This Dutch delight is ideal for travellers seeking a restful retreat. Make no mistake, you can live life in the fast lane in Amsterdam, but the canal-lined city, with its cool café scene and bright bars nestled away in narrow, cobbled streets, is the perfect place to enjoy life at a more sedate pace. Traffic-choked roads will become a distant memory as you take a serene stroll through a capital city where the bicycle is king. Saddle up for a culture-soaked journey, taking in world-class museums and art galleries, stunning architecture and must-see tourist atttractions along the way.
Mingle with the masters
Kick off your educational trip with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, which is home to the largest collection of artwork by the mercurial maestro on the planet. Immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s creative genius in a vast space divided into two buildings, spanning several floors of exhibits. Next on the must-do list is another of the nation’s most celebrated sons, Rembrandt. Rembrandt House Museum boasts a huge collection of the painter’s works, and the impressive building was once the marital home of Rembrandt and his wife, Saskia. Take a guided tour of the beautifully restored rooms and marvel at the masterpieces. You can complete your trip by admiring the thousands of exhibits taking pride of place at The Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum, which is home to a number of iconic works from Rembrandt and many of his illustrious compatriots.
Step back in time
For history buffs, Anne Frank’s house will be on the must-visit list, where the 15-year-old wrote her famous stunning diary during World War Two.
See the sights
With its quaint windmills and wonderful waterways, Amsterdam boasts a picturesque landscape to explore. Visitors can jump on board a sight-seeing canal cruise to take in the elaborate merchant houses and churches built in the 17th century during a period that has been dubbed the Dutch Golden Age. Impressive spots include the National Monument in sprawling Dam Square and the Albert Cuyp Market. Named after the 17th century painter, it’s Europe’s biggest outdoor market with more than 250 stalls selling everything from fruit and veg to books and clothing. If you’re in need of even more shopping while you’re in town, check out the Waterlooplein flea market or the fantastic floating flower market on the Singel Canal to pick up some tulips. Or just admire the colourful fields of the flowers if you’re not in the mood to buy.
Where to stay
Avid readers will likely be keen to head for this hotel, which has long been a favourite haunt for many of Holland’s leading authors. The plush accommodation comes with its own library, but you won’t want to spend too long with your nose in a book. The venue is arranged into ten distinguished 17th century houses overlooking the water in the heart of Amsterdam’s canal belt, which was afforded UNESCO World Heritage status. You’ll be right in the thick of the action, too, as Ambassade hotel is just a leisurely amble away from the centre of the city.
Created by Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of Pulitzer Prize founder Joseph, Amsterdam’s first five-star hotel is set within 25 restored 17th and 18th century houses. The Pulitzer overlooks the waters of Amsterdam’s canal belt and is within easy reach of the myriad attractions the city has to offer. Each room even comes with a bike repair set, just in case you encounter any bumps in the road while joining the cycling set.
Qatar Airways flies directly from Hamad International Airport (HIA) to Amsterdam, with return flights taking between six and seven hours and costing approx QR3,200.
Amsterdam is a compact city that is very easy to navigate whatever your chosen mode of transport. Cycle rentals are very popular, but if that’s not for you, Amsterdam’s excellent tram, bus and Metro services links the top attractions. Taxis are slightly expensive.
The Amsterdam Vondelpark Festival hosts free music, theatre, dance and cabaret shows in its beautiful open air theatre. Performances start between noon and 2pm till 4pm and 5pm, Fridays till Sundays. The festival ends September 10.
To explore the city swiftly and efficiently, invest in a GVB multi-day transport ticket, which allows you to hop on and off the city’s buses, trams and Metro services throughout your stay.