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Visit Amsterdam

Take the ferry to Amsterdam with Stena Line

canals in amsterdam
Welcome to Amsterdam

With more canals than Venice, flanked by 17th century gabled houses and spanned by 1,281 bridges, Amsterdam fully deserves its reputation as one of Europe's most picturesque cities. However, far from a living museum, the Dutch capital lays claim to a vibrant cultural life with world-class museums, music and theatre venues and a burgeoning collection of chic hotels and restaurants.

Amsterdam's diminutive size, combined with the warm and liberal attitude of its locals, makes it feel more like a village than a sprawling city, liberally dotted with cosy cafés, unusual museums, quirky boutiques, and lively markets. Whether you visit Amsterdam for a weekend or longer, this guide will help you pick out its entertainment highlights and secrets, from the magnificent Rijksmuseum and bijou Huis Marseille photography gallery to free jazz concerts and windmill microbreweries.

Museums in Amsterdam
The Museums

Amsterdam boasts some of the world's most celebrated museums, including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, NEMO Science Centre and Anne Frank House.

Don't forget the quirky little hidden gems like the Handbag Museum, Van Loon and Huis Marseille.

amsterdam canals
The Canals

Amsterdam's 400 year-old canal system is its defining feature and a cruise along its watery arteries is key to understanding the city and admiring its elegant canal houses.

Take a cruise or rent your own boat and then hit the cobbled streets on foot, strolling along the prestigious Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend) on Herengracht, the grand Prinsengracht and leafy Brouwersgracht.

5 things to do in Amsterdam
Five things you might not know about Amsterdam

1. Amsterdam is almost identical in size to Manhattan, which was founded by the Dutch in the 17th century as New Amsterdam.

2. Amsterdam is home to over 750,000 bicycles, with 490,000 cyclists pedaling around the city each day.

3. As you stroll around Amsterdam's Centraal Station and Eastern Docklands, you're actually below sea level, on reclaimed land. As the French philosopher, René Descartes, said: "God created the world but the Dutch created Amsterdam."

4. "Holland" only applies to two western provinces along the North Sea, Noord and Zuid Holland (North and South Holland), encompassing Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam.

5. Every night, one third of the water in Amsterdam's 400 year-old canal system is replaced with fresh water from the Ijsselmeer by an intricate system of sluices and mechanical pumps.

Photography Spots Amsterdam
Five top spots for taking Amsterdam photographs

1. Posing in front of / on top of / peeking around the 6'5"ft-tall travelling iamsterdam letters, currently located behind the Rijksmuseum.

2. From the "piazza", or Mediterranean-style Café DECK5 roof terrace, of the NEMO Science Centre, which can be visited without buying a museum ticket.

3. On the narrow Staalstraat drawbridge, which overlooks the picturesque Groenburgwal canal and Zuiderkerk church spire.

4. On Herengracht canal, recreating the iconic 17th century painting 'The Bend in the Herengracht near the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam' by Gerrit Berckheyde.

5. From the top of the Westerkerk church tower, whose bells Anne Frank heard as she hid on nearby Prinsengracht during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam

Cafes in Amsterdam
Make Like a Local

Amsterdammers love getting "gezelig", which can be loosely translated as getting cosy with friends and an added dash of nostalgia.

Enjoy fresh coffee and almond pastries overlooking a canal; enjoy a picnic in the Vondelpark; settle into a tiny candlelit bar with an Amstel beer; hire a 'sloep' boat to motor around the canals at sunset with friends and enjoy the mardi grasstyle celebrations on King's Day.