The Rough Guide to Amsterdamby Martin Dunford, Jack Holland
From its humble origins as a city crowded around a dam of the Amstel river, Amsterdam has grown up to be one of Europe's most beautiful and well-loved cities. The Rough Guide to Amsterdam is an indispensible tool in discovering the works of Rembrandt and Van Gogh at the Rijksmuseum, navigating your way through the winding streets that follow the flow of the city's canals, and seeking out the hottest nightspots in the Leidseplatz. This guide includes everything you need to know to eat, drink, and sleep in this most intriguing and captivating of cities.
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WHEN TO GO
Whether you¹re coming for canals and architecture, or sex and drugs, Amsterdam is a delight at any time of year. In high summer, the city parks are packed and every pavement, doorway and stretch of canalside becomes a choice spot for lazy hanging-out. Spring and autumn are particularly beautiful, with mist hanging over the canals until late morning and low sunlight piercing through the cloud cover. The flatness of the surrounding countryside means that the weather is always changeable, and it¹s common at any time of year for heavy morning clouds to be blown away to reveal a sunny afternoon. It¹s never too hot, though, and, save for January and February, when icy winds blow off the canals, the weather is rarely so relentlessly miserable as to ruin a visit the persistent winter rain can give the city a romantic cast, with wet cobbles glistening under the street-lights and the canals rippled by falling raindrops. But whatever the time of year, you should bear two things in mind: firstly, there are plenty of remarkably hardy mosquitoes living on the canals, at their friskiest in the hot summer evenings, although still a nuisance as late as October; and secondly, the few square kilometres of central Amsterdam comprise one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world space is at a premium, and you should always book accommodation before leaving home.GETTING OUT OF AMSTERDAM
Finally, don¹t fall into the trap of thinking that there¹s nothing to the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam. Although Amsterdam utterly disproves the theory that a capital city is a microcosm of the nation, there is plenty to see and do outside the city. In spring and early summer the famous bulbfields are in full bloom, and the Randstad cities to the south of Amsterdam, such as Haarlem and Leiden, are worth a visit at any time of the year. Although there isn¹t much wild nature to be found in the Netherlands, there¹s some pleasant hiking to be had in the dunes near Bloemendaal-aan-Zee, and it¹s a quick train ride to the popular beach resort of Zandvoort. Indeed, just about everywhere can be reached quickly and painlessly by public transport where the trains fizzle out the buses take over.
Meet the Author
Martin Dunford is a co-fonder of Rough Guides and in addition to Amsterdam is author of Rough Guides to Belgium, Brussels, Holland, New York, Rome and Italy.
Jack Holland is also a co-founder of Rough Guides, but now shares his time between rural England and the Greek Islands.
Phil Lee has written for Rough Guides for well over ten years and is author of Rough Guides to Mallorca and Menorca, England, Norway, the Netherlands and Canada.
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