Shermans Travel » Blog » Amsterdam
Whenever we think of the Netherlands, lots of us immediately recall an all-night excursion we took back in college from London to Amsterdam. Being rough-and-tumble, empty-pocketed students, we had no qualms about the cumbersome bus-to-a-train-to-a-ferry-to-another-train journey, and our bleary-eyed arrival into Amsterdam was offset by the sheer joy of being someplace new.
These days, we’re a little more discerning about how we plan our trips. All the better that Eurostar has finally decided to forge ahead with its first-ever London-Amsterdam nonstop route, set to launch at the end of 2016. Using its new e320 high-speed trains, Eurostar will offer service between the two cities twice a day, resulting in a four-hour trip that stops in Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport, and, finally, Amsterdam Centraal.
If 2016 is too far away to suit your spontaneous travel needs, or you’re curious about the cost of different kinds of transport between these two great cities, here’s a quick guide. Read more
Why settle for a boring hotel room when you can stay somewhere that takes your trip to a whole new level? Though many Airbnb listings feature normal, furnished apartments and homes for short-term rental, there are also quite a few lighthouses, houseboats, and castles available around the globe – most with price tags that rival or beat the nearest hotel.
To find the most interesting places to stay, pick your city and then narrow down your search by “room types” like villas, tree houses, campers, or igloos (find these options on the left side of the screen). Once you’ve found somewhere that floats your boat (or is perhaps an actual boat), submit a reservation request through the “book it” button on the website.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled a few of our favorite lodgings to jumpstart your imagination…
1. Vintage Houseboat, Amsterdam
This houseboat is located in a picturesque canal in central Amsterdam. For only 135 euro ($185) per night, you can’t go wrong, especially considering the sunny terrace for people and duck watching, a bottle of Prosecco waiting for you upon arrival, and the location within walking distance of most major museums. Read more
As the fourth busiest airport in Europe, you might find yourself with some time to kill at Amsterdam Schiphol. This is one of the world’s more flier-friendly airports, designed for leisure and relaxation. But don’t totally dismiss the opportunity to spend a few hours strolling along Amsterdam’s picturesque canals. The efficient Dutch train system will put you in the city center in about 20 minutes. Read more
Like anyone else, we love the idea of a free trip. And that’s just what major airlines are offering when they advertise a “free” stopover in one of their home cities — essentially a bonus side trip to another city while en route to your final destination.
Not to be confused with a layover (a few hours in the airport while waiting for your connecting flight), a stopover is any stay longer than 24 hours in which travelers leave the airport and go explore the surrounding city. The length of a stopover is entirely up to the traveler, and since there is often no extra cost added to the original ticket, the stopover is considered free. (In airline speak, this is known as a “dual destination vacation.”)
But how exactly does one go about booking a stopover? And is it a better deal in the long run?
First off, it is important to understand why certain airlines provide free stopovers. In almost every case, these are major international carriers based in major hubs (Emirates/Dubai; Singapore Airlines/Singapore; Japan Airlines/Tokyo; etc.) that want to lure more tourists to their destination. Enticing travelers with a “free” stopover leads to hotel bookings, restaurant meals, and other tourism dollars that otherwise wouldn’t have been spent.
To book a stopover, select “multi-destination” or “multi-city” on the airline’s website and plug in the specific dates for your desired stopover. As long as your stopover is in the airline’s home city, chances are it will cost the same price as a ticket without a stopover.
For example, if I’m looking up flights from New York to Budapest in October, Kayak tells me that Aeroflot offers the cheapest route for $808, with a 3.5 hour layover in Moscow. If I then go to Aeroflot’s website and type in a multi-destination trip that includes two days of sightseeing in Moscow, the flight is the exact same price: $808.
Here are some more examples: Read more
This summer, take the international vacation you’ve always dreamed of with Accor Hotels’ Super Sale. Enjoy a romantic vacation to Paris, explore the sights of Hong Kong, soak up the arts and culture of Sydney, and many more international destinations. With this sale, you’ll save up to 50 percent on seasonal rates at the same hotels. Valid for stays from July 6 through September 1, select properties include: Read more
Travelers seeking cultural connections might want to roll up their sleeves on an upcoming trip. In big cities and small towns, a variety of hands-on classes are linking curious visitors with local experts. Whether you want to learn about cheesemaking or butchery, there are many opportunities to get your hands dirty and meet locals at the same time.
Many of these classes are focused around food, a pleasure that connects us no matter where we call home. Not only do the following classes teach us something new and provide the framework to connect with locals, but they are also delicious. With every class there is the reward of tasting what you made and feasting with new friends. Here are four of my favorite ways to get your hands dirty around the globe. Read more
We’ve all been through our fair share of airports. Generally, I’m either running through them or waiting impatiently for my zone on my next flight to be called. But, according to CheapFlight.com‘s recent list, we should be taking a few extra moments to step back and enjoy our airport’s offerings. Read on to find out the awesome services right around the corner from your gate and read our list of top 10 airports for shopping! Read more
If a Mediterranean, Adriatic, or Baltic cruise is on your 2012 travel wish list, check out the $1,776 July 4th sale fares now being offered by Windstar Cruises (must be booked by July 6). Windstar, which operates three tall-masted luxury ships – 312-passenger Wind Surf and 148-passenger Wind Star (shown at left in Greece) and Wind Spirit – has lowered fares on 20 European voyages sailing from mid-July to mid-November (with some fall voyages priced as low as $1,476 and December Caribbean voyages priced from $976).
I have cruised around Europe extensively and have sailed on both Wind Star and Wind Surf. If, like me, you prefer smaller ships to the behemoths, you’ll enjoy the intimate ambiance, wonderful service, superb cuisine, and easy camaraderie that these ships offer. Here are few of my recommendations for itineraries among those on sale until July 6:
Giggles are muffled and eyebrows are raised when anyone mentions traveling to Amsterdam. After some perfunctory chit chat about the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, a pregnant pause typically lingers until someone asks the question: “Did you smoke marijuana?” Since the 1970s, tourists have flocked to Amsterdam to legally get high. Now, however, the laws have changed and, come May 1, coffee shops in the southern half of the country will cater only to Dutch residents who are registered members and possess a “weed pass.”
Of course, lawyers for the coffee shops are fighting the ban on tourists and hope to prevent the law from going national come January 1, 2013. However, I think it’s high time that other cities followed the Dutch and made local customs available only to residents. Here are just a few treasured traditions that locals deserve to enjoy without having to share with tourists.
Romance is revving up all over the place during the month of February, from sun-kissed beaches to sophisticated big cities. Here are 25 deals and packages – from Fort Lauderdale to Fiji, Maine to Madrid, and St. Kitts to Sedona – that you can still book to make this Valentine’s Day the most memorable ever:
IN THE U.S. & CANADA
The Grand Del Mar: Unplug and relax with the “Disconnect Package” at the luxurious The Grand Del Mar near San Diego (shown above at left) and you’ll get one night’s accommodations (with the room TV unplugged and upgrade upon booking if available), berry-infused champagne cocktail upon arrival, choice of a 60-minute couples massage, or a 2-hour horseback ride for two, breakfast in bed for two, and late checkout, from $795/night. Read more
When I stepped aboard the bite-sized Avalon Panorama, I had no idea what to expect from a ship built to navigate a quarter-mile-wide waterway. The 166-passenger and 47-crewmember cruiser (the ninth Avalon Waterways vessel to be inaugurated into the European river cruise fleet since 2006; two more are in the pipeline for 2012) sailed a five-night christening voyage from Frankfurt to Amsterdam on May 13 and docked at historic countryside and city ports on the Main, Rhine, and Mosel rivers.
Designed more like a floating hotel than a cruise ship – a characteristic of river vessels – the 443-foot-long Panorama is short enough for passengers to walk from the self-serve beverage station at the back to the outside viewing deck at the bow in less than five minutes. This ship trades commercial ocean liner facilities like casinos, theaters, and climbing walls for truly exclusive touches, such as floor-to-ceiling windows in public spaces and suites, insightful local tour guides, and the Silent Drive System for soundless cruising, so you can enjoy the rolling riverside without the background hum of a motor – at unexpectedly affordable prices.
Admittedly, Amsterdam isn’t top of mind when one thinks of cities ideal for a romantic getaway. And yes, parts of the city are more appropriate for yet another sequel to The Hangover than they are for a sentimental sojourn for two. Yet on a recent visit in April, my third overall, I discovered that the key to finding romance in this small city crisscrossed by canals and bridges, filled with museums, and overrun by bicyclists is to avoid wandering into the Red Light District and to stay in a fabulous hotel (with an equally fabulous restaurant). Here are four luxury properties you should definitely consider – all very different in style and ambience, but perfect for a journey à deux:
Spring usually means the arrival of warmer weather, blooming flowers, and higher airfare to Europe. Fortunately, KLM is breaking tradition and slashing rates on flights to London, Venice, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Barcelona, Helsinki, Oslo, Prague, Madrid, Zurich, and Stockholm! This sale coincides with the start of festival season in Europe, so why not pop over to Budapest for the Palinka food and wine festival, Barcelona or Madrid for May Day fiestas, and Stockholm for the popcorn film festival? Fly now through May 15 from Chicago, New York, Dallas, or San Francisco for rates as low as $278 one-way.
Sample Fares (O/W)
• New York City – Barcelona: $278+
• Dallas – Amsterdam: $313+
• Chicago – London: $336+
• Miami-Budapest: $374+
• Washington – Oslo: $379+
• Houston – Venice: $384+
• San Francisco – Madrid: $419+
THE VALUE: Fares to Europe in April and May are often close to $500 each way, so this sale saves you an average of $400 round-trip.
THE CATCH: Taxes and fees are not included, and these one-way prices are based on round-trip purchases.
THE DETAILS: Click here to book your flight with KLM.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the best hotel deals in Europe.
Whether killing time or scrambling to find last-minute souvenirs, most of us are at one time or another saved by airport shopping. Yes, every airport comes with the standard magazine stands and tacky gift shops, but our top 10 airports for shopping take their retail seriously. We’re talking endless duty-free arcades, luxury boutiques galore, and, maybe most notably, small local retailers that supply homegrown items unique to the destination itself. And isn’t that what souvenir shopping is all about? These gateway hubs span the globe, from Portland to Dubai, and offer the traveler more than just a distraction before boarding – they provide a viable (not TSA-related) reason to arrive the recommended three hours before (international) departure time. Get a sneak peek at the goods with our Top 10 Airports for Shopping slideshow, then read our Top 10 Airports for Shopping article to plot your next layover.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.
I just spent a long weekend in Amsterdam, and as an enthusiastic, if not avid, cyclist, exploring this enchanting city – known as the bike capital of the world – on two wheels was an unforgettable experience.
And an adventurous one, too, even though I consider myself a moderate-level rider. The city’s infrastructure includes 249 miles of bike lanes, which constantly flow with the traffic of thousands of fellow riders. Add in trams, scooters, oblivious tourists, and a no-helmet philosophy, and intimidation can easily set in.
But here are a few tips to ensure your Amsterdam cycling experience is a smooth one, which you should definitely celebrate with a few beers in a canal-side cafe. Happy riding!
Don’t get distracted. You’ll be surrounded by Amsterdammers who, while pedaling, can talk on cell phones, weave through traffic, run red lights, transport one or two additional human passengers, and balance multiple bags and groceries – sometimes all at once – with virtually no effort. Don’t even think about trying to match up; just focus on getting to your destination safely. And your fellow cyclists are just part of the landscape: Be careful not to over-ogle the enchanting views of canals, bridges, and houseboats (photo above at left courtesy of Flickr/Andrea Schaffer). Instead, park your bike and wander on foot to really let it all sink in.
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