Unmistakable and unique, Amsterdam's canals and gabled houses give the city an historic elegance recalling its seafaring past. Add a wealth of galleries and museums, fine dining and a buzzing nightlife, and you have the ideal city break destination.

Insider Tip

If you're looking for a break from the bustling centre, be sure to take a walk along the peaceful canals of the Jordaan district.

The highlights of Dutch cuisine include herrings served every which way (raw, cooked and pickled), smoked eel and chops with mayonnaise. Gouda and Edam are the best known cheeses, but there are plenty of others to sample. For pudding, select applegebak, traditional Dutch apple pie, or find a pancake house or poffertjes stall, selling light, fluffy mini pancakes with choice of toppings.

A legacy of the Netherlands' colonial past is the rijsttafel, a feast of up to 25 Indonesian dishes served together with rice. Wash it down with a lass of pils or wheat beer, and don't forget to try a Jenever or Dutch gin.

There are plenty of souvenirs to bring home from Amsterdam; a pair of clogs; some pretty Delftware; a bottle of Jenever or, if you're lucky, a diamond from the diamond factory. At the flower market or at the Keukenhof, you can order bulbs to be shipped home.

In the city centre, Amsterdam's top department store can be found on Dam Square, while nearby is Damrak, once a busy canal, now a busy shopping street. For something more interesting, you'll find the small boutiques and antique shops amid the canals of the Jordaan district are a rich hunting ground.

Take a canal boat tour for the perfect introduction.

Catch your breath in bustling Dam Square, packed with buskers and street performers.

Hire a bicycle and join the Dutch obsession with cycling: it's the ideal way to see the city.

Smell the flowers at the Bloemenmarkt and order some bulbs to be sent back home.

Climb the tower of the Westerkerk, then explore the charming little streets of the Jewish Quarter nearby.

Suggested Excursions

Panoramic City Tour

Tour Amsterdam's famous sights by coach and boat. Including the Royal Palace, Skinny Bridge, a windmill on the Amstel and a diamond factory.

Marken, Volendam & Windmill Tour

Visit two picturesque villages and a cheese farm for a real taste of Holland.

Grand Holland Tour

Full day trip to Aalsmeer Flower Auction (closed Sun when substituted by a visit to a clog factory), Delft (home of blue pottery), Rotterdam, the House of Parliament in the Hague and the beach resort of Scheveningen.

The Keukenof

One of the world's biggest flower shows with over 6 million bulbs planted in 80 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.

Red Light District Walking Tour

Gain a unique insight into dark Amsterdam with a tour of the Red Light District. Learn about one of the city's oldest industries, prostitution, and discover how different the area is now compared with its murky past.

Candlelight Cruise

A romantic evening cruise along the canals taking in the sparkling bridges and buildings of the city by night. Cheese and wine are offered on board.

Dinner Cruise

This superb evening excursion starts with a welcome cocktail. Your hostess explains the history associated with the beautifully lit buildings as you relax in glass enclosed comfort. A 4-course dinner is served, which includes red and white wines, coffee and liqueur.

Floriade - World Horticultural Expo

Floriade is a World Horticultural Expo staged once every 10 years in the Netherlands. From 05 Apr - 07 Oct 12, the sixth edition of Floriade will be organised in Venlo, in the South of Holland. Visitors are presented with the opportunity to enjoy the world's most exquisite and exceptional flowers, plants, trees, fruit and vegetables.