'Bikes, bikes everywhere!' That's the first thought that ran through our mind when we arrived in Amsterdam the very first time. And the second time. And the third time. Because we’ve never seen as many bikes and cyclists in one place anywhere else in the world. The Tour de France has nothing on this place. It’s also a fantastic way to experience the sights and sounds of the Dutch capital. Even if you only pedal around for a few hours, riding a bike is an essential Amsterdam experience. Renting a bike or taking a guided cycle tour is a great way to discover the city and can be quite an adventure. Exploring the city on a bike lets you see more in a day, while blending in with the locals at the same time.
Amsterdam is indeed one of the most extraordinary cities in Europe. From its humble beginnings as a 13th-century fishing village on a river bed to its current role as a major hub with a strong tradition as a centre of culture and commerce. Alongside tulips and windmills, the global image of Amsterdam is one of a city entwined with water. Since its development in the 17th century, Amsterdam’s Canal Ring has grown to be one of the world’s most distinctive urban landscapes. And it not only remains a historic and beautiful water network through the city, but a stunning backdrop for fantastic cultural and sporting events throughout the year.
As a result, canal cruises are one of Amsterdam's most popular attractions. For anyone visiting for the first time, it’s an excellent introduction to the city’s many sights. There are a number of departure points throughout the city and the tours are available in a multitude of languages, provided by a number of different operators.
Another symbol widely associated with Amsterdam is the ‘I amsterdam’ letters. This city slogan has been adopted by visitors and tourists alike, and the large-scale characters outside the Rijksmuseum are an immensely popular photo hotspot. As of 2012, a second set of letters was installed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to welcome visitors to the city, while a third set of letters playfully changes location around town, making appearances at fashion shows, fairs, festivals and other major events.
Amsterdam is home to a variety of world-famous museums. No trip to the city is complete without stopping by the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum or Stedelijk Museum for a good dose of culture. From collections focussing on cats to an amazing assembly of handbags, plus photography, archaeology and more, Amsterdam has museums and galleries for almost every interest. If you’re planning on visiting a few museums and galleries during your time there, then the I amsterdam City Card is a great way to save money. This handy visitor pass gets you free or discounted entry to many of the city’s most popular attractions.
WHERE TO STAY
There are over 600 hotels in Amsterdam’s Metropolitan Area, but for a unique experience, we suggest staying at boutique bed and breakfast, Kamer01. The property is a beautiful Canal House dating back to 1585 and is located in Canal District, which was made part of the Unesco World Heritage list in 2010. The house has all the modern-day comforts and amenities such as Wi-Fi and air conditioning, but none of this has compromised the its original charm. Apart from the personal design aesthetic, the house still reflects the old Amsterdam style – original spiral staircase, wooden ceiling beams, and visible wooden roof construction. In the charming breakfast room, there’s even 18th-century wallpaper.
The property has just three rooms – Blue Room, Red Room and Green Suite – each with its own style and décor. The stunning Green Suite, which can accommodate four guests, is a true home away from home, with a spacious living room and a separate bedroom. There’s also a dining area with a view of the canal. Every morning, the owners, Peter and Wolter, serve a five-course bubbly breakfast at their large table on the bel étage that hosts a panoramic view above the canal. Breakfast at Kamer01 is an experience to remember. They serve only the best organic produce from choice markets in Amsterdam and its surroundings. Strawberry and roses jam, freshly baked croissants, Dutch cheeses, traditional Amsterdam cold cuts such as ossenworst, and artistically cut seasonal fruit. It’s no wonder Kamer 01 has been voted the best bed and breakfast in Amsterdam. INFO: To book, visit kamer01.amsterdam
HOW TO GET THERE
Your holiday can begin at the airport, thanks to the luxury and service o ered from British Airways, which currently operates three daily flights (one Boeing 747 and two 777 aircraft) on the Dubai to London route and one daily flight (Boeing 787-9) on the Abu Dhabi route. BA operates multiple daily flights from London Heathrow to Amsterdam.
BA’s Club World offers passengers top quality service, starting with the lounge in Dubai’s Terminal One. The Lounge is a contemporary destination located on the first floor of the terminal overlooking the retail atrium. Business passengers (or those of Silver membership or higher) can enjoy the range of hot and cold snacks and premium beverages at the Deli Bar, before relaxing in one of the many comfy seating areas, all of which have access to power sockets and USB points.
Once onboard, Club World passengers can look forward to a spacious seat (which reclines into a fully flat bed), top films and series on your own personal video screen and a delicious selection of onboard meals and snacks. In fact, you’ll be so comfy you’re likely to wish the seven-hour flight to London was longer.
The World Traveller fares from Dubai to Amsterdam via Heathrow cost from Dhs2,800, while Club World fares start at Dhs8,600 return (including taxes/ fees/carrier charges). INFO: Book at britishairways.com