Language: While the local language in Amsterdam is Dutch, English is spoken everywhere, and usually very fluently too.
Currency: The currency used in Amsterdam is the Euro (€).
Local time: Amsterdam is one hour ahead of GMT/UK time.
Fly to: Schiphol Airport (AMS). It’s around 25km southwest of central Amsterdam with excellent transport links.
Flight time from the UK: Around 1.5 hours (for example, it’s approx. 1 hour 15 minutes from London and 1 hour 40 from Belfast).
Transfers: Book airport transfers before you go or use Amsterdam’s cheap and efficient network of train, bus and metro services.
Eurostar: You can also take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal Station, either direct or via Brussels, connecting with the Thalys service. The direct route takes around 4 hours.
Tourist information: You’ll find all sorts of useful tips on the city’s official I Amsterdam tourist info website.
Jam-packed with history, culture and those iconic urban backdrops, it’s no surprise Amsterdam city breaks are so popular. Of course, it helps that the capital of the Netherlands is just a short hop across the North Sea from the UK!
But don’t be fooled into thinking this famously chilled-out destination is only for short breaks and weekends away. There’s more than enough to do in and around Amsterdam for a longer getaway, from exploring sun-dappled canals and losing yourself in world-famous art to indulging in the lively night scene and mouthwateringly eclectic eats.
6 reasons to visit Amsterdam
The warm welcome: From its cosy pubs (aka ‘brown cafes’), welcoming gay bars and buzzing clubs, to the family vibes of Amsterdam’s super-friendly Noord district, this laid-back city has its arms open to everyone.
Museums of every stripe: Art, history and more are all in the mix – see Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum, discover the sobering secrets of Anne Frank House, or immerse yourself in the living history of Zaanse Schans village.
Eye-candy cityscapes: Think picturesque canals lined with quaint old houses, gorgeous green parks in every neighbourhood, colourful flower gardens (visit Keukenhof in spring!) and grand Dam Square with its jaw-dropping Royal Palace.
Moreish street food: Snack your way around Amsterdam with a delectable supply of patat (Dutch fries) smothered in mayonnaise (ask for patatje met), cheesy kaassouffle pastries, beefy kroketten and deep-fried cod (kibbeling). Don’t forget the caramel-filled stroopwafels!
Independent shopping: From the intriguing little shops that line De Negen Straatjes in Jordaan to the famous floating flower market on the Singel canal, Amsterdam’s a fantastic place for a browse.
Romantic moments: Amsterdam’s such a beautiful city, it can certainly give Paris a run for its money. Top tips for couples include the spectacular views from the A’DAM LOOKOUT, candlelit dinner cruises on the canals, and leisurely bike rides in Flevopark.
Things to do
With much more to offer than just Dam Square, old paintings and pretty canals, Amsterdam holidays are a treasure trove of places to explore and things to do. Make like a local and sip coffee in a cosy cafe. Grab a tray of haring (raw herring with pickles) from a street stall for an on-the-go lunch. Head out of the centre to districts such as De Pijp, Amsterdam Oost and Zuidoost, where you can catch Ajax FC at home at Johan Cruyff ArenA. Or hop on a train to nearby Rotterdam, Utrecht or Haarlem.
Top of the must-visit list for a spot of culture is Museumplein, where you’ll find the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum (fine art), Stedelijk Museum (modern art) and the Royal Concertgebouw concert hall. Or if it’s alfresco attractions you’re after, check out the panorama from A’DAM LOOKOUT (will you dare try Europe’s highest swing?) and the tree-framed lakes and lawns of beautiful Vondelpark.
You should also lose yourself in the quaint alleyways of the Jordaan district, dip into Amsterdam’s history at spots like the Joods Historisch Museum and Anne Frank House, and stroll the cobbles of De Wallen, the oldest part of the city. But be warned, De Wallen is not a place to take the kids, as it’s also Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District.
And of course, for the quintessential Amsterdam sightseeing experience, you have to book a canal tour.
Get a taste of city life
Foodies, music lovers, shoppers and beer drinkers alike are in for a real treat on Amsterdam city breaks. The Dam’s social scene is an eclectic mix of live music venues, buzzing restaurants and inviting pubs, bars and cafes, while shopping ranges from fascinating flea markets to the luxury retailers in Oud Zuid.
Try homely dishes like suddervlees (beef stew) from a traditional Dutch eatery, such as Moeders in the city centre. Go beer tasting at a craft brewery or immerse yourself in the Heineken Experience. Pick a cocktail joint to suit your style, from the chilled vibes of Bar Mokum to the super swish Twenty Third. Throw yourself into the famous nightlife of Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and the LGBTQ+ focused Reguliersdwarsstraat. Or check what’s on at one of the city’s hugely popular gig spots, led by the famous Paradiso and Melkweg – which is basically three live music venues in one!
As for shopping, classic Amsterdam souvenirs include wooden clogs, tasty local cheeses (there are tons of specialist shops, or you could visit a cheese farm!), and pretty Delftware porcelain. You can also pick up vintage bargains at the Waterlooplein market, hop between record stores and designer boutiques in De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets) and buy flower bulbs from the barges of the floating Bloemenmarkt.
Explore outside Amsterdam Centrum
If you’ve got more than a couple of days for your Amsterdam city break, or if you’ve been before, make sure you head out to some of the neighbourhoods outside the city centre. De Pijp’s perfect for free spirits, Amsterdam’s answer to Paris’ bohemian Latin Quarter. It’s home to the huge Albert Cuyp street market and all sorts of lively bars and cafes. Over to the east, explore the refined boulevards of De Plantage, tuck into melt-in-the-mouth Turkish pastries in Amsterdam Oost, and soak up the classy vibes of the city’s newest neighbourhood, IJburg.
Zuidoost is the place to go for big-name entertainment, from football to arena shows in venues like AFAS Live and Ziggo Dome, and sailing on tranquil Gaasperplas lake. And then there’s Amsterdam Noord, with its combo of cutting-edge architecture, waterfront terraces, flea markets and the NDSM Wharf culture hotspot.
Plus Amsterdam holidays are perfect for bike rides to rural villages, such as Ransdorp, a day trip to the idyllic Zaanse Schans living museum (windmills, clog makers, and more), and train rides to Rotterdam, Utrecht and Haarlem. Planning Amsterdam holidays for the summer? Pack your beach gear for a day in clubbers’ favourite Bloemedaal aan Zee or chilled-out Zandvoort, an old fishing village (you can get to both by train). And don’t miss your chance to visit the incredible Muiderslot castle!
More city breaks
Got the travel bug? Check out our guides to an array of other exciting cities in Europe and beyond, including: Barcelona | Copenhagen | London | New York | Paris | Rome | Singapore | Venice
Amsterdam enjoys a stable climate with four distinct seasons.
Schiphol Airport (AMS), around 25km southwest of central Amsterdam.
Alternative transport: You can also travel by Eurostar to Brussels with onward tickets to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, via Rotterdam.
Language: While the local language in Amsterdam is Dutch, English is spoken everywhere, and usually very fluently too.
By bike: Amsterdam is very cycle-friendly. There are plenty of bike rental shops as well as a great network of cycle paths. You can even join a two-wheeled sightseeing tour to help you get your bearings.
By boat or barge: Taking a trip on the Amstel River and the canals is an iconic way to see the central sights, especially on the hop-on/hop-off Canal Bus tour.
By ferry: Heading to Amsterdam Noord? Make use of the free ferries across the IJ River for attractions such as the Eye Filmmuseum, A’DAM tower and NDSM Wharf. You can even take your rental bike!
By metro: Amsterdam’s five metro lines make it super easy to explore the whole city and beyond. Hop on a Noord Zuid (North South) train, for instance, and you’ll soon be in chilled-out De Pijp, home of the famous Albert Cuypmarkt street market.
By tram: The tram system is ideal for travelling around the centre. You can buy tickets on board, though you’ll probably find an OV-chipkaart or an I Amsterdam City Card more convenient if you’re using a lot of public transport.
High fashion: Young and upcoming designers showcase their work every January at Amsterdam International Fashion Week. You can expect fashion-themed museum exhibits, art exhibitions and lots of parties.
Live gigs: From indie bands to DJs, Amsterdam’s brimming with fantastic music all year. Check out iconic venues like Melkweg and Paradiso or plan your trip around the big-name concerts at AFAS Live and the Ziggodome arena.
High fashion: Young and upcoming designers showcase their work each January at Amsterdam International Fashion Week. You can expect fashion-themed museum displays, art exhibitions and, of course, lots of parties.
A right royal celebration: The Netherlands gets into party mode on Koningsdag (King’s Day), on the 27th April every year. Pack something orange to wear and throw yourself into this citywide shindig marking King Willem Alexander’s birthday, with everything from pre and after parties to flea markets.
Pride: From the canal boat parade to exuberant parties, Amsterdam Pride is an unmissable part of the LGBTQ+ calendar. Usually held in late July or early August.
Festival time: August’s esteemed Grachtenfestival features 10 days of jazz, blues, classical and world music. Enjoy a grand performance at a concert hall, or cosy up at a blues jam in an Amsterdam resident’s garden.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, you’ll need a valid passport for Amsterdam. And as the city’s in the Netherlands, which is part of the EU, you’ll want to check the entry requirements even if you’ve been before – they may have changed since your last visit.
Do I need a visa?
Visas aren’t usually needed for holidays to Amsterdam, but it depends on how much travelling you’ve been doing (both for fun and for work). You can find current details on the UK government travel advice website.
Do I need travel insurance?
It’s not compulsory for Amsterdam holidays but it’s always a good idea to take out travel insurance, wherever you’re headed. Make sure it protects you for all the activities you’re planning, and includes Covid-19 cover.
Remember to get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card as well, or take your EHIC if you still have a valid one. Just be aware that these don’t replace comprehensive insurance cover, but are to prove you’re entitled to healthcare if you need it while you’re away, such as emergency treatment.
Check out the FCDO travel health advice for the most up-to-date information.
Temperature: Average highs range from 5°C in January to 22°C in August.
Best time to visit: Spring, summer and early autumn are best for warm sunshine and lighter layers.
With mild weather in Amsterdam for a lot of the year, it’s a fantastic city to explore - so long as you’re prepared for the chance of rain whenever you go.
Temperatures hover in the mid-teens (°C) between March and May making spring a great time to walk around, stopping off in cosy cafés and pubs. And of course, summer’s always a popular time to visit, thanks to warm highs of 22°C, and up to 11 hours of sunshine a day.
Things start to cool down in autumn but you can still look forward to average highs of 18 - 19°C in September and 15°C in October. November’s when the chill really starts to hit – you’ll want your big coat from then until February / March.
Best hotels in Amsterdam
Leonardo Hotel Amsterdam City Center
Fletcher Hotel Amsterdam
Leonardo Hotel Vinkeveen Amsterdam
Best Western Amsterdam
WestCord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam
Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Landmark
The Arcade Hotel
Hampton by Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Netherlands, Amsterdam, Amsterdam Airport Hotels
ibis Schiphol Amsterdam Airport
Netherlands, Amsterdam, Amsterdam Airport Hotels
ibis Styles Haarlem City
Places similar to Amsterdam to visit
Regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful hotspots, this stylish Czech Republic capital is brimming with grand historical and cultural sights. Combining cubist cafes with contemporary art and trendy nightclubs, Prague holidays are full of surprises. From its twist on relaxation at a beer spa to its fairytale-like castles and quirky puppet shows, this city gets top marks for creativity.
Known as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’, no holiday to Prague is complete without climbing the 299 steps of the Petrin Tower to admire the magical skyline. Next up is the Jewish Quarter, here remains of the Second World War leave the most impressive relics. And for gothic and baroque architecture, the Old Town is waiting to be admired. If romance is on the cards, a lantern-lit walk across Charles Bridge is a must!
Weekend breaks to Prague
If you’re looking for a short getaway, weekend breaks to Prague offer the perfect blend of historic influence and the modern feel of a cosmopolitan city. Get lost through a labyrinth of cobbled walkways, where you’ll find cosy cocktail spots backed by magnificent cathedrals and ancient castles. Explore Prague’s historic Old Town and soak up its medieval grandeur in the Hradcany district. The modern enclave of Prague is where you’ll find all the best restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs. And shopaholics will be just as impressed by the spot’s line-up of retailers.
One of the best ways to see the city (especially at night) is with a boat tour down the Vltava River. Step back in time as you appreciate the soaring soviet structures from the water while sipping Champagne. And when your feet are firmly back on land, take a moment to recognise the beauty of John Lennon Wall.
Prague Last Minute
Searching for a last-minute Prague holiday or city break? Check out this fantastic range of curated deals to help save money on your spur-of-the-moment getaway. Whether you’re hopping from one microbrewery to the next on a beer tour, or immersing yourself in the culture at one of its 280 museums, this action-packed capital is full of adventure.
Dine al fresco at a traditional bohemian restaurant as you tap your foot to live musicians and talented street performers. Or, head along the backstreets of Mala Strana, where you’ll find classic Czech pubs whipping up local delights, such as pork knuckle. Head here at Christmas time, hot chocolate in hand, to discover stalls upon stalls of handmade crafts and hearty street food.
Things to do
Every city has two faces
Prague is no exception. The first face it shows you is a perfect example of a wonderful historical city that is proud of its past. The second is a modern and pulsating capital that resembles the real life of the city. So put away that stuffy guidebook and enjoy the heart of the magical metropolis like a genuine Praguer!
Impressive Old Town
Prague has a wonderful range of historical sights, and the best place to start is at the UNESCO-listed Old Town. Have your camera at the ready as you wander through a myriad of cobbled streets and gaze up at medieval architecture. Cross the River Vltava over the iconic Charles Bridge to the Lesser Quarter, but not before you’ve seen the almighty Church of Our Lady before Týn.
You can see many churches including St. Vitus Cathedral, along with the incredible Prague Castle. One of the city’s most famous sights, it’s the largest ancient castle anywhere in the world. If that isn’t enough, book a tour and check out more wonderful buildings like the Old Royal Palace.
Prague is the perfect place to go if you love visiting museums and galleries. It has several world-class examples including the National Museum, the Jewish Museum and the National Gallery, which houses the Czech Republic’s largest collection of art. Continue your cultural journey by visiting a concert hall, such as the Rudolfinum to see the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. And don’t forget to sample one of the best things about Prague; the huge selection of fantastic local beers.
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The capital and cultural centre of Sweden, Stockholm is an elegant city where cutting-edge fashion and high-profile nightclubs jostle with cosy cafes and historical towns. The best time to visit is during the summer when temperatures are at their highest. Spend your afternoons wandering the cobbled streets of the old town, explore the city’s cultural history at the many museums and galleries, or prepare for a night of velvet ropes in the glamorous Stureplan district.
Things to do
Whether you’re a couple seeking a romantic break or a hipster searching for the coolest art and nightlife, a city break in Stockholm will not disappoint. Spend your days exploring the museums and quirky cafes in the old town, then get dressed up and head out for some celebrity-spotting in glamorous Stureplan.
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Outstanding architecture, illustrious history, and unbeatable culture: there’s so much to discover on Budapest holidays. Sliced in two by Europe’s second-longest river, Budapest is home to an impressive collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, museums, and art galleries. Prepare to immerse yourself in learning and celebration across Hungary’s thriving capital.
Often referred to as the ‘Paris of the East’, this youthful city boasts a unique atmosphere that captivates visitors worldwide. Watch the world go by from former café hangouts of artists, poets and philosophers, and explore unique boutiques and design stores. After a scenic riverside bike ride, enjoy a muscle-soothing soak in one of the city’s famous thermal baths. Or dig deeper to discover a network of stalactite-covered caves for an unmissable adventure underground.
Things to do
Visiting the palace, parliament, and churches should be top of any list of things to do in Budapest. Whether you choose to travel by boat or bike, make sure to explore the lush banks of the mighty Danube River. To help you make the most of your holiday, we’ve picked out our top recommendations for your Budapest bucket list so you can choose what you’d like to do.
Keen wanderers will love exploring this vibrant city. Hire a bike and cycle along the river between the best of the sights, or take a walking tour of the iconic Castle Hill. This is where you’ll find the Royal Palace with its museum, gallery, and library and some excellent opportunities for getting great pictures to treasure long after your holiday is over. Walk over the famous Chain Bridge to Széchenyi Square on the Pest side, stopping to take in the view back to Castle Hill.
Just as impressive as the Royal Palace is the Hungarian Parliament Building, the largest building in Hungary and Budapest’s tallest. Embark on a tour and wander through the grand interior before heading to Heroes’ Square or St. Stephen’s Basilica. While you’re exploring the city, don’t miss out on a tour of Halászbástya. Situated in the Buda Castle District, this iconic landmark boasts striking architecture and panoramic views of the Danube.
And if your legs start to feel a little weary, head to one of Budapest’s thermal baths for a spot of relaxation. Or sit back and enjoy a dinner cruise down the river as the evening draws in.
Food and drink
Budapest city breaks mean outstanding food and drink that is sure to satisfy even the most hard‐to‐please foodies. Defined by rich flavour and exquisite taste, traditional Hungarian cuisine has been shaped by thousands of years of Magyar history. Today, it remains an essential aspect of the country’s cultural heritage.
When you visit Budapest, be sure to sample one of the city’s most famous dishes, goulash. A traditional stew consisting of meats, vegetables and heaps and paprika, goulash is rich, enticing and utterly delicious. During the 1800s, goulash became a national symbol across the country. Other popular dishes include chicken lángos (deep-fried flatbread) and somlói galuska (a delectable sponge cake dessert).
For the best goulash in the city, head to Budapest Bisztró. Situated a stone’s throw from the famous Parliament building, this restaurant boasts a modern interior and impeccable service. If you’re looking to eat out on a budget, try Borkonyha Winekitchen, one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest. Offering an affordable menu packed full of authentic Hungarian dishes, it boasts skillfully executed food and over 200 wines to choose from.
Commonly referred to as the ‘City of Spas’, Budapest has hosted a rich thermal bath culture for over 2,000 years. Fed by natural hot springs, the city’s thermal spas continue to attract visitors from far and wide today.
Historically, Budapest’s natural thermal springs have been utilised since Roman rule when a major bathing complex became an important landmark. By the turn of the 21st century, the city had established itself as the home of therapeutic medicinal waters. ‘Taking the waters’ became a significant pastime. People across the city used the healing properties and other health benefits that the natural springs supposedly provided.
When holidaying in Budapest, be sure to take a dip in a thermal bath and feel your troubles slowly slip away. For a truly memorable experience, pay a visit to Király Bath, the city’s oldest thermal spa. Constructed during Ottoman rule, it features an octagonal pool set beneath a light punctured dome – the perfect place for a relaxing swim. Or spend a day down at Szechenyi Bath, one of the more popular thermal bath locations. With 18 pools to choose from, you can also enjoy various massage treatments, make use of the saunas, or try out the gym.
Unique, bohemian, lively: these are just some of the words to describe Budapest’s nightlife. When the sun begins to set, the Hungarian capital comes alive with the bustle of restaurants, ruin clubs, and wine bars scattered across the landscape.
Ruin bars are all the rage in this compelling city. Built into the remains of pre‐war shops, car parks and buildings, they were born from the decay of Budapest’s old District VII neighbourhood. These unique spots boast an impossibly relaxed atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy cheap alcohol and thudding music from dusk ‘til dawn within the sprawling interiors of these quirky venues.
First opened in 2002, Szimpla Kert is one of the most famous ruin bars in the city. Here, partygoers can throw on their dancing shoes and soak up the electric atmosphere while enjoying a tasty local beer. Located in the Jewish Quarter, Mazel Tov Budapest is another famous haunt, considered one of the more upscale ruin bars of the city. Head here to sample delicious cocktails and mezze platters while relaxing on modern furnishings.
It’s no secret that Budapest is a celebrated destination for wine‐lovers. Those looking to enjoy a glass of vino should wander into one of the city’s wine bars to sample a range of traditional and natural beverages. From Cultivini to Cintanyeros, Budapest is home to a wealth of atmospheric bars to take your fancy. Cheap, cheerful and quirky, this city offers an unbeatable night out to round off a day packed full of sightseeing and exploring.
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Venice holidays will have any old-world romantic swooning over its moonlit gondola rides, Lady and the Tramp style spaghetti-filled hotspots and fairytale-like palaces. That’s when its UNESCO World Heritage Site backdrop made up of 400 timeless bridges and 16th-century Baroque churches aren’t capturing the hearts of history hunters. And that’s before we mention its alluring art scene! Think Picasso, Dali and Miro creations decorating the walls of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.
With our Venice city breaks, you’ll witness dreamy sunsets over the Grand Canal, sip macchiatos on rooftop terraces and lose yourself among winding cobbles adorned with cosy cocktail hideaways and chic boutiques. Sounds enchanting, right?
6 reasons to visit Venice
- Captivating culture: From Italian Renaissance art to Byzantine-influenced architecture and 100 history-stuffed museums, Venice is packed with over 1,200 years of rich heritage.
- World-renowned cuisine: Heavily influenced by the lagoon’s bounty, expect calamari rings, scallops and shrimp dipped in batter and crisped to perfection! That’s when you’re not chowing down on bolognese or creamy risotto.
- Never a bad time to visit: Venice city breaks are year-round with hot summers and cool winters, but the best time to visit is during spring and autumn.
- Iconic hotspots: Rialto Bridge at sunset, Peggy Guggenheim Collection for iconic art, All’Arco for a true Venetian Breakfast and Doge’s Palace for your history fix.
- Laid-back lifestyle: Immerse yourself in the Venetian way of life - relaxed, care-free, and somewhat otherworldly.
- Wine for days: Dotted with wine bars, including the popular Vino Vero, Al Merca and Estro, it won’t be hard to find a glass of prosecco rosé or a bottle of fruity Valpolicella (a medium-bodied red).
Things to do
Combine museum-hopping in the Dorsoduro District with market browsing at Rialto and orchestral sounds at Piazza San Marco with our Venice city breaks. For panoramic views check out the 360-degree vistas at St. Mark’s Campanile. Or maybe you’re a foodie searching for the best Cicchetti (an Italian tapas dish) in one of the city’s waterfront bacaros AKA wine bars. Either way, there are endless big-name attractions in Italy’s Floating City. After all, it wasn’t dubbed the centre of European art and architecture for no reason.
Explore its beautiful backdrop
The real star of any holiday to Venice has to be the city’s mesmerising setting. Located in northeast Italy along the country’s Adriatic coast and built on almost 120 small islands, it’s unlike any other destination in the world. And the best way to see it? Well, it can only be by gondola or waterbus (vaporetti), of course!
Ride the Grand Canal and wind through idyllic alleyways passing must-visit sites such as the Rialto Bridge, Ca D’oro and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum along the way. Get off at St. Mark’s Square, one of the most famous piazzas across the globe, for a bite to eat at Osteria Ae Sconte. This delicious hotspot is open until 11pm and has gained quite the reputation for its seafood risotto!
But there’s more to this Italian gem than cityscapes, and Lido di Venezia is it. Best known for its toe-sinking sands and proudly the home of Venice Film Festival, this blissful beach resort is perfect for sun-seeking couples.
Get lost among world-famous architecture
No trip to Venice is complete without admiring its most historic structures. You only have to take one look at 900-year-old St Mark’s Basilica to see what all the fuss is about. We’re talking 500 Byzantine columns, 85,000 square feet of mosaics made out of real gold and an altar constructed of pearls, sapphires and rubies!
Doge’s Palace should also be on your radar. As the former home of 120 Dukes and a prison of the Venetian public. With over 1,000 years of influences from the Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance eras, you can explore everything from works of art by Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto that depict the city’s history to weapons and cells deep down in the dungeons.
For examples of old meets new, the Punta della Dogana is a former 16th-century Venetian Republic Customs House that splits the Grand Canal from the Giudecca Canal with its triangular form. It’s now used as a contemporary art space housing collections from François Pinault after undergoing a striking reinvention by Japanese architect Tadao Ando in 2009.
Discover one of Europe’s most romantic destinations
Looking to reignite an old spark? Or maybe you’re thinking about the ultimate proposal spot. With a Venice Holiday, you’ll fall head-over-heels not only for each other but your surroundings. Every night is date night in the Floating City, and nothing will captivate you more than a love story showcased through ballet and opera at Theatre La Fenice. And is there anything more romantic than snuggling up under the moonlit sky on a gondola as you coast the Grand Canal? Ask to float by the Bridge of Sighs, the rumour has it, if you kiss while passing under the 1,600-year-old structure you’ll find happiness and eternal love.
Drift over to Torcello and follow in the footsteps of the great writer Ernest Hemingway. Escape the crowds and opt for a cosy lunch at the Michelin-starred Locanda Cipriani, also a renowned wedding hotspot. Before checking out the Byzantine mosaics in the 7th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell ‘Assunta. Or follow one of the many walking paths through the nature preserve that makes up most of the island.
More Travel Guides
We also have travel guides available for more Italian destinations, including: Amalfi | Ischia Porto | Florence | Lake Garda | Limone | Malcesine | Milan | Rome | Sant'Agnello | Sardinia | Sicily | Sorrento | Venetian Riviera
When it comes to city break destinations, you can’t climb much higher than Reykjavik. Europe’s most northerly capital invites its visitors to enjoy a laid-back way of life and nightlife to rival some of the world’s best – against a backdrop of mountains, volcanoes, geysers and glaciers. Visit thought-provoking historical sites and get your bearings from the dominating spire of Hallgrímskirkja Church.
Things to do
You’ll find a wide range of activities in Reykjavik, including visits to interesting geothermal, historical and natural sites. Friendly and sometimes eccentric, this vibrant city is equally well placed for picturesque glacier walks as it is partying until sunrise. Here are just some of our favourite things to do in Reykjavik.
The northern lights will undoubtedly be at the front of your mind when you’re planning a trip to Reykjavik. Go over winter and gaze up into the night sky as the stunning natural phenomenon illuminates the darkness. As with any natural event, the aurora aren’t entirely predictable, so there’s an element of adventure as you head away from the city and bid to get the best view.
If you’re going during summer then you can turn your attention to the wonders of the deep as you set sail on a whale watching tour. Look out for minke whale as you glide across Faxaflói Bay, and keep your eye out for other interesting wildlife as you try and snap some memorable photos. Back on dry land you can saddle up on another magnificent beast and go horse riding through striking landscapes, visit the Gullfoss waterfall and Hallgrimskirkja Church, or indulge in some laid back pampering with an afternoon at the Geysir geothermal area.
Head back into the city and go for a wander around the Old Harbour before settling down for an intriguing Icelandic meal. Don’t forget to leave plenty of room for trying the local schnapps before continuing your evening out with some live music and a trip to one of Reykjavik’s contemporary nightclubs for a bit of dancing.
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Located in the northwest of Belgium, Bruges is a picture-perfect city of medieval architecture, winding canals and cobblestone lanes. Its cool climate adds a wintry air of romance, while horse-drawn carriages and cosy cafés make it the perfect city break for couples and scenery lovers. Spend your time strolling along the city’s bustling streets, explore its history on a visit to the Burg Square, then round off your day people-watching and sampling the local beer.
Start your sightseeing with a trip to Bruges’ Historic Centre, and gaze up at the attractive architecture and old churches. Spend some time taking photos of the lovely old buildings in the Markt, before setting sail on a canal cruise. If you want to ramp up the romance then take to the water as the sun starts to set and enjoy a memorable meal for two.
There are lots of great dining opportunities in Bruges, whether you want to eat at a restaurant in an elegant converted mansion or try the city’s street food. If you have a sweet tooth then you’ll love your culinary journey in Bruges. Belgium is renowned for its fabulous chocolate, and there’s some incredible places where you can grab a quick dessert, waffles drenched in sweet treats or a chocolatey hot drink. Or take your time sampling melt in your mouth truffles and pralines at a world class chocolate shop. Take plenty home with you as you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
If you’re religious then a trip to the Basilica of the Holy Blood should be high on your list of things to do. You can see what’s believed to be the blood of Christ in the church, which is on a corner of Burg Square. Explore the rest of the square before spending the evening sipping Belgian beers on a terrace with canal views, as you reflect on a great day in Bruges.
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Trains and buses are the best options – it’s easy to plan your route and Amsterdam’s public transport is excellent!
• Schiphol Airport has its own railway station, and journeys to Amsterdam Central Station (Centraal) take less than 20 minutes. Then you can either walk to your hotel or switch to the metro, bus or tram.
• From Centraal it’s only 10-15 minutes to Zaandam, a popular spot for stays outside the centre.
• Make sure you check the location of your digs before you plan your journey, as it might be better to head to Amsterdam Zuid station and hop on the Noord Zuid metro line.
• You can catch the Amsterdam Airport Express right outside Schiphol Plaza. Look for stop B17.
• Daytime services on the 397 bus are scheduled every seven and a half minutes, so you won’t have long to wait.
• At night, you’ll want the N97, which runs every half an hour.
• Both routes have a number of convenient stops around the city centre, making it easy to get to your hotel or to connect with other public transport for outlying neighbourhoods.
Not sure which fabulous hotel to choose? Let’s help you narrow it down with our guide to where to stay in Amsterdam:
• Centrum: The centre (including Jordaan and Nieuwmarkt) is perfect for canalside walks, nights out on Rembrandtplein, and hitting the Museum Quarter or the Royal Mile.
• Noord: A charming area with a quieter, more residential feel than the old centre, handy for NDSM Wharf, fantastic dining, top gig venues, and rural bike rides.
• Oost: Think street markets, lush parks and craft breweries. Amsterdam’s East district is the definition of vibrant!
• Zuidoost: More into modern style and big-name events? Zuidoost (South East) Amsterdam could be your perfect match.
• Zuid: Home to the hippyish De Pijp district and attractions like Vondelpark, Albert Cuypmarkt and the Heineken Experience.
• Zaandam: Packed with history (like Zaanse Schans living museum, windmills and the fascinating Czaar Peter House), this cultural city’s about 15 minutes from central Amsterdam by train.
Found your dream Amsterdam hotel but it’s not in your fave location? Don’t worry, wherever you stay you’ll still be in easy reach of everything this characterful city has to offer, so go ahead and book it anyway!
Yes, but only if you want to, much like in the UK! Standard tips are around 10%. It’s also common to tip 5 - 10% in Amsterdam’s bars and for taxis.
If you’ve already done the big-name museums, cruised the canals and ordered bitterballen with your beer in a cosy brown cafe, you’re going to want to check out some of Amsterdam’s more secret spots.
Our top 4 hidden gems in Amsterdam:
- STRAAT Museum: A total must-see among the exciting cultural hubbub of arty NDSM Wharf, this huge gallery is dedicated to street art in all its gutsy glory. To get there, just hop across the River IJ on the free ferry from Centraal Station.
- De Vergulden Eenhoorn (The Gilded Unicorn): Expect quaint 18th-century charms, a mouthwateringly eclectic menu, and leisurely games of boules at this gorgeous old pub. It's the epitome of everything there is to love about the chilled-out Amsterdam Oost district, where traditional meets modern in the most delightful way.
- Distilleerderij ‘t Nieuwe Diep: Love gin? Get yourself over to ‘t Nieuwe Diep, a cute little waterside jenever distillery tucked away in lush Flevopark (you can get there by tram). FYI, the park’s also home to an outdoor summer swimming pool if you fancy a dip before you head to the bar.
- Zuidoost: If you’re into vibrant up-and-coming areas, plan some time in Amsterdam’s Zuidoost district. It’s a total contrast to the city centre! Highlights include big sports and music venues like the Johan Cruyff ArenA and Ziggodome, the taste bud-tickling cooking stations of the World of Food, and the lively Heesterveld Creative Community with its colourful buildings.
Don’t worry, Amsterdam’s a really exciting and easygoing place to visit! But to get you off to the best start, here are our local expert’s top tips to help you make the most of your trip.
DO… get an OV-chipcard (chipkaart) and top it up regularly. Available from stations and in newsagents, these handy travel cards make it extra easy to get around Amsterdam and beyond via train, bus, metro and tram.
DON’T… walk on a cycle path. Just don’t! (And if you’re cycling around this famously bike-friendly city, do stay in your lane.)
DO… go to other areas outside the city centre. Districts like buzzing Zuidoost, village-like Noord and hip Oost are well worth exploring. Each has its own distinctive charms, from fantastic nightlife to laid-back parks.
DON’T… think Amsterdam represents the rest of the country. Just like London is only one piece of the UK jigsaw, there’s so much more to discover in Holland and the Netherlands than Amsterdam alone! This friendly country’s a pleasure to explore so book a longer stay and make the most of the fantastic rail links.
DO… stroll amongst the slick modern architecture of Rotterdam, explore the beautiful Peace Palace in The Hague, or check out the views from Utrecht’s Dom Tower. They’re each only around 30 to 40 minutes away by train!
DON’T… think King’s Day is on the 30th April. That’s the old date for Queen’s Day. If you’re keen to experience the city’s exuberant, orange-coloured celebrations, you’ll need to be in Amsterdam on the 27th April instead.
DO… get back to nature at the Amsterdamse Bos. The city’s park’s are lovely but this huge green area is something else entirely! With everything from woodland to waterways, salamanders to kingfishers, and boat races to al fresco theatre, it’s just the ticket for fresh air and big skies.
DON’T… expect a late-night dinner. Amsterdam’s restaurants aren’t geared up for midnight feasts, with last orders usually taken at around 9-9.30pm. But you can stretch your meal out like the locals do, with dessert and a drink.
DO… try Surinamese or Indonesian food. From the South American taste sensation that is Surinamese cooking (a multicultural explosion of flavours with European and Asian influences) to the more familiar gado gado and nasi goreng of Indonesian menus, there are plenty of mouthwatering eateries to suit all budgets in Amsterdam.
DON’T… expect to get just coffee at a coffee shop. You’ve probably heard about the liberal laws around smoking weed in the Netherlands – well, coffee shops are where it’s legal. But it’s for adults aged 18-plus only and there are other restrictions too, so make sure you check up on what to expect if you’re planning to visit these sociable hangouts. And if you’re simply after coffee and cake, you might want to find a cafe instead.