Short Breaks




By Kate Hopcraft

I want to take my wife on a weekend away and would like to go somewhere in Europe. We are looking for a relaxing, enjoyable time and where we can spend the weekend shopping and indulging in our love of foreign art, history and culture. Where would you recommend?

Amsterdam is the perfect getaway city for those interested in art, history and culture. It is a beautiful city of cobblestone streets, intertwining canals and traditional European housing. There is also a lot to do in a city that seems built for ambling, as well as providing many unique, affordable and reliable ‘hop-on hop-off’ canal travel services.

Shopping is a big part of a visit to Amsterdam with many not to be missed outlets. The main traffic-free shopping streets are Kalverstraat and Heiligeweg – containing Holland’s major department stores. In this area, you will find the famous De Bijenkorf department store as well as Magna Plaza, which is an historical monument and home to over 40 stores.

For something a little different however, Amsterdam is rich in alluring historical neighbourhoods with small speciality shops that are well worth a visit. Haarlemmerstraat is a distinctly varied street with many quirky shops and cosy cafés, and I have no doubt that art lovers will be enthralled with the historic Art and Antiques District, Spiegelkwartier. You will find more than 70 specialised art and antiques dealers with top quality collections and advice, Quiet cafés and restaurants add to the genteel atmosphere of the neighbourhood.

The city also boasts some of the finest museums catering to all your interests, be they in art or history. Its system of locating similar attractions in certain districts means that you can view all the area has to offer on one subject of interest or easily go from district to district viewing the best museums in the area.

The Museumplein is home to Amsterdam’s top museums such as the Rijksmuseum which has a magnificent selection of Dutch paintings from the so-called Golden Age, as well as the world-famous Van Gogh Museum which is an unmissable attraction for anyone visiting Amsterdam. Among the many other attractions in Amsterdam is a moving visit to Anne Frank House.

In the evening there are hours of enjoyment to be had at the Xtracold Ice Bar Amsterdam or the Heineken Brewery. This city will also never let you get hungry as Amsterdam also boasts a wide spectrum of cafés, delicatessens, tapas bars and great restaurants that offer everything from traditional European cuisine to many amazing Argentinean Steak Houses.

There is clearly no shortage of things to see and do in Amsterdam and the worst thing about your trip will surely be trying to choose between them. There is also no shortage of fantastic places to stay that will provide you with the perfect place to relax after a day walking the city and the following hotels in particular might point you in the right direction.

Where to Stay

Hotel The Toren- Amsterdam (****)

Prices start from €98 per room per night

This is a beautiful boutique hotel that is perfect for a short stay in Amsterdam. Located near many attractions, including Anne Frank House that is less than one mile away, this is a great hotel for sight-seeing. This hotel will also allow you to feel a little more spoilt as each room is individually styled and furnished. Tour and ticket assistance services are also provided at hotel reception.

Dikker and Thijs Fenice Hotel- Amsterdam (****)

Prices start from €75 per room per night

This hotel is in prime location for visiting the museum district, while it is also located near many bars, shops and restaurants, including a highly recommended Steak House just a few minutes away. The building itself is said to have great character with winding corridors and old-style staircases and the availability of in-room massage services will surely seem appealing after a long day sight-seeing.

Albus Hotel Amsterdam City Centre- Amsterdam (****)

Prices start from €80 per room per night

Located right in the heart of the city, the hotel is close to many great attractions including the nearby Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt) and the Kalverstraat shopping street. It is fantastic for weekend breaks with meals available all day and comfortably sized rooms and en-suite bathroom facilities.

For more info on your holiday visit www. or call 1800 55 3338.