This is the sixth post in my Travel Tips series where I provide travel tips for specific city destinations. My Travel Tips guides aim to give you some of my top tips for exploring a new place and hopefully help you to save a bit of money, maximize your sightseeing time and find the most convenient ways to get around. You can find posts in this series under Destinations – Travel Tips in the menu bar. Today I’m featuring beautiful Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands!
Travel Tips: Amsterdam
Food & Drink
- Try some classic Dutch foods when you’re in Amsterdam: Gouda and other specialty cheeses, stroopwafels, herring, local beer, jenever, pancakes, poffertjes – gobble it down!
- The Albert Cuyp market is the largest outdoor weekday market in Europe. Stroll through the market to pick up cheese, fresh produce, spices, and quick snacks to take away like fried fish, fresh fries, and warm stroopwafels.
- Don’t miss out on Indonesian and Surinamese specialties while in Amsterdam. They are among the tastiest Dutch foods out there. Sit down for traditional Indonesian Rijsttafel (‘rice table’), a series of several small dishes of meat, fish, and vegetables served with rice on the side. For a quick takeaway, try a broodje pom, a citrusy Surinamese chicken sandwich.
- If you want to eat some great Dutch food while in the Netherlands, why not take a food tour? We loved our tour with Hungry Birds Amsterdam and had a wide variety of food on our 4-hour street food and restaurant crawl.
- There are several ways to get from Schiphol International Airport into the city. Taking the train is the most convenient and quickest option. The train journey to central Amsterdam takes approximately 15-20 minutes. The train station is located directly underneath the airport – follow the train signs to get to the platforms. The main train operator across the Netherlands is Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS). Trains from the airport run 24 hours a day with trains departing several times an hour – check the train timetable here. Trains go not only to Amsterdam Central Station but also to several other key stations around the city such as Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Amsterdam Amstel depending on where you want to go.
- You can purchase your single or return journey train tickets from a yellow ticket machine or from a service desk. Be aware that there is a surcharge of 1 Euro per ticket if you purchase your train tickets from a teller. If you prefer to buy your tickets from the machines, make sure you have enough change in Euro coins; we wanted to buy our tickets from the machine and only had bills. A nearby newsagent wouldn’t break our bills into coins and instead directed us the the service desk where we were stung with the 4 Euro service charge.
- If you plan to take the bus, tram, and metro frequently in Amsterdam, consider buying a public transportation pass. There are several different kinds available depending on the duration of your stay and where you want to travel to. Multi-day tickets can be purchased for 1-7 days; they allow unlimited travel in Amsterdam on all GVB trams, buses, and metros, both day and night, for the number of days you select (between 1-7). The ticket becomes valid upon your first check in. We opted for a 72-hour multi-day ticket priced at 17 Euros for our 2.5 days in the city. It was a hassle-free way to get around Amsterdam quickly and efficiently.
- You will need to tap your transit pass when entering and exiting trams, buses, and metros. The same goes for longer distance NS trains with your train ticket. Keep your transit tickets handy!
- Visit the helpful GVB website to see transit maps, schedules, and ticket prices.
- Biking is extremely popular in Amsterdam – in fact, there are more bikes in the city than people. If you’re up for it, biking is a great way to get around and experience the city like a local. There are several companies where you can rent a bike or take a bike tour.
- Amsterdam is pretty walkable, but I found myself getting disoriented a lot, likely because the canals and streets look very similar. Grab a map, download a map on your smartphone, or ask a local for directions if you get lost. Look out for bikes everywhere when you’re walking!
- There are a number of world class museums in Amsterdam, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt House Museum, the Science Center NEMO, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and many more. You can often buy tickets to these museums in advance online on each museum’s website. If you know the specific date and time when you’d like to visit a particular museum, then I strongly suggest buying your tickets in advance online, especially for the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House when lineup waits to buy tickets can be 1 hour or longer.
My Top Activity Recommendations
- There are so many things you can do in Amsterdam all year round. Popular tourist attractions include the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District, the Rijksmuseum, the Albert Cuyp Market, the Jordaan neighbourhood, the Heineken Experience, and more. Check out my Amsterdam Sightseeing Guide for more ideas.
- Take a free guided walking tour to see a lot of the city in a short period of time. We really enjoyed our Free Tour of Amsterdam with Sandeman’s New Europe which focused on not only key sights in the city, but also the history and culture of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Dutch.
- Go for a bike ride, oogle some of Van Gogh’s finest work, pose with the statues of ‘The Night Watch’ at Rembrandt Square, go on a boat ride in the canals, pick up some exotic tulip bulbs at the Flower Market, tackle a pile of pancakes or poffertjes, and enjoy the view of the city from the top floor of the Amsterdam Public Library. You surely won’t run out of fun things to do in Amsterdam!
For ideas on what to see and do, where to eat, what events are on, etc., check out the Iamsterdam website.
What are your top Amsterdam travel tips? Let me know in the comments below!