How to celebrate King’s Day in Amsterdam + GIVEAWAY

At Marco Polo we think that Amsterdam is a wonderful destination to visit any time of the year, but there is a very good reason to visit the city in the last week of April and that is King’s Day. The whole city – and every other Dutch city, town and village – turns into a massive street party. Embrace the orange madness now because with our insider tips you will have a great time celebrating King’s Day!

Oh, and don’t forget to scroll down for our giveaway!

WHAT IS KING’S DAY?

King’s Day, or Koningsdag as it is called in Dutch, celebrates the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange, and more specifically the birthday of the King Willem Alexander. King’s Day always falls on April 27th, unless the 27th is a Sunday, although this has been the case only since 2013. Until then the day was celebrated on April 30th for decades and every year many tourists still show up in Amsterdam on the 30th only to find out that they missed the party. For this reason the Amsterdam city actually throws a separate, smaller scale, party for those who missed the real celebrations.

WHAT SHOULD I DO ON KING’S DAY?

Do some shopping on the vrijmarkt

Vrijmarkt – the ‘free market’ is a massive flea market that forms on the streets. All regulations regarding selling your items on the streets have been lifted for the day and countless Dutch people use this opportunity to get rid of old clothes, shoes, furniture and children’s toys. It is a great opportunity to do some bargain hunting as well, even if the items you bought often end up on the free market again the next year. Children will be extremely active selling their old toys, playing instruments and putting on whole shows to earn some pocket-money.

Party, party and party some more

King’s Day in Amsterdam is likely the largest street party you will attend. There are tons of events and festivals to choose from, but you will need to book tickets in advance (check the iamsterdam website for more information). Others choose to go bar hopping, or simply take the party to the streets.

Go boating

King’s Day on a boat is a truly Amsterdam way to celebrate the holiday, but for travellers it may be more difficult to pull off if you do not know someone in the city with a boat. Also, the canals will be packed with other boats so if you do get lucky and have access to a boat, it is best to go later in the evening when there is more space.

MARCO POLO’S PRACTICAL KING’S DAY TIPS:

Bring cash

For shopping at the free market, for buying drinks, it is cash-only in most cases. The chances are also high that the ATM machines will run out of cash and the lines will be long so best come prepared.

Dress code: orange

Some people like to show off their orange pride by wearing the colour from head to toe, whereas others will simply add an orange accessory to their outfit. To blend in it is best to wear at least something orange or face the locals questioning your party spirit.

Bring your comfy shoes

King’s Day involves a lot of walking – or dancing – so forget the high heels and flip-flops and wear comfortable sneakers as the locals do. It is also best to leave your favourite sneakers at home.

Follow the crowd

The streets are packed with people on King’s Day so following the crowd will get you to your destination a lot faster than going against the current.

And most importantly… have fun!

Marco Polo Amsterdam Pocket Guide King's Day

GIVEAWAY

To get into the orange madness, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket guides to FIVE lucky winners, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Have you been to Amsterdam on King’s Day? If so, share your tips or experiences in the comments, if not, then just let us know in the comments. By commenting you enter the giveaway. You can earn more chances to win by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram accounts and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Friday 13 April 2018 until Thursday 19 April 2018 at 12:00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK & European residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional chances to win may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 13 April 2018 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 19 April 2018. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 5 x prize winner will receive 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides of their choice.
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control. The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

Marco Polo’s Top 5 Romantic Destinations + GIVEAWAY

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is all about the big romantic gestures, and what better way to show your love than by taking your significant other on a romantic getaway. We at Marco Polo have decided to share our top 5 romantic destinations with you and to spread the love, we are also giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides:

AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam may not seem like a romantic destination, but there is a lot of love in this Dutch city. A stroll down the canals, hand in hand with your love, while the locals cycle by, also often hand in hand. Or take a canal cruise and snuggle on the boat while you take in the beautiful 17th century sights.

Oh, and don’t forget to treat your love to a bunch of tulips at the Bloemenmarkt!

BALI

Bali is without a doubt a romantic getaway destination: the beaches, the views, the sunsets, what more could you ask for? The island is a perfect couple’s paradise! For those wishing to splurge, check out the AYANA Resort and Spa in Jimbaran for first class luxury! For those looking for luxury on a budget, this can still be found at Keraton Jimbaran Beach Resort with its own private beach!

While you’re on the island be sure to check out Sanur for its relaxed vibe, Ubud’s rice paddies and in the north: Lovina to do some dolphin watching!

Venice Marco Polo Guide

VENICE

The canals, the gondolas, the gorgeous historical buildings – Venice is full of romance! It has been the setting of many a love story, and one of the most famous ones is the tragic love story between a fisherman and a mermaid. All that is left of their love is a stone heart that is said to bring eternal love to those who touch it, so make sure to take your own love there.

For the best view of Venice, check out Ponte dell’Academia, also known for the many love locks attached to it. Just don’t leave yours there, the locals will not appreciate the damage done to the historical bridge.

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

LAKE GARDA

The beautiful Lake Garda, with mountains in the distance, makes for a stunning scene for the couples seeking an active vacation. Visit the historical harbour of Sirmione, go hiking in the nearby mountains and end your day in one of the area’s excellent Italian restaurants, or watch the sun set into the lake on the beach.

NEW YORK

With all the romantic comedies set in New York, it would be hard to argue why New York does not belong on this list. It is the perfect urban setting for your very own love story. Exchange kisses on the top of the Empire State Building, take a stroll in Central Park and re-enact your favourite romantic movie scene in the city that never sleeps.

*****

GIVEAWAY

To spread the love, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket guides to one lucky winner, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Simply share the story of your most romantic travel moment or your favourite romantic destination in the comments below. You can earn more win-chances by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Wednesday 14 February 2018 until Tuesday 20 February 2018 at 12.00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck! 

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK and EU residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional win-chances may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 14 February 2018 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 20 Febryary 2018. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 1 x prize winner will receive 5 x Marco Polo Pocket Guides: (£7.99 each).
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control.

The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

Marco Polo Pocket Guide relaunch

Calling all trailblazers! Marco Polo has never been one to follow the crowd: since we burst onto the scene in 2012 and turned the travel publishing world upside-down, we have been pursuing a quest to create the best travel guide possible ever since! And now we are launching 30 ground-breaking new look pocket guides for 2018!

DISCOVERY TOURS

Along with all the regular content updates you’d expect from a relaunch – the guides also contain a new Discovery Tours chapter:

• Each book has 4 to 5 exciting, specially tailored tours helping readers get behind the scenes and head off the beaten track.
• The perfect planning tool – each tour has an overview box detailing the start and end points, distance, plus timing and costs involved – all the information an explorer needs at a glance!
• Each tour is plotted on an overview map highlighting the start point and final destination for easy orientation.
• A detailed flow chart with pictograms clearly shows the way – including distance indicators, sights to explore, views to enjoy en route and plenty of Insider Tips for
relaxing stops along the way.

FREE TOURING APP

Free touring app! The Discovery Tours are also available as an app – simply download any of the tours from the web link / QR code featured in each guide. The ultimate navigational tool to enjoy stress-free sightseeing.

NEW LOOK COVERS

Ground-breaking new look covers bring the guides bang up-to-date, so you won’t need to be shy about looking like a tourist! Fresh, simple, cool – the split line typography is designed to make you look twice and the bright colours will get you in the holiday mood!

INSIDER TIPS

The guides with Insider Tips! Showing the main sights in detail simply isn’t enough for modern-day travellers. Marco Polo specialises in getting you off the beaten track! Why follow the crowd when you can make your own path?

NEW TITLES

Relaunch titles available Jan 2018: Amsterdam, Bali, Barcelona, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Corfu, Costa Brava, French Riviera, Hong Kong, India South, Italy, Lake Garda, Mallorca, Malta & Gozo, Mauritius, Montenegro, Munich, New York, New Zealand, Rome, Sardinia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tenerife, Venice, Vienna.

Plus 4 brand new titles: Japan, Peru & Bolivia, Salzburg & Surroundings, Santorini.
All priced at £7.99.

ORDER YOUR MARCO POLO POCKET GUIDES NOW.

Let Marco Polo show you hidden gems, lesser-known locations and stunning viewpoints where you can make memories to last a lifetime. Brush shoulders with the locals, eat the food that Grandma makes and seek out unique experiences at every turn.

Be a traveller, not just a tourist!

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

10 reasons to go back to Amsterdam

Who doesn’t love Amsterdam? The canals, the history, the gezelligheid – why leave at all! Here are Marco Polo’s 10 reasons to go back to Amsterdam:

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

1. The canals are lovely in all season – in the summer sunshine or festively lit in winter.

2. In no other city is cycling so natural and so pleasant.

3. Dutch matjes herrings are tasty treats that just melt in your mouth and smack of the sea.

4. The Rijksmuseum is so large that you will discover new artworks every time you visit.

5. The countless small shops in the old town offer endless possibilities for rummaging.

6. Amsterdammers are friendly, open-minded and incredibly laid back.

7. It takes some time to eat your way through the cuisines from 55 different nations.

8. Time and time again, you can experience the gezelligheid of the brown cafés.

9. The beaches near the city and the Ijsselmeer coast lie waiting for you to discover them.

10 . The sound of the Westerkerk’s carillon will warm the cockles of your heart whenever you hear its chimes.

Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

 

Marco Polo’s Top 5 End of Summer Destinations + GIVEAWAY

The summer holidays may be almost over but there is no reason not to book a quick getaway and return to work or to your studies feeling just that little bit more relaxed. We at Marco Polo have compiled our top 5 end of summer destinations, and to sweeten it up even more, one lucky commenter is going to receive five copies of our Marco Polo Spiral Guides of their choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera! 

Photo credit: SarahFunky

 CROATIA

Croatia is an immensely popular destination these days, and for good reason! Full of history and beautiful nature (just look at that picture taken at the Krak National Park!) it is definitely worth visiting at least once in your life – though once you have been there, you may find yourself wanting to go back. If you’re thinking of a city trip, your best bet would be either Zagreb or Dubrovnik.

Zagreb, with around a million inhabitants, one in four of the country’s population, is easily Croatia’s biggest city. This is the political, economic and cultural heart of the nation, which makes it easy to forget that it has only been a state capital since 1991. For most of its history, Zagreb has lived in the shadow of Vienna, as a provincial outpost of the Austro-Hungarian empire, or of the former Yugoslav capital Belgrade. Only in the past few years has it rediscovered its confidence as a youthful, vibrant, forward-looking city.

Dubrovnik on the other hand is the jewel in Croatia’s crown – a beautifully restored town, full of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, crowded onto a rocky headland and surrounded by its 15th-century walls. The English poet Lord Byron (1788–1824) quite rightly described the town as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’.

 Marco Polo Portugal Guide

ALGARVE, PORTUGAL

The Algarve in Portugal has been one of our favourites for a while. Perfect for catching some sunshine and lounging on the beach, or hiking in the  fragrant pine forests of the Ria Formosa National Park in central Algarve.

Central Algarve is a melting pot of contrasting natural landscapes. It’s where the Atlantic meets the hilly hinterland and where long, sandy beaches encounter the labyrinth of canals and islands in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. In the centre of the region lies Faro, the capital of the Algarve and the point of arrival for countless holidaymakers. With its crystal-clear light, glittering nightlife, fantastic beaches and fabulous markets, the central Algarve has a wealth of diverse experiences to offer. 

At first glance, Faro can seem pretty confusing to visitors. After all, it’s the largest city in the Algarve and home to 50,000 people (65,000 including the surrounding area). If you come armed with a plan, however, the city will start to grow on you and you’ll quickly find your feet.

Photo credit: Flikr.com Zaprin Geguskov – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 BULGARIA

 We love Bulgaria, and so do countless other travellers! Fine beaches and austere mountains, unspoilt hilltop villages and lively major towns, effervescent temperament and Mediterranean laissez-faire – all this makes Bulgaria a country of contrasts, a delightful mix of east and west. The travel catalogues are full of sea and beach, in other words the Black Sea coast – a beautiful and important part of the country. But if you stick to the tourists trails, you’ll miss out on what’s really worth seeing.

Mother nature has been very kind to Bulgaria. With its surface area of a little under 43,000 square miles, it’s not a particularly large country (England measures just over 50,000 square miles), but it has to a great extent been richly endowed with diversity and beautiful scenery, with mountains and a coast measuring 378km / 235 miles, and it’s densely wooded with many lakes. In other words, Bulgaria has something for everyone: for beach lovers a holiday by the Black Sea; for skiers the ski runs around Bansko, for hikers and bikers the green peaks of the Rila and Pirin Mountains; and if you’re looking for solitude, you’ll find it by hidden mountain lakes. To all of this add any amount of culture in the world-famous monasteries and the picturesque, beautifully restored villages.

 

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

It seems to us that almost all of our lists include Amsterdam, but the Dutch capital has a truly special place in our hearts, and the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the city each year would definitely agree.

The old heart of Amsterdam feels like two distinct cities. The more obvious of the pair comprises the sort of brash tourist trappings that you find in any major European city, in this particular case augmented by the unabashed indulgence of the main red-light district, De Wallen. Yet alongside such excess you can find oases of calm and solitude, plus some charming little places to eat, drink and shop.

De Dam, the main square, is not the most beautiful plaza in Europe, but it serves as a good hub
for exploring the rest of the area. Everything in medieval Amsterdam is a short walk from here. Almost all visitors to Amsterdam find themselves passing through De Dam, as the square at the centre of the city is concisely known. This was where the Amstel River was first dammed in the 13th century (today the river flows via underground pipes into the IJ). The square is central to the city and the country, containing both the Royal Palace and the National Monument. Initially, the unruly architecture may disappoint, as well as the fact that the whole place is decked in overhead power cables for trams. Although De Dam can largely appear as a tourist thoroughfare, it remains at the historical heart of the city.

The most romantic photographs of Amsterdam are taken in the western part of the city – which is also where the real soul of Amsterdam resides. Beautiful waterways and quiet courtyards, the trendiest and most liberal locals and authentic bruin cafés can all be found here. Almost any street you walk along is likely to reveal at least one of the following: a lovely old house embellished with a beautiful tablet or gable; an intriguing shop or café; or a charming canal view.

NICE, FRANCE

Ah, the French Riviera. The jetsetter dream and the azure waves of the Mediterranean, who can resist it? After all, the largest resort of the French Riviera, Nice is France’s main tourist centre and the most visited city after Paris. Friendly and informal, Nice radiates a unique atmosphere that is hard to define, although many have tried, labelling it the “Queen of the Riviera”, “Capital of the Côte d’Azur”, “Nizza la Bella”, “The Big Olive” and “Mediterranean Chicago”. “Nice” just doesn’t seem to cover it.

Over the centuries the city has enjoyed a colourful history. Founded by Greeks and settled by
Romans, it thrived in the Middle Ages under
the Counts of Provence who were followed by
the Italian Dukes of Savoy. United with France only as recently as 1860, it still retains a strong
Italianate character and is a seductive mix of the best
of France and Italy, with its own dialect (lenga nissarda) and delicious cuisine. Nice is also blessed with more museums and galleries than any French town outside Paris. Its Mediterranean charm has long provided inspiration to artists, with its pastel-painted buildings and terracotta roofs, cradled by the vine-clad foothills of the Maritime Alps and fringed by a vivid blue sea bathed in magical, incandescent sun- light. Even the palatial hotels, designer boutiques and crowded terrace cafés exude a carefree joie de vivre. No wonder Nice has been voted the city where the French would most like to live. As Sandy Wilson remarked in his musical comedy The Boy Friend (1954): “Other places may be fun, but when all is said and done, it’s so much nicer in Nice.” 

GIVEAWAY

To wave the summer goodbye, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Spiral Guides and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera to one lucky winner, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Simply share the story of your most memorable summer holiday moment in the comments below. You can earn more win-chances by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Thursday 24 August 2017 until Friday 1 September 2017 at 12.00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck! 

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK and EU residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional win-chances may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 24 August 2017 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 1 September 2017. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 1 x prize winner will receive 5 x Marco Polo Spiral Guides: (£9.99 each) and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera.
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control.

The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

 

Marco Polo in Amsterdam

Our guide books have been around the world but this time we got to go with them!

Amsterdam remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and summer is the peak tourist season in this idyllic Dutch metropolis. That is why we decided to take to the streets of Amsterdam and give out exactly one hundred copies of our Marco Polo Amsterdam Pocket Guide.

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

Marco Polo in Amsterdam

On Thursday, July 6, 2017, we parked ourselves outside the beautiful Amsterdam Central Station with a suitcase full of books. The station area is a great place for finding tourists as the train connection between Amsterdam and the airport is the preferred method of getting to the city for many travellers.

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

Marco Polo’s own Hayley and Senja ready to hand out some guides

 

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

A suitcase full of guides

With guide books in our hands we set to the task. Soon we spotted our first travellers who at first couldn’t believe that we were giving the books away just like that, no strings attached! Well lucky them, this time the lunch – or the book as it were – was free. In no time, there were dozens of tourists, ready to explore the city with their new Amsterdam Pocket Guides.

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

How to really experience Amsterdam: on a bike with the Marco Polo Amsterdam Pocket Guide

 

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

We were looking to find as many tourists as we could so we had plopped our suitcase down next to a map of Amsterdam. Of course, it turned out to be a great place to come across tourists as even in this age of smartphones and Google Maps, nothing beats a real map. In our bright yellow Marco Polo shirts, we looked every bit the knowledgeable travel guide and were bombarded with questions. Fortunately, we had some real Amsterdam insiders with us who were more than happy to share their tips on how to best get around the city. The pull-out maps that come with our pocket guides were also welcomed with great enthusiasm.

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

Even in the age of smartphones and Google Maps, nothing beats a map

 

After only a little more than an hour, our suitcase was empty and all of our pocket guides were on their way to exciting Amsterdam adventures with their new owners. We had many lovely encounters with people from all over the world, all excited and ready to enjoy their trip. We hope that our Amsterdam pocket guides came in handy and helped people to experience the city to the max!

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

Flipping through the pages of their new pocket guide

 

Marco Polo Guides Amsterdam

Our Marco Polo team got plenty of attention

 

We had a lovely time in the sunny Amsterdam, and if you wish to see more of our Amsterdam adventure, check out the short video below! 

 

 

Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Marco Polo Amsterdam Pocket Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

That Amsterdam Feeling

Amsterdam continues to draw in tourists from all over the world – and it is for a good reason! Find out what makes the city tick, experience its unique flair – just like the Amsterdammers themselves.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

MULTICULTURAL LIFE AT THE MARKET

Especially on Saturday, it seems that half of Amsterdam is out shopping for fish and vegetables at the street markets – or to eat some fresh syrup waffles or crispy loempia spring rolls. The largest market with the greatest cultural mix is the Albert Cuypmarkt; things are somewhat more tranquil at Noordermarkt and on neighbouring Lindengracht. It is part of the market tradition to end the visit with a slice of apple pie and a koffie verkeerd in Café Winkel.

TEMPTING CHIPS

Crispy, hot chips with a decent portion of creamy mayonnaise wrapped in a paper cone: the very thought is enough to make your mouth start to water. The best chips in Amsterdam are served at small street stalls at the markets or at established locations. The popular Vleminckx chip shop on Voetboogstraat even offers 20 varieties of mayonnaise. As an alternative, the locals sometimes eat their frietjes with Indonesian peanut sauce but never with tomato ketchup.

AND NOW, LET’S CROSS THE IJ…

When Amsterdammers feel the need to escape from the hustle and bustle of the inner city, they just take the ferry across the IJ. The five-minute boat trip to the shore on the other side is free of charge and you are sure to enjoy the wonderful view across the water. There, you will be able to choose between a visit to the futuristic Film Museum and EYE Film Instituut (IJpromenade 1, daily 10am–1am) or a cycle tour through Nieuwendammerdijk; what was formerly a dike village is now a piece of picture-book Holland on the outskirts of town. You can pause for refreshments at the idyllic harbour café ’t Sluisje (daily from midday, Nieuwendammerdijk 297, www.cafehetsluisje.nl).

PROOST!

The literal translation of borreluur is “cocktail hour” and describes the period after office hours when colleagues like to get together in one of the “brown cafés” just around the corner. There, those in the convivial groups drink a beer accompanied by a couple of bitterballen – round croquettes. Quite a few of the pubs are completely full at that time and people just have to take their beer and stand outside. The Café Brandon (Keizersgracht 157) is one of the most popular watering holes because it even has its own landing stage on the canal.

CREATIVE SCENE AT THE SHIPYARDS

Amsterdam is famous for its liberal creative scene and you can immerse yourself in it when you take the twenty-minute free ferry trip from the main railway station to the NDSM-Werft. An art community has now settled where ship hulls used to be welded. There are several cafés, an urban beach and artists’ studios, and a gigantic flea market is held once a month in an old wharf warehouse. The dates of the flea market vary. (Neveritaweg 15, www.ijhallen.nl).

AN EVENING SPENT STROLLING AROUND THE CANALS

The canals, with their picturesque bridges and magnificent mansions, are very beautiful during the day. But an evening stroll also offers many rewards: hardly any of the houses have curtains and it is therefore possible to see into the well lit rooms on the lower floors. The people living there are aware of this and they have their best furniture on display there. You will see designer furnishings or high-quality antiques beneath stucco ceilings and centuries-old beams and get an insight into life along the canals.

LONG LIVE THE KING!

Collective madness is de rigueur at the annual King’s Day celebrations. Until recently Queen Beatrix was honoured but now attention is officially focused on her son Willem-Alexander on 27 April. In reality, it is all about the typical Dutch party spirit coupled with business acumen: the entire city is turned into an enormous flea market in the morning and bands perform everywhere in the afternoon. Make sure you have some cash with you to buy some trinkets and head off to the Jordaan district where the festivities are the most social.

 

Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Top 5 Easter Destinations & Marco Polo Spring Giveaway

The Easter holidays are upon us but it’s not too late to plan a quick last minute getaway! Here are Marco Polo’s top 5 Easter destinations. Read on for inspiration and find out how you can win 5 Marco Polo Guides of your choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera!

Paris Marco Polo Guide

Paris

April in Paris, is there anything better? We love the city of lights in any season, but spring definitely adds to its charm. Visit the beautiful parks and gardens to witness the blossoming trees and stroll through the streets along the Seine. The famed patisseries with their chocolate marvels will make your Easter egg pale in comparison. Find a spot on one of the many terraces and enjoy the Parisian café culture with a café au lait or a pre-dinner apéro. You will not be disappointed.

Paris Marco Polo Guide

For Marco Polo Paris tips, check out our other blog posts.

 

Malta Marco Polo Guide

Malta

Malta during Easter is definitely worth a visit! You can enjoy the Easter processions around the island but don’t worry, restaurants and shops will be open for business. There are also many special Easter treats to sample, such as the Kwarezimal – Lenten biscuits – and Figolli – sweet almond cakes covered in icing or chocolate.

Of course, Malta remains close to our hearts because of its beautiful landscapes and fascinating history. The good weather doesn’t hurt either, and April is perfect for exploring the sights as the temperature will be around a comfortable 20 degrees.

Malta Marco Polo Guide

For more Malta tips, check out our other blog posts.

 

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Amsterdam

The Netherlands is world-famous for their tulips, and April is the best time to see them in bloom. The Dutch tulip garden Keukenhof boasts a total of 800 varieties of tulips and the garden is easily accessible by public transport. In Amsterdam, when the weather is good, the locals will take to the terraces for a glass of wine and there are plenty of spots along the canals. Watch as the locals cycle by and enjoy the beautiful spring sunshine. Later on in April the city will become the centre of the orange-mania during the annual King’s Day celebrated on 27th April.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

For more Amsterdam tips, see our blog posts.

 

Tenerife Marco Polo Guide

The Canary Islands

If you are in the mood for some sunshine and warm weather, the Canary Islands are your best bet. Lounge by the pool and work on your tan, or alternatively, experience a different Easter with the locals. Religious processions are a tradition here, and a lot of effort goes into re-enacting the sometimes gruesome events of the past.

Instead of an Easter egg hunt, you can have a more adventurous hike through the beautiful landscapes and breathe in the sea air.

Tenerife Marco Polo Guide

For more Canary Island tips, see our blog posts.

 

Bird’s eye view of Rome from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican

Rome

 Rome is the ultimate Easter destination. The Vatican is a must for those who wish to attend the Catholic Easter celebrations but there are more ways to enjoy the holiday. You should note that most of the city will be closed on Easter Sunday and Monday, including shops and museums. However, many restaurants will be open and you can sample the traditional Italian Easter menus. Chocolate eggs are also available in abundance. On Easter Monday do as the Romans do and head to a park for a picnic lunch.

Rome Marco Polo Guide

For more Rome tips, see our blog posts.


 

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate Spring, Marco Polo is organising an Easter giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Guides of your choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera to one lucky winner, chosen at random.

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED!

How to enter?

Simply share the story of your most memorable Easter / Spring travel moment in the comments below. You can earn more chances to win by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram accounts and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Monday 3 April 2017 until Friday 7 April 2017 at 12.00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK & European residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional chances to win may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 3rd April 2017 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 17 April 2017. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 1 x prize winner will receive 5 Marco Polo guides of their choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera (RRP £64.99).
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control. The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

Drinking in Amsterdam – steeped in tradition

When you visit Amsterdam you should visit a Dutch pub, or a kroeg as the locals call it. Sample some of the locally brewed beer or give jenever a shot. Marco Polo takes a look at the Amsterdam drinking traditions.

Amsterdam by Tim Kelly

Picture credit: Tim Kelly, used with permission

Safety first

In medieval times, the Count of Holland decided to boost the fledgling city’s coffers. In 1323, he designated Amsterdam one of only two ports in his province allowed to import beer from Hamburg, the most important ale-producing town in northern Europe. At that time, beer was far safer to drink than water.

The Heineken Story

Heineken­ started­ brewing­ lager­ in­ Amsterdam ­in ­1864, ­and ­is ­now ­one ­of­ the ­largest ­brewery companies ­in­ the­ world,­ selling ­beer­ in ­170 ­countries.­ The­ firm ­attributes ­much­ of­ its ­success to the ­cultivation ­of ­the­ Heineken­ A-Yeast ­in ­1886: ­every ­month­ the ­yeast ­cell ­is ­still ­flown out ­from its ­main­ brewery ­near ­Amsterdam ­to ­its ­100 ­breweries ­abroad. ­Though ­its ­Amsterdam­ brewery stopped production in 1988 and is now a tourist attraction, Heineken’s­ presence­ in­ the city ­is still­ unavoidable.­ The ­famous ­De­ L’Europe­ hotel ­is ­home­ to ­Freddy’s ­Bar, ­named ­after Freddy Heineken.­ The­ Heineken­ empire­ also­ includes­ a­ number of other brands such as Amstel­ and Murphy’s ­Irish ­Stout.

For Good Measure

Beer­ is ­usually ­served ­in ­a ­25cl­ flower pot-shaped ­glass,­ and­ will­ be­ presented­ with ­a ­two- finger thick­ head.­ The­ bartender­ usually­ makes­ a­ point ­of ­skimming ­off ­the ­extra­ froth ­with­ a plastic spatula.­ In­ brown cafés, you usually need to order at the bar, and can either pay on the spot, or, if you’re staying­ for ­a ­few,­ ask ­for ­a ­tab.

Dutch Spirit

Gin – ­known­ locally­ as ­jenever, ­the ­Dutch ­word ­for ­juniper –­ originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century before being exported to­ England.­ It­ is­ still­ produced­ in­ distilleries around the country that date­ back ­from ­this ­time ­and ­can­ be sampled in a number of traditional tasting houses. ­At ­the­ House ­of ­Bols ­(Paulus­ Potterstraat­ 14, ­tel:­020­5­70­85­75, ­www.house­ofbols.com,­ Sun-Thu­ noon–6:30,­ Fri­ noon–10,­ Sat­ noon–8)­ visitors­ can learn about the history and traditions of both the company and the­ spirit.

 

Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Top 10 Things to Do In Amsterdam

Marco Polo’s list of the top 10 things not to be missed in Amsterdam! Our best recommendations – from the top down – help you to plan your tour of Amsterdam’s most important sights.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

1. CANAL TOURS
Hundreds of canals, lined with old trees and magnificent merchant mansions, traverse the old city. Amsterdam seems to have been made to be enjoyed from the water.

2. RIJKSMUSEUM
Rembrandt, Vermeer, et al. – the Rijks museum is one of Europe’s greatest art centres. It reopened in 2013 after ten years of renovation and it once again shines in all its original glory.

3. VAN GOGH MUSEUM
It was almost impossible to sell Vincent van Gogh’s works during his lifetime but today his art is sold for record sums. The world’s finest collection of his works can be found in Amsterdam.

4. JORDAAN
Atmospheric architecture, a village ambiance and picturesque views set the scene in the former working-class Jordaan district. Top tip: the hidden hofjes.

5. ANNE FRANK HUIS
From the outside, it is hard to imagine the drama that took place behind the facade of this merchant house on Prinsengracht. Today this impressive place is a sobering reminder of the fate of Anne Frank, who lived here in hiding for two years.

6. DE WALLEN
Prostitutes, coffeeshops and the oldest buildings in the city: every city has its red-light district where the normal rules of society no longer apply – but nowhere else is it quite like Amsterdam.

7. STEDELIJK MUSEUM
With the fascinating, sophisticated works on display, the Stedelijk – the city’s museum of modern art – makes sure that lovers of art are kept up to date. A futuristic new extension was opened in 2013.

8. VONDELPARK
Locals and tourists alike flock to the city’s green lung to enjoy all of its attractive recreational facilities, including theatre performances, a rose garden, fountains and cafés.

9. HET SCHEEPVAARTMUSEUM
The 17th and 18th centuries were the golden age of Amsterdam’s merchant fleet and its history is brought to life in the exhibits of this maritime museum. A tall ship replica is also moored outside the museum.

10. WESTERKERK
This is one of the city’s first Protestant churches and is also Rembrandt’s final resting place. The tower houses Amsterdam’s heaviest bell and also offers wonderful panoramic views.

 

Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.