Looking for history, culture and delicious food? Then pop across the English Channel for a mini break in The Netherlands. Anna McGuire recommends Amsterdam for your next weekend escape.
The beautiful city of Amsterdam offers history, a laid-back atmosphere and one of the world’s most sophisticated canal systems. Whether you are travelling with friends, family or your other half the capital of the Netherlands has something for everyone.
Two or three days will you give you plenty of time to explore and take in the sights so whether you want to appreciate the panoramic views of Amsterdam at A’dam Lookout or you just want to relax on a canal cruise, you will be spoilt for choice.
The beauty of Amsterdam is that wandering the streets, grabbing a casual slice of pizza and taking a selfie in the big yellow wooden shoe in Dam Square is all part of the experience.
My top things to do would be:
Hire a bike
Amsterdam is globally renowned as one of the most cycle friendly cities in the world and with cycle lanes dotted everywhere, you can clearly see why. Head to one of the local bike stores to rent your very own bicycle and discover the city just like a local. You could hire a bike for the entire duration of your trip, or if you prefer to get around by foot, rent one for a couple of hours.
Visit the Anne Frank House
Step back into history at one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House. At the museum you will gain a glimpse into the life of Anne Frank and her remarkable story. The museum release most of their tickets two months in advance, but they do sell out fast – visitors can book online at www.annefrank.org/en/museum/tickets.
Try a stroopwafel
Make sure you embrace the local food and dig into a traditional Dutch waffle at some point during your trip – the stroopwafel is a classic favourite, made from wafer cookies and caramel syrup. Pair your stroopwafel with a hot drink to help make the caramel syrup melt and create an extra gooey treat. Amsterdam has plenty of other popular foods on offer including Belgian waffles and classic pancakes topped with endless amounts of chocolate sauce – delicious!
Discover the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum displays art from The Middle Ages through to the present giving its millions of annual visitors a true taste of The Netherlands. Located in the Museumstraat (Museum Square), the gallery showcases work from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, Jan Steen and Van Gogh. With 8,000 pieces of work the famous museum is steeped in history and a must see.
Attracting both locals and tourists, Vondelpark is a hot spot for cycling, walking, relaxing and appreciating the charming architecture. Coming to life in the peak of summer, Vondelpark has an array of restaurants and cafes, performances at the open-air theatre and immaculate lawns to enjoy a picnic. The park is quieter in the colder months but still just as beautiful so pick up a hot chocolate and stroll around in the crisp winter air, just don’t forget to wrap up.
Enjoy a beer at the Heineken Experience
Head to the Heineken Experience to find out how a small local brewery grew into one of the world’s most popular beers. Once you arrive you will be able to learn about the making of Heineken, the brewing process and what they do to maintain their successful global status. When your tour ends you can head to the in-house bar, the Best ‘Dam Bar to enjoy a chilled beer or two.
Dine at Envy
Round off your trip with a trendy meal at the Mediterranean inspired restaurant, Envy. Serving up tapas-style cuisine, the Michelin star rated restaurant is led by chef, Bobby Rust. Taking inspiration from all parts of the world with an ever-changing menu, this restaurant is popular with foodies. Treat yourself to the cosmopolitan Envy experience to round-off your trip!
Positioned only a short distance from the UK, Amsterdam provides a diverse weekend away with its incredible offering of museums, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightlife and many attractions. Now take the plunge and book your next weekend escape to Amsterdam!