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Top things to do this summer in Amsterdam

19th June 2012

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Interrailing this summer? Traversing Europe via the sleeper train? Or just heading to Amsterdam for a weekend of post-uni relaxation? After spending a week in city, we decided to share our top tips for things to do in the land of windmills, tulips and clogs.

A trip to The Netherlands without visiting it's capital is like a trip to a theme park without experiencing any rides whatsoever. Amsterdam has it all, in fact, the Dutch capital is so unique it could be it's own country all together!

Visit Anne Frank's House – We've all know the story of the tragic Jewish girl who hid from the
 Nazis for two years in an annex. You can visit the house, (it's more of a museum now). The small site in Amsterdam gets over a million visitors a year is certainly worth a visit.

The Van Gogh Museum – Arguably one of the best painters of all time, Van Gogh produced hundreds of iconic paintings that can be viewed in an Amsterdam museum dedicated to the artist. You can gaze upon over 200 of his paintings and 500 of his drawings along with the million visitors the museum pours in a year. Not bad for a bloke with one ear!

Dutch Coffee Shops – The Dutch make fantastic coffee, and where better to have a quiet drink than by the endless canals, letting your imagination run wild.. literally. As you may know cannabis is legal in The Netherlands “coffeeshops”, and although most coffeeshops in the centre of Amsterdam are full of tourists, you can still find a few traditional hidden gems in the capital. It may sound hard to believe, but these coffee houses are a great place to hang out, be social and soak up the relaxed atmosphere that the city has to offer.

Cheese Markets – We'll spare vegans, but the rest of you have no excuse not to visit a cheese market this summer in Holland. Edam, Gouda and Frisian are just a few of many you can try. Here's a few cheesy facts: the Dutch have been making cheese since 400 AD, and Holland is the largest exporter of cheese in the world - as a whole the cheese industry in The Netherlands has a turnover of seven billion Euros. Were sure Wallace and Gromit would appreciate that.

Canal Boat Tour – Most of The Netherlands is made up or reclaimed land and is below sea level. So there's no surprise that Amsterdam has been nicknamed the “Venice of the North”, with more than 100 kilometres of canals, 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. To be honest, you'll discover and explore more of the city by boat than by any other mode of transport! Plus, this way you'll be safe from the bikes...

Amsterdam ArenA – Home of the 2012 Dutch champions Ajax and the National team, the Amsterdam ArenA really is a sight to behold whether your a football fan or not. The 52,000 seater stadium is only 16 years old and has held several major sporting events and concerts. Next years Europa League Final will be held at the Arena which was given a five star stadium status by UEFA. We went to see what all the hype was about and after a tour we realised why. We won't give away any spoilers, but we do advise you not to park in the three level underground car park beneath the stadium. It took us nearly an hour to reach the surface!

Visit Dutch Breweries – What goes down well with a chunk of cheese? A refreshing pint of Heineken of course, and with Dutch beer being some of the finest in the world it's hard to resist a drink.. or two. You can visit the globally exported Heineken brewery, Grolsch brewery or the more traditional Oranjeboom brewery.

Red Light District – If you ask anyone what springs to mind when you mention the Netherlands or Amsterdam, nine times out of 10 they'll say the red light district. It really is something the imagination can't match and definitely fits the cliché “seeing is believing”. We searched all night for Club Vandersexx from the 2004 comedy “Euro Trip” but had no luck. Maybe you can do better?

Rent A Bike – If you can't beat them, join them. The Dutch cycle lanes are nearly as wide as the actual roads, but don't mistake them for public footpaths or you'll get a nasty surprise -as we found out! Whether it's inside or outside Amsterdam, bikes are everywhere (and we mean everywhere). Some cyclists hang their bikes over bridges as there's nowhere to chain them up. If you rent a bike, you'll find it's a lot easier to get around than by car. It also allows you to go off-road and find the real Netherlands the tour guide doesn't show.

So there you have it, we hope out list inspires you to try something different this summer. One things for sure, the Netherlands really does have it all!

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