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Amsterdam Holidays Overview

Lively, lascivious Amsterdam has a unique atmosphere that belies the caricature of the dour Dutch. Radiating out from the Dam Square, the historic centre of the city is ringed by quaint canals and cobbled streets, thronged with bicycles, tourists, house-boats, students, and street performers. The city wears two faces: on one it smiles and beckons hedonistic youth with its notorious Red Light District and liberal view of marijuana use, while on the other it offers some of Europe's finest museums and art galleries.

For the tourist the joy of Amsterdam is its compactness. The old part of town is a pleasure to explore on foot, strolling across ancient bridges and down narrow lanes past gabled houses, dropping in to browse in inviting souvenir boutiques crammed with blue and white Delft china and wooden clogs. Pavement cafes and cosy bars offer rest and refreshment. An alternative is to take a circular canal-boat cruise and see the city from the water, peering in on the lives of the locals who live on house-boats lining the waterways.

At night even the most conservative visitor is drawn by the lively atmosphere of the infamous Red Light District, known as De Wallen, which is bounded by the Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudeziujds Achterburgwal canals near the Dam Square. Here prostitutes display their charms in brightly lit shop windows and touts encourage passers-by to view raunchy floor-shows. The best nightclubs, bars, and the theatres and cinemas are mainly to be found in the bustling Leidesplein and Rembrandtplein.

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Amsterdam holidays - Top Places To Go

1. Anne Frank House
Prinsengracht 267 (Westerkerk)
What is it? This museum is dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank whose famous diary, recorded over a two-year period, describes the experiences of a Jewish teenager during World War II. Part of the house was used as a hiding place by the Franks and others to escape Nazi persecution. The families were later discovered and sent to their deaths in the concentration camps. Otto Frank was the only survivor. The original diary is on display as part of the permanent exhibition. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits that focus on related issues. Hours of Operation: Daily 9am to 7pm; and 9am to 9pm (15 March to 14 September). Note that the queues can be long Phone:(020) 556 7105



2. Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7
What is it? The museum houses a permanent display of several hundred of the artist's paintings and drawings. The collection is organised according to three criteria. The first of these is the work of Vincent van Gogh, which is divided into five notable periods. Then there is the display of work of other artists including those of his friends and contemporaries. The third section is the showcase of the museum's history recording its progress with a feature on the development of the new wing designed by Japanese architect, Kisho Kurokawa, built to house the temporary exhibitions. Hours of Operation: Daily 10am to 6pm, Fridays 10am to 10pm Phone:(020) 570 5200



3. The Rijksmuseum
Jan Luijkenstraat 1
What is it? The Rijksmuseum was opened in 1885 and is best known for its collection of 17th century Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. The most notable of these is Rembrandt's masterpiece, the Night Watch. The museum contains thousands of other paintings and artefacts in its Asiatic collection, Print Room, Dutch History and Applied Arts sections. A visit to the museum should include a trip into its delightful garden adorned with bright flowers, fountains, sculptures and summerhouses. Nestled within the garden is a collection depicting five centuries of Dutch architecture. It is advisable to consult a map or purchase a CD audio tour for an orientation to the extensive collection. Hours of Operation: Daily 9am to 6pm (closing at 10pm on Fridays). Closed 1 January Phone:(020) 674 7000



Amsterdam holidays - Top Events


1. Keukenhof

From 2007-03-22

To 2007-05-20

What is it? The world's largest garden (32-hectares) bursts with colour during this eight week spring season. This showcase of flowers (particularly the elegant tulips and daffodils) attracts some 800,000 visitors to its flowery ramparts and is divided into theme gardens, sculpture routes and a children's exhibition known as Clever Clogs. Where is it? The Keukenhof is located in the bulb-growing area between Amsterdam and The Hague



2. Queen's Day

From 2007-04-30

To 2007-04-30

What is it? The Queen Mother's birthday is a very festive occasion in the Netherlands, and Amsterdam goes all out to celebrate staging a street party which starts the night before and keeps going well into the early hours of the next day. Traditionally people attending wear orange (the Royal family is the House of Orange), and ensure they have a beer in hand. The party also resembles a giant jumble sale, with street trade unregulated for the day allowing people to display all their unused and unwanted goods on the street in the hope of selling it to passers-by. It is a great day for bargain hunters and party animals alike, particularly if the sun shines. For more information contact the tourist office on (0)20 201 8800. Where is it? The centre of the action is at Vondelpark in the city centre



3. Amsterdam Pride

From 2007-08-03

To 2007-08-05

What is it? One of Europe's most popular and well-attended 'gay pride' festivals, Amsterdam's Pride takes place annually in early August. The highlight is the Canal Parade on the Saturday in which about 75 decorated craft carry revellers along the Prinsengracht, Amstel and Stopera canals to the delight of about 25,000 spectators. The festival includes a full programme of street parties at different venues during the week, sporting events, an open-air film festival on the Nieumarkt and numerous theatrical and cultural events. Where is it? Various places throughout the city



4. Amsterdam Roots Festival

From 2007-06-16

To 2007-06-24

What is it? Now a major event on the global music calendar, Amsterdam's Roots Festival started in 1983 as a celebration of African music. Today the annual programme draws top artists from everywhere around the world, and hordes of concertgoers who come to enjoy their talents. The festival opens each year with a massive free open-air concert in the Oosterpark, performances spanning six stages. During the rest of the festival week about 60 concerts are held at different venues around the city. The Roots Festival is part of the Holland Festival. Where is it? Various locations



5. Holland Festival

From 2007-05-29

To 2007-06-23

What is it? The Holland Festival is a yearly trend-setting and innovative presentation of the dramatic arts, the highlight of the cultural season in the Netherlands. During the month of June each year about 30 productions take to the boards across the full spectrum of the arts, music, opera, theatre and dance. The programme includes everything from pop music to topical high drama. A street café on Leidseplein serves as the festival centre where bookings can be made. Where is it? Information and booking at The Festival Centre, Stadsschouwburg, Leidseplein




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About This Page

Information on Amsterdam Holidays, Amsterdam Hotels, Holiday Packages in Amsterdam (city breaks, short stays, all inclusive and luxury deals). Also provides links and resources to Air Travel, Flights and Amsterdam Car Hire Options

Holidays Travel Guide content part sourced rom, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. By its very nature much of the information contained in the travel guide is subject to change at short notice. Travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevent authorities. We cannot accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to a person as result of information contained above.