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One of the sheer joys of Amsterdam is to wander along its tranquil canals that are lined by its distinctive narrow, gabled buildings. Yet, this is just part of Amsterdam’s charms – as you wander the cobbled streets the city’s rich heritage is reflected in its museums and galleries, creative architecture, restless arts and music scenes and in the nightlife and dining options.
The most popular time to visit is during the summer months – and these are usually seen to kick off with Tulip Season in April and to last through to September. During these summer months cheap flights are thin on the ground – and hotel rates tend to rise as well.
Spring and autumn offer better chances of grabbing lower-priced fares – and the weather remains mild during these seasons. Amsterdam’s attractions will be quieter, and September sees the Amsterdam Fringe Festival and the hip Jordaan Festival taking place.
It may be significantly colder in winter, but the combination of cosy brown bars, cheap flights and the possibility of skating on frozen canals exerts an inevitable pull for many.
There are plenty of airports to choose from if you are flying to Schipol, Amsterdam’s only airport. As a major transport hub, often used for connecting flights, there are many ways you could grab a low-priced air-fare.
Another great way to bag a bargain is to be flexible on the dates of your flight. Simply select ‘Show Flexible Dates’, which appears just above where your flight options are returned. You’ll be able to browse the cheapest flight on each day for both your onward and return flight.
Schipol is one of the largest airports in Europe. It is located just five miles southwest of Amsterdam and there is a railway station directly underneath the airport that operates 24 hours a day into Amsterdam. The train will take around 15 minutes.
In addition, many buses either call or terminate at the bus station directly outside the airport. A bus ride into the centre will usually take around half an hour. If you have arranged car hire in Amsterdam it’s a quick drive on the A4 and A9 motorways into the centre.
Amsterdam boasts an impressive public transport network – and much of its centre and major attractions can be enjoyed on foot. Your options include metros, buses, trams, ferries and trains: consider investing in the ‘I Amsterdam City Card’ to save money on your city travel. It offers unlimited use of the GVB public transport system for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
And, of course, you can always join the locals and use pedal power to see the city: there are nearly 900,000 bicycles in the city and over 250 miles of cycle paths.
Once you have taken in the mastery of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh at the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, why not relax in the fantastic open spaces of the Vondelpark? There are playgrounds, outdoor cafes, rollerbladers to admire and, above all, the chance to really chill out in the heart of the city.
The best way to feel the history and romance of the canals is to take a boat ride and feel the wind gently blowing through your hair. The adventurous can even hire a boat for themselves.
And the most attractive place to just wander is in the charming neighbourhood of Jordaan. Here you’ll feel like you are stepping back in time as you stroll its narrow, cobbled streets. There’s plenty to pause to explore among its independent art galleries, antiques shops, courtyard gardens and welcoming bars and restaurants.