Why Choose Amsterdam?
Why is Amsterdam becoming a favorite Spring Break destination for college students?
- Unique cultural experience
- Beautiful historical city
- Friendly and laid-back locals
- Packed full of great restaurants and cafes
- Lively and energetic nightlife
- Coffee shops sell more than just coffee
- Much, much more than just a Spring Break spent in a beach resort!
Why follow the crowds of traditional Spring Breakers, who spend their vacation of a lifetime without ever seeing beyond the beach resort they're staying in? More and more college students are choosing to make the most of their Spring break by choosing destinations where they can experience a different culture, explore historical regions, and pack much more into their time - without sacrificing the crazy nightlife that every student wants from Spring Break! Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands, is the perfect destination if you want to escape from those typical sun, sea and sand vacations.
With ancient cobbled streets, a nation of cyclists, important historical sights and places, gorgeous canal systems, cutting-edge art galleries and museums, and more restaurants, bars, and clubs than you could visit in a lifetime, Amsterdam offers the ultimate Spring Break experience to anyone who wants something different.
Amsterdam had its beginnings as a small fishing village back in the thirteenth century, getting its name from the dam in the Amstel river around which it was developed. The village grew and grew in size and wealth, to become the staple market of the entire world in its "Golden Age", from 1585-1672. At this time, Amsterdam's characteristic cityscape began to take shape as the city developed, and some of the most important historical buildings there today date back to this "Golden Age" period, such as Dam Square's town hall building (which is now the Royal Palace), and lots of the canal houses.
Since then, Amsterdam suffered through battles, invasions, recession and decline, and yet managed to pull through relatively well, rebuilding itself as a major commercial center of Europe.
Amsterdam is famously a "late" city, to the extent that things don't really get going until later than you might expect elsewhere - a good number of shops don't open until 10am!Which is fine, of course, given that it's the norm to stay out very late when you're in Amsterdam.
Don't waste the daylight hours, though, as there really is a lot to see in this incredibly beautiful city. A cruise on Amsterdam's canal is an absolute must - they're the signature feature of the city, and really charming, a criss-crossed network of waterways which is always alive with houseboats, sail boats, motor boats, water taxis, cruise boats. . . A cruise is an ideal way to see lots of the city while making most of the canals themselves.
Amsterdam has a long and rich history, so museums are plentiful. They form one of the most popular "things to do" in the city, and the three main ones are the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum. A visit to Amsterdam would not be complete without seeing at least one, but preferably all three of these.
Shopping is another great daytime activity, with a vast selection of shopping opportunities ranging from stylish boutiques and fashion outlets to fabulous speciality food shops and second-hand stores you could get lost in for hours on end! And if shopping's not your thing, then just walk around the city, or hire a bike and cycle around like the locals. Don't forget to stop at a cafe to experience the local popular "cafe culture", too. And no, not just "those" cafes. . . !
Amsterdam's streets are no less packed by night than by day, and for good reason. The nightlife is plentiful, and the huge number of tourists from all over the world at any given time of year means there's always a real party atmosphere - which, after all, is just what you want from your Spring Break destination! There's always lots going on around the Red Light District - which, by the way, isn't just about the girls behind the windows, but is in fact the collective name given to the whole area most often frequented by party-goers and tourists.
There are loads of night time attractions around Leidseplein, from theaters, restaurants and bars to a casino and music venues. The other major nightlife zone is an area known as Rembrandtplein, a square surrounded by clubs and bars which are always jam-packed and buzzing! And check out the old Jordan area, which is where you'll always find a young crowd, hanging out in cafes and bars, making new friends, and generally having a good time.
And of course, there are the "coffee shops". A word of warning: yes, the soft drugs in these shops are legal here, but it's still illegal to purchase drugs on the street - not to mention dangerous. If this is an attraction for you, go to one of the many legal and infamous coffee shops!
Spring is usually quite pleasant in Amsterdam, with mild temperatures and often lots of sunshine. However, as in much of this part of Europe, rain can often be present - so bring a waterproof coat and be prepared to see some rain during your stay!
Fairly smart, particularly if you're going clubbing. Dress to impress, and bear in mind that many of the restaurants and clubs do enforce a casual-smart dress code.
Visitors to Amsterdam from the US must have a valid passport.No visa is necessary for a touristic visit of up to 6 months.
The official language is Dutch, but don't worry, just about everyone in Amsterdam speaks English well! It's very easy to get by without knowing a word of Dutch.
Public transport is excellent in Amsterdam - fast, efficient, and on time. Trams run regularly and are a great way to get quickly from one part of the city to another. You can buy tickets on board, although if you intend to make several journeys it's cheaper to buy a "strippenkaart" in advance from a tobacconist or station, and then stamp it yourself for each journey. You can get day and week passes, too, and all these can be used not just on trams, but also buses, metros, and local trains.
Of course, the traditional way to get around the city is to cycle! Bikes are everywhere, and there are loads of places to hire them out. There are cycle lanes throughout most of the city, too.
Taxis aren't really worth it, since public transport is so good. Don't waste your money, unless you're completely lost and just want to get back to the hotel at any cost!
The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro (€). There are lots of places where you can change money - try the Post Offices for the best rates. Alternatively, get money out at an ATM, but check what your bank will charge first, so you can see whether it's better to withdra cash like this or to change money when you arrive.
Electricity is the European standard: 230 volts. The plugs are the standard European two-pin types.
By law, all prices include tax and tips: so whatever price you see, that's the price you pay! You don't need to tip in restaurants, although it's normal practice to round up the bill to a whole number of Euros rather than pay the exact amount. Taxi drivers and hotel staff don't need to be tipped, and don't expect it.
The time in Amsterdam is EST+6.
Dining and Drinking
Amsterdam has a wonderfully diverse and huge array of restaurants. Well worth trying is Asian food and Indonesian food. Stay away from Indian food, as it's expensive and nowhere near as good as other available cuisines. Chinese food in particular is top notch.
There are loads of falafel bars and street vendors selling great fast food, all over the city. Try Vlaamse Frites . Huge thick fries served up with mayonnaise, the ultimate lunch on the move! For good pub food, check out the Eeetcafes. You should also visit the markets to sample and purchase fresh local produce - the cheese, in particular, is amazing! And if you want some expensive and world-class restaurants, head to Utrechtse Straat for classy dining establishments.
As for drinks, Heineken is of course the local beer, and it tastes better here than anywhere else! Also popular is "witbeer" (meaning "white beer").
About the Water
The water from taps in Amsterdam is perfectly safe to drink.