Tulips and windmills and clogs, oh my! What the Dutch capital doesn't offer the modern stag isn't worth offering. There truly is no cooler city for a stroll along a canal while sampling the best finely brewed beer from a nation famed for its finely brewed beer. Here in Amsterdam ‘Red light' means go all the way and coffee shops don't sell no poncy café lattes. The Dutch have famously cultivated an international reputation based on tolerance or gedogen and they sure know how to cobble together a thumping party. In Amsterdam you and your stag buddies will get a taste of what the UK would be like if it had bluer skies, taller, blonder, fitter women and an atmosphere as chilled as a bottle of freshly opened Heineken. From the city that defined and then redefined the boundaries of legal fun, Amsterdam truly has that old fashioned ‘upferit' vibe. So stags of the UK unite, there's no better place to go out in style. Really. There isn't.
Amsterdam in a Nutshell:
-The city is perched on the stunning river Amstel - yes, just like the beer - and the name Amsterdam literally means ‘dam on the river Amstel'.
- Amsterdam was once the most important port town in the free/known/western world.
- The population is 730,000. That's like London divided by 10.
- The official language is Dutch, also known as Netherlandish. English is widely spoken and if you have a bit of secondary school French or German you could also whip it out for some airing and many people will get your drift.
-When the Beach Boys sang: "I wish they all could be California girls" they clearly hadn't ventured as far as the Netherlands. Amsterdam has one of the highest Fit Blonde Per Capita Indexes (FBPCI) in the whole of the European Union. So if you like them fit, fair, fashionable and fun Amsterdam is a great start to see them in their natural habitat.
Out on the Town:
It's as if Amsterdam was created just for a perfect stag weekend. From tranquil canal tours to rowdy strip shows, most nightlife activity is contained in the area of about a 2km semi circle around the Central station. There is an endless supply of great watering holes from the uber-trendy to the pint-and-chips variety. Like their UK counterparts the Dutch take their beer consumption very seriously and brew some of the finest specialty lagers on the planet. Amstel and Heineken are the big beer brewing boys and you can even pay a visit to the former brewery and for a tenner you'll get three beers, a tour and a free novelty glass. That's class. The famed Red light district is a must see for any self respecting stag and if you venture there be sure not to miss the Oude Kerk, a church surrounded by the many brothels, just remember to leave your happy snapping for another time as it is verboten to take pictures of the working girls. If you're after something a little more wild for you last night of freedom why not rally the troops, get suited and booted and head down to the casino for a full monty night of high rolling 007 style.
Do you feel lucky punk? In Amsterdam you could shoot ‘em up Dirty Harry style, with smokin' magnum pistol shooting or become lord and king of the karts. Amsterdam offers an almost endless list of adrenaline charged activities to keep you and your stag party entertained. Of course the classic crowd pleasers are all here: 4x4 driving, Karting, Clay Pigeon Shooting. You can even catch the Dutch league at play and spend a day snowboarding indoors. And after all that excitement why not pick one of the many coffee shops, park your weary butt and watch the rest of the world sail by. Chilled.
The climate is characterised by a fairly cold winter, a cool spring, a moderately warm summer and a long and rainy autumn. However, some summers have weeks at a stretch of temperatures around +30° C, and a warm, sunny summer can keep autumn at bay until mid-October.
The former Dutch currency has been replaced by the Euro
How much can my quid stretch?
Quite far. A Big Mac will set you back just under three Euros which converts into just over two quid. That's not bad if you're from London and used to selling bodily organs in order just to eat. While getting down, getting high, eating and drinking are all just under what you'd expect to pay in the land of highway robbery that is London, the cost of resting your weary head will probably be slightly higher as Amsterdam is a perennial favourite with the tourists. If you really need that quid to stretch check out the new kids on the Eastern Bloc; Riga Vilnius and Bratislava where quid stretching is kind of like a national hobby.
Amsterdam is pretty much a living, breathing homage to the bicycle and you'll never see a more dazzling sight than a group of first year university Dutch girls ducking and weaving in the streets, just beware that as pretty as they look Dutch cyclists are a hardened lot, step aside if you find yourself in their way. Step aside fast. If you just couldn't be arsed to pedal the public transport system is one of the best in the world with a densely networked tram system, excellent trains and a canal bus. It's user friendly and there's no attitude from the guards if you don't know what Dutch for ‘oyster card' is*.
*It's Stippenkaart in case you're wondering