As springtime dawns upon us and the travel market gears up for short breaks, Amsterdam heads the list of the most desirable and popular European city destinations. The culture, atmosphere and nightlife of Amsterdam have long been heralded by UK and European travellers; and Amsterdam, along with Barcelona, Prague and Dublin is widely recognised as one of the most popular short break destinations.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ largest city, is also one of the most pedestrian friendly and environmentally conscious cities in the world. This status helps reaffirm the tourist-friendly nature of the city, as amiable wandering is encouraged and the scourge of traffic is virtually non-existent within the confines of the city centre.
Amsterdam is also a good base for those looking to explore further into the Netherlands; and for repeat visitors, a number of excursions and attractions are easily accessible by car from the city. Delft, a historic city founded in 1100, is on the main stretch of road between Amsterdam and The Hague. The town is home to the historic blue and white pottery, known as Delftware; it has also been described as ‘the Netherlands in miniature,’ with characteristic buildings and canals that are associated with the architecture of the country. Further traditional pursuits can be experienced in Alkmaar, which hosts the weekly cheese market. This runs every Friday and is a traditional ritual for tourists who are after the region’s renowned Edam and Gouda cheeses.
For adventurous types, a day trip to the Efteling theme park is a must. The park is based around traditional myths and fairy tales and is renowned as one of the best theme parks in Europe. More laid-back entertainment can be found on a trip to the Zaanse Schans windmills – a reconstructed and fully operational museum that relives the heritage of industrial windmills.
Driving in the Netherlands is a pleasurable pursuit: the country is flat, the roads are open and most tourists find that Dutch drivers are extremely courteous and safe. Moreover, with extensive means of car hire in the Netherlands, pairing some exciting excursions with a round-up of Amsterdam attractions is simple. But if the wider attractions of the Netherlands don’t appeal, you can always hire a bike and see some of the Netherlands on two wheels rather than four.
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