In Amsterdam, Netherlands, Venetian canals give way to narrow streets peppered with world-famous museums, floating flower markets and a nightlife unmatched in all of Europe. Whether coming for the coffee houses, the Anne Frank House or grand displays of modern and pre-war architecture, it’s with good reason the city receives nearly 4 million visitors a year. Museum Square, or het Museumplein, is where art lovers can browse among the works of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Van der Helst. Dam Square is considered the true heart of the city, where street performers, vendors, peddlers and musicians create an unforgettable ambiance found only in Amsterdam.
The Old Centre, known as Centrum, is the core of the city and is not only home to Dam Square and its popular commercial street, Kalverstraat, but also Nieuwmarkt, where dozens of coffee shops, outdoor cafes and markets line the square. The Old Jewish Quarter, which includes the Portuguese Synagogue, Jewish Cultural Museum, Waterlooplein Market and Artis Zoo, is also located within the center of Amsterdam and is a popular area for tourists. Jordaan and Spui are growing districts with upscale boutiques and restaurants, as well as the floating flower market (Bloemensingel) packed with Dutch tulips swaying over the Singel Canal.
De Wallen, known the world over as the infamous Red Light District of Amsterdam, is a main tourist attraction within the city, and features sex shops, adults-only theaters, and coffee shops. The Museum Quarter (Museumplein) is a residential-looking neighborhood with three of the most important museums in the Netherlands: the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art and Van Gogh Museum. First-time visitors would be remiss to pass up an opportunity to experience each. Also in the quarter is city’s best known park, Vondelpark, and two of the ritziest shopping streets -- Hooftstraat and Van Baerlestraat.
With a culinary influence from all corners of the world, Amsterdam’s dining scene is as diverse as its population. Seasons Restaurant serves international and seasonal cuisine and is often voted one of the top restaurants of the city. For a taste of something local, Greetje specializes in Dutch and French specialties such as wild duckling with apple syrup, potato tartlets with cheese and wine gravy, and black pudding with apple compote. Yamazato offers authentic Japanese food and is located within the Hotel Okura, and Koh-i-Noor is one of the most renowned restaurants in the city.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is one of the busiest in Europe, and provides service for both domestic and international travel. Train is also a common way to get into Amsterdam, and most arrivals and departures are from Amsterdam Central Station, located between the Old Centre and the waterfront. For getting around the city, there is a metro line, tram and other public transportation available. Central Amsterdam is highly walkable and can best be seen on foot or bike. Taxis are available as well, but are an expensive option.
Amsterdam has a cool, oceanic climate that is influenced by its proximity to the North Sea. Winter temperatures are typically cool, with a January average temperature of 41.7° F (5.4° C). Summers stay fairly mild, with a pleasant high temperature of 71.2° F (21.8° C) in the warmest month of August. Without much precipitation of extremes in weather, Amsterdam is a year-round destination, with peak visiting in the spring and summer months.