From canal cruises to fields of tulips, exceptional art galleries and amazing shopping, there is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam that will keep the whole family happy. If you’ve hired a car from Hertz Car Rental and want to explore this historic city, here’s our quick guide to the best things to see and do, as well as some advice on the practicalities of driving and parking in Amsterdam.
1. Merchant’s Houses
You will discover that Amsterdam is one of the most historic city centres in Europe. It has approximately 7,000 important buildings, including the iconic merchant’s houses that line the infamous canals. The best way to see these is to take a canal cruise for an uninterrupted view of the houses in all their glory. Visit during December and January and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that the canals, bridges and merchant’s houses are all decked in beautiful, bright lights for the city’s Light Festival.
2. Windmills and Tulips
For the perfectly quintessential Dutch experience, it’s well worth taking the drive to see some of the best-preserved windmills that the Netherlands has to offer. If you’d prefer to stay in the city centre, we recommend visiting De Gooyer, or if you’re up for a short road trip, Molen Van Sloten is a great opportunity to see a working windmill in action. Visit in the spring and you’ll also get the chance to see thousands of acres of vividly coloured tulip fields, making it a great photo opportunity.
3. Visit Ann Franks House
Poignant, fascinating and always one of the most popular sites in Amsterdam, Anne Frank’s house is a museum dedicated to the bravery and courage of the Frank family, who were persecuted and ultimately imprisoned by the Nazis in WWII. Best time to visit: early afternoon to avoid the queues.
4. The Van Gogh Museum
One of the Netherland’s most influential and important 20th-Century artists, Van Gogh’s art was revolutionary and unique. The Museum has the world’s largest collection of paintings and drawings by Van Gogh and is a real treat for art lovers.
5. Visit the Bloemenmarkt
The world’s only floating flower market is one of Amsterdam’s quirkier attractions. You’ll find it on Singel in the city’s southern canal belt. An explosion of colour and scents, it’s home to 15 flower shops, souvenir sellers, and wholesale flower sellers. With some of the city’s finest merchant’s houses in the background, it’s a relaxing and unusual destination for an afternoon’s exploring.
6. The Waag
Amsterdam’s heyday really got going in the 15th Century, and this stunningly preserved building in Nieuwmarkt square is one of the finest reminders of that late-medieval period. It was originally one of the city’s gatehouses, but today is the home of the Waag Society. The ground floor has an excellent café and restaurant – an ideal place to stop for a coffee and a pastry.
7. Relax in the Vondelpark
Right in the heart of the city is a 47-hectare, wide-open green space. Vondelpark is one of the city’s best-loved areas for both locals and visitors and is close to the Museumplein, so it’s a great spot to unwind after spending the morning touring the city’s museums. Here you’ll find everything you need to enjoy a day out at the park – café facilities, an open-air theatre, and a large playground for the kids.
8. Festivals – All Year Round
No matter when you travel to Amsterdam, you’re almost certain to be there for one of the city’s many festivals. Celebrate the Chinese New Year in February, or experience Dutch food at its finest during the Taste of Amsterdam celebrations in May. During July you can catch a performance every day at the Vondelpark open air theatre, or see Amsterdam’s canals and buildings all lit up during the city’s Light Festival during December and January.
Getting around Amsterdam by car – parking and speed limits
Amsterdam is easily accessed by road from any direction. If you’re driving up from central Europe then take the A1, which takes you through the magnificent German countryside and into the Netherlands from the east, or the A2 from the south, through Belgium and the Low Countries. Amsterdam is surrounded by the A10 ring road and has plenty of radial routes heading into the main centre.
If you want to experience the more relaxed atmosphere of the city then use the extensive Park & Ride network. It costs just €1 a day to park in some car parks, and around €5-7 to use public transport to get into the centre.
The speed limit on motorways is 130km/h, although on the A10 ring road that drops to 100km/h (and 80km/h on the western section). Keep in mind that speed limits are strictly enforced. If you have any queries about driving in Amsterdam, ask your Hertz Car Rental expert for advice when you pick up your vehicle and they will be happy to help.