“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom.” -John Green, Author of The Fault in Our Stars-
Amsterdam is a gorgeous city that is full of history, art, great foods, and many canals. It is a city to relax in and take your time to enjoy. Whether you are young or old, everyone can find something to see or do when exploring.
Like with other places, Amsterdam can be a victim of over-tourism in certain times of the year, due to it’s popularity. Don’t let this scare you off. As long as you plan it right, you can skip many of the large crowds to enjoy a quiet walk along the canals.
Is it worth a visit? Yes, without a doubt. That’s why my wife and I always make a short trip when visiting other countries. Here is your Amsterdam City Travel Guide on knowing when to visit, what to expect, what to see or eat, and a few common questions answered.
So here is your Amsterdam City Travel Guide!
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit a location can be different for each individual. Some people are more concerned with great weather while others want less crowds or cheaper prices. Amsterdam is full year round with social events and attractions for visitors.
Looking for lower prices and mild temperatures, then try for the months between September and November or April and May. Crowds will be less, so you can wander and take pictures without hassle.
If perfect weather is a must then go for the summer months. The months of June to August will have high temperatures in the 70’s. Prepare for crowds, long lines, and to book your accommodations early, since this is the busiest time.
Don’t mind the cold, then check out the city during the winter months. The days will be short and cold with temperatures in the 30-40 range. The upside is you can score the best airfare and hotel deals during this time. Visiting some of the top sites will also be easy with less people.
What To Expect
As you explore the city, you will finally know why it is consider the “bike capital of the world”. Make sure to look both ways for people on bikes. The city is unique in that it was built on swampy ground with the use of piles to hold up their buildings.
The canals weave through the city with tall, and some leaning buildings to accompany them. See a leaning building? Then that means either the piles that the house is built on is sinking or the house was built before 19th century when the building technique, “Jettying”, was popular.
The advantage from this was a bigger upper floor when space was limited and to help with the rain runoff. So you will see many buildings right next to one another with a few that are just tilting a bit.
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How to Get Around
The city of Amsterdam has a great selection when it comes to getting around. You can move around by walking, biking, taking a taxi, bus or by using a train.
Walking the canals at least once is a must for everyone. Each street is different and can offer you a variety of shops, foods, and exhibits to try.
If you don’t have very much time, then find one of the many “fiet” bike shops to rent one. Expect to pay €8-10 to rent one for a day. Plan to spend more than a week in Amsterdam, then invest in buying a used bike. Make sure the bike isn’t stolen before you buy. Many have baskets and can save you money for getting around.
Coming from the airport or another city, then make sure to take a train to Amsterdam Central Station. Dutch Railways (NS) will get you from the airport to the city for around €5.50 a person. Just head to platform 1-2 or 3 for the correct train. Plan your train route or find more information here.
Where To Stay
In our opinion, if you are planning on exploring Amsterdam, then you should try to get accommodations in the city. Five star hotels can cost anywhere from €300 to €1000 or more per night during peak season.
Looking for a nice place, then try a boutique hotel. A great middle price one is The Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. Looking for cheaper then try Hotel Notting Hill or The Bulldog Hotel, which is a 5 star hostel. We love staying with the Bulldog, since we can get our own apartment above the canal for pretty cheap.
First time visiting then check out doing a tour or two. They can be a great way to teach you about the city’s history or to personally experience what the city has to offer.
A Canal Cruise is great for exploring the city and learning about it at the same time. There are many canal tours to choose from. A few you can consider is the Evening Canal Tour with 4-course Dinner, Wine and Cheese Candlelight Tour, or the Smoke Boat Tour where you can smoke as you travel the canals.
A popular tour is the Jewish Quarter Ann Frank Walking Tour. If you only have a small amount of time, make sure to make it to the Ann Frank house. Personally, for us, it helped to connect with history on another level, that you can’t get from school.
Have an extra day then book one of the tours where you can visit the Dutch countryside with their popular windmills, tulips, and local cheeses. Try checking out the Tour to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken.
What To Do
Explore and eat as much as you can. Either walk or bike the canals when the weather is great. Make sure to try some of the street foods or stop in at the famous Rene’s Croissants for lunch, pastries, drinks or all three.
Let’s be truthful here, the hardest part is deciding between the crepes, churros, or waffles. So make it easy on yourselves and get all three. If you’re worried about those calories, then just make sure to walk as you eat it. Always makes me feel better about eating three portions of deserts in one sitting.
After trying some Dutch food, go visit one of the many museums or exhibits they have to offer. The Rijksmuseum is an outstanding establishment with art sculptures, paintings, and antiquities. Another place to check out is the Van Gogh Museum where you can see many of his life’s work. These are just two of the many that this city has to offer.
The Heineken Experience Tour will give you a look into how they brew the beer and a taste of some at the end. It will only take about 2 hours to finish and cost €21 at the door for an adult or €18 if you get them online. Kids are welcomed and will cost €14.
The popular Rene’s Croissants food was mentioned in the prior section, but it should be mentioned again. Why? Because the food is great and is perfect for a grab and go type of day. Stop in at one of the cheese shops for a few samples.
Some of the must try Dutch foods you should try when visiting is the Herring (fish), Kibbeling (deep fried fish), Stroopwafel (sweet thin waffle), Bitterballen (fried meatballs), Croquettes, Poffertjes (mini pancakes), or the famous Frites (French Frys with mayo or other toppings). The frites are perfect when you are wondering around late at night and need a snack.
Other Things To Consider
This city and the surrounding areas offers a variety of other events that you should take a look at. During winter, try checking out the Amsterdam Light Festival. Netherlands is known for their Tulip flowers. The official season starts in January with National Tulip Day. In the month of April you will find the Tulip Festival.
In June and July you can enjoy the performing arts with the Holland Festival. There are many more events that can cater to everyones likes. Lastly, for our LGBTQ travelers, don’t forget to check out Amsterdam Gay Pride 2020, which will be from July 25th to August 2.
Common Questions Answered
- What Is Amsterdam Known For? Their canals, museums, the red light district, and the coffee shops with recreational marijuana.
- Is it safe? Yes it is safe, but with any city, you must be cautious of tourist scams or people who pickpocket.
- Can I take pictures in the red light district? No, you are not allowed to take pictures.
- Can I smoke wherever? If you plan on partaking in recreational marijuana then make sure you are in a proper coffee shop or an apartment where you are allowed. It is proper etiquette to not smoke in public.
- What should I avoid? Do not take offer of drugs from people, watch your belongings when in tight spaces, and do not sit on those concrete small structures near the canals. Okay the last one you might be confused on. These structures are open bathrooms for men and every time we visit we see people sitting down resting on those steps. So yeah, watch where you sit.
- What do the three XXX mean? They represent the Amsterdam Coat of Arms with the three Saint Andrew’s crosses.
- Is Amsterdam expensive? No, you can eat, see the sites, and have a decent hotel for a good price as long as you choose the right time to go. Expect to spend about €50 per day for food and drinks alone. Want to save money on visiting the different museums, then look into the I Amsterdam Card, which will give you access to over 70 attractions and museums. Price will depend on how many days you want it active for, which can have a price range from €60 for 24 hours to €130 for 120 hours.
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Have you visited Amsterdam? Did you enjoy yourself and is there anything you would recommend? Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. From Phoenix? Hi neighbored! Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips.
The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.