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AMSTERDAM TRAVEL GUIDE OVERVIEW

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is famous for its canals, colorful facades, world-class museums and bicycles. From Van Gogh to Pomme Frites the streets are steeped in history and culture. Make sure to take advantage of the 250 miles of bike pathways and lose yourself in the magnificent array of art galleries and museums. Hopefully, this Amsterdam travel guide helps out!

Table of Contents

When to Visit Amsterdam

When planning a trip to the enchanting city of Amsterdam, timing is a pivotal factor that can enhance or diminish your overall experience. The best time to visit is often dependent on your interests, weather preferences, and what you plan to do during your trip. This part of our Amsterdam travel guide is tailored to provide extensive insights to help you plan your journey efficiently.

Spring (April to June)

Springtime in Amsterdam is a sight to behold, with breathtaking tulip fields blooming in abundance across the city. The Keukenhof Gardens, one of the world’s largest flower gardens, is a must-see during this season. Weather is generally temperate, making it particularly conducive for sightseeing on foot or by bike along the city’s picturesque canals.

Summer (July to August)

The city truly comes to life in the summertime, with a plethora of cultural offerings including outdoor concerts, art festivals, and bustling terraces. The largely sunny and mild weather attracts a lot of tourists, so expect larger crowds at popular tourist spots. If you don’t mind the crowds and wish to experience Amsterdam in a vibrant, festive mood, then summer might be the ideal season for you.

Autumn (September to November)

Autumn in Amsterdam brings cooler, cozy weather and the city’s parks transform into a myriad of beautiful autumnal colors. This season is a great time for those seeking a quieter vacation, as the summer crowds dissipate but the city’s attractions, such as museums and historical sites, remain open for exploration.

Winter (December to March)

The city turns into a winter wonderland in December. The magical Amsterdam Light Festival, the charming Christmas markets and the possibility of canal ice-skating make winter a unique time to visit. Do take note that the weather can be quite chilly, so warm clothing is essential.

How to Get to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is easy to reach via train or plane from any European city. International flights also come in daily from most destinations around the world.

By Car: Reachable by car from London and Paris via the English Channel, allow a day if driving.
 I’ve even driven from Berlin, Germany befor and it was a nice drive.

By Train: The best option if you’re already in Europe is quick and easy with Eurostar and Thalys trains.

By Plane: Budget carriers offer cheap flights into Amsterdam daily from all over Europe. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main international airport and has direct flights from many countries. Check Skyscanner for the best options.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Immerse yourself in Amsterdam’s eclectic charm by choosing the best neighborhood that suits your travel preferences. With a plethora of options, each area offers its unique terms of benefits and downsides.

1. Jordaan

Known for its picturesque canals and narrow streets, Jordaan is a favorite amongst art lovers.

  • Pros: Home to Anne Frank House and well-serviced with trendy bars, restaurants, and Artisan shops.
  • Cons: Accommodation can be on the expensive side. Parking is difficult due to narrow streets.

2. De Pijp

A multicultural hub with a young and vibrant atmosphere, De Pijp is the chosen locale for those seeking the city’s culinary delights.

  • Pros: Plenty of ethnic restaurants, pubs, and the fabled Albert Cuyp Market.
  • Cons: Can be noisy at night due to the busy nightlife.

3. Museum Quarter (Museumplein)

As the name implies, Museum quarter is perfect for history and art buffs.

  • Pros: Houses Amsterdam’s top museums including the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum.
  • Cons: Accommodation and amenities may be pricey due to the tourist-centric location.

AMSTERDAM TRAVEL TIPS

  1. Don’t buy drugs on the street. Amsterdam might be pretty loose when it comes to legal drugs but on the street you’re more than likely buying dried cabbage or crushed bay leaves.
  2. Walk or bike: Amsterdam is notably flat, making it perfectly walkable and bike-friendly. Rent a bicycle to truly immerse yourself in the local culture while also saving on public transportation fees. There are more bikes than people in Amsterdam (literally) and this is
    the perfect way to see this beautiful place at a slower pace.
 It’s also
    super safe due to strict laws for motorist when hitting cyclist.
  3. Don’t walk in the bike lanes. You will get run over and it will be your own fault.
  4. Language tips: While Dutch is the local language, most Amsterdam residents are fluent in English. A simple “Dank je” (thank you) or “Goedemorgen” (good morning) could spark delightful interactions with the locals.
  5. Use the right currency: The Netherlands uses the Euro (€). Always have some cash (especially for small businesses), but most places accept credit cards.
  6. Cuisine to try: Don’t leave Amsterdam without trying Stroopwafel, a caramel and waffle treat, Bitterballen, a traditional deep-fried snack, and the famous Dutch cheese.
  7. Participate in festivals: Amsterdam is home to many vibrant festivals. King’s Day in April is particularly popular, characterized by citywide parties, orange outfits, and cheerful spirit. Check out iamsterdam.com for event schedules.
  8. Weed is semi-legal: Buying and smoking cannabis products are decriminalized but only in licensed coffee shops (not to be confused with cafes). However, public consumption is frowned upon. You can get some by visiting a ‘coffee shop’. Don’t confuse it with a café. There will be no
    coffee buying here.
 Although, I suppose you could drink coffee.
  9. Pick the Museumkaart: If you’re a museum fan, consider getting the Museumkaart. You get unlimited access to many museums for one flat rate. Amsterdam is home to some of the best museums in the world including my favorite, the Van Gogh Museum so take advantage of them.
  10. Respect red light district laws: In the Red-Light District, it’s illegal to take photos of workers in the windows and may be considered highly disrespectful.
  11. Water is drinkable: The tap water is pristine in Amsterdam so save your budget (and the environment) by skipping bottled water.
  12. Book in advance: Popular destinations like Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh Museum require advance booking, which can be done online to avoid long queues.
  13. Public transport: The city’s public transit system is efficient. Consider getting an ‘I amsterdam’ city card for unlimited rides.
  14. Experience canal tours: Embrace this unique aspect of Amsterdam by booking a canal tour! It’s an enchanting way to see the city. You can find more information and book your tour here.

Typical Costs in Amsterdam

Price range for Hotels

At the cheapest end of the scale, you can get a relatively centrally-located hotel for about $80 but it will be very basic, prices go right up to $400 night. You’re best if you are looking to save money is to book a private room in a hostel or go during the off season.

Cost of a Meal

Street food can be as cheap as $8 for a kebab or some frites with mayo while a meal in one of Amsterdam’s Michelin star Eat and Drinks can cost you upwards of $150 a person or more. Average lunch meal for two at a mid-range Eat and Drink: $35 including beers. Keep an eye out for fixed price lunch deals to save a few bucks.

Attractions

The costs for attractions in Amsterdam can vary greatly. Many museums, like the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, charge entrance fees ranging from $10 to $25. Guided tours, such as canal cruises, might cost around $15 to $30 per person. More exclusive experiences, like helicopter tours, can cost upwards of $200.

Transportation

Amsterdam offers various means of transportation. The public transportation system includes trams, buses, and metros, which cost about $8 for a day pass. Bicycle rental is also a popular option, with prices averaging around $10-$15 per day. Taxis or Ubers can be more expensive, costing anywhere from $20 to $40 for a short ride. For a more scenic route, renting a boat might be an option, typically ranging from $30 to $50 per hour.

Amsterdam’s Must-Try Foods and Drinks

Enjoy a flavorful journey through the picturesque city of Amsterdam, brimming with delightful meals, mouth-watering sweets, and thirst-quenching libations. Discover a gastronomic paradise that celebrates not only traditional Dutch cuisine but also food from its former colonies and nearby countries, making the city a melting pot of savory and refreshing tastes.

What to Eat

  • Stroopwafel: Holland’s sweet delight, the Stroopwafel, originated in the city of Gouda. This tasty delicacy comprises two thin waffles sandwiching a delicious caramel syrup filling. You’ll find fresh Stroopwafel at many markets and cafes in Amsterdam, making it a perfect snack while exploring the city.
  • Bitterballen: You cannot leave Amsterdam without sampling Bitterballen. These delectable, deep-fried meatballs, usually made of beef or veal, are commonly enjoyed with a glass of Dutch beer. Experience the crunchy exterior followed by a hot, creamy interior that melts in your mouth.
  • Raw Herring: Dubbed the Dutch’s sushi, raw herring is a fish dish consumed either whole or in slices with pickles and onions. It may sound strange to some, but it’s a culinary tradition filled with strong, unique flavors worth experiencing.
  • Poffertjes: Mini fluffy pancakes known as Poffertjes are a must-try dessert. Served hot with a dash of powdered sugar and a knob of butter, these pancakes embody the sweet comfort of Dutch dessert fare.

What to Drink

  • Heineken Beer: Brewed in Amsterdam, Heineken is one of the city’s key ambassadors and a true icon in the world of beer. Savor it fresh from the tap, at a pub, or even better – visit the Heineken Experience for an enriching journey through its brewing process.
  • Jenever: Often considered the predecessor to gin, Jenever is a juniper-flavoured spirit that is essential on any Amsterdam visit. Neat, in a cocktail, or as a chaser to beer, there’s a Jenever experience for every palate.
  • Koffie Verkeerd: Koffie Verkeerd, literally ‘wrong coffee’, is the Dutch variation of a latte, with equal parts of coffee and hot milk. It is a beloved staple in local cafes and perfect for a morning boost or an afternoon perk-me-up.
  • Oranjebitter: Traditionally drank on King’s Day, Oranjebitter is a vibrant orange liquor which beautifully blends bitter and sweet. Try it for a taste of local Dutch celebration.

Top Places to Visit in Amsterdam

Rembrandt House Museum
Art Museums

Rembrandt House Museum

The Rembrandt House Museum, situated in the enchanting city of Amsterdam, beautifully preserves the history and the artistry of one of the world’s greatest painters. This authentic,

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Art Museums

Moco Museum

Moco Museum, situated in Amsterdam’s Museum square, is a modern and contemporary art hub which is a delight for all art enthusiasts. Known for its cutting-edge exhibitions

Maritime Museum
maritime museum

Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum, nestled in the heart of Amsterdam, offers a rich and engaging journey through the Netherlands’ historic relationship with the sea. Housed in a

ARTIS
Aquariums

ARTIS

ARTIS is Amsterdam’s iconic zoo where nature, culture, and heritage intertwine. Home to more than 900 animal species and 200 types of trees, ARTIS offers an immersive

Albert Cuypstraat
amsterdam

Albert Cuypstraat

Albert Cuyp Market, nestled in the heart of Amsterdam’s vibrant De Pijp district, is an absolute must-visit for both locals and tourists. As the largest and most

Cruise The Canals

Cruise The Canals

Cruise the canals! We did a night cruise full for boozing and eating snacks and it was great. The guides share some great history about the city

Top Places to Eat in Amsterdam

Kaasbar Amsterdam
Bar

Kaasbar Amsterdam

Kaasbar offers a unique experience for cheese enthusiasts, featuring an extensive array of carefully curated local and international cheeses that are on a conveyor belt like sushi

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Michelin

Restaurant 212

Experience innovative Dutch cuisine at Restaurant 212, a 2 star Michelin restauraunt, where Chef Richard van Oostenbrugge crafts dishes that are both visually stunning and bursting with

Pesca Vis Seafood Restaurant
restaurant

Pesca Vis Seafood Restaurant

Immerse yourself in the flavors of the ocean at Pesca Vis Seafood Restaurant, a celebrated seafood hub nestled in the heart of pulsating Amsterdam. Fusing casual dining

Vondelpark
Gardens

Vondelpark

Vondelpark, located in the heart of Amsterdam, is a stunning oasis of tranquil beauty offering a refreshing break from the bustling city life. Home to an assortment

Foodhallen
food hall

Foodhallen

Foodhallen in Amsterdam is an invigorating gastronomic hub that brings together a wide array of food and drink vendors under one roof. This indoor food market, housed

Fabel Friet
fries

Fabel Friet

Fabel Friet is a beloved food stand in Amsterdam famed for its hand-cut, artisanal Dutch fries. Known for using fresh, locally sourced potatoes and serving their fries

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