Canals, cafés, cycling and countless cultural highlights: Amsterdam is a pleasant and easy city to navigate and it is positively crammed full of fascinating ways to spend your days and evenings. Make like a local and hire a bike to amble between museums, parks and squares filled with café tables and entertainers - just be sure to watch where you're going in this city criss-crossed by canals as the amazing architecture will constantly attempt to steal away your concentration. Or travel on the water on a canal bus or your boat to see the city from a different angle.
Add the small-town atmosphere of Amsterdam, plus the flowers and bikes, to the liberal attitudes on show and you'll feel like you've stepped into some kind of picture-perfect Bohemian university campus.
The good news is that you can book hotels in Amsterdam to suit this easy-going lifestyle. Many hotels can be found in the stunning gabled houses that line the banks of Grachtengordel - the canals that spread out in semi circles from the compact city centre. The budget hotels in particular in this great location are highly prized by tourists, so early booking is recommended.
Amsterdam hotels come in many other shapes and sizes and are located at a variety of interesting locations. Other popular central hotel hotspots include the area south of Centraal Station (handy for connections to the airport), and in the museum “district”, Museumplein. The area around Vondelpark is also populated by many hotels. While the hotels in these districts may not offer the traditional charm of the gabled canal houses, you will often find you have more room for your money. You can even stay in hotels that are on boats moored to the quayside.
Many hotels are locally owned and managed, and many are members of the Best Western chain. The big brands are represented by chains such as Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Novotel, Mercure, NH Hoteles, Ramada, Swissotel and Wyndham. For a stay in an iconic hotel, head for the Sofitel Grand or the Intercontinental Amstel as they are both set in historic buildings.
The Red Light District might sound seedy; it is in fact an interesting and safe place in which to stroll. However, if you are easily offended, steer clear of the area. Stag and hen groups tend to book hotels in this area, so if you're looking for a quiet night, consider basing your break in other parts of the city.
Many modern Amsterdam hotels are situated well outside of the city centre in modern business parks or near the airport, though Amsterdam's public transport is excellent with fast and frequent links into town. Rotterdam is just one hour away by jumping on Amsterdam's regular train service, if you fancy a change of scenery.
Top five attractions
It might be small, but this popular museum punches above its weight with art from the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Van Gogh Museum
Follow the course of Van Gogh's remarkable career with a journey from his earliest work to some of his last.
Floating Flower Market
The world's only floating flower market, this lovely oddity is on the Singel Canal. Pick up bulbs to take home, or brighten your hotel room with a fresh bunch of flowers.
Anne Frank's House
It is impossible not to be moved by this house on Prinsengracht, where Anne penned her famous diary while hiding from the Nazis with her family.
The Bohemian vibe carries into Amsterdam's biggest park. Splendid at any time of the year, summer sees the lawns packed with locals and tourists hanging out and relaxing.
Spring at the Keukenhof gardens: April is usually the best time to witness nature's glory as the famous tulip and daffodil bulb fields burst into intense colour. Keukenhof is an ideal place to see this yearly wonder.
Queen's Day; April: The city is awash with a show of the famous national orange colour during these fun-filled celebrations. Hotels will get booked quickly for this riot of friendly festivities.
Jordaan Festival; September: Located in one of Amsterdam's most hip and happening neighbourhoods, Jordaan, this is a weekend-long street party and one at which visitors are most welcome.