Famous for its Red Light District and controversial coffee shops, this city’s diverse culture and unique character (along with quirky bars and busy nightlife) is what attracted me to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam.
If you’re thinking of bringing the New Year in away from home to experience the best celebrations and firework displays, many people from the UK turn to London, Dublin, or Glasgow. What people don’t realise is that one of the best cities in Europe is just a short flight away.
In terms of location, the Oosterdock is known for holding the official New Years’ Eve event, showcasing the biggest firework display in Amsterdam. Dam Square, Nieuwmarkt and Leidseplein are the historical centres of the city and allow for loud crowds and reckless merrymakers, who enjoy setting their own fireworks off throughout the night and put the woes of the previous year behind them.
Although, the easily navigated city centre allows you to join in street parties on every corner, with crowds of people from countries all over the world. So you won’t be stuck for a place to party and you definitely won’t find yourself having a boring night in.
For me, what started off as a calm night in Dam Square, inside a cosy, quaint little pub, soon turned into an outburst of celebrations at the strike of twelve – with fireworks exploding across the sky from every direction and thousands of people cheering and dancing into the early hours of the morning. The unpredictability of Amsterdam is what excited me throughout my whole stay and ultimately made the best New Year I’ve ever celebrated.
What I like most about the city is that there’s something to meet everyone’s celebratory needs and this is perfect for a place to spend New Year’s Eve. There’s relaxed café’s and homely pubs, to higher end bars and popular clubs that are fit for all times of day and every occasion. Not only are the venues great, but the people are also welcoming and friendly – which is exactly the kind of people you want to be around to create the best atmosphere to bring in the New Year.
It’s not only the immense celebrations that take place, but the festive atmosphere at this time of year is spread across the city and it makes being wrapped up in the cold outside that bit more bearable. From time to time the canals which line the city freeze over and allow for the people of Amsterdam to experience the magic of winter through skating on the ice.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case during my visit, but there are plenty of other places where you’re sure to find a way to get about on the ice. One of my favourite places in Amsterdam is the Museum Quarter, where I enjoyed ice skating in front of the famous I Am Amsterdam letters, surrounded by the city’s artistic history hidden away in some of the most well- known museums in the world.
When I go abroad I wouldn’t normally choose to spend my days in museums, but I packed in as much as I could – visiting the Heineken Experience, Anne Frank House, House of Bols and many more. Amsterdam is such a unique city and the best way to learn about it is to visit its exhibitions, which are so interactive and modern it’s like nothing you would experience in the UK. They’re a great way to familiarise yourself with the city, make great memories with friends and also keep you out of the cold- filling the time before heading out to meals or to enjoy few cocktails on the rooftop bars.
Amsterdam is so compact and busy that the best way to get around is by tram. Compared to the prices of public transport in the UK, the cost is more than reasonable with a range of tickets that can last for a number of hours or even days. There’s always a tram stop nearby wherever you go and they make frequent stops every few minutes, meaning you can make the most of your days by travelling around instead of being stuck in one area for a long period of time. Locals prefer to make their way around by cycling and they certainly don’t stop for anyone in their way, so do make sure you aren’t walking along a cycle lane.
For a three-day visit, I took 350 euros with me – bearing in mind the cost of city tax and potential hotel deposit, plus the rise of prices due to the time of year. Despite this, I still had some money left over at the end of my trip. Having pre ordered tickets and made my way around using public transport, planning trips and organising days in advance, I managed to save money on what could have been a very expensive trip.
I stayed at the Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre, located outside of the city centre with close access to public transport, such as the tram stop right across the road. This was a perfect location to retire from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centres after a long day spent exploring. Staying outside of the city also avoided the high rates of hotels located in the centre of Amsterdam that awaited many other people arriving to bring in the New Year there.
After three days in Amsterdam, I left with an insight into a completely different way of living and a buzz to return again. If you’re planning your New Year’s Eve celebrations now and fancy something different, Amsterdam is definitely the place to visit.