On the peninsula of North Holland, the Dutch national capital of Amsterdam has expanded over the centuries as a trade city through its direct access to the North Sea.

  • Capital of the Netherlands
  • Currency — Euro
  • Languages — Dutch and English
  • Bus, Tram, Metro passes — tourist office across from Centraal Station
  • Bikes and boats are popular forms of transportation
  • Amsterdam ranked a safe city, but be aware of trams, fast moving bikes, and scams and pickpockets, particularly in tourist areas and public transit areas

From its core at Amsterdam Centraal, the city radiates outward in a semicircular layout. The center is composed of the “canal ring”—land segments between waterways—and is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is very accessible on foot. We chose accommodations in the southern ring in a flat overlooking the canal.


  • EuroStar — the high-speed train connecting Amsterdam to London via a 3 1/2-hour ride through Brussels, Belgium
  • Thalys — another high-speed train option, takes under 3 1/2 hours to travel between Amsterdam and Paris, France through Belgium (also to Germany)
  • Rail Europe is a great source for making necessary train reservations—find more travel information at Northwestern Europe
  • Our Eurail passes covered our train travel between cities and villages within our selected countries on the continent
  • For local travel throughout the Netherlands, we purchased OV Chipkaart tram/metro passes from the GVB (transportation) office at the tourist office (located in the Stationplein, across from Amsterdam Centraal Station)
  • Metro maps were stored on our phones for quick reference, such as this one for Amsterdam:
Amsterdam Tram/Metro Map
Amsterdam Tram/Metro Map

Explore Amsterdam and Beyond

Weekend in Amsterdam

Diversity is embraced here. “Weird” might be the Dutch norm due to pragmatic tolerance. This trade city has been accustomed to associating with different cultures, ideologies and lifestyles for centuries. Cooperation defines the Dutch. Tolerance makes Amsterdam’s heart beat. Rather than losing control to the social issues that can’t be eliminated through legislation—such as soft drugs,…

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