Christmas in The Netherlands: A season to enjoy

THU 07 DEC 2017

For international students, the Christmas season in the Netherlands might be something new. Understanding the culture of your host country is an important step towards fostering understanding and broadening your horizons. ONCAMPUS Amsterdam would like to introduce you to Christmas in the Netherlands and how you can enjoy the various festivities during this season.

The History of Christmas

Christmas is an important religious holiday for countries that have a big Christian population. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem and is observed on December 25. The holiday has a lot of cultural and social importance and for many, is a time to come together as a family.

The Dutch Christmas traditions

Every culture has its own Christmas traditions and this is true in the Netherlands as well. The first celebration is the Sinterklaas Avond or Santa Claus Eve, which takes place on the night of December 5. This is the main gift-giving occasion, when Santa Claus travels to every home to leave small gifts for children – traditionally, children leave out shoes filled with carrots, hay, and sugar for Santa Claus’ horses and he replaces these with gifts.

The Dutch Santa Claus is believed to live in Spain and he travels to the Netherlands by boat and port cities, such as Amsterdam, usually have big celebrations and parades to mark his arrival. Santa Claus also travels with Zwarte Piet or Black Peter, who is dressed in 16th century Spanish clothes and has a face covered in soot.

Generally, December 25 (First Christmas Day) and 26 (Second Christmas Day) are holidays in the Netherlands – compared to December 24 and 25 in most other countries. Usually these days are spent with family, going to church services, concerts, and cooking family meals. The midnight church services on December 24 are most popular.

Where to go in Amsterdam during Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful season to be in Amsterdam. The Christmas celebrations start with lighting up the city. All over the city, buildings, sculptures, roads, and much more are adorned with lights – known as the Amsterdam Light Festival. The lighting up of the city starts around mid-November and runs until mid-January and can be best viewed from the canal or the Amstel River.

Not to be missed is the Christmas Market at the Museumplein or Museum Square. From December 17 until 30, this square is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, with an ice skating rink, food stalls, and stalls selling handcrafts. This is a great place to buy Christmas presents and try some of the special Christmas foods, such as Kerstkrans (wreath-shaped pasty filled with almond paste), Kerststol (Christmas fruit cake), Oliebollen (donuts), Poffertjes (light pancakes), Speculaas (cinnamon ginger cookies) and much more!

You should beware of Christmas shopping hours. Most shops will be open longer than usual during the holiday season, but most shops and restaurants will be closed on December 25 and will re-open again on December 26. Not to be missed during this season is the big Christmas tree on Dam Square!

If you would like more information about studying in Amsterdam, then please contact our student advisors


‘I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike’ – Cycling in Amsterdam

When walking down the streets of Amsterdam and along the canals you will see them everywhere: Bikes! Riding a bicycle is one of the most popular ways of transportation in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam you will find even more bicycles than inhabitants. Are you wondering why cycling is so popular in the Netherlands, what you need to know about riding a bicycle and what the best bicycle routes are? Read this article to found out.

 History of cycling

Cycling was the mode of transport from the 1940s until World War II. During the World War Amsterdam cyclists even used their bikes against the Nazi’s that occupied the city, for example to slow up convoys. After the World War II the economy in the Netherlands improved and people would start to use cars more and more. In the 1960s there were so many cars in Amsterdam that all the famous squares such as Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein were occupied by these vehicles. The municipality was even thinking of paving the historic canals to make way for cars. The increase of cars in the city centre has led to a lot of car accidents, with even 3,000 cyclists killed in 1971 by car. Once these numbers became available the municipality thought it was enough and started to build cycle lanes throughout the city. To this day there is more than 400 kilometres of cycling lane in the city of Amsterdam. This, together with Amsterdam being flat, compact and densely populated with a moderate climate, makes our city a very popular city to cycle.


Riding a bicycle in Amsterdam

There are 881,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, which is more than the population of people! Cycling in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is a culture in itself with its own norms and values. Before renting or buying a bike you should get to know a few things and remember them every time you ride a bike:

  1. Dutch cyclists are always in a hurry. They do not appreciate it if you stop on a cycling lane to read your map or have a look at hotspots.
  2. It is important to lock your bike when parking it somewhere. Around 55,000 bicycles go missing in Amsterdam per year.
  3. Cycling is not permitted everywhere. It is important that you stick to the bicycle lanes. You can recognize them by their red colour and big cycle symbol. If a cycle path is not present you can use the normal road.
  4. Trams always have the right of way. Make sure to cross tram tracks at an angle, so that your wheels don’t get stuck in between the tracks. You should also give right of way to all other traffic coming from the right.
  5. Use hand signals to inform other cyclists that you are turning right or left. It is sufficient to stick your arm out in the direction that you will be going.

Bicycle Routes in and around Amsterdam

Amsterdam and it surroundings have some perfect places to be discovered by bike. It is a healthy, easy and fun way of moving around. This website shows you some nice bicycle routes that you might want to discover when studying in Amsterdam.

I hope this article has helped you to gain some more knowledge about the bicycle culture in the Netherlands and Amsterdam. If you have any questions about riding or renting a bike, please feel free to ask. If you have any questions about life in Amsterdam or studying at ONCAMPUS Amsterdam as well, please contact us via

By Kayleigh Vedder

Student Support Officer 


The International City: Discover the 180 nationalities of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famed for its warm welcome and hospitality. Find out more about the Amsterdam’s in-ternational outlook, its 180 nationalities and how this could have a positive impact on your studies.

With its densely populated centre criss-crossed by many canals, Amsterdam draws visitors from all over the globe. At first glance, it’s clear to see that it’s a popular destination; it has a rich culture, busy nightlife and lots of opportunities. It has a thriving international community and its welcoming atmosphere means that many global businesses and students alike have put their roots down here.

It attracts over 7 million international travellers every year (according to Wikitravel) and is home to over 2,900 international companies (according to The Drum). English is the city’s unofficial second language while the city’s streets are peppered with international bookstores, libraries and cultural activities.

Some of the biggest brands in the world have set up headquarters in Amsterdam. Internet connection speeds are almost as speedy as train connections; the city is very switched on to inviting the international community to make its home there. But it has a distinctively international feel and tolerance which continues to attract people from across the world.

A history of warm welcomes

This welcoming atmosphere stems from a history of encouraging people from abroad to settle in Amsterdam, dating back to 1275. The Dutch capital attracted academics and creatives who fled their own countries in pursuit of more liberal environment, making it a hot-bed of diversity.

Over the centuries, Amsterdam has been a refuge for those fleeing persecution too. This mass migration has paved the way for the international outlook we see in the city nowadays. As languages, faiths and knowledge spread, the city has grown more tolerant, and more diverse.

This has had huge benefits for the city’s trade, as connections grew. It became the hub of publishing – indeed, many texts banned in other countries were published by Dutch printers, due to its liberal values.

As a result there is a culture today of liberalism, international collaboration and exchange. We see this in the form of many exchange programmes, including the University Pathways Programme, which allows students to live and study in the city itself. It’s a melting pot of people, ideas and experiences, which only serves to continue to attract a diverse crowd.

Home to 180 nationalities

It is this very history that underpins the diverse city you see today; a city that is home to over 180 nationalities. Amsterdam’s is a place where minds meet, no matter where they’re from.

At a time when Europe faces a rise in nativism, Amsterdam’s international outlook offers much-needed respite. Today, 1 in 10 students in Holland is an international student (according to, showing that the city is continuing to attract people from all over the world.

This range of backgrounds coupled with Amsterdam’s high levels of tolerance make it an excellent place to live and study. Find out more about the 180 nationalities project here.

How Amsterdam’s international outlook can improve the study experience

The intellectual and cultural curiosity that has spanned Amsterdam’s history is very much a part of day-to-day life now. This is present in the education system, offering excellent study opportunities. Many courses are taught in English, for example.

According to, more than 6000 students from 127 countries enrolled in a Bachelor or Master’s programme in the previous year. This internationalism is particularly evidence in the arts and creative industries. Most students arrive from Germany, Italy, Greece, China and the UK, but the city attracts students from all over the globe.

Such a big student population offers students room to learn not just academically, but also from peers from different backgrounds and places. Students can meet new friends from across the world.

On a practical level, the many international shops, cafes and markets means that students are never far from the familiar. Amsterdam offers all the excitement of living abroad with the warm welcome that makes you feel instantly at home.

Find out more about the ONCAMPUS courses being offered in Amsterdam giving you the opportunity to study in this eclectic city. 

Why to come and study in Amsterdam

One of Europe’s biggest capitals with a small-city feel and a large student population, Amsterdam is one of the best places in the world to study. Discover why with this guide to studying in Amsterdam.

Enrol in Amsterdam

Beautiful architecture, distinctive canals and – over 800,000 – bicycles, Amsterdam is an instantly recognisable city well-known around the world for its liberal attitudes, business centre and prestigious educational institutions. Studying in Amsterdam is the gateway to unlocking new experiences in a cosmopolitan city with a kind heart.

It’s no surprise that a large community of students feel at home in Amsterdam. Its cafe culture, famous flea markets and lively nightlife mean that there’s something for everyone.

Why study in Amsterdam?

The excellence of further education in Holland is recognised throughout the world, making it very appealing to students. Dutch universities offer the largest number of English-taught programmes and there are over 2,100 programmes in English to choose from, making it easy to communicate and learn.

It’s one of the safest countries in the world according to the 2016 Global Peace Index and one of the happiest according to the UN’s Happiness survey. Holland is a hub of business which means there are many career opportunities upon graduating. It is also a very student-friendly and liberal country, with international students coming from over 180 different countries.

Amsterdam itself is relatively small, meaning its easy to get around town on foot or of course – by bike. It’s got many cultural offerings from museums and galleries to historic sites, a busy music scene and no shortage of things to see and do. Its also well-connected with the rest of Europe and the world by air, rail and sea.


A quick guide to the Dutch education system

In Holland there are two distinct types of education. There is a choice from either research-orientated education at a research university or a higher professional education offered by universities of applied sciences.

There is a third, smaller branch of higher education which offer programmes catered especially for international students. Many students undertake an internship as part of the study programme, equipping them with hands-on employment skills.

The education system centres around studying for a bachelor’s degree. Following this, students can pursue a master’s degree. A PhD or PDeng degree programme can then be undertaken.

Reasons to study at the University of Amsterdam

Ranked among the top 40 worldwide and top 30 universities in Europe, the University of Amsterdam is a leading international educational institution. Its world-class research and teaching is well-known across the globe.

It has a rich history dating from 1632 of providing high-quality education, helping students think in original, independent and academic ways. It is internationally recognised for its excellent Economics and Business, and PPLE (Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics) studies.

There are over 30,000 students from more than 100 nationalities at the University of Amsterdam, meaning it is one of the largest universities in Europe. The university offers research-intensive education which prepares students well for the global job market.

Reasons to study at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest institutes of professional business education in the Netherlands and serves to prepare students for their chosen careers with applicable skills and practical-orientated research.

It focuses on training students through a variety of programmes, courses, exchanges and work placements in the international working field. Internships can be undertaken at leading brands like Google, Microsoft and Nike.

It is comprised of a number of faculties covering Sports and Nutrition, Business and Economics, Health, Applied Social Sciences and Law, Digital Media and Creative Industries, Education and Technology. It is world-renowned for its excellence in International Business and Management.

There are over 2,800 students from more than 70 different countries at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and it offers a wide variety of programmes in English.

Prepare for your dream career with ONCAMPUS

Whether you choose to undertake a research-intensive or professional-focused course at one of the two types of universities in Amsterdam, you can be sure of a very valuable education in Amsterdam.

While you study, you can make the most of the international outlook, large student population and many opportunities that arise as part of living in Amsterdam. ONCAMPUS prepares students for their dream careers by offering excellent education opportunities, whatever the subject area.

Apply now to discover the many opportunities awaiting you when you study with ONCAMPUS in Amsterdam.



The Netherlands – One of the Happiest Countries in the World

The Netherlands offers both great education prospects and quality of life. But studying abroad in the Netherlands may have even more benefits.

You may be considering study in the Netherlands due to the excellent universities and the wonderful quality of life for students. But did you know that the Netherlands is one of the happiest countries in the world? We take a closer look at happiness levels in the Netherlands, and how happiness could benefit your studies.

 What is the World Happiness Index?

 Published every year, the World Happiness Index is an assessment of different countries’ levels of happiness. It looks at well-being rather than economic figures. The researchers assess factors such as healthcare, freedom, social involvement, and trust in society and government.

 Year after year, Holland regularly comes top. This year, Holland is rising up the ranks behind, now holding sixth position. Norway holds the highest position, followed by Denmark. Dutch national statistics show that 88% of the Dutch consider themselves to be happy.

 Why is the Netherlands such a Happy Country?

Holland’s consistently high happiness rankings have prompted researchers to look at what is behind its high scores. They have come to several conclusions.

 Better Work Life Balance

Firstly, the Dutch work structure may be helping happiness levels. It is true that our working lives can affect our levels of happiness in profound ways. In Holland, where dual income is not a necessity for a comfortable life like in other countries, it is possible to work fewer hours and still enjoy a good quality of life.

 The Netherlands has the highest percentage of adults in part-time employment. Flexible hours as well as a more flexible approach to the work-life balance in general may well make people living in Holland happier. Women in Holland recently gained the right to cut back hours without consequences from their employers; this may also be raising levels of happiness.


 Exercise, exercise, exercise

Secondly, high rates of physical exercise could be benefiting people in living in Holland. Holland is a very active country; you only have to look at Amsterdam where 63% of those living in the city use their bike on a daily basis (according to the website

 The Netherlands comes top of 28 European countries for physical exercise. According to the British Heart Foundation, 53% of adults in the Netherlands do moderate physical activity 4-7 times a week.

 Much research into the benefits of exercise have found lowered stress and improved mental health. It’s possible that Holland’s high levels of physical activity helps workers to de-stress and relax.

 It’s all in your mind

A lot is to be said for the Dutch mindset. Holland is a liberal, open and friendly country.. For this reason, the country is a very popular destination for students, with students opting to attend one of the many excellent universities and enjoy living in the relaxed and welcoming country.

 This is evident in lots of ways. There’s no obligation to understand or speak Dutch to be accepted; many universities even offer courses in English. There is a thriving LGBTQ+ community which is celebrated across the country; one example being the annual summer festival in Amsterdam.

 In many ways, the celebration of the individual in Holland is symbolised by the way in which bicycle travel is so popular. If you want to go somewhere, you can just hop on your bike and the many cycle-friendly routes of the cities will help you to your destination. Even the Prime Minister of the country reportedly cycles to work, just like everyone else.

 For students, it is visible in the higher age groups enrolling on courses. In Holland, it is perfectly acceptable to change your mind and return to studies later on. There is no upper age limit when it comes to expanding your mind in Holland.

 Starting young

From a very young age, the Dutch are happy. In fact, Unicef found Dutch children to be the happiest in the world in 2013. The factors observed being material wellbeing, health and safety, education, behaviours and risks, and housing and environment.

 It really does seem that high levels of happiness begin in childhood where structured learning isn’t introduced until around aged 6. Children aren’t under pressure in the same way that their European counterparts are pressurised from an early age to pass exams. And arguably, if parents are happy, as the World Happiness Index reports, their children will be happy too.

 How can Holland’s happiness levels influence your studies?

Studying in Holland is bound to be an exciting experience. Wherever you choose to study in Holland, odds are that you will encounter some of the happiest people in the world.

 The Dutch mindset in combination with an appreciation of education and a modern approach to the work-life balance are all factors which may make studying in Holland an even more positive experience.

 Knowing that you’re studying in one of the happiest countries on the planet is sure to give reassurance to you as you embark on your course and see you continue to thrive there.

The Best Places to Visit in Holland in Spring

Find out why spring is an amazing time of the year to visit the Netherlands, and get inspiration for your trip. Read on for insights into this fantastic time of the year.

 The sun is out, the temperature is warming up and flowers are coming out in bloom; it can only mean one thing – it is time for spring. This time of year is typically associated with themes of renewal and fresh starts. What better time then, to visit Holland, which comes alive in spring.

 Spring means a celebration of the outdoors

Holland is a country of spectacular greenery and wildlife. This makes it an excellent choice for a trip in spring when longer daylight hours mean the many lakes and parks can be enjoyed to the fullest.

 Holland is a famously bike-friendly country, making cycling a great way to explore the city and the countryside alike. Rent a bike in Amsterdam to take a tour of the city sights by weaving through the many canals. Alternatively, take a cycling route in the protected nature areas of the countryside and observe the natural Dutch spring-time greenery and flowers.


 In Amsterdam, canal tours are a great way to experience Amsterdam from the water. The famous pedalos offer a fun and interactive way to see the city from a totally different perspective.

 The many parks such as the Rembrandtpark, Sarphatipark or Vondelpark are simply must-sees. In spring, they people flock there to soak up the sun and enjoy the open, green spaces. Often, canal-side houses and museums open their doors to reveal the parks hidden behind them. These Open Garden Days are another great way to enjoy Amsterdam in spring.

 Colour, colour, and more colour

Holland is an explosion of colour every spring. The countryside and indeed the cities come alive with vibrant colours. This is even more enhanced by the longer hours of daylight.

 The national appreciation of colour every spring is exemplified by the celebration that is ‘King’s Day’ held yearly in Amsterdam. Every spring, revellers descend on the city to enjoy boat parties, house parties, and visit the bars and pubs.

 It is held in honour of the King’s birthday, and everyone receives a day off work to celebrate. The carnival demands that everyone wear orange – this extends to include even wigs and face paint. Attendees are encouraged to sample the street food available, where national delicacies can be enjoyed.

 Most museums close down on King’s Day, however a few can still be visited. The Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmseum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Anne Frank House often remain open. You can even cycle through the Rijksmuseum, for a truly authentic, Dutch carnival experience.


 Holland’s national identity comes alive in Spring

Flowers, or specifically, Tulips, are one of the country’s most renowned exports. Every spring, the country is awash with beautiful variants of all shapes and sizes of these flowers.

 Plan a trip to Holland’s world-famous ‘flower strip’ or ‘bollenstreek’ to gain the full floral experience. Alternatively, the Keukenhof Gardens are an absolute must between March and May. Lying 30 minutes from Amsterdam, they boast over seven million flowers including tulips, hyacinths, freesia and daffodils.

 To really soak up the country’s national identity, attend the annual ‘Tulip Festival’ which is held every April in Amsterdam.

 Holland in Spring is not to be missed

Embrace the beginning of the new season in Holland with one of the many things to see and do at this wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re spending spring in the city or heading further afield into the beautiful Dutch countryside, you’ll be spoilt for choice at this time of the year.

Your Guide to Amsterdam

The Dutch capital is a consistently popular destination for tourists, students and adventurers. Read on to find out what the historic city has to offer.

Known for its picturesque canals, strikingly beautiful windmills and wonderfully colourful landscapes, Amsterdam is a city that captures the hearts of many who visit.

It’s a relatively small city (compared to other major European cities) making it a delight to get around; visitors get a real feel for its atmosphere, neighbourhoods and charm in just a few footsteps.

It’s a great place to visit at most times of the year with one of the best year-round climates for a city break. It’s also a very significant historic city. More than 6,000 houses and buildings date back to the 16th – 20th century; you can still walk around the Jewish quarter (or Jodenbuurt) just east of the Amstel river.

It has a legendary nightlife, a significant English-speaking population and is an incredibly environmentally friendly city.

Still need persuading on why to visit Amsterdam? Read on to find out more about the Dutch capital.

10 Interesting Facts about Amsterdam

  1. Amsterdam is ranked 2nd in the Top 10 Cities to Live
  2. The capital has been ranked one of the Top 15 Safest Cities in the World
  3. The city has more museums per square meter than any other city in the world.
  4. There are 880,000 bikes in Amsterdam with 12,000 bicycle wrecks being fished out of the canals every year.
  5. 86% of Amsterdam residents are bilingual, speaking both Dutch and English.
  6. There are 1,281 bridges in Amsterdam, criss crossing over the many famous canals
  7. Amsterdam residents are the second largest consumers of coffee in the world. An Amsterdam local consumes about 3.2 cups of coffee a day.
  8. Amsterdam is a city of houseboats. There are 2,500 of them in the city.
  9. The majority of Amsterdam is below sea level. At its lowest point, it is 6.7 metres below sea level.
  10. Many buildings in Amsterdam lean to one side because the city was built on long wooden piles that had to be driven into the ground. The Central station has 6000 of them keeping it up.

Top 5 Things to Do

Amsterdam is teaming with things to do and see. Whatever the weather, you can be sure of an abundance of eye-opening and intriguing experiences across the capital. Where you’re a foodie, a bike-lover or simply an intrepid explorer on your next getaway, there’s something for everyone.

1. A visit to Museumplein

The cultural nexus of the capital houses the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. It’s centered around a large, leafy open square where there are often lots of activities, letting you unwind in between soaking up the huge array of culture.

2. Take a Canal cruise

Exploring Amsterdam on water is a necessity in a city where there is more than one hundred kilometres of canals. The main ones are known as Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. Take in the sights and sounds while floating along the canal on a guided boat tour. There are various ones to choose from, from hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tours to night-time cruises with food and wine.

3. Visit Anne Frank House

The front of the Prinsengracht house where Anne Frank and her family hid for two years after fleeing Germany is now a museum. It features a sobering exhibition about the persecution of Jews during the war and discrimination. It’s an important thought-provoking experience that is an important part of the city’s history.

4. Visit Vondelpark

The city’s largest city park in Amsterdam is well worth a visit. There are often free concerts at the open-air theatre and an array of impressive sculptures. The park has to be renovated every 30 years due to its constantly lowering ground level.

5. Rent a bike

Cycling is an important part of Amsterdam life. There are more bikes than people in the city. Its network of cycle routes and flat landscape make biking the best way to get around. There are lots places to rent a bike, letting you take in the capital’s streets, canals and attractions like a local.

Top 5 Places to Eat

With the twice-yearly Amsterdam Restaurant Week coming up (28 – 31 March) there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in the culinary traditions of Amsterdam. However, the city is a foodies’ paradise the whole year round. Whatever your budget or taste, you’re bound to find a wealth of delicious temptations in Amsterdam.

 1. A trip to Westergasfabriek

There’s a wide range of bars, restaurants and coffee houses in this foodies’ hub sprawling across former industrial buildings that once were the municipal gasworks. Regular food markets and festivals are held here, including the Sunday market held on the first Sunday of each month.

2. Traditional Dutch cuisine

For those who fancy an immersion into traditional Dutch cuisine, Moeders (‘mothers’ in Dutch) is simply a must. The city centre restaurant serves almost exclusively Dutch dishes such as stamp pot, poffertjes or suddervlees. It’s a homely and quintessentially Dutch experience that’s not to be missed.

3. Living-room restaurants

The latest trend sweeping Amsterdam is centred around blending home cooking with dining out where cosy dinner parties are held at the chefs’ premises. One such example of this is Eat Your Heart Out, a living room restaurant which is great for groups of 15+. Regular afternoon and evening tastings are often available letting you try something new.

4. Something a little different

Amsterdam has no shortage of quirky venues for eating and drinking. Eat in a former church at Bazar, an Arabic kitsch cafe with a North African menu or dine at Brasserie Harkema, a tobacco factory turned restaurant-landmark offering a range of French classics.

5. The Classic Fries and Mayonnaise Experience

It’s difficult to visit Amsterdam without experiencing the unexpectedly delicious combination of chips and mayonnaise. It’s a definite for anyone new or wary of the combination, and has spawned many converts who will now not have their chips any other way. Try Manneken Pis where fries are prepared in front of your eyes and served in the classic paper ‘cone’. Try it, you won’t regret it.

English Video Contest

A few weeks ago our students were given an exciting assignment during English class. All students were asked to create a video about their lives in Amsterdam.  When creating this video the students had to pay attention to their English language fluency. However that was not the only thing they needed to focus on; creativity, collaboration with classmates and effort were also of great importance.

All groups did an amazing job; there were a lot of fun and interesting videos to watch. However there were 2 groups who were standing out. With their outstanding performance they have won free cinema tickets.

The video of one of the winners can be found below. Hopefully you will enjoy watching it!


By Kayleigh Vedder

Administrative Assistant

Do you have any questions about Amsterdam? Please do not hesitate to contact us via

The worst question ever

We all have been in the situation where people from your home country are visiting you abroad and ask you the worst question ever – “Can you please advise me where to go”, and when they add “I do not want to go to a touristic place, but to something special”, you start panicking and thinking that you have absolutely no clue. In this article I’ll try to help you with this struggle. After reading this article you should be able to answer this question from your visitors.

Quick note: I’m keen on fancy places, creativity and art, if you do not share the same interests, this article might not be that useful for you.

I’ll start with a short review of the touristic hotspots in Amsterdam (in my opinion of course). I had a lot of guests during the first two terms here at ONCAMPUS Amsterdam, so I have visited the majority of the hotspots already. Be ready for a long list!

  • Van Gogh museum – I would definitely recommend to go here. The museum is quite small and looking at the paintings from really close by is an exciting experience. You won’t have to suffer from wondering through endless rooms with the same paintings on every wall, which is in my opinion a good thing! The unique thing about this museum is that you can observe the development of Vincent van Gogh’s madness when visiting the museum. The exposition starts with his earliest works and finishes with his very last one.
  • Rijksmuseum – I would not recommend going here, if you already have visited the same kind of museums before. This museum is really similar to other museum which exhibit masterpieces from famous painters. You won’t find anything new here. If you have not visit such a museum before the Rijksmuseum is a nice place to go to.
  • Madame Tussauds – If you have the time this is a cool place to visit . It’s cool and impressive. Nevertheless it wouldn’t be my first choice, if I need to pick my favourite spot in Amsterdam.
  • NEMO – NEMO is a nice place to visit with families and kids who are between 6 and 14 years old. For children who are a bit older or adolescents it might be a bit boring.
  • The Amsterdam Dungeon – I had a lot of fun when visiting the Amsterdam Dungeon. The live performance was interesting, intense and sometimes even a bit scary. Although it was fun I do think it doesn’t really represent Amsterdam.











Next to the touristic hotspots there are a lot of other places that you can visit. Here are the places that I would recommend to go to when being in Amsterdam:

  • MOCO museum – MOCO museum is located on Museum square, just as Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. The museum is much smaller and more private than the other museums located on this square. You will need around 40 minutes to have a look around. The museum renews it exposition every now and then. Banksy is permanently exhibited here and in the past pieces from Andy Warhol and Salvatore Dali were exhibited. If you like this kind of art, MOCO is definitely a nice place to go to.
  • A’DAM Tower and Eye-museum – These are my favourite places. The A’DAM tower is the best place to sit in the sun, chill and watch Amsterdam from above. In the Eye Museum next to the A’DAM Tower you can learn a lot about movies. There is an informative movie that you can watch and more interactive things that you can participate in. In Eye you will also find a café with an incredible view over the river Ij. Even the building of the Eye museum is very unusual and interesting to see.
  • A walk through the city – I think a walk through the city is the best way to discover Amsterdam. A nice route for you might be: Central station – The Dam- Rembrandt square – Amstel river – Museum square – Jordaan neighbourhood. When taking this route you will see all the Amsterdam Highlights and activities or restaurants will always be close by. In my opinion the Jordaan neighbourhood is the nicest places to go to. Here you will find the most beautiful buildings and surroundings. You can really feel that you are in the heart of Amsterdam.


Next to all these tips from me, there also some websites and applications that might be able to help you out;

  • If you would like to look up some nice restaurants or other places where you can buy food the app Foodguide might help you. They also have an inspiring and convenient Instagram page. Other than that you can use TripAdvisor, but I am not really a big fan of this.
  • IAMSTERDAM is a really good website if you want to know anything about Amsterdam as well. This website will tell you everything about things going on in Amsterdam, staying in the Netherlands and Dutch culture. You can find the website here.
  • In my opinion Facebook is your best friend when staying in Amsterdam. It knows your preferences and shows you what you like. I think when the weather is okay the best thing to go to in Amsterdam is a festival. You can find all different kind of festivals on Facebook. At a festival you will feel really welcome and you can try a lot of new things. And most of the time these festivals could be visited for free. I am happy to live in Amsterdam, where a lot of festivals and events are organized every month and it won’t be a problem to find one.

By Ivanna Slipets, Student Representative 

 I hope this article is informative and may help to you to make a decision on where to go to in Amsterdam, or answer the questions from your annoying visitors. I’m working on finding more sources for interesting events myself, but if you know something interesting share it with me!

Coming to Study at the University of Amsterdam? Here’s What to Expect.

What is it like study at the University of Amsterdam? From friendly locals to amazing nightlife and tourist attractions, find out what is waiting for you.

With its scenic canals and historic architecture, Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The capital of the Netherlands, located in the northwest of the country, it has long been one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, with millions of people arriving every year to experience its rich culture and friendly atmosphere.

For international students, Amsterdam is also becoming increasingly attractive as a study destination. The city boasts a number of top universities, with many offering a wide range of programmes in English, and tuition fees are relatively low compared with other English-speaking countries.

It’s also a great place to live, and was ranked as the 11th best city in the world in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey in 2016.

Read on to find out more about what Amsterdam could have in store for you.

Study at the University of Amsterdam for a World Class Education

The Dutch education system is one the best in Europe, and the country is home to a number of top institutions. The University of Amsterdam, for instance, was in the top 100 of both the QS and Times Higher Education world university rankings in 2016.

The Netherlands was also the first country on the European continent to offer university study programmes in English, and the variety of English-speaking programmes on offer continues to grow. Pathway programme students who go on to study at the University of Amsterdam can choose from four different English- taught degrees.

Amsterdam is One of Europe’s Most International Cities

Amsterdam is one of the most multicultural cities in Europe, and is home to over 180 different nationalities, so you are sure to have plenty of opportunity to meet people from all sorts of different backgrounds. Locals have a reputation of being very open-minded and friendly too, so you can expect a warm welcome!

Local people in Amsterdam are very friendly and welcoming

In addition, even though the first language is Dutch, over 80% of people in Amsterdam are fluent in English and the language is widely spoken throughout the city, and many locals even speak two or three different languages. This makes it an ideal city to improve your language skills.

Students in University Foundation Programmes in Amsterdam Will Find Plenty to Do

When you get a break from your studies, you will find plenty of different ways to spend your time off. Even though it is a small city with a population of just 750,000, Amsterdam has all the attractions of a larger city. It is famous for its nightlife, with lots of great bars, clubs, and cafes for students to socialise.

There are also a number of unique events and festivals held all year round, as well as several great museums and art galleries to discover, including the famous Van Gogh museum, where you can view some of the legendary Dutch artist’s most famous work.

Students can visit great attractions like the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Students enrolled in university foundation programmes in Amsterdam should also check out Amsterdam’s famous markets, such as Waterlooplein and Albert Cuyp, where they can pick up clothes, furniture, and much more at bargain prices. There are a number of great outdoor spaces to explore too, including the city’s famous canals, which are perfect for a stroll or bike ride at any time of day.

Are you looking to meet the entry requirements for the University of Amsterdam?

Contact ONCAMPUS Today to find out more about our programmes!