Amsterdam tours and excursions
The Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board offer a number of interesting walking tours. Lasting from two to three-and-a-half hours, these tours familiarise visitors with the city centre, the Jordaan, Jewish Amsterdam and the Pijp. All tours are self-guided but booklets, maps and audio guides are available to bring the routes to life.Tel: +31 20 702 6000.
CitySightseeing Amsterdam offers a hop-on, hop-off tour that circles away from the Centraal Station and goes past sights like the Magna Plaza, Heineken Experience, the Rijksmuseum, Gassan Diamonds and a number of other important places of interest, before heading back around. Audio guides are available in 18 languages and tickets are available for 24 or 48 hours.Tel: +31 20 420 4000.
Yellow Bike operates tours on two wheels, taking in everything from the Vondelpark to the Jordaan district. Other key locations include the Anne Frank house, the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt’s house and the Red Light District. Several routes are available, including two of the city and one of the countryside. Tours are conducted in Dutch or English. All depart from Nieuwezijds Kolk 29, which is a three-minute walk from the Centraal Station.Tel: +31 20 620 6940.
Probably the best way to see Amsterdam is from one of the many canal tour boats available. Operators include Stromma and Lovers, both departing from Prins Hendrikkade opposite Centraal Station. Passengers can choose either to go once in a loop or use the boats as a hop-on, hop-off way of getting around the main attractions. Other boat tours combine the cruises with visits to various museums or take in the canals by night.Tel: +31 20 217 0500; +31 20 530 5412.
A 25-minute train journey from Centraal Station, approximately 40km (25 miles) north of Amsterdam, this coastal town is wonderful for getting away from it all. Bikes are available for hire at the train station. Maps can be obtained from the station restaurant, before cycling through beautiful woodlands and meadows to reach the dunes.Website: http://www.vvvhartvannoordholland.nl
Marken and Volendam
These pretty fishing villages are both approximately 15km (9 miles) north of Amsterdam. Marken is on an island that’s joined to the mainland by a bridge, while Volendam is situated on the banks of the Ijsselmeer. Visitors can wander through streets of quaint old houses, dress up in traditional costume and check out the Volendam fish auction. The outing can be extended into a full-day tour by stopping off for a fresh fish lunch and visiting the Volendam Museum, where one old sailor's collection of over a million cigar bands is on display. There’s frequent bus service from Centraal Station.Tel: +31 299 363 747.
A brief train ride from Amsterdam, Haarlem makes a serene alternative to the capital. Its beautifully preserved historic core centres on the Grote Markt, a medieval square anchored by a magnificent Gothic church. Admire the paintings of 17th-century master Frans Hals at his namesake museum and then take in some hofjes (ancient courtyard complexes that formerly harboured almshouses). In warm weather, zip over to Zandvoort, a major beach resort.Tel: +31 23 531 7325.
With some 4.5 million tulips and 15 kilometers (9 miles) of footpaths, Keukenhof Gardens, south of Haarlem, makes the ultimate outing for ogling Holland's famed flower. The bulb fields in and around Keukenhof burst into colour from late March to mid May.Website: http://keukenhof.nl