Weekend breaks in Amsterdam

everything you need for an eco weekend break in Amsterdam

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 Eco Friendly Amsterdam

One of the most visited capitals in Europe, Amsterdam is easily accessible from the UK by train and bus. The Dutch have long been forward thinkers with sustainable design, environmental issues and low impact transport systems amongst some of the Netherlands most important issues. As a result, there are a wide range of activities and excursions available for people who wish to enjoy an ecologically friendly lifestyle.

With its canals and narrow alleyways, Amsterdam is a great place to explore on foot, by bicycle or by boat. Visit the Rembrandt and Van Gogh Museums, the Tulip market, the Red Light district, Anne Frank's House or simply relax in one of the city's many laid back cafés and bars.

Getting there..

From the UK ferries go from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS (www.dfdsseaways.co.uk), Harwich to the Hook of Holland with Stena (www.stenaline.co.uk) , and Hull to Rotterdam (Europoort) with P&O North Sea Ferries (www.poferries.com). Combine these with your rail ticket or ferry the car across.

DFDS Stena Line PO Ferries

Eurolines (www.eurolines.nl) run budget coach services from the Netherlands to various destinations throughout Europe.

For mainland Europe, the rail network and lack of distance make it an easy journey to and from most places -for Dutch trains see Nederlandse Spoorwegen (www.ns.nl) who run domestic and international trains or alternatively Interrail Passes (www.interrail.net).

It is easy to fly to Amsterdam, with a range of low-cost airlines flying in to Schiphol Airport from the UK and all over mainland Europe (visit www.schiphol.nl for more information). The national carrier of the Netherlands is KLM who fly from Amsterdam, their hub, to destinations all over the world.

Getting around and Things to do

The city's GVB tram (www.gvb.nl) is an efficient and comfortable way to explore the city. Passes for one to four days start from just 7 euros and are valid for the metro and bus as well. The system also includes the five major ferries, Houthavenveer, NDSM-werfveer, Buiksloterwegveer, IJpleinveer and the Distelwegveer which are free of charge and carry foot passengers, bicycles and mopeds.

The lack of hills, extremely narrow streets, canals and short distances in Amsterdam make it a cyclists paradise, with bicycles outnumbering cars. In fact nearly half of all traffic movements in Amsterdam are by bike, with virtually every street corner filled with the parked cycles. There are widespread cycle paths, and drivers do respect two wheeled road users. It is also possible to take bikes on commuter trains, metro or take your bike for free on the ferries to North Amsterdam, from where it is easy to explore the countryside.

Bicycle rentals are readily available throughout the city. Central Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square are all the major spots to grab a bike. One of the largest companies is MacBike (www.macbike.nl), who offer rentals of their distinctive red bikes from a number of locations around the city. The rentals include a cycling map of the city, or they offer a small range of tours. A bike costs 8¤ for 24 hours, or 4¤ per day for a week.

Cycling tours are a great way to discover the city, and one of the best known companies is Mike's Bike Tours (www.mikesbiketoursamsterdam.com). These guys offer two fantastic tours of the city and surrounding countryside. The first is a great tour of the whole city encompassing the red light district, historical monuments and then out into the countryside to visit windmills, cheese makers, clog factories, tulip farms and many other fascinating places, allowing tourists the chance to see the real amsterdam. The second includes a trip around the city, followed by a leisurely cruise down the canals with some drinks included.

Amsterdam is undoubtedly one of the greenest cities in Europe, boasting a range of fantastic parks for a day out or a picnic, including the world famous and extremely pleasant Vondel Park. Another park worth considering for a day out is the Amsterdamse Bos (www.amsterdamsebos.nl) which is now partly a nature reserve and offers a raft of activities including rowing or canoeing (www.kanoverhuur-adam.nl), horse riding (www.nieuwamsterdam.nl), open air theatre (www.bostheater.nl) amongst others.

It is also possible to visit one of the world's oldest botanical gardens, De Hortus (www.dehortus.nl), which features more than 6000 species of plant and is a great place to just relax, away from the city, entry is 6¤ for adults and 3¤ for children. Other green trips include the sustainably built science museum (http://asp.nl) and the well known Artis Zoo Park (www.artis.nl), which includes botanical gardens, a unique canal aquarium, planetarium and geological museum.

See Nemo (http://www.e-nemo.nl)

Shopping - Specialist Shops

Much used by locals, the farmers market in Noordermarkt (www.jordaanmarkten.nl) in the Jordaan district sells organic food every Saturday -come here for fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, meat, cheeses and other delicacies.

Nukuhiva (www.nukuhiva.nl) - a concept fashion store from TV presenter Floortje Dessing, it aims to be both responsible and stylish and caters to both fashionistas and environmentalists by offering the coolest fair trade and fair ware, from brands such as Edun, makeZenz and Kuyuchi. It can be found at Haarlemmerstraat 36 near to centraal station.

Cora Kempeerman (www.corakemperman.nl) - another high fashion store, this time from the designer Cora Kemperman who's boutique shops offer flowing clothes aimed at an older market and which are extremely popular amongst Dutch women. All of her clothes are fair ware and the shop can be found at Leidsestraat 72, three blocks down from the Leidesplein.

Igloo 4 is a nice ecofashion boutique, run by a former industry worker, who decided to set up an ethical, fairtrade and fashionable store. The store provides a range of gifts, clothes and accessories all of which are either organic, fair trade or both and can be found at ferdinand bolstraat 160 h.

Natuurwinkel (www.denatuurwinkel.com) -there are 11 branches of this natural health food store spread around the city. Each one offers a huge range of organic and fair trade products, including a large range of Dutch items, with some of the larger stores almost the same size as supermarkets.

The store of innovative con ceptual designers Droog (www.droog.com) in Staalstraat is also worth a visit -offering items from their creative lab, whose work has been extensively published around the world.

Restaurants - A healthy bite to eat

De Waaghals restaurant (www.waaghals.nl) lies a short walk from the heart of Amsterdam's museum district, in De Pijp. Over the last 25 years many dinners have enjoyed its high quality vegetarian cuisine. Inside the bright decor and international art on the walls provide a great atmosphere in which to enjoy the organic food proffered from the kitchen or in the summertime it is possible to sit outside. The menu changes twice a month, with each month being used to develop the cuisine of a different country. The extensive wine and beers list is also organic.

Restaurant de Kas (www.restaurantdekas.nl) was opened in 2001 by Michelin rated chef Gert Jan Hageman, who found and refurbished an old greenhouse in Frankendael Park to the east of the city. The 8m high glass structure has a new interior designed by Piet Boon, which provides a fantastic atmosphere in which to enjoy top quality organic food. They grow their own herbs, seasonal vegetables and salads supplemented with fresh ingredients daily from local organic farmers.

Sleep Well - Hotels & Hostels

Worldwide many hotel chains have started to take environmental concerns seriously and have begun to put eco-friendly features into their buildings. One of the pioneers in this way is NH hotels, and several of their Amsterdam Hotels have received green key accreditation, showing them to be environmentally beneficial. (www.nh-hotels.com)

Hans Brinker Budget Hotel (www.hans-brinker.com) is a budget hotel that takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to eco travel -have a look at their eco-tour and you will see what we mean......

The Flying Pig (www.flyingpig.nl) is actually a trio of backpacker hostels -two downtown and one beach location. Their Environmental policy is published on the website and includes a donation to Trees for Travel (www.treesfortravel.info) in exchange for returning your keycard -a neat way to ensure they are returned.

more hostels in Holland

Amsterdam: House Boat Hotel -self catering privately owned accomodation on houseboats - also offer short stay apartments.
 
Jonas Houseboat , Amsterdam -http://www.jonashouseboat.com/
Jonas is a designer hosting guests on his Amsterdam houseboat in a remote and romantic spot yet only ten minutes walk from the central station. Describes itself as home to the arts and free thought.

 

Apartments:

The Jordaan -a beautiful apartment with a garden in the heart of Amsterdam.
1689 Nord + Sud -fully furnished newly renovated hotel-apartments for short term rent, right in the center of Amsterdam, two minutes from the queens palace on Dam square.
Amsterdam -House Boat Hotel -self catering privately owned accomodation on houseboats.
Canal -apartments with Internet for rent in the center of Amsterdam.
 
 
General Information
  • Gay Amsterdam online -over 18.000 pages of information.
  • Netherlands Board of Tourism -the official Amsterdam site for tourism and leisure in Amsterdam with online hotel reservations, tips for trips, museums, shops,
    night life, events and restaurants.

Sightseeing, events, tours and things to do:

  • Amsterdam canal boat hire - Rent a boat with skipper for a canal cruise or a party.
  • Madurodam - A minature version of Amsterdam, replicated in 1:25 scale, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
  • Rembrandthuis - Rembrandt's house, which has been refurbished and turned into a Museum.
  • Rijksmuseum - Features a magnificent selection of Dutch paintings from the Golden Age.
  • Stedelijk - Amsterdam museum of modern art which exhibits paintings, sculpture, photography, graphic arts, video and new media.
  • Van Gogh Museum - The artist's life and times, exhibitions and the Museum's collection.


Amsterdam to Bruges bike and barge holiday with Responsible Travel

On this bike and barge holiday you can experience the highlights of Holland. Leaving Amsterdam we travel by barge to Oude Wetering. The Flower Park Keukenhof is our next focus adorned by thousands of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths of various colours, shapes and scents.

Make a stop at Gouda famous for its cheese and then cycle to the world famous windmills of Kinderdijk before heading through Dordrecht and the natural reserve of Biesbosch to Willemstad. We travel by barge across the impressive waterways of Zeeland and onto the lively town of Antwerp in Belgium. In the delightful town of Ghent we enjoy a walking tour before continuing to Bruges where we will take a horse carriage ride and a guided walk of the old town. A transfer by bus returns us to Amsterdam on the final day.


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Featured books:
 
Get Lost! the Cool Guide to Amsterdam
Joe Pauker, Lisa Kristensen
Get Lost Publishing
Paperback -2006
Price in UK pounds
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Amsterdam (Lonely Planet City Guide)
Jeremy Gray
Paperback - 2008
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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Amsterdam (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Robin Pascoe, et al
Dorling Kindersley
Paperback -May, 2003
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Amsterdam Popout Map

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