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Camp and savour the joys of Amsterdam

Known the world over for its red light district and coffee shops, Amsterdam draws in millions of tourists a year. But the capital of the Netherlands is far from just a party scene and is great for singles, couples and families in a motorhome.

It is a creative and cultural hub of Europe. A mish-mash of tradition and modernity, the city has 17th century buildings housing design boutiques and cutting edge creators. Criss-crossed with canals and over 1500 bridges, Amsterdam is a little Venice of the North.

From Amsterdam, you can easily get to other major European cities such as Brussels, Paris, London and Cologne either by flying, driving or by taking the Thalys train.

The Europe you always imagined

Cycling is synonymous with Amsterdam and if you didn’t strap your bikes to your camper, it’s no problem. Renting two-wheeled transport is easy. Try MacBike Rental or Holland Rent-a-bike Beursstalling. Amsterdam is one of the friendliest cities in the world to ride and there’s no better way to navigate the narrow, 17th century streets. There are many bike tours that will take you past windmills and breweries and into the picturesque tulip farms.

Canal cruises are another popular way of seeing the city. Relax as your riverboat drifts down the canals, or hop on and off. Holland International, Canal and Blue Boat are among the more reputable cruise companies. If you’re a little more adventurous, or happy to get wet, you could try stand-up paddling in the canals.

Bask on the beach at Strand West. Open all year round, you can sip on cocktails while lounging in hammocks, or play a little beach volleyball. Or you can go for a swim in Blijburgaan Zee on the opposite side of the city. Head to the coast to bathe at the famous Zandvoort beach. Only 20 minutes from the city, you can roll down sand dunes or take to the waves.

At Prinsengracht 263, is the house where Anne Frank lived in hiding. A sobering memorial of the horrors of World War II, the house has been converted into a museum. Anne’s diary is also on display. The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular in the world. This museum is also very close to Rijksmuseum, one of the grandest in Amsterdam. Here you can see the nation’s treasures.

Another Dutch tradition are the tulips, so visit the flower markets at Bloemenmarket.

Just inside the gateway to the Amsterdam Museum at Kalverstraat 92 is a hidden passageway called The Schuttersgallerij. Here you can view enormous 17th-century paintings.

Venture out of the city, and away from the tourists for a peek into country life. Driving 15 minutes north will take you to Waterland – a series of little towns. Broek is like a mini-Amsterdam, while Marken is a former fishing village with houses perched on stilts in the water. Here you can also visit the Dutch clog factory. If you’re making a day of it Posthoorn, in Monnickendam is a perfect place to stop for dinner.

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect windmill photo, head to Kinderdijk. An hour and 15 minutes from Amsterdam, you’ll find a line of 19 mills. You can enter one of them and take a free boat ride for the perfect vantage point.

Local camping knowledge for Holland

Freedom camping is forbidden in the Netherlands, so it’s inadvisable to just pull over by the park or beach. However, the campsites around Amsterdam are sociable and quaint, and never far from public transport. In most places you can be in the city within 15 minutes.

At Camping De Badhoeve you’ll have an idyllic view of two lakes, Kinselmeerand Ijsselmeer. It’s the perfect place for a spot of fishing, swimming or kayaking. A cycle trail runs between the campsite and the centre of Amsterdam.

Camping Vliegenbos is the perfect woodland getaway. One of the closest camping sites to the city, Vliegenbos feels like an oasis. The free public ferries across to Amsterdam Central Station are a mere 10 minutes away.

On the banks of the Markermeer, less than 15km from Amsterdam, is Camping JachthavenUitdam. It’s perfect for sunbathing or watersports, and the nearby village of Marken offers plenty of traditional experiences such as cheese making and clogs.

Gaasper Camping Amsterdam is green and spacious and has friendly staff. A metro stop is a five-minute walk from the entrance, meaning guests can come and go to the city as they please. It’s the ideal base for a tour of Amsterdam.

Wholesome Amsterdam

Moeders has all sorts of homely Dutch classic sand you can order a sampler to get all kinds of dinners at once. The decor is kitsch in a great way with photos of mothers pasted to the walls.

Loetje is the best place for steak and chips –biefstuk and friet – and is no place for a vegetarian date.

Hap-Hmm is a favourite with the locals thanks to the old-style cooking and prices to match. Dinners start from only 7 Euro but don’t let the price fool you, the cooking is delectable.

Getto is a burger bar where each burger is named after a drag queen that performs there. The atmosphere is chilled and friendly and the burgers are delicious.

Don’t leave Amsterdam without trying pannenkoeken – Dutch pancakes. Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs asks you to climb a dizzying staircase to build up an appetite, but even for a single serve it’s worth it.

De Zotte is the perfect joint for lovers of Belgian Beer. There are plenty of choices on tap and in the bottle. The fare here is hearty and filling, just what you need to soak up the grog.

De Kas means greenhouse in Dutch and it’s easy to see where the name comes from. Set in an enormous glasshouse, De Kasgrows its own fruit and vegetables to serve you for dinner.

Unpredictable forecast of Amsterdam

Between April and September the days are longer in Amsterdam and the temperatures are milder. The weather is always unpredictable, so do as the locals do and pay no mind.

Where to hire my rental?

Wicked campers are a great budget option if you’re OK with limited living space. These vans are simple to drive and park and easily recognisable.

Aston’s Motorhomes have a large fleet that is well maintained. These campers have unlimited kms and can be picked up almost anywhere in Europe.

McRent supply most booking services and are very popular.


Camping tips

  • Be warned not to take photos of the women in the red light district. You will lose your camera.

  • If you are travelling around Easter, be prepared for high prices at attractions and when hiring a camper.

  • Diesel is a lot cheaper than petrol. Remember to check which you need when you are hiring your motorhome.

  • Driving in Amsterdam is not really recommended. The streets are tight and parking can be expensive.