Amsterdam is a city located in the western Netherlands known for its canals, museums, and liberal attitudes. It is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination, with millions of visitors each year. The city is home to a number of famous landmarks, including the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with a number of bars, clubs, and coffee shops to choose from.
The city is built on a network of canals, which were originally used for transportation and defense. These canals, along with the narrow houses and gabled buildings that line them, give Amsterdam its characteristic look. The city is also known for its liberal attitudes, with a long history of tolerance and acceptance. This is reflected in the city’s many museums, which showcase a wide range of art and cultural exhibits.
There are a number of ways to get to Amsterdam, including by plane, train, and car. Amsterdam’s main airport is Schiphol Airport, which is located just outside the city and is easily accessible by train or bus. Amsterdam is also well-connected to other cities in Europe by train, making it easy to travel to the city from other parts of the continent. If you’re driving to Amsterdam, you can take the A2 or A4 motorways to reach the city.
Once you’re in Amsterdam, there are plenty of things to see and do. Some popular activities include visiting the city’s many museums, taking a canal tour, or exploring the city’s many parks and green spaces. Amsterdam is also known for its shopping, with a number of markets and shopping districts to choose from. The city is also home to a number of cultural festivals throughout the year, such as the Amsterdam Light Festival and the Amsterdam Dance Event.
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How To Go Amsterdam
There are a few different ways to get to Amsterdam, depending on your location and preferred mode of transportation. Here are a few options:
Amsterdam’s main airport is Schiphol Airport, which is located just outside the city. Schiphol Airport is well-connected to major airports around the world, and there are a number of airlines that offer flights to Amsterdam. From the airport, you can take a train, bus, or taxi to reach the city center.
Take the train
Amsterdam is well-connected to other cities in Europe by train, and there are a number of international trains that stop in the city. You can take a train from cities like London, Paris, and Berlin to reach Amsterdam. The city’s central train station, Amsterdam Central, is located in the heart of the city, making it easy to explore Amsterdam once you arrive.
If you prefer to drive to Amsterdam, you can take the A2 or A4 motorways to reach the city. The drive from London to Amsterdam is around 400 miles and takes about 6 hours, depending on traffic.
Take the bus
There are a number of bus companies that offer services to Amsterdam from cities around Europe. This can be a more affordable option than flying or taking the train, but the journey can be longer.
No matter how you choose to get to Amsterdam, it is a city that is easy to explore once you arrive. The city has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro, and it is also easy to get around by bike or on foot.
Amsterdam is located at an altitude of around 3 meters (9.8 feet) above sea level. The city is built on a series of canals, which were originally dug for defense and transportation purposes, and much of the city is located below sea level. To protect the city from flooding, Amsterdam has a system of dikes and dams that help to keep the water out.
The low altitude of Amsterdam can make the city feel relatively humid and damp, especially in the winter months. The city’s location on the coast also means that it can be prone to rain throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to bring a raincoat or umbrella with you when you visit.
Despite its low altitude, Amsterdam is a city with a lot to offer, with a rich history, vibrant culture, and a range of attractions to explore. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or just soaking up the city’s unique atmosphere, Amsterdam has something for everyone.
Where to stay
There are many options for accommodation in Amsterdam, ranging from luxury hotels to budget hostels. Here are a few types of accommodation to consider:
Amsterdam has a range of hotels to choose from, ranging from luxury five-star hotels to more budget-friendly options. Many hotels are located in the city center, making it easy to explore the city on foot.
The cost of hotels in Amsterdam can vary depending on the time of year, the location of the hotel, and the type of room you choose. Here are some estimates for the cost of hotels in Amsterdam:
- Budget hotels: Prices for budget hotels in Amsterdam start at around €50-€80 per night for a basic room.
- Mid-range hotels: Prices for mid-range hotels in Amsterdam start at around €80-€150 per night for a standard room.
- Luxury hotels: Prices for luxury hotels in Amsterdam start at around €150-€300 per night for a standard room.
These prices are just estimates, and the actual cost of a hotel in Amsterdam can vary based on a number of factors. It’s a good idea to compare prices and read reviews before booking a hotel in Amsterdam to find the best option for you.
Amsterdam has a number of hostels that offer affordable accommodation for travelers. Hostels are a good option for budget-conscious travelers, and they often have shared dormitory-style rooms as well as private rooms.
The cost of hostels in Amsterdam can vary depending on the time of year, the location of the hostel, and the type of room you choose. Here are some estimates for the cost of hostels in Amsterdam:
- Dormitory rooms: Prices for dormitory rooms in Amsterdam hostels start at around €20-€30 per night.
- Private rooms: Prices for private rooms in Amsterdam hostels start at around €50-€80 per night.
These prices are just estimates, and the actual cost of a hostel in Amsterdam can vary based on a number of factors. It’s a good idea to compare prices and read reviews before booking a hostel in Amsterdam to find the best option for you.
Airbnb is a popular option for accommodation in Amsterdam, with a range of apartments and homes available to rent. Airbnb accommodations can be a good option if you want the freedom and flexibility of having your own space, and they can often be more affordable than hotels.
Amsterdam has a number of campsites located on the city’s outskirts, which can be a good option for travelers who want a more budget-friendly or outdoorsy experience.
No matter what type of accommodation you choose, it’s a good idea to book in advance, especially during peak tourist season. Amsterdam is a popular destination, and accommodation can fill up quickly.
The tap water in Amsterdam is generally safe to drink. The water in Amsterdam is treated and meets all European Union standards for drinking water. However, if you have any concerns about the quality of the water or if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or have certain medical conditions, it may be a good idea to stick to bottled water. Bottled water is widely available in Amsterdam and is generally safe to drink.
It’s also a good idea to be aware that the water in Amsterdam’s canals is not treated and is not safe to drink. It is not recommended to drink water from the canals or to swim in the canals due to the risk of contamination.
What to pack
Here are a few things to consider packing for your trip to Amsterdam:
- Clothes: Amsterdam has a temperate maritime climate, with cool winters and mild summers. In the winter, it’s a good idea to pack warm layers, including a coat, sweater, and scarf. In the summer, you’ll want to pack lighter clothing, such as T-shirts, shorts, and dresses. It’s also a good idea to pack a raincoat or umbrella, as Amsterdam can be prone to rain throughout the year.
- Shoes: Amsterdam is a city that is easy to explore on foot, so it’s a good idea to pack comfortable shoes. If you plan to do a lot of walking, you may want to pack a pair of sneakers or walking shoes. In the summer, you may also want to pack a pair of sandals or flip-flops for more casual occasions.
- Toiletries: Make sure to pack all the toiletries you’ll need for your trip, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste. If you use any specific personal care products, it’s a good idea to pack those as well.
- Electronics: If you plan to bring any electronics with you on your trip, such as a laptop, phone, or camera, don’t forget to pack the necessary chargers and adapters. Amsterdam uses the same electrical outlets as the rest of the Netherlands, which are compatible with plugs with two round pins.
- Passport: If you are traveling to Amsterdam from outside the European Union, you will need a valid passport to enter the country. Make sure to bring your passport with you and keep it in a safe place during your trip.
- Medications: If you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring a sufficient supply with you and keep it in its original packaging. You should also bring a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor in case you need to get more medication while you are in Amsterdam.
- Money: Amsterdam is a cashless society, and most places accept credit cards. However, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand in case you need it, particularly for small purchases or for use at vending machines.
- Travel documents: In addition to your passport, it’s a good idea to bring other important travel documents with you, such as your travel insurance policy and any tickets or reservations you have made.
- A map: While Amsterdam is a relatively small city and easy to explore on foot, it can be helpful to have a map with you to help you find your way around. You can find maps of Amsterdam at the tourist office or online.
- A camera: Amsterdam is a beautiful city with a lot of sights and attractions to photograph. Make sure to pack a camera (or your phone) so you can capture your memories of the city.
Things to do:
There are many things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Visit the museums
Amsterdam is home to a number of world-class museums, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. These museums showcase a range of art and cultural exhibits, including works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Visit the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art
The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art is a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. It is home to a wide range of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and installations by artists like Warhol, Picasso, and Kandinsky.
Visit the Dutch Resistance Museum
The Dutch Resistance Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of the Dutch resistance during World War II. The museum tells the story of the Dutch resistance through exhibits and artifacts, including weapons, documents, and personal accounts.
Visit the NEMO Science Museum
The NEMO Science Museum is a popular attraction for both kids and adults, with interactive exhibits on a range of science and technology topics. The museum is located in a distinctive building that is shaped like a giant green boat, and it offers panoramic views of the city from its rooftop.
Take a canal tour
Amsterdam’s canals are one of its most iconic features, and a canal tour is a great way to see the city. You can choose from a variety of boat tours, ranging from small, intimate tours to larger, more touristic options.
Explore the city’s parks and green spaces
Amsterdam has a number of beautiful parks and green spaces to enjoy, including the Vondelpark and the Amsterdamse Bos. These parks are a great place to relax, take a stroll, or have a picnic.
Visit the Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a museum dedicated to the life of Anne Frank, a young girl who wrote a famous diary while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. The museum is located in the house where Anne and her family hid for more than two years.
Shop at the markets
Amsterdam has a number of markets to explore, ranging from the bustling Albert Cuypmarkt to the picturesque Noordermarkt. These markets offer a range of products, from fresh produce to handmade crafts.
Visit the Red Light District
Amsterdam’s Red Light District is a well-known tourist attraction located in the city’s center. It is known for its legal sex industry, with brothels and window brothels where sex workers offer their services. The Red Light District is also home to a number of coffee shops that sell cannabis, which is also legal in the Netherlands. While the Red Light District is a unique part of Amsterdam’s history and culture, it is important to remember that it is a residential neighborhood and to be respectful of the people who live and work there.
Take a stroll through the Jordaan neighborhood
The Jordaan is a charming neighborhood located in the center of Amsterdam, known for its narrow streets, charming houses, and cultural attractions. The Jordaan is home to a number of art galleries, music venues, and restaurants, as well as the Noorderkerk and the Westerkerk, two historic churches with tall towers that offer panoramic views of the city.
Explore the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is a grand palace located in the center of Amsterdam. It was originally built as the city hall in the 17th century, but it has served as the royal palace since the 19th century. The palace is open to the public, and visitors can take a tour to see the opulent interiors, including the throne room and the ballroom.
Explore the Artis Zoo
The Artis Zoo is a zoo located in the center of Amsterdam. It is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, and it is home to a wide range of animals, including lions, giraffes, monkeys, and polar bears. The zoo also has an aquarium and a planetarium, as well as a number of gardens
Visit the Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience is a brewery tour and visitor center located in a former brewery. The tour takes visitors through the history of the Heineken brewery, from the brewing process to the company’s marketing efforts. The tour includes tastings of Heineken’s famous beer.
Explore the Begijnhof
The Begijnhof is a tranquil courtyard located in the center of Amsterdam. It is home to a number of historic houses, including the oldest house in Amsterdam, which dates back to 1475. The Begijnhof is also home to the English Reformed Church, a small chapel that was used by English merchants living in Amsterdam in the 16th century.
Visit the Hortus Botanicus
The Hortus Botanicus is a botanical garden located in the center of Amsterdam. It is home to a wide range of plants, including rare and exotic species, as well as a number of greenhouses. The garden also has a café and a gift shop.
Go to a concert or sporting event
Amsterdam is home to a number of music venues and sporting facilities, including the Johan Cruijff Arena, home to the Ajax football club, and the Ziggo Dome, a popular concert venue. Check out what events are happening during your visit and see if you can catch a concert or sporting event.
Take a cycling tour
Amsterdam is known for its cycling culture, and a cycling tour is a great way to see the city. You can choose from a variety of tours, ranging from guided tours to self-guided options.
Take a food tour
Amsterdam has a thriving food scene, and a food tour is a great way to try a variety of local dishes. You can choose from a number of food tours, ranging from guided tours of the city’s markets to specialized tours focusing on specific cuisines or neighborhoods.
Go to a comedy show
Amsterdam is home to a number of comedy clubs and venues, offering everything from stand-up comedy to improvisation and sketch comedy. Check out what’s happening during your visit and see if you can catch a show.
Go to a flea market
Amsterdam has a number of flea markets where you can find a wide range of second-hand goods, including clothing, furniture, and collectibles. The Waterlooplein Flea Market and the IJ-Hallen Flea Market are two of the city’s largest and most popular markets.
Take a cooking class
Amsterdam has a number of cooking schools and classes where you can learn how to prepare traditional Dutch dishes. These classes are a great way to learn about local cuisine and pick up some new cooking skills.
Go on a brewery tour
Amsterdam is home to a number of breweries, and many of them offer tours and tastings. This is a great way to learn about the brewing process and try some local beers.
Take a walk through the Vondelpark
The Vondelpark is a large public park located in the center of Amsterdam. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and it is a great place to take a walk, have a picnic, or relax on a sunny day.
Amsterdam is a vibrant and cultural city, and there are many festivals and events throughout the year. Here are a few local festivals and events that you may want to check out during your visit:
- King’s Day (Koningsdag): This is a national holiday in the Netherlands, celebrated on April 27th. The city of Amsterdam comes alive with street parties, live music, and other events.
- Amsterdam Pride: This is a week-long festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, held in late July or early August. The festival includes a parade, live music, and other events.
- Amsterdam Dance Event: This is a five-day electronic music festival held in late October, featuring DJs and live performances from around the world.
- Light Festival: This is a winter festival held in December, featuring art installations and light displays throughout the city.
- Amsterdam Fringe Festival: This is a performing arts festival held in August, featuring theater, dance, music, and other performances.
- Amsterdam Roest Beach: This is a summer event held in Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands, featuring live music, food, and other events.
- Uitmarkt: This is a cultural festival held at the end of August, featuring live music, theater, dance, and other performances.
- Holland Festival: This is a performing arts festival held in June, featuring theater, dance, music, and other performances from around the world.
- Amsterdam Food Festival: This is a food festival held in June, featuring local and international cuisine, cooking demonstrations, and other events.
- Amsterdam Fashion Week: This is a fashion event held in January and July, featuring fashion shows, exhibitions, and other events.
- Amsterdam Museum Night: This is an annual event held in November, where museums and cultural institutions stay open late and offer special events and activities.
- Grachtenfestival: This is a classical music festival held in August, featuring concerts on the city’s canals and in other venues.
These are just a few of the many festivals and events held in Amsterdam throughout the year. It is always a good idea to check local listings or ask locals for recommendations to find out about other events and festivals happening during your visit.
Best time to visit
There are a few main factors to consider when determining the best time to visit Amsterdam: weather, tourist crowds, and prices.
In terms of weather, Amsterdam has a maritime climate, which means that it is influenced by the North Sea and has relatively mild temperatures throughout the year. Summer is the warmest time of year to visit, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit (around 20-25 degrees Celsius). Spring and fall are also pleasant times to visit, with cooler temperatures and fewer tourists. Winter can be cold and rainy, with temperatures ranging from the low-40s to mid-50s Fahrenheit (around 5-12 degrees Celsius).
Tourist crowds can be another important factor to consider when planning your trip. Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination, and the city can get quite crowded during the summer months when the weather is warmest. If you prefer to avoid crowds, you might consider visiting in the spring or fall when there are fewer tourists. Winter can also be a good time to visit if you don’t mind the colder weather, as it tends to be less crowded than the summer months.
Prices for accommodation and flights to Amsterdam can also vary depending on the time of year. In general, prices are highest during the summer months when demand is highest, and they tend to be lower in the spring, fall, and winter. If you are looking to save money on your trip, you might consider visiting Amsterdam during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) or in the winter when prices are typically lower.
Overall, the best time to visit Amsterdam depends on your personal preferences and what you are looking to get out of your trip. If you want to experience the city’s famous canals and enjoy warm weather, the summer months might be the best time for you to visit. If you don’t mind cooler temperatures and want to avoid crowds and high prices, the spring or fall might be a good time to visit. Winter in Amsterdam can be cold and rainy, but it can also be a beautiful time to visit, with the city’s Christmas markets and holiday lights adding to the atmosphere.
The official language of Amsterdam and the Netherlands is Dutch. Dutch is a West Germanic language that is spoken by around 23 million people, primarily in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname. It is also one of the three official languages of the European Union, along with English and French.
In Amsterdam, you will find that most people speak Dutch as their first language, but many people also speak English, particularly in the tourism and service industries. English is widely spoken and understood in Amsterdam, and you should have no problem communicating in English in most situations. You may also encounter people who speak other languages, such as German, French, or Spanish, as Amsterdam is a diverse and international city.
If you are planning to visit Amsterdam and do not speak Dutch, you should not have any trouble getting around and communicating in English. However, if you would like to learn some basic Dutch phrases before your trip, it can be a nice gesture and may help you to communicate more effectively with the locals. Some useful phrases to know include:
- Hallo: Hello
- Dag: Good day
- Alstublieft: Please
- Dank u: Thank you
- Hoe gaat het?: How are you?
- Ik spreek geen Nederlands: I don’t speak Dutch
The currency used in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is the Euro (EUR). The Euro is the official currency of the European Union and is used by 19 of the 27 member states, including the Netherlands.
Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 Euro coins. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 Euros. It is important to note that 500 Euro notes are not widely accepted in the Netherlands, so you may have difficulty using them for small purchases.
It is easy to exchange currency at banks, bureaux de change, and some larger hotels in Amsterdam. It is also possible to use credit cards and debit cards in Amsterdam, and many places will accept payment by card. However, it is always a good idea to have some cash on hand in case you need it, as not all establishments will accept card payments.
Amsterdam is generally a safe city for tourists. However, as with any major city, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to take basic precautions to protect your personal safety and property. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe in Amsterdam:
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night and in crowded areas.
- Keep your valuables out of sight, and don’t carry large amounts of cash with you.
- Avoid quiet, poorly lit streets, especially at night.
- Keep a close eye on your belongings, especially when using public transportation or in crowded places.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended in a bar or club, and be cautious about accepting drinks from strangers.
- If you are traveling with a group, make sure to stay together and keep an eye on one another.
- Use licensed and reputable taxi services, and be sure to check the rate before getting in.
- If you are in an emergency situation, you can call 112 for help.
Amsterdam is a diverse and multicultural city, and there is no one “culture” that defines the city. However, there are a few cultural considerations that tourists should be aware of when visiting:
- Amsterdam is known for its liberal attitudes towards issues such as drug use and sex work. While these activities are more tolerated in Amsterdam than in many other places, it is important to remember that they are still illegal in many countries, and tourists should be mindful of local laws and cultural norms.
- Amsterdam is home to many different ethnic and cultural communities, and there are a variety of cultural festivals and events throughout the year. It is always a good idea to research and respect local customs and traditions when visiting a new place.
- Amsterdam has a rich history and cultural heritage, and there are many museums, galleries, and historical sites to visit. It is important to be respectful of these cultural institutions and to follow any rules or guidelines set by the institutions.
- Amsterdam is a very welcoming and tolerant city, and people of all backgrounds and identities are accepted. It is important to be respectful of others and to treat everyone with kindness and understanding.
If you need emergency services in Amsterdam, you can call 112 for assistance. This is the number for the emergency services in the Netherlands, and it can be called from any phone, including cell phones, for free. When you call 112, you will be connected to an operator who will ask you for your location and the nature of the emergency. The operator will then dispatch the appropriate emergency services to your location.
It is important to note that 112 should only be called in case of a genuine emergency, such as a fire, a medical emergency, or a crime in progress. If you have a non-emergency situation, such as a lost passport or a dispute with a taxi driver, you can contact the police by calling 0900-8844.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest police station, hospital, and embassy or consulate in case of an emergency. You should also make sure to have the contact information for your embassy or consulate with you when you travel, in case you need assistance while abroad.
- If you are a citizen of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, you do not need a visa to enter the Netherlands. You can stay in the country for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
- If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and you want to visit Amsterdam for tourism or business purposes, you may need a visa. The Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area, which allows citizens of certain countries to enter the Netherlands and other Schengen countries for up to 90 days without a visa. You can check the list of countries whose citizens are required to have a visa to enter the Netherlands on the website of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- If you want to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days, or if you want to study, work, or live in the country, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. You can find more information about long-stay visas on the website of the Netherlands Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND).
It is important to note that the visa requirements for Amsterdam can change, and you should check the most up-to-date information before your trip. You should also make sure to have all necessary documents, such as a valid passport, with you when you travel.
Tips for solo travelers
Here are a few more tips for solo travelers visiting Amsterdam:
- Stay in a hostel: Hostels are a great option for solo travelers, as they are usually less expensive than hotels and offer a chance to meet other travelers. Look for a hostel with a social atmosphere, such as a common room or bar, to make it easier to meet people.
- Use apps and websites to connect with other travelers: There are many apps and websites that can help you connect with other travelers, such as Meetup, Backpackr, and Tourlina. These can be a great way to meet people with similar interests and join group activities or tours.
- Take a free walking tour: Free walking tours are a great way to learn about the city and meet other travelers. Look for a tour that covers the areas you’re interested in, and be sure to tip your guide at the end.
- Be mindful of your belongings: While Amsterdam is a safe city, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your belongings, especially when you’re traveling solo. Keep your valuables close to you, and consider using a small backpack or cross-body bag to keep your hands free.
- Use common sense: Amsterdam is a friendly and welcoming city, but it’s always a good idea to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas, and trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right.
Amsterdam is a safe and welcoming city, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions, especially when you’re traveling solo, as it is easy to meet people and there are many activities and tours to join. Hostels, apps and websites, and free walking tours are all good ways to connect with other travelers.
Overall, Amsterdam is a wonderful destination for travelers of all types and is sure to offer something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in culture, history, or just soaking up the city’s unique atmosphere, Amsterdam is sure to be a memorable trip.