Call it The Netherlands, call it Holland, call it the Dutch capital, we call it awesome! Did we mention that this city has more bikes than residents?! And with 1753 bridges crossing 165 canals that cover 60 miles, Amsterdam claims the title as “Most watery city in the world!”
Visiting Amsterdam? Here’s what To Do
If you’re looking for what to do in Amsterdam, you really can’t go wrong. However, here are a few things that you shouldn’t miss!
Take a Stroll Through Vondelpark
Amsterdam’s largest park. Located southwest of the city center and host to 10 million visitors annually. Vondelpark is the place to take a stroll, ride a bike, or have a picnic. Don’t miss Picasso’s sculpture “The Fish”, or one of many free musical events during the summer.
Explore Endless Canals
With more than 100 kilometers of canals in Amsterdam they can’t be missed if you tried. Located just west of the city center, you’ll have hundreds of opportunities to snap a picture from countless bridges.
Check Out The Iconic Red Light District
The Red Light district in the center of the city consists of roughly 300 one-room cabins rented by prostitutes to offer their services. While a stroll through this area is not to be missed, know that it’s forbidden to take photos of the women. You’ll also find sex shops, sex shows, and even a very unique condom store here.
How about a “Coffeeshop”?
Looking for a great cup of coffee? Perhaps you should look for a Starbucks.. Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are for the sale of cannabis! While technically these shops also serve drinks and sometimes food you won’t find any that serve alcohol or other drugs. Just look for a sign on the door with white and green triangles forming a square and the label ‘coffeeshop’. Inside you’ll find friendly, knowledgeable staff that can help you pick your poison depending on how you want to feel. At a max purchase of 5 grams, these completely legal cannabis shops make for some great travel stories.
With over 300 festivals per year in Amsterdam, it seems that there is always something fun and interesting to do in Amsterdam. You may already know that we are huge music fans, and particularly love the Amsterdam Dance Event in October, as well as the Pitch Festival in July.
Don’t Miss the World-Class Museums
In a city known for art, music, and history, there is definitely no shortage of museums to peruse while in Amsterdam. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Rijksmuseum – Dedicated to Dutch art and history.
- Anne Frank House – Home to the young girl famous for the diary she wrote while hiding from Nazi’s during WW2.
- Van Gogh Museum – Dedicated to the works of Vincent Van Gogh.
- Stedelijk Museum – dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design.
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Amsterdam travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Amsterdam:
Getting to Amsterdam by air can be very reasonable if planned in advance. Discount flights are available from most major cities in Europe: From Rome for $34, Paris for $38, Berlin for $39, Barcelona for $40, Lisbon for $40, London for $50, and even Istanbul for $53 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Amsterdam Flight Deals
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. This said bus travel is generally the least expensive. Getting to Amsterdam from Brussels is only $11 for the 2 hour 45-minute trip.
Trains throughout Europe are a great option; you’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and they’re typically very comfortable. We recommend getting to Amsterdam by train if your traveling from nearby. Paris, for example, is $50 for the 3-hour ride, and the 2 hour trip from Brussels for only $35 is a no-brainer. If considering train travel, keep in mind that although distance increases travel time, the cost typically stays the same. Fares & Schedules
Airport to Amsterdam City Center
When visiting Amsterdam, you can fly into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The Amsterdam city center is about 8 miles away. How will you get there?
From Amsterdam Airport Schiphol:
The Schiphol Airport train station is located directly below the airport. From the arrivals hall, walk towards Schiphol Plaza, then take the escalators down to the train platforms. Purchase tickets towards Amsterdam Centraal(usually Platform 1 or 2) from the yellow ticket machines for about $5. The trip from the airport should take 15-20 minutes.
Airport Express Bus
Just a few minutes walk from the arrivals hall, look for the red Airport Express Bus #197 at the B9 bus stop outside of Schiphol Plaza. Purchase tickets towards Amsterdam Elandsgracht station from the driver or the nearby Amsterdam Airport Express Tickets & Info booth for about $5. The trip from the airport should take 30 minutes. Alternatively, look for the GVB Bus from Schiphol Plaza to Amsterdam Sloterdijk station, a 40-minute trip for about $3.
The Schiphol Hotel Shuttle can drop you at any hotel in Amsterdam. For tickets, look for the Amsterdam Shuttle Desk in Arrivals Hall #4. The shuttles can accomodate groups of up to 8, with rates ranging from $19 to $73, depending on group size.
Find the taxi stand just outside of Schiphol Plaza and expect to pay $50-$55 for the 25 minute ride to Amsterdam’s city center. As usual Uber is slightly less expensive, ranging $40-$55.
Getting around in Amsterdam
Taxis in Amsterdam are highly regulated and must abide by strict guidelines. Best bet is to find a taxi stand, since they are not permitted to stop on many streets due to the flow of traffic. A registered taxi will have blue number plates, with always have the meter on, and can charge a maximum 5.75euro starting price, 2.62euro/kilometer, and .39euro/minute. The meter will calculate your final cost, and the driver will hand you a receipt upon completion. UBER is readily available throughout Amsterdam as well, and is generally slightly cheaper than a taxi.
Called the GVB, Amsterdam’s impressive public transport system includes the city’s trains, metros, buses, ferries, and trams. If planning on spending some time in Amsterdam, you might look into purchasing an I Amsterdam City Card, giving you unlimited access to the GVB, free entry to many great Amsterdam museums, and several discounts throughout the city.
With over 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam, there is no doubt that this is a favorite form of transportation for both locals and tourists alike. Bike rental shops are readily available throughout the city and typically charge about $11/day.
Walkscore.com gives Amsterdam a score of 99, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”. We also found this to be true and highly recommended exploring by foot in Amsterdam.
Where To Stay in Amsterdam:
Where To Stay in Amsterdam: HOTELS
As one of Europe’s commercial capitals, Amsterdam has a vast range of hotels to choose from. Options span from ultra high-end hotels like The Waldorf Astoria and The Dylan for about $400 a night to more reasonable hotels like Best Western or Lloyd Hotel for just $60 a night. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping Agoda.com, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Amsterdam. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping Agoda.com, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Amsterdam: HOSTELS
Hostel: With over 100 options for hostels in Amsterdam you’re sure to find one that fits all of your needs. Prices generally range from $20-$30 a night for a dorm room, while a private room will cost quite a bit more at around $100-$130 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Amsterdam: AIRBNB
We love Airbnb, and there are plenty of choices when visiting Amsterdam. From private rooms to entire homes, Airbnb is represented in all neighborhoods of Amsterdam. If you’re a first-timer with Airbnb, use this coupon and enjoy $35 off of your stay.
Where To Stay in Amsterdam: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip-planning that should not be overlooked! Here are some neighborhoods worth considering when deciding where to stay in Amsterdam.
The epitome of Amsterdam and also a UNESCO site, no surprise you’ll find many canals and bridges in this neighborhood. Home of the Anne Frank House, The Westerkerk, and some of the best people watching in Amsterdam.
The most diverse area of Amsterdam, here you’ll find a mix of ethnicities and restaurants. Turkish to Indian, Italian to Thai, Japanese to Brazilian, all well-represented in De Pijp
The tourist center of Amsterdam is busy and a bit on the expensive side of things. You’ll find the Dam Square, the Royal Palace, and the famous Red Light District here.
The Museum Quarter
Home to the famous Vondelpark, this family-friendly area of Amsterdam is where you can find the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk Museum of modern art.
Known as the arts district of Amsterdam, these romantic streets are the home of many modern art galleries.
Amsterdam Travel Tips:
Amsterdam travel tips: Tipping
As is with most European countries, tipping is never expected in The Netherlands. However, you will sometimes notice service charges included in the price of the meal. We recommend rounding up your bill at restaurants, bars, or cafés. Taxi drivers will not expect a tip either, but recommend up to the nearest Euro.
Amsterdam travel tips: Money
The Dutch national currency is the Euro and is currently exchanging at $0.90EUR to $1USD. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM machines are readily available.
Amsterdam travel tips: Insurance
Traveling through Amsterdam is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.