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  • Going to Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Amsterdam is the capital city, the financial and cultural capital as well as the largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city has a population of around 1 million,including the suburbs. Its name is derived from Amstel dam, indicative of the city’s origin: a dam in the river Amstel where the Dam Square is today. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. The city was the leading center for finance and diamonds during that time. Amsterdam expanded and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    The attractions

    The city attracts more than 4 million tourist annually with its main attractions being the historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, its red-light district and its many cannabis coffee shops and many others.

    Amsterdam’s Climate

    Amsterdam enjoys a cool temperate climate, strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west and winter temperatures are mild, seldom below 0°C. Amsterdam nights rarely fall below -5°C because it is surrounded by large bodies of water on three sides and enjoys a significant heat island effect. Summers are moderately warm but rarely hot. The average daily high in August is 22°C, and 30°C or higher is only measured on average on 3 days.Amsterdam has an average annual precipitation of less than 760mm. It is in the form of protracted drizzle or light rain, making cloudy and damp days common during the cooler months, October through March. Only the occasional European windstorm brings significant rain in a short period of time, requiring it to be pumped out to higher ground or to the seas around the city.

    The Architecture of Amsterdam

    Amsterdam is known for its rich architectural history. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, consecrated in 1306. Amsterdam had a variety of architectural styles influencing their buildings. The focal point of all the architectural styles before the end of the 19th century is the old city center. Most historic buildings in the city center and nearby are houses, such as the famous merchant’s houses lining the canals.

    Tourism in Amsterdam


    Shops in Amsterdam range from small specialty shops to large department stores such as De Bijenkorf and Maison de Bonneterie, a Parisian style store. In Vondelpark you will find Cornelisz Hooftstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat where most of Amsterdam’s high-end shops are located.Another shopping area is the Negen Straatjes and it differ from other shopping districts because of the presence of a large diversity of privately owned shops. Open-air markets are also widely spread throughout the city, icluding the Albert Cuypmarkt, Westermarkt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt.

    Transportation in Amsterdam


    Amsterdam is a bicycle-friendly city and is the center of bicycle culture with many good facilities for cyclists such bike paths and bike racks pervading the city. Bicycle traffic and traffic in general is relatively safe, with only 18 traffic deaths in total for 2007.


    In the city center, driving a car is discouraged. Parking fees are expensive, and many streets are closed to cars or are one-way.

    Public Transport

    Public transport in Amsterdam mainly consists of bus and tram lines. Pedestrians and cyclists can take one of the three free ferries to go across the IJ to Amsterdam-Noord or a fare charging ferry to go from the east to the west along the harbor.You can also be transported along Amsterdam’s waterways by means of water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats and canal cruises.

    Amsterdam’s Culture and Entertainment


    The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on het Museumplein (Museum Square), located at the southern side of the Rijksmuseum.

    The Rijksmuseum possesses the largest and most important collection of classical Dutch art.With a collection of nearly one million objects.

    In front of the Rijksmuseum on the square itself is a long, rectangular, pond that is transformed into an ice rink in winter time. You will also find the the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience and Coster Diamonds at the Museum Square. The square is almost entirely covered by a lawn, making it the most prominent site in Amsterdam for festivals and outdoor concerts, especially in the summer. Amsterdam contains many other museums throughout the city. They range from small museums such as the Verzetsmuseum, the Anne Frank House, and the Rembrandthuis, to the very large, like the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdams Historisch Museum, and Joods Historisch Museum.


    In the 2008 there were 140 festivals in Amsterdam. The most famous festivals are Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), Amsterdam Gay Pride and the Uitmarkt. Hundreds of thousands of people travel to Amsterdam on Koninginnedag to celebrate with the residents of the city. The entire city becomes overcrowded with people buying products from the freemarket or visiting one of the many music concerts. This festival takes place on the 30th of April each year. During Gay Pride, there is a long parade of boats with floating down Amsterdam’s canals, and curious events taking place throughout the city.The Gay Pride annually takes place on the first Saturday in August. The Uitmarkt lasts for three days and it’s a cultural event. It consists of many podia with a lot of different artist on them, such as musicians and poets and is held in late August.

    (Author: Chris Du Toit)

    About the Author:
    Chris du Toit is the owner of, a flight comparison site for South African travelers where they can search and book the cheapest flight to Amsterdam online.

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