Bikes and canals: the visual hooks of Amsterdam
Bikes and canals: the visual hooks of Amsterdam ©Getty Images

Amsterdam is ...
• The capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
• A city with over 800,000 residents.
• The world's cycling capital; 60% of journeys in central Amsterdam are made by bike.
• A haven for tourists, with about 17 million visiting annually.
• Home to Johan Cruyff, Vincent van Gogh (for a while) and Rembrandt's The Night Watch.

Where is it
In the province of North Holland, in the northwest of the Netherlands. The river Amstel has its headwaters in the city centre where it connects to various canals that eventually terminate in the IJ (Amsterdam's waterfront). Amsterdam is about two metres below sea level and is linked to the North Sea via the long North Sea Canal.

The Amsterdam ArenA was renamed in Cruijff's honour
The Amsterdam ArenA was renamed in Cruijff's honour©Getty Images

Johan Cruijff ArenA
• The first stadium in Europe with a sliding roof, Amsterdam ArenA was opened by Queen Beatrix on 14 August 1996.
• The venue was renamed Johan Cruijff ArenA in 2018 in honour of Ajax's former player and coach, who was born in Amsterdam and passed away in March 2016.
• Tina Turner was the first international artist to perform at the venue in September 1996; the likes of Michael Jackson, Luciano Pavarotti, The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna and Bon Jovi have played there since.
• Staged the 1998 UEFA Champions League final, where Real Madrid beat Juventus, and the 2013 UEFA Europa League decider, in which Chelsea overcame Benfica.
• Hosted five matches during UEFA EURO 2000, including the Netherlands' semi-final shoot-out defeat by Italy.
• Is receiving a significant makeover before the 2020 tournament to modernise facilities and improve access for supporters.

Matches at Johan Cruijff ArenA
14 June, time tbc – Group C match
18 June, time tbc – Group C match
22 June, time tbc – Group C match
27 June, time tbc – Round of 16 (2A v 2B)

Getting to and around Amsterdam
Amsterdam boasts a world-class international transport hub which includes one of Europe's busiest airports and the largest railway station in the country. The city's extensive public transport system comprises buses, trams, ferries and a metro network. However, Amsterdam is also considered one of the most cycle-friendly places on the planet with about 880,000 bikes. Cycling in the Dutch capital is practical and a way of life.

Where to stay
Leidseplein and Museumplein are close to the main attractions while there are plenty of other accommodation options throughout the city, with Centraal Station, Vondelpark, Rembrandtplein and Jordaan all served well. See useful links below.

What to see

The splendid Rijksmuseum
The splendid Rijksmuseum©Getty Images

For culture: There are no shortage of options: visit iamsterdam.com to discover more about the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt House, Nemo Science Museum, Van Gogh Museum, EYE Filmmuseum and the sobering Anne Frank House.
For atmosphere: A walk along the three grand 17th-century canals – Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht – is recommended. Head to lively Leidseplein to relax in one of the many bars lining the square.
For fresh air: For such a small city, Amsterdam has plenty of green space: key sites include the Tulip Island in Vondelpark and the ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo, home to 750 species of animals.

Eating and drinking
Dutch cheese can be found in Amsterdam's many 'kaas' shops where you can sample Gouda, Geitenkaas or Maasdammer. Herring carts purvey the raw speciality in town – order 'broodje haring' to get the fish served in a small sandwich with pickles and onions. 'Bitterballen' – deep-fried crispy meatballs served with mustard – make a perfect pub snack. Indonesian cuisine is also a big part of the Amsterdam food scene, with restaurants all over town. Sweet treats such as 'poffertjes' (small pancakes), 'oliebollen' (doughnuts) and 'stroopwafel' (thin waffles) can be enjoyed at pancake houses or street markets.

Football in the city
Amsterdam had a number of top-flight clubs during the early amateur days, but by the 1970s only two remained with FC Amsterdam – formed when three local rivals merged – making headlines by beating Internazionale en route to the quarter-finals of the 1974/75 UEFA Cup. However, for most of their trophy-laden history, Ajax have been the flagship club and it seems like the whole city turns out to celebrate their trophies on the Leidseplein.

Get out of the city
Boat and cycle tours are a great way to get a look at the neighbouring countryside, with windmills, dykes and quaint fishing villages plentiful. The tulip fields at Keukenhof are something of a floral theme park while the seaside resort of Zandvoort is 30 minutes by train from Centraal Station.

Useful links
I Amsterdam: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/
Dutch Tourist Board: http://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm
Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/the-netherlands/amsterdam
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam
Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB): http://www.knvb.nl
Johan Cruijff ArenA: http://www.johancruijffarena.nl/

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