The student’s guide to Amsterdam

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Whether you’re a fan of markets, bars, boats or something else entirely, Amsterdam is the perfect place for a quick getaway. The Amsterdam shopping scene is big on souvenirs, freshly baked snacks and clothes; to novelty masks and some more niche items depending on the individual’s taste. With so many things to do, it’s no wonder tourists keep coming back for more – it’s impossible to cover everything in one weekend.

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Try as you might, what with constant queuing times to visit the Van Gogh museum or Anne Frank’s house, it’s a challenge to squeeze more than a few things into a day. Transport options are easy and cheap though, so getting from one end of the city to the other is no problem for the average tourist. There are many options of travel too – take the simple method and buy a tram ticket, or step into the shoes of a local and rent a bike. Be careful though – the lack of brakes means you do have to pay attention on your way!

Some people refer to Amsterdam as the European equivalent of New York – the city that never sleeps. What with its 24-hour bars, constant stream of tourists and almost as many food outlets as people, it’s not far off. This is just one of Amsterdam’s many charms though, its bustling and busy environment. Pair that with some of the best waffles out of France and you’re in for a treat all weekend.

IMG_1833If you’re more concerned with cultural than culinary treats, Amsterdam has enough museums to keep you busy for a month. A top pick both locally and nationally is the Van Gogh museum, and the queue for entry just highlights this. Other than this, there’s the equally highly regarded Rembrandt, the picturesque Rijksmuseum and FOAM, the photography museum. Amsterdam has 12 major museums and plenty smaller ones, so there’ll always be an option if you’re feeling spontaneous. With discounted prices for students in most, there’s no excuse not to visit at least one.

A few days in Amsterdam may become an expensive weekend very quickly, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Amsterdam boasts a large choice of hostels, transport methods and free sight-seeing activities, Amsterdam can be done well whatever your budget might be. Whether you’re after a luxurious city break filled with only the best the city can offer, or a more thrifty few days in The Netherlands’ Most Wanted, the possibilities are endless. Walks along the canal are enjoyable for those reaching the wrong end of their overdraft, but also for those who’ve just received their student loan. A freshly IMG_1860brewed coffee won’t set you back more than a few euros, and it’s of quality to put Starbucks to shame. The Dutch don’t do things by halves, so everything you experience in Amsterdam will be like nowhere you’ve visited before.

The food satisfies a whole range of palates. If you’re after a luxurious evening meal, head to one of the quieter districts, where table service and waiters will ensure you have a fabulous night. On the other hand, if you’re looking to experience more culture at a cheaper price, the centre of Amsterdam, particularly Dam Square, has a huge variety of restaurants depending on what you’re craving. For the mid market bunch, the Argentinian steak restaurants are well established and enjoyed by many a tourist and local.

After you’ve enjoyed your meal, why not head out to one of Amsterdam’s bars or clubs? With places to suit every taste, you’ll soon have a drink in hand somewhere. Although not especially cheap, it’s well worth IMG_1888experiencing Amsterdam night life once, whether this is through a stroll through the Gay district, a trip to a coffee shop or for the more adventurous, a visit to the Red Light District.

It’s definitely worth booking a trip to Amsterdam at some point in your life – the city has so much to offer and is a refreshing contrast to the UK in more than one ways.

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