Six things you can do in Amsterdam
1. Check out the museums
Amsterdam has a fascinating selection of museums. Take a trip back to wartime Holland with a visit to the Anne Frank House – a moving museum in the building where the Frank family hid during the German occupation. Art fans should try the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. For something a little less highbrow there’s the eye-opening Sex Museum, celebrating pornographic and erotic art.
2. Explore the dark side of Amsterdam
It’s what Amsterdam is famous for, and you’ve got to dip your toe in by toking a marijuana joint in a ‘coffee shop’. After dark Amsterdam’s red light district comes to life. As well as the brothels and sex shows there are also plenty of bars and clubs if you just fancy a drink and a wander.
3. Chow down
Look out for Febo stores where you can get tasty treats such as croquettes and chicken chunks for €1.20 to €3. Another bargain option are traditional waffles made by street vendors. The Dutch do fab cheese, and top varieties include Edam (smooth), Gouda (mild and creamy) and Leiden (with cumin seeds).
4. Try the local beer in Amsterdam
The Dutch love beer. Grolsch, Heineken and Amstel are leading exports, though some tasty local beers are brewed in Amsterdam as well. Don’t be surprised if your glass only comes three-quarters full, though – it’s customary for bar staff to pour large beers with a large head. See how the Dutch brew their beer and sink a few samples on the Heineken Experience tour.
5. Get out of town
Learn about Holland’s famous traditions at Rembrandt Hoeve, a clog factory and cheese farm 30 minutes from the city. If you choose to visit Amsterdam during spring, catch a train to Leiden, about 45 minutes away, to see the world-famous tulips at Keukenhof gardens.
6. Relax in the green space
The biggest and best park near the city centre is Vodelpark, perfect for kicking back on the grass if you need to chill out.
What you need to know about Amsterdam
When to go: All year round, or time your visit to see the King’s Day celebrations on April 27th (2017).
Getting there: Fly from any London airport, take the Eurostar from St Pancras, or bus it from Victoria.
Visas: Aussies and Kiwis don’t need a visa. South Africans require a Schengen visa.
Currency: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.18 EUR.
Language: Dutch, but most locals speak good English.
Getting around: Walk, cycle or take the tram. Consider buying an I amsterdam card, which offers free entry to loads of attractions as well as public transport. Prices start at €57 for 24 hours.
Going out: A beer is from €2.70, wine from €4.50 and dinner for two with wine around €80.
Accommodation: Dorm rooms start from €9.
» Trevor Paddenburg travelled with Busabout (0131 557 9393) the hop-on, hop-off coach network for independent travellers
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Spring is a great time to visit Amsterdam – come to the TNT Travel Show on March 4th 2017 at the Business Design Centre, Islington and meet tour operators who will have King’s Day trips, city breaks to Amsterdam and adventures across the Netherlands all at discounted prices. Register for free here