More than Canals, Culture and Cannabis
Amsterdam, also known as the Venice of Northern Europe, is a world-class capital known for its rich culture, openness and tolerance.
Amsterdam Centraal Station (CS) is at the heart of the city and can easily be reached from Schiphol airport within 15 minutes. Miss the train? Not to worry – they run every ten minutes. The Centraal Station’s impressive Neo-Renaissance building is located at the IJ waterfront. Unless you plan to travel by one of the ferries from the north side of the station, you’ll need to exit at the center side, where all buses, trams, metros, taxis, departure quays for tourist boats and the main Amsterdam Tourist Office are located.
The station’s location is unique, situated on three man-made islands, themselves resting on over 8,000 wooden piles that have been driven deep into the sandy soil. Several canals that have recently been added to the UNESCO Heritage list surround the train station.
The Dutch are known for their biking. It’s easy to rent one and see the city like a local. You can also discover the city via Canal Boat tours. Using a hop on and hop off system similar to a tour bus, the canal boat makes 14 stops at nearby tourist attractions and also stops at the Centraal Station’s main entrance. Commentary is provided onboard and it is an easy way to reach many of Amsterdam’s famous museums, the Heineken brewery or to simply rest your feet and enjoy the scenery often depicted by famous Dutch painters.
All of the Netherlands has a dense railroad network. Within a one-hour rail ride from Amsterdam there are many options for day trips. The old towns of Gouda and Alkmaar are a must for cheese lovers. The governmental city of Den Haag with its opulent buildings is a shopping paradise and offers great relaxation on its big stretch of beach. The quaint old fisher villages of Hoorn and Enkhuizen on the Southern Sea, just north of Amsterdam, are part of the “historic triangle.” Dutch traders from these towns connect the history of the Netherlands permanently with that of New York City in the 17th century. Rotterdam is the architectural capital of the Netherlands and famous for its cube-homes and the Erasmus Bridge. Most of these cities can easily be discovered by foot from the train station, too. Be sure to look into a Holland Pass for your trip to the Netherlands.
Amsterdam has convenient fast train connections with other European cities. Imagine eating all your meals in three cities in just one day. An epicurean adventure can be yours aboard the Thalys high speed “red train.” Enjoy Dutch poffertjes for breakfast in Amsterdam. Zip to Brussels in just 2 hours for a lunch of waffles and mussels. Get to Paris in just over 3 hours for a bouillabaisse dinner.
Northern neighbors are also within your reach. ICE trains travel from Amsterdam CS for Cologne and Dusseldorf in 2 1/2 hours and Frankfurt in about four. With City Night Line overnight trains, you can depart Amsterdam at night and arrive rested in Berlin, Prague, Zurich or Copenhagen the next morning.
Contributed by: Renate, our Dutch employee who has worked in various departments of the company and traveled on many trains in Europe, especially through the BeNeLux countries.