Ask five people who have been to Amsterdam to give you a quick run-down of their trip and you will almost certainly get five different stories. This beautiful city just under four hours away from London by train or a flight of just over an hour has something to interest anyone who loves art, culture, history, architecture and, well, more Bacchanalian pursuits.
Yes, Amsterdam is known for its liberal tolerance of weed smoking and the sex trade but even if that's what originally attracted you to the city, you can't help but be drawn in by everything else on offer.
The city has a whole host of fascinating museums (around 75!) to explore for instance including the world famous Anne Frank House bringing to life the story of the Jewish girl who documented life in hiding under the Nazi regime from 1942-94.
Art lovers can check out the Van Gogh museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Moco Museum and Rembrandt House museum or maybe investigate Electric Ladyland, the museum of fluorescent art where you are not just an observer but part of the experience.
Of course there are lots of museums dedicated to the sex industry which should cure you of your apathy towards museums generally if previously your only experience was a school trip to look at dug up relics.The Venustempel Sex Museum (temple of Venus) is dubbed the world's first and oldest sex museum looking at sensual love through the ages.
There's also an Erotic Museum, the Red Lights Secrets Museum and the Museum of Prostitution which gives an informative and respectful peek into the world's oldest profession. Or you could just wander through the famous Red Light District which is surprisingly not as sleazy as you might think - it's common to see couples and groups of friends taking in the sights. Be respectful and don't photograph or stare at the people working from the full length windows or try and peek if the curtain is closed.
There are museums about the famous tulips, the houseboats which lines the canals throughout the city, diamonds and more. During a recent trip with friends we visited the Ice Bar where you drink Vodka out of shot glasses made from ice in an icy room.
We also enjoyed a canal boat tour of the city which is an absolute must to learn more about the unusual buildings lining the waterways and the bridges crossing them. We also enjoyed exploring street markets where we bought art by local creatives and a vintage leather jacket for 15 Euros.
I could go on and on about the galleries, museums and cultural offerings of this city because there are enough attractions to keep you busy and entertained through multiple visits. The easiest and potentially most economical way to make the most of your trip would be to buy a Go Amsterdam Pass in advance. The pass is valid for 2 years and you simply activate it when you are ready to enjoy 1,2,3 or 5 days of validity.
From guided tours to river cruises, famous gardens to ancient castles, the Go Amsterdam All-Inclusive Pass is your ticket to a diverse array of enjoyable attractions. Savor the natural splendor of Amsterdam’s legendary tulips with a guided tour of Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden and explore the remarkable history of Castle Muiderslot, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 13th Century. Footie lover? Bask in the behind-the-scenes magic of Johan Cruyff Stadium, iconic home of AFC Ajax.
So - you've booked your transport and accommodation and bought your Go Amsterdam Pass. What else do you need to know/do?
One thing to know is that like most city destinations, a visit to Amsterdam can involve a lot of walking, especially since you cant just jump over the canals - every trip involves finding a bridge. Wear comfortable shoes. The vibe in Amsterdam is quite casual so trainers are generally fine.
There are lots of places to grab food from global fast food brands (often with a local twist-McKroket anyone?) and the Amsterdam fave, fries served in a cone with mayo or other sauces and eaten on the go. Of course you must have a pancake too!
We spotted an Instagram post raving about the restaurant Cannibale Royale which has venues across the city. We booked well in advance which turned out to be the right move as we saw dozens of people being turned away at the door. Although this is a paradise for meat-lovers there are tasty-sounding vegetarian options on the menu.
To cut down on some of the walking you could use the trams, buses or the Metro underground railway system. Just use your chip and pin/contactless card on a tram or bus or at the Metro station (all vehicles are cashless) or buy tickets at a GVB kiosk.
There are rules to observe on Amsterdam's public transport network - no drink or drugs, no loud music or loud phone conversations and bikes can only be carried at certain off peak times of day. The system is quite accessible - check the website for guidance on size limits for mobility scooters and how to plan an accessible route.
During our recent visit we found locals to be friendly and helpful, prices were reasonable and the general vibe is cool and relaxed. If nightlife is your thing there are of course plenty of bars and nightclubs as well as restaurants, theatres and concert venues. The city is extremely welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community and is family friendly too.
It was our second visit to Amsterdam, our friends have been a few more times and we are already planning to go back soon. There is so much to explore and experience whether you want to party or participate in cultural activities. We stayed in the beautiful Eden Hotel offering one of the best hotel breakfasts I have ever had, but there is accommodation to suit all budgets in this vibrant city.
Don't delay - book a trip to Amsterdam today!