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Posts in ‘Things to do in Amsterdam’

Cruise Through Europe

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Many cities in Europe are laced with rivers and canals, and some are at the edge of the Atlantic or Mediterranean Oceans. So why not make time for some cruises, featuring gorgeous sights in some of the most beautiful cities in the world?

Prague, Czech Republic

One of my favourite cities in Europe, Prague has a perfect combination of Neo-classical charm and modern attractions. It is one of the few cities that as just as beautiful during the night as it is during the day. This tour takes you through an informative and insightful trip through the city, stopping at some of the most notable places. It then proceeds to a picturesque glide down the Vltava River, giving you a wonderful view of Prague’s skyline by night. Food and drink are provided on the cruise, as well as live entertainment.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A wonderful combination of a canal and city cruise, this Amsterdam tour takes you past some of the most prominent landmarks of the city, like the Royal Palace and the Skinny Bridge, as well as some of the iconic sights of Amsterdam, such as the windmills and 17th Century Merchant Warehouses. Enchanting and informative, this cruise crosses off two must-do’s in Amsterdam.

Frankfurt, Germany

This activity brings together a tour of the city with a dinner cruise by one of the most scenic parts of the city, the Rhine! The tour begins on an open-top bus, and stops twice: at Romer Square and Sachsenhausen. The cruise takes you through the Rhine Valley, which has inspired many poets and artists. Enjoy dinner with this picturesque backdrop in a charming waterside restaurant.

Venice, Italy

When you think of canals, you think of this Italian city. Out of the many Europeans cities I have visited, Venice is my favourite because of its quaint houses and built-in charm. Venice is famous for its myriad of twisting and connected canals, but that is not all there is to this loveable city. The islands close to Venice are just as remarkable, with unique aspects of their own! Visit Murano to see how its distinctive and beautiful glasswork is made, Burano for the wonderful lacework and Torcello for Venice’s first cathedral.

Budapest, Hungary

A defining aspect of Budapest is the river that runs through the city. The Danube used to separate two separate cities – the Buda side from the Pest side – but history has brought these two cities together into the one we all know. So slide along this historic and beautiful river to the many other towns along its edge. This cruise is extremely lovely and allows you to appreciate the beauty of river outside the bustling city of Budapest.

Whichever cruise you decide to try out, a good time and beautiful scenes are guaranteed!

 

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Explore Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is a city of dichotomies. Where else will you find coffee shops selling marijuana situated next to ancient churches? The city’s varied culture means there is an attraction guaranteed to pique the interests of every traveller. From the enlightening to the leisurely, here are the top things to do in Amsterdam:

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1. Canal Cruise

Amsterdam is connected by a series of canals, so one of the fastest (and most scenic!) ways to orientate yourself with the city is to go on a canal cruise. Relax aboard a guided tour and discover hidden treasures including houseboats and the splendid architecture of the many bridges. You’ll see there is a reason why Amsterdam is called “The Venice of the North.

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2. Red Light District tour

There is no other place comparable to Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. A tour of the district allows you to see past the often overwhelming spectacle of half-dressed girls and cannabis-shops aplenty and understand the history of the district. Informative, educational and amusing, a Red Light District tour will give you insight on a key aspect of Amsterdam’s culture.

3. Anne Frank’s House

Whether you have read Anne’s diary or not, when you walk in the same spots the Frank family spent years hiding from the Nazis, you just begin to comprehend their situation. Visiting Anne Frank’s House is a very emotional and eye-opening experience but one that you absolutely must do. At Otto Frank’s request, the house was left unfurnished after the Nazis raided it and the windows remain blacked out, offering you a glimpse of how they lived.

4. Bike Tour

Amsterdam’s preferred mode of transportation always amuses car-reliant travellers. (Have you seen a multi-storey bike parking lot before?) With the narrow streets and everything in close proximity, bikes are the quickest method of travel. Experience the city through the eyes of a local and go on a bike tour. Nervous about pedalling around a foreign city? Don’t worry as there are special bike lanes and lights and you’re more likely to come across fellow cyclists than cars. And of course, don’t forget to wear your helmet!

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5. Keukenhof

If you fancy a quick day trip out of the heart of the city, visit the picturesque Keukenhof gardens. There is a reason it is one of the most popular gardens in the world with its immaculate flower displays that literally go on for miles. (It is the largest flower bulb park in the world after all!) Every year a staggering seven million flower bulbs are planted in accordance to a specific theme. Time is of the essence as the garden is only open from about March to May because of the flowering season.

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The Best of Amsterdam

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amsterdam-houses1 Amsterdam, the Dutch capital is known for its fascinating history and even more intriguing present day culture. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. Even though there is so much to see and do in the city, one of the best parts was simply walking alongside the many beautiful canals that run through Amsterdam. In addition to the natural beauty of the canals, Amsterdam is filled with unique architecture, and I was easily entertained by the charm of what residents see as mere housing.

amsterdam-bikes Another aspect that seems simple to residents but interesting to visitors (or, to me at least) is the bike culture. With such small streets that are always filled with people, many opt for bike riding as their main transportation instead. And when I say “many” I really mean 90% of the population. Every road you could turn down had tons of bike racks, but it never seemed like enough as the bikes piled up wherever there was space. One of the most interesting parts of this bike culture is the high level of theft – our tour guide told us that on a lively Friday or Saturday night, people will leave their bikes on any random street, and often, in their inebriated state will forget where they leave them and take whatever bike is next to them when they’re ready to turn in for the night. Of course their original bike will be long gone as well by the next morning, so I saw it as more of trading service.

Although there are more than enough museums to fill your trip, my favorite by far was the Anne Frank museum. Both moving and informational, I was able to walk through the very rooms that the Frank family resided in. In many rooms they were able to preserve original parts of the house, like wall paper, or even the pencil lines on the wall to mark the heights of the children over the years. Despite the sadness that can overwhelm you by visiting a part of history like this, it is truly a once in a life time experience, and something you shouldn’t miss.

coffee-shops On a lighter note, two of Amsterdam’s most notorious attractions lived up to all their expectations – the Red Light District, and the city’s many “coffee” shops. The Red Light District, located through a network of back alleys and roads, are filled with Amsterdam’s working girls. Even though most of the people walking through were only there to say they had walked through the infamous District, we learned there was a surprisingly high amount of business that comes along with the legalization of prostitution. Next, the coffee shops. One of Amsterdam’s oldest traditions surprised us all by the laid-back nature of their business (or should I be surprised everybody was so relaxed?). Despite popular belief that Amsterdam will be shutting it’s coffee shop doors to tourists, we were told that it was very unlikely that the legislation would be passed as it brings in a large amount of the city’s tourism.  I think this pretty much goes without saying, but both of these activities are more suited for adults, so if you’re traveling with small children I’d highly recommend skipping this part.

clog-making windmills After spending time in the center of the lively city, I was able to go to the outskirts and visit a traditional Dutch town, Zaanse Schans. This town was the definition of charm, with the windmills, small shops, farms, and once again with the adorable housing, I almost considered joining the Dutch-life. However, my experiences in Zannse Schans was the next best thing. They had a cheese making demonstration, and then you could visit the shop with endless amounts of cheese and chocolate for you to sample. Next they shared all their secrets of the traditional wooden clog with a clog-making demonstration.

Overall, the combination of the dynamic city and the charm of the small town proved to be the ultimate experience in Amsterdam, hopefully you too can have a trip that’s just as enjoyable!

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Bonger art collection on show in Amsterdam

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The prestigious Bonger art collection is currently on display at an exhibition in Amsterdam.

People with a passion for art should fit a visit to the Van Gogh Museum into their Amsterdam tours before September 20th this year to see the showcase.

Andries Bonger began his collection after being introduced to modern French art by Theo van Gogh, the brother of the great Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.

He amassed a broad collection that included many works by his friends Odilon Redon and Emile Bernard. The Dutch state acquired a large part of the archive in 1996 and gave it to the Van Gogh Museum on a long-term loan.

Visitors to the new exhibition will be able to see more than 80 works including drawings, pastels, prints and pieces of embroidery by Redon and Bernard.

The showcase also includes letters, photographs, documents and paintings by Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne.

People interested in learning more about Van Gogh’s art can visit an exhibition dedicated to his representations of the evening and night, which will be open at the Amsterdam museum that bears his name until June 7th.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19126580-ADNFCR

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Orange You Going? Queen’s Day in the Netherlands

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Queen's Day Celebrations - katielips

Queen's Day Celebrations - katielips

Looking for an excuse to get out of town this month? Why not check out the Netherlands largest (and certainly most colourful) festival of the year, Queen’s Day. Held on the birthday of the former Queen Juliana, every April 30th the country fills with festivity. All shops are closed for the day, and almost the entire country becomes an open-air market. You’ll see everything from open-air concerts to food vendors and parades, all, of course, thoroughly covered in the country’s famous bright orange and completely open to the public.

And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the current Queen Beatrix, she’s rumoured to attend two Dutch cities’ celebrations each year.

While you’re there, why not check out a few of the other things the Netherlands has to offer? It may have started as a small fishing village, but as the 6th largest metropolitan area in Europe, Amsterdam has clearly moved beyond its humble roots. continue reading

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Fantastic film fun in Amsterdam at the Imagine festival

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This year’s Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival looks set to be one of the biggest and best in the event’s 25 year history.

From April 15th to 26th Imagine will incorporate the finest in European and world cinema across a range of genres.

The event began as a relatively low-key, weekend-long happening but year on year it grew in profile. Now it is a highlight of the Dutch cultural calendar and is attracting heightening interest from around the world as the overall profile of European cinema is boosted by a series of hit films from directors and studios.

Alongside screenings and premieres there will be a series of question-and-answer sessions, interviews, workshops and other events to round out the experience – ideal for the seasoned cinema buff and the novice alike.

Visitors on Amsterdam tours would be wise to book their tickets soon as demand is likely to be high – along with most of the audience – for this fascinating look into the world of European film-making.

Why not buy the Canal Bus Day Pass in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19012088-ADNFCR

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Amsterdam opens a new chapter as World Book Capital

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The beautiful city of Amsterdam has featured as the setting for many works of literature and it’s perhaps partly in recognition of this that it is currently serving as World Book Capital 2008-2009.

On April 22nd the city’s tenure of this coveted title will come to a close with the culmination of this fantastic year of events, conferences, competitions, public readings and all kinds of other wordy fun.

One key event as the occasion comes to a close is on March 20th: the Night of Books, which will see festivities take place between 19:00 and 01:00 local time, including a fusion between literature and music thanks to some top name DJs and a number of experimental writing events, dealing with themes of expression and censorship.

Bookish visitors on Amsterdam tours should engage themselves in one or more events being held as part of the World Book Capital celebrations as this will surely be something quite unique.

Why not book the North and South Holland tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19009700-ADNFCR

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Race of the Classics sails into Amsterdam

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Amsterdam’s coastal location makes it an ideal spot for all manner of nautical fun and the Race of the Classics – one of the biggest amateur sailing events in Europe – is a highlight year after year.

For the twentieth time, the annual event comes to its exciting conclusion in the historic city and visitors on Amsterdam tours can expect to see all kinds of stunning examples of ocean-going craftsmanship.

The race itself begins in Rotterdam and crosses the North Sea to its mid-point in England before returning to the ‘Dam for a celebration of all who participated.

Initiated by members of the local Academy, the race began life as an attempt to foster solidarity between different groups of local young people and international students.

Nowadays that sense of fellowship persists but the event has evolved into a celebration of sailing ships and fun on the open sea that attracts large crowds of locals and visitors on Amsterdam tours alike.

The night of Sunday April 19th is when the festivities will really begin as the ships reach the city and the assembled masses get down to some serious revelry.

Why not book the Grand Holland Tour before you travel?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19007676-ADNFCR

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Silent Procession marches through Amsterdam

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The historic and evocative city of Amsterdam will once again host its Silent Procession (Stille Omgang) on March 21st.

This important occasion follows the route used by pilgrims down the centuries in memory of the ‘Miracle of the Host’ in 1345. According to tradition, on March 15th in that year a seriously ill man lying in his house on the Kalverstraat received last rites from a priest.

After being given the sacrament, the man vomited up the host he had just consumed, which was thrown into the house’s fire. However, the next day, the host was found to be undamaged and was put into a box and taken to the local church.

Even more incredibly, the item made its way back to the house on Kalverstraat – twice – which informed the route that became Amsterdam’s Miracle Procession.

The Silent Procession itself came into being in the late 19th century after the Catholic faith regained its standing in Europe and a group of laymen decided to continue the traditional route and start a more modern ceremonial event.

Visitors to the city conducting Amsterdam sightseeing should not miss this unique spectacle which is shot through with quirky local history and fascinating origins.

Why not book the City Tour, Bus and Boat in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19005155-ADNFCR

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Kaiser Chiefs set to storm into Amsterdam

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One of the UK’s top live acts will head to the vibrant city of Amsterdam to play at the Heineken Music Hall on February 16th.

The Leeds five-piece will entertain a crowd bristling with excitement as they perform their exhilarating sound against the backdrop of this fabulous city.

Visitors taking in some of the fantastic Amsterdam sightseeing should swing by this popular venue to hear some top class rock and roll. The band is expected to play old favourites such as I Predict A Riot and Every Day I Love You Less and Less.

Fans looking for things to do in Amsterdam might also be lucky enough to hear a number of newer songs including Everything Is Average Nowadays and Never Miss A Beat.

Kaiser Chiefs shot to fame in 2004 with the release of the single Oh My God, was taken from their Employment album which was released in 2005.

Why not book the Marken, Velondam and the Windmills tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19003747-ADNFCR

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