Holidays in Amsterdam are about so much more than just canals!

Amsterdam is a city that simply exudes history. A major centre of world trade for hundreds of years, commerce and mercantile prosperity have left their mark on this urban centre of around one and a half million inhabitants. As both an important business destination and a favourite holiday spot, this famous Dutch city is well served by Air France, with flights to Amsterdam from Johannesburg via Paris. Amsterdam's airport, Schipol , has excellent transport links into the city. The city is just one hour behind South African time and the journey time (by direct flight) is as little as eleven hours. The local currency is the euro. Airplane tickets are naturally best value outside the run up to the Christmas period, with Christmas markets really bringing the crowds in. The same can be said for Tulip season, which runs approximately from late March to mid May. Amsterdam's temperate climate makes it a great place for a stay, short or long, at any time of the year, with Autumn and Spring being particularly pleasant for sightseeing. The city's 'Golden Age' architecture imbues it with an air of both grandeur and homeliness.
The Westerkerk is a stunning example of church-building from this time and is one of the largest churches in the Netherlands and boasts the tallest church tower in Amsterdam. It is also notable for containing the (unmarked) resting place of the Netherland's greatest painter Rembrandt. Just a stone's throw away is the Anne Frank house, which bears poignant witness to the darkest period in Dutch history. If you want to avoid the queues, an equally remarkable story of bravery in the face of the barbarity of those times may be heard at the Ten Boom Museum in Haarlem, just a short train ride away.

Amsterdam - a treasure trove of world-class art

Amsterdam is also justly famous for its art galleries. Foremost amongst these are the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum houses the world's largest collection of Dutch art and is a great place to see masterpieces by Vermeer, Frans Hals, Aelbert Cuyp and of course, Rembrandt, whose monumental painting 'the Night Watch' is nothing short of breath-taking. The gallery also houses an interesting collection of decorative arts, including a fascinating German chess set from the Nazi period. Other less-visited, but equally worthwhile galleries include the Stedelijk Museum of modern and contemporary art and the Hermitage Amsterdam, an offshoot of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
You'll quickly realize that cyclists are at the top of the pecking order in Amsterdam! There are many cycle hire companies that will rent out bikes for a few hours or longer. Remember that traditional Dutch bikes do not always have front brakes and require a much straighter cycling posture that may take some time getting used to. If you feel you need to work up some confidence before venturing out onto the streets, perhaps a few laps around the Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam proper, will help. It's surprising how much ground you can cover on two wheels, but for sights further afield, it's easier to rent a car .

Plan your perfect Amsterdam holiday with a little help from the world wide web!

Useful information to help you prepare your trip to Amsterdam may be found here: