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With miles of peaceful canals, magnificent museums and art galleries, and notorious nightlife, Amsterdam's unique blend of culture and entertainment make it an irresistible city for a short break.
Art, architecture and history are everywhere in Amsterdam. Paintings by old masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer clamour for your attention in the Rijksmuseum; the Van Gogh Museum celebrates the genius of Vincent van Gogh; and the Stedelijk Museum shows off cutting-edge 20th-century works by Dutch painters including Willem de Kooning and Karel Appel. At the Moco museum, you’ll find modern contemporary work by talents such as street art superstar Banksy and pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Step outside of the museums and you’ll be equally impressed on your Amsterdam city break. Great churches such as Noorderkerk and Westerkerk are landmarks within Singelgracht, the canal that encircles Amsterdam's historic centre, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even admire the architecture up-close: plan weekend breaks carefully and you'll find deals in quirky apartments in re-purposed former industrial and commercial buildings, arty boutique townhouses and grand hotels.
When the sun goes down, Amsterdam’s red light district, De Wallen, comes to life. But for nightlife like the locals do it, head to party hub Leidseplein near Vondelpark.
If you have time, extend your city break – the Netherlands is a compact country so day trips from the capital are easy. Hop on a train to Rotterdam, where attractions include a fleet of historic ships at the Maritime Museum, river cruises around Europe's biggest port, and a wealth of spectacular modern architecture. Adrenaline junkies can abseil from the Euromast tower, 100m (328ft) above street level.
Violent crime involving visitors is quite rare, but beware of pickpockets and bag-snatchers in crowded places, on public transport and on trains between Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal Station. For the most up-to-date travel advice for the Netherlands, check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
No, travellers with a full British passport do not need a visa to visit Amsterdam.
No vaccinations are normally required to go to Amsterdam.
You’ll need at least two days to take in Amsterdam’s top sights. A five-day stay gives you time for more experiences, from bike tours and canal cruises to quirky street art tours. With five days, you could even include one or more day trips from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and historic towns such as Haarlem, Delft, Gouda and Utrecht – all within an hour of the city centre.
You may buy a small amount (5 grams) of weed or hash in a 'coffee shop' but all other drugs are illegal.
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