Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam

Famous for its canals and coffee shops, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and attracts well over 3.5 million visitors each year. The city, situated on the north coast of mainland Europe, has been an important trade centre since the construction of the famous Canal Ring in the 17th century. Once the richest city in the world, Amsterdam remains synonymous with diamonds, flowers, finance and art, though much of its splendour darkened through the German occupancy during World War II.

This is where Rembrandt spent much of his life (he is buried in the Westerkerk in the Jordaan), and any art lover coming to Amsterdam will be spoilt for choice for art galleries, theatres and architecture, and the Dutch are pretty good at designing the modern stuff, too, such as the NEMO science centre and the new city library.

Tolerance is a watchword in Amsterdam, mainly because the city has undergone many upheavals in its time, and its citizens are better adapted to change than most. That tolerance is perhaps best demonstrated through the country's famous drugs and prostitution laws, although visitors should be warned that the Dutch just like to keep things in plain sight, for regulation purposes, and legality doesn't necessarily mean advocation.

The locals would prefer it if you came here to see the real (and much more interesting) Amsterdam; a vibrant, progressive city, which happily trades (figuratively and literally) on its miles of canals. Plenty of the world's cities are built around water, but there is only one that will charm you like Amsterdam.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in The Netherlands:
    16,700,000
  • Inhabitants in Amsterdam:
    768,000
  • Official language
    Dutch
  • Currency
    Euro
  • Time zone
    GMT + 1
  • Emergency number
    112
  • Constitution
    Constitutional Monarchy: Queen Beatrix, and Parliamentary Democracy, Prime Minister Mark Rutte
  • Country phone code
    +31
  • Country code
    NL
  • Local transportation
    Tram, Metro, Bus