When is the best time to visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam is enjoyable at any time of the year however here is our guide to when is the best time to go to Amsterdam throughout the year.

To truly immerse yourself in Amsterdam life, it is best to appreciate both the pleasures of the day and the playfulness of the night in order to understand just what makes the Dutch tick.

By day, the city beckons with its gabled buildings, elegant museums and canals, atmospheric neighbourhoods, delicious markets and laid-back lifestyle. By night, the Dutch capital can take on a different vibe as the notorious Red Light District brings out the – ahem – edgier members of society.

Why visit Amsterdam in the Spring

If crowds bother you get there in April and May. There are mild temperatures with an average high of 55°F (12.8°C), less traffic, longer days, and the bonus at this time is that the city’s famous tulips are in bloom. Don’t miss a visit to the wonderful Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse which comes alive with blooming flowers. Bear in mind that April is also when the city hosts its most popular national festival – King’s Day (Koningsdag) on April 27th. The celebrations last for three days and at this time the city is ablaze with color, crowds, festivities and you will find booking a hotel a bit tricky.

Why visit Amsterdam in the Summer

Summer months are the hottest, busiest and the most expensive time to visit Amsterdam. The hottest month is August which has an average high of 72°F (22°C). But on the other hand this is also prime festival time. There more than 300 festivals happening every year all over the city and most happen in the summer months. Many go swimming in the open air specially designated swimming areas while others set up their BBQs in the city’s park.

Why visit Amsterdam in the Autumn

In September, October and November temperatures are mild, 66°F (19°C) and 49°F (9.4°C), and even if it gets a little chilly, you can enjoy a cosy cafe for some refuge and it’s easy to explore both the canals and the museums. At this time the hotel prices are more reasonable.

Why visit Amsterdam in the Winter

Winter months are when the hotel and airfares plummet but so do the temperatures. The city may well be covered in snow, however during this time there is the annual Amsterdam Light Show that beautify the canals and the buildings that hem them. Sometimes the canals freeze up to the point that they can be used as ice rinks. There is a lovely ice rink that pops up outside the Rijksmuseum. Another sign of winter in this city is the appearance of the Oliebollen. Similar to doughnuts these sweet balls appear on the streets – sold by street vendors – just once a year. Eat them while they are steaming hot and dusted in sugar.

Must explore

Amsterdam is a cultural melting pot best represented by the mélange of people that call the neighbourhood known as “De Pijp” home. The main market of this community is the Albert Cuyp Market located on Albert Cuypstraat between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat south of the Heineken Brewery. Here you will find some of the finest examples of Dutch cheeses, fresh “stroopwafels” (waffles with hot caramel) and other native delicacies tucked beside Indonesian treats and specialties from Surinam and the Dutch Antilles. Go early in the day for the biggest selection.

The hidden paradise of Palawan, Philippines

Not many people know about the island Province of Palawan in the Mimarop region, and even though it is the largest province in the Philippines, it remains unspoiled and ripe for exploring.

The best way to see it is with a local Filipino company like Tao that fosters ecotourism and sustainability while introducing tourists to these islands’ local way of life.

I would spend three days with a group using one of Tao’s small vessels and doing some island hopping. We started our adventure on the island of Busuanga,  connected by air to the capital Manila.

We had to go through a fairly rigorous training session before setting sail. It started with a quick geography lesson to give us our bearings, followed by packing instructions and stressing the importance of our “dry bag.” This is self-explanatory, particularly as we would get off the boat and use kayaks to reach some islands.

This experience showed me many of the fundamental cultural elements of basic life in these remote islands. It also tested me to see if I could live in a little hut under a bamboo roof and cope with sharing time and space with the family. So I was about to find out.

The cruise itinerary was not set as it would change to adjust to the tidal vagaries, weather, and passenger requests. The following day, we set off in our Bangka boat.

This type of craft is the favored method of transport for Filipinos living in coastal or wetland areas. Ours had a kitchen, toilet cleansed by seawater, and a large storage area for our kit. It comes with large outriggers for stability and skims gracefully through the water.

Tangat Island

We soon found ourselves in the open sea but could just make out the hilly landscape of Coron. We were heading towards our first stop – Tangat Island – famous for its clear water diving and marine life. Here, on the sea bed, is a wrecked ship that attracts fish and other marine life. Great for divers. Even surface snorkeling, I could see the wreck’s many phantoms below.

Lusong

After this activity, we had a relaxed lunch on board our boat, all the food being organic and sourced from local farms. Then, after lunch, we headed to the nearby island of Lusong, Coral Garden, where we enjoyed a brief stop to enjoy the soft, creamy sands and the crystal clear waters.

Patsy Island

The third island of the day was Patsy Island, our overnight stop. We swam ashore while our belongings traveled in style by kayak. Before we began dinner, we took the opportunity to marvel at the stunning sunset. You may have seen them in photos, but this was for real, and it was gorgeous.

Dinner consisted of local fruits and vegetables, fish and egg dishes. Because the only electricity source on the island powered up for four hours in the evening, we all rushed to charge our mobiles after dinner.

48 hours in Ravenna in Italy

Ravenna, located in-between San Marino and Bologna in the northern Italian province of Emilia Romagna is a diverse region of seaside towns close to the Adriatic Riviera.

Base yourself in this suave city and spend some time exploring the squares, highly decorated and intricate mosaics. There are also plenty of day trip options, should you wish to venture out of the city.

Here’s my guide to how to spend 48 hours in Ravenna in Italy

Explore the Basilica

Whilst overtly religious architecture perhaps isn’t the wildest holiday outing, magnificent sites such as Baptistery of Neon and the Basilica of San Vitale should help persuade you otherwise.

This extraordinary Basilica is a marvelous example of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. Whilst the outside may appear a little drab, the interior is bursting with dazzling mosaics.

Ravenna is also laden with mosaics, as well as new artists. Several of the street signs are created by local artists using mosaics. It’s a lovely nod to the City’s heritage.

Three of the essential mosaic stops on a Ravenna trip are the Basilica di San Vitale, Galla Placidia Mausoleum and Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. These are home to some of the best mosaics in Ravenna.

UNESCO has even weighed in and slapped on an official seal of approval for Ravenna’s mosaic art that is contained in early Christian buildings.

Visit a traditional seaside resort

You’re never too far from a sparkling shoreline in Ravenna with nine seaside resorts on the coast to explore. A traditional Italian seaside resort is truly something to behold. Across the beach, you’ll find rows and rows of uniformly lined sunbeds and parasols. They stretch out for miles across the sandy shores.

If you took a refreshing dip in the ocean how on earth would you ever relocate your sunbed? I seriously have no idea?

The beaches also come to life at night with many resorts having beach clubs and restaurants directly on the sand. You can have dinner on the beach at the seaside resort of Saretina at the Saretina 152 Restaurant.

There’s nothing quite like feasting upon fresh fish dishes with your toes in the sand and the soothing sounds of the ocean.

Other nearby seaside resorts include Marina di Ravenna, Lido di Dante, and Lido di Classe.

Unwind with an Italian Aperitif

The Italian equivalent to ‘happy hour’ is an Aperitif. It’s a pre-dinner drink that has evolved into a culinary highlight with local cocktails and a selection of delicious finger foods. With each bar trying to up the Aperitif stakes.

As aperitifs have become ever more elaborate, prices have risen to match. Whilst you might balk at the price of a late afternoon Aperol

Spritz, at least it comes with a plate of snacks, or access to a buffet.

Piazza del Popolo in Ravenna is a lovely little square to indulge in an Aperitif and a spot of people watching. Who doesn’t love a languid late afternoon drink whilst casting one’s eye over a well-dressed Italian crowd?

Other recommended Aperitif joints include Casa Spadoni in Ravenna and any of the waterside bars at the canal port at Catalina in Cervia.