Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. With more than one million inhabitants in its urban area, it is the country's largest city and its financial, cultural, and creative centre in the country. Amsterdam is also known as Venice of the North, because of its lovely canals that criss-cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. There is something for every traveller's taste here!
A little history
Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important trading centres in the world during the 17th century.
The city's small mediaeval centre rapidly expanded as the Jordaan and the Canal Belt neighbourhoods were constructed; the latter's cultural significance was acknowledged when it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded in all directions, with many new neighbourhoods and suburbs designed in modernist styles.
Amsterdam is not the seat of the government, which is in The Hague. Partly because of this, the city has an informal atmosphere unlike other capital cities its size. Attractions include the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Flower Market, Albert Cuyp Market, and the Vondelpark.
Amsterdam is a large city and a major tourist destination, so you can visit it all year round. However, in winter the days are short (8 hours daylight around Christmas), and the weather may be too cold to walk around the city comfortably, let alone cycle.
January and February are the coldest months, with lows around -1°C and highs around 5°C. July and August are the warmest months, with an average temperature of 22°C.