Unlike many holiday destinations, an Amsterdam city break can be enjoyed all year round. The weather is traditionally at its best at Easter time and between July and August. However Amsterdam's climate changes hourly throughout the year and rarely becomes extreme. We wouldn't even rule out mid-winter, as temperatures hardly ever drop below freezing, and sheltering in cosy pubs will allow you to meet real Dutch locals.
With this in mind, more and more travellers are taking advantage of cheaper restaurants, hotels and flights and beginning to favour off-season holidays. The city is every bit as attractive, and there are more wonderful cultural events to entertain and inspire. The cultural calendar is in full swing between September and April, with dates and locations widely available online.
Highlights in recent years have included the Comedytrain International – a six week comedy romp featuring some of the very best stand-up comedians. The Grachtenfestival is a music festival which takes place for a whole week over the summer. The concerts take place in museums, historic buildings, concert halls, and even in local people's houses and gardens.
Amsterdam city breaks will suit virtually everybody as there is a broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sights. Along with the canals and fascinating old buildings, there is the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum. All located in the Museumplein (Museum quarter), it is hard to find a bad word to say about any of them. The only problem is that the many other treasures hidden between the cafes and stylish hotels are often missed by tourists blinded by the big three.
The Museumplein is also home to the majestic Concertgebouw, renowned all over the world for its jaw-dropping acoustics and locally, for the free lunch time classical concerts. A pleasant stroll down the exclusive P.C. Hooftstraat, Van Baerlestraat or Pieter Cornelisz will take the you to the doors of some the region's most up-market couture houses.
If you are interested in seeking out some of the natural beauties of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Hortus has to be high up your list. Established as a small herb garden in 1638, this oasis of calm features almost 7000 plants, many of them rare including a cactus which is said to be almost 2000 years old.
Sticking with an historic theme, an Amsterdam city break wouldn't be complete without visiting the recently upgraded Museum van het Leven. (Museum of Life). This fascinating exhibition tells the story of life on Earth using stunningly creative visual effects. Amsterdam boasts one of the world's greatest zoos along with a Zoological Museum, Plant Houses, Planetarium, Aquarium, enough to make your weekend break stretch into a week.
Shop 'til you drop
Shopping is an excellent way to discover any city. Amsterdam boasts several shopping areas each with its own charms and specialities. One of the most popular areas is Nieuwedijk-Kalverstraat, a mile long pedestrian area full of interesting shops, there's no traffic other than a constant stream of tourists. Yet another reason to choose an off-season Amsterdam city break.