Amsterdam is the most populous municipality and the capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, although as the seat of Government, as well as most of the diplomatic institutions of the country are in the Hague. Amsterdam means the dam on the Amstel river that comes flowing into the IJ (a lake) and is integrated into a network of canals that dot the town two metres above the level of the sea, thanks to its canals, it is also called ‘the Venice of the North’. The lands around the city are flat and formed of large polders. We find the Amsterdamse Bos (an artificial forest) in the southwest. The city is connected to the North Sea by the long Canal of the North Sea that serves its port, the country’s second port after Rotterdam. There are important museums such as the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. The city is also known for its ‘red light main district’, De Wallen and his prostitutes, for its sex shops, for its many coffe shops, licensed to sell cannabis and for its breweries. Amsterdam is a multicultural city where half the population is of foreign origin. There is also the Bloenmenmarkt, the only floating flower market in the world. The shops are located on boats stowed on the canal. The city has also a large number of open-air markets. The majority of the historic buildings of downtown consists of buildings with gables, large merchants houses lining the canals are the best illustration of it. Free of charge, three ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists on the IJ, between the central station of Amsterdam and Amsterdam-Noord. Two other ferries (which you must pay)go on the IJ from East to West along the harbour. It is also possible to use water-taxis and river shuttles, rental of electric boats or even a cruise on the canals of the city.
We recommend you not to come to the city by car, for this purpose, there are lots of parkings where you can leave the car for a very reasonable price if you agree to take public transport to enter into the city. If you have the opportunity to bring your bike, you’ll be in the ideal city for it. Bring your own locks and remember where you leave it because it will be difficult to search for it among the thousands ones that you can find in the streets.
If you like shopping, you will find shops of any kind, but there are also several markets open daily or weekly.
Amsterdam is also known for its cloudy weather and rain, especially in the cold period so it is better to avoid the period that goes from October to March.
If you like Zoos, you will find the Amsterdam City Zoo; It has an aquarium (built in 1882), Zoological and geological Museum, a planetarium and a library.