Amsterdam holidays have long been associated with classic art, fascinating culture and vibrant nightlife. Plus, it’s home to some quirky attractions too, including clogs, cheese, windmills, a museum dedicated entirely to cats, and... bicycles. Cyclists indeed dominate in Amsterdam, and riding a bike is undoubtedly one of the best ways to tour the city and discover its unique charms.
The capital of the Netherlands is nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North’ because of the tall, skinny buildings that line its canals, and its quaint cobbled streets packed with trendy coffee bars and eateries. Reminiscent of the Golden Age in the 17th Century, with its incredible art masterpieces and distinct architecture, Amsterdam is a fascinating mix of the modern and the nostalgic.
Why we love holidays in Amsterdam
- It’s known for its picture-perfect windmills, delectable chocolate and delicious cheese.
- The city is refreshingly unique in both its architecture and its lifestyle.
- Amsterdam boasts an exciting art scene, both classic and contemporary, and is home to numerous museums full of artworks created by masters such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
- It’s so much fun to explore by bicycle or along the canals.
- The nightlife is exciting, especially around the famous Red Light District.
- It’s full of excellent coffee bars.
Of course, Amsterdam package holidays are not complete without visiting the notorious Red Light District! But even if the quirky side of Amsterdam is not your scene, the city’s creative buzz and historic attractions make it a must-visit destination on a Europe holiday.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Eclectic, creative, lively and totally unique - that’s Amsterdam in a nutshell. The capital of the Netherlands offers plenty to keep you busy throughout your holiday, from shopping in flea markets and cruising its canals, to cycling between its famous attractions and dining on superb cuisine.
With so many things to do, sights to see and unusual activities to enjoy, Amsterdam is a dream holiday destination for all types of travellers. Whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, family or as a couple, it’s all there waiting for you on holiday in Amsterdam.
Attractions and things to do in Amsterdam
- Tour the infamous Red Light District.
- Visit the house where Anne Frank lived and wrote her diary.
- Sample herring from a herring cart on the street.
- Explore the museums in the Museumplein, including the famous Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
- Cruise the canal to see Amsterdam from the perspective of the water.
- Visit De Gooyer, the tallest windmill in Amsterdam.
- Take an interactive tour at the Heineken Experience and discover the history of the famous beer giant.
- Explore some of the city’s famous castles, palaces and fortresses.
- Discover the colourful Bloemenmarkt where tulips and other flowers are sold.
- Rent a bicycle and explore the city at leisure.
- Play a game of giant chess in Max Euweplein, next to Leidseplein.
- Discover the interactive Nemo Science Museum – it will bring out the child in you.
Come rain or shine, there’s always something fun to do in Amsterdam. Speak to your Thompsons for Travel agent about the activities you would like to add to your Amsterdam travel package and make it the trip of a lifetime.
Know before you go...
When is the best time to visit?
- Amsterdam is a popular year-round destination with long hot summers and cold winters.
- The best time to visit Amsterdam is late spring (April and May), and early autumn (September to November).
- High season (summer) is June to August; winter is December to March.
Getting there & getting around
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Amsterdam direct: 11 hours, 20 minutes.
- The best way to explore Amsterdam is on foot or bicycle. Public transport available includes trams, buses and the underground Metro.
- The water in Amsterdam is considered among the cleanest in Europe. Alternatively, bottled water is readily available.
- Many public restrooms will charge a small fee to use them, so keep change on hand for this.
- Depending on when you visit, lightweight clothing for summer, warm clothing for winter. Always be rain-ready, no matter the season!
- Light sleeper? If you’re staying in central Amsterdam where the parties last until the small hours, you might consider bringing noise-cancelling ear plugs.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses for summer holidays.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- Amsterdam is considered a safe city for tourists, but it’s better to be safety conscious.
- Always have a map (or app) on hand, especially when travelling at night.
- Don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!