank. One of the most essential places to visit is the Anne Frank house to learn about life in hiding during Nazi occupation.
Today, Amsterdam is once again a vibrant city, attracting millions of visitors each year. With a world renown museum scene, spearheaded by the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum, and 124 Michelin rated restaurants (16 Michelin starred), Amsterdam is also one of Europe’s leading cultural and culinary capitals.
Amsterdam has an unusually long season, beginning in mid-March when the tulips start blooming, and ending with the last river cruise usually in late October, early November. We recommend either April and May or September and October. Weather can be a touch on the chilly side, but they are still the lesser crowded times to visit. Amsterdam can really be visited at any time of the year, and chances are there will be a festival on during your visit. Amsterdam holds over 300 annually!
Our team of travel experts can customize a unique program for you based on your exact preferences and interests. We suggest you allow a minimum of three nights in Amsterdam to explore both the city and the surrounding countryside. Amsterdam combines wonderfully with almost anywhere in Central and Eastern Europe, due to the wide network of routes by KLM. We suggest combining Amsterdam with Berlin and Munich or with Switzerland.
If you are on a Rhine river or Baltic cruise embarking or disembarking in, we can arrange a private pre/post cruise extension with your own Exeter hand-picked private guide. Our private pre and post cruise extensions ensure that you’ll receive not only the best experience possible, but personalized service throughout, allowing you to maximize your time in the city.
Enjoy the freedom of driving yourself and discovering small towns and villages? The Netherlands is the ideal self-drive destination. Our self-drive programs allow you to do just that with the help of a pre-programmed GPS delivered to you before you leave home and with the services of our 24- hour local staff. We can craft the perfect self-drive itinerary to fit your taste, pace and budget. Let us introduce you to the essentials of each city and give you suggestions of what to do on your own. Just plug in your Exeter pre-programmed GPS and let your adventure begin!
Today, Amsterdam’s population is outnumbered by the number of bikes in the city. There is no better way to explore the winding streets and numerous bridges than by bicycle. We can arrange for a magnificent city tour, assuming the weather is nice, by bike!
If museums are more your style the Rijksmuseum is a fascinating timeline of the history of Amsterdam and Netherlandish art, from the Middle Ages through to today. It’s also close to the Van Gogh museum for those that wish to see a bit more from this master artist!
As one of the world’s largest exporters of beer, Amsterdam itself has over 1500 bars and what could be better than a 17th century tavern full of meat and beer! De Klos is one of those pubs you would walk right past, unless you knew what you were looking for. Despite being in one of the most touristy parts of town, it is surprisingly full of locals. Fair warning, the ribs are worth the wait.
Not only is it fun to say, but a stroopwafel or slice of Dutch wafer heaven coated in caramel, makes for an amazing souvenir, assuming it travels home in your checked luggage and not eaten midway across the Atlantic on your way home!