Language: Dutch is the official language. Frisian is spoken in the northern province of Friesland.
Time Zone: Central European Standard Time = GMT+1, Central European Summer Time = GMT+2
Tipping: Tips are not compulsory and in the Netherlands there are no generally established rules, however, if you are satisfied with the service you have received it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill
Mention the word 'Amsterdam' and it's hard not to think about the somewhat liberal tendencies for which the city is renowned. But beyond the red light district and 'lively' - as one customer called it - adult exterior, you'll see a colourful city of culture, canals and cycles (apparently there are more than residents themselves), appealing to all ages and interests and ripe for exploring on an Amsterdam coach trip.
With an impressive array of historical monuments, more than forty museums and its cobbled Dam Square, it's impossible not to like Amsterdam. Most coach trips to Amsterdam include a guided city tour encompassing the flea market, floating flower market, Royal Palace, Rijks Museum and former Jewish quarter, plus an optional guided tour of a diamond factory. Canal cruising is also part of most tours, offering a unique and romantic way of exploring Amsterdam's nooks and crannies that you wouldn't achieve on foot.
Key attractions not to be missed include Anne Frank's House and some of the world's most famous paintings at the Van Gogh Museum. In the evenings, sample local beers in Amsterdam's many coffee shops and bars. Amsterdam is also great for shopping, so on your coach trip take advantage of the arts and antiques for sale in quaint quarters or the fashionable, upscale products on display in chic shopping streets.
For something different, see houses that are no wider than a wardrobe by heading to Oude Hoogstraat 22 near Dam Square and Singel 7, where you'll find some of the narrowest abodes in Europe.
Coach holidays to Amsterdam include return coach travel, accommodation in a good 3 or 4* hotel in or around Amsterdam and various excursions incorporating the main sights and even famous Bulbfields. For those preferring not to travel by coach, the city is also a popular mini cruise destination.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in Amsterdam, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
When visiting the Netherlands you should always ensure that you have a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC isn't a substitute for travel and medical insurance, however it does entitle you to state provided medical treatment should it become necessary during your trip. Any treatment is on the same terms as the French nationals. The EHIC does not cover medical repatriation, on-going treatment or non-urgent medical treatment, so you should always make sure you have adequate travel insurance in addition to the EHIC and also access to funds which can cover the cost of any medical treatments and also repatriation.
Be sure to take care particularly when in central Amsterdam; especially in and around Central Station. Bag snatching and pick-pockets are common and thieves often operate in groups on the trains going to and from Schiphol airport and also Central Station in addition to on the trams. One thief will try to distract you (usually by asking for directions or by banging on your carriage window) whilst another steals your bag or picks your pocket. Always be alert and never lose sight of your belongings or your luggage. Passengers who are asleep make easy targets.
Opportunist thieves are also very widespread and will sometimes enter restaurants with the excuse of trying to sell you something or they are looking for someone. Bags have been taken from between people's feet when they have been distracted. Make sure all your valuables are safely with you at all times and never leave jackets or bags hanging over the back of your chair.
Should you become a victim of theft you should always contact or visit the nearest police station and get a police report issued. Amsterdam Police warn of criminals (who typically originate from Eastern European countries) who use false police identities and trick tourists into handing credit cards and cash over when pretending to be investigating counterfeit money and fake credit cards. Be very cautious about such approaches.
It is particularly rare that plain clothed police officers will carry out this type of inspection. Make sure you always ask for an identity and check it thoroughly – don't let yourself be intimidated. Dutch police do not have shiny badges, which the fake police officers will sometimes present as ID. If you are still unsure call 0900-8844 to get in touch with the local police station.
Always avoid confrontation with anyone offering drugs and refrain from using quiet or dark alleys - particularly when it is late at night. If you are tempted to buy, you are at risk of being arrested for doing so.
You must be aware of the possibility of drinks being spiked, particularly young women and those not in large groups. Never leave your drink unattended. If you believe your drink may have been spiked seek medical help immediately and try to inform the police. If you part of a group, make sure that you leave together.
Local Laws and Customs
Everybody aged 14 upwards must be able to show a valid ID to police officers and law enforcement authorities upon their request. The documents you can use provide depend on your nationality:
If you are a British national who lives in or is visiting the Netherlands you can use your passport. If you are a dual national a Dutch/European identity card, a valid Dutch driving licence or a passport can act as identification. Photocopies of ID are accepted temporarily but in some cases police may ask to see the original document as well.
Never carry or use drugs. In Amsterdam in particular there is a reputation that the use of 'soft drugs' is tolerated. However, in reality all drugs are prohibited and this level of tolerance only exists in designated premises in the major cities. You can receive a prison sentence for both possession of prohibited substances and also for buying them from outside these designated areas. Both buying and smoking 'soft drugs' in public areas is an offence in Amsterdam. There are however specifically designated cafés where using cannabis is tolerated. Despite being popular, the sale of both fresh and dry psychoactive mushrooms is forbidden. Always be extremely careful as concoctions of alcohol, cannabis and wild mushrooms have resulted in several deaths.
Holders of British passports, which are defined as 'British Citizens' do not need a visa when entering the Netherlands. If you possess another type of British nationality you must check the different entry requirements with the Netherlands Embassy in London. When staying for up to 3 months your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity beyond this.
Any other nationality looking to visit the Netherlands must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more about visiting Amsterdam, check out the official tourism website at: iamsterdam.com