Amsterdam has long been one of Europe’s favourite destinations; popular with culture vultures and party animals alike. Set sail for the Dutch capital with DFDS Seaways for a truly memorable short break in this most vibrant of European cities. Relax and enjoy the facilities on board either the Princess Seaways or King Seaways before exploring Amsterdam with its world class museums, picturesque canals and bustling bars, cafes and restaurants.
The journey begins at Port of Tyne International Passenger Terminal which lies around 8 miles from Newcastle city centre. A taxi will cost around £15 and takes about 10 minutes or there are shuttle buses from the city centre as well. Once you’ve checked in and passed through customs it’s time to step on board.
Once you’ve checked into your comfortable, en-suite cabin there’s plenty of time to explore the ship and get your bearings before departure. As the ship heads out of the Tyne into the open sea, take a look to your left and you’ll see the dramatic ruins of Tynemouth Castle and Priory on a rocky headland high above the sea.
Feeling peckish? No problem, there are loads of options from fine dining in the Blue Riband restaurant to a tasty pizza in Little Italy. Alternatively you can enjoy succulent steaks and fine wines in the Explorer’s Steakhouse then relax with a drink in the Navigator’s Pub. Try beer, wine or whisky tasting in the swanky Compass Bar or if the weather is fine, head to the Sky Bar on the ship’s top deck.
The Columbus Club is the place to be for live music and entertainment. Perhaps you’ll get lucky playing bingo or at the casino tables. There’s also a great range of music to enjoy, culminating in the all-singing, all-dancing Captain’s Show to round off the evening.
Following a good night’s sleep in your comfortable cabin, start the day with a hearty breakfast in the 7 Seas buffet. With lots of choice available from classic English bacon, eggs and sausage to continental items like cheese, fruit and pastries, you’ll be all set for the busy day ahead. Pop out on deck to see the ship arrive into IJmuiden, look out for the remains of Forteiland IJmuiden guarding the mouth of the canal and the smokestacks of the IJmuiden steelworks overlooking the beach.
After disembarking, a short coach journey brings you to the top of Damrak, opposite central station in the heart of Amsterdam. From here it’s a short walk down to Dam Square, the beating heart of Amsterdam. Now it’s up to you to decide how to spend your day.
The culture vultures among you may want to head for the Rijksmuseum, one of the world’s premier art museums and the national museum of the Netherlands. There are works by world-famous artists like Hals, Vermeer and Rubens but the star of the show is definitely The Night Watch by Rembrandt; make sure you don’t miss it. If Old Masters don’t appeal, the Van Gogh Museum is just across Museumplein. The museum houses some of Van Gogh’s most iconic works including Sunflowers, several self-portraits and Wheatfield with Crows which may have been his last painting.
Another of Amsterdam’s historic highlights is the Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht canal. This is where Anne Frank and her family famously hid from Nazi persecution for over two years. As one of Amsterdam’s most famous sights the queues are often long but a visit to the house is a rewarding if sobering experience.
For the food fanatics among you, Amsterdam’s got you covered. Double fried chips with mayo are a must but you should also try Bitterballen, deep fried crispy meatballs traditionally served with mustard or raw herring served with onions and gherkins. For a sweet treat, try hot and gooey Stroopwafels or traditional Dutch pancakes. There are plenty of hip coffee shops around the city; get a taste of Brooklyn at Bedford-Stuyvesant or try to look cool sitting on a beanbag at CT Coffee & Coconuts.
If you’re after something stronger, Heineken or Amstel are the beers of choice in most bars but you can usually find some stronger Belgian beers in most places too. Try the Restaurant-Cafe In de Waag, located in a historic canalside weigh house and one of the best spots for al fresco dining in the city. Craft beer enthusiasts should head to Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a microbrewery located in a windmill.
Amsterdam, like any large city is big and bustling, packed with tourists and people whizzing round on bikes. The Rijksmuseum Gardens are a great spot to chill out right under the noses of the throngs of tourists. With well-kept hedges, plenty of shady spots and cooling fountains, take a seat and watch the world go by.
For those wanting to escape the crowds and really get under the skin of Amsterdam, take a free ferry from Westerdoksdijk (a short walk from Central Station) to NDSM Wharf, a former shipyard that’s now an ultra-cool cultural hotspot. Its gritty, post-industrial architecture is hardly picture postcard material but it’s full of art spaces, independent shops and hip bars, there’s even a submarine moored in the dock!
Let’s face it, we could go on all day. Suffice to say there’s loads to do in Amsterdam with something to suit everyone’s taste. If you’re just there for the day you’ll need to plan your day wisely to maximise your time. Do as the locals do and hire a bike to see more of the city or use the trams to get round and save your feet. We spent a short five hours in Amsterdam but the good news is if you book your break to Amsterdam with Super Break and DFDS you get an overnight hotel stay included so you can explore more of the city and do more of the things you love.
Whenever you’re heading back, make sure you’re at the coach drop off point by 4pm local time for the journey back to IJmuiden. There’s another packed night of entertainment on board ship to look forward to before you get home.
Many thanks to all the staff at DFDS Seaways, especially Zoe, Jen, Adele and Lukas.
So there we are, a whistlestop tour of Amsterdam! Do you have any more reccomendations? Let us know in the comments section below…