Travel tips every traveler should know when planning travel to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is one of the most stunning cities to explore if you are looking for a solo trip, family or romantic vacation in Europe. There are so many sparkling reasons to choose Amsterdam as your trip destination such as the nightlife, unique coffee shops, world-class museums and galleries, and ancient landmarks which are in the checklist of every traveller and it really is a city with something for everyone.
Travelling to a new place is not easy because you must have some knowledge about the your destination so that you are able to explore the place. If you are looking for that kind of knowledge before stepping foot into Amsterdam, I have 10 travel tips to ease your travel planning for Amsterdam.
When to Visit
Amsterdam is known to be wet and a bit chilly for eight months out of twelve. So keep a light rain jacket at the top of your checklist whenever you are planning to visit Amsterdam.
Spring is considered the beginning of tourist season. In mid of March and early May when the Tulip season starts and the weather is pleasant, a high traffic of visitors is attracted. It is not recommended to visit this city during summer because of the heavy tourist influx which peaks at this time. Further, prices for accommodation are bound to spurt and there will be long queues during summer.
The ideal time for your Amsterdam trip must be between late September and late October as the number of tourists, prices and temperature plummet together making room for peaceful streets. Also, be aware that no time of the year has a significant impact on the kind of nightlife – win win situation!
Where to Stay
Finding the ideal place to stay in Amsterdam as a first-time visitor can be a little tough for you as there are various accommodation options available such as luxurious apartments, converted old canal houses and hostels which might spark confusion.
Amsterdam has accommodation for every type of traveler and budget. It’s all about what factor you consider before selecting an ideal place to put up. If you want to stay at a place which is close to the main sights, great restaurants and bars, local shopping and popular nightlife areas then The Old Center is the right place for you but if you are looking for pocket-friendly stays, Museum Quarter & Amsterdam Noord might be fitting.
In case you consider yourself a party animal, De Pijp is the perfect place to stay. It is here that you will find long narrow streets packed with various restaurants, Middle Eastern eateries, trendy bars and old-school pubs. This is the district where you won’t be short of food and drink options. To help you out further in not only Amsterdam but all over Europe I have a list of Heavenly Hostels in Europe, where you can stay and experience their culture firsthand
What to See
There is lot of things to do and see during your trip to Amsterdam yet there are things without which your trip is incomplete. The Van Gogh Museum, for instance, is a hub of varieties of paintings which are the works of Vincent Van Gogh and other painters. The museum is open daily from 9.00am to 5.00pm and its admission charges are 17 Euros. By far, this is the perfect place for art lovers.
If you are looking for sightseeing, the Canal Tour would be a great option for you. Here, you can hire big boots or eco boots and embark on an amazing experience.
Wikimedia Commons by Peter Burian
If you are a foodie and want to explore ethnic food, do not forget to visit Jordan. Jordan is a hub of contemporary cafes, restaurants and street food. The best time to visit this place is on the weekend during which you can also explore the famous Farmer Market.
If history, especially war history, lures you, the Anne Frank House should be the foremost place in your list.
After a hectic schedule if your are looking for place where you can relax then head straight to Vondelpark for picnics, biking and just simply hanging out.
Where to shop
When visiting a new place, shopping comes almost naturally. You may be a shopaholic or simply looking to take home a souvenir. There are various places for shopping in Amsterdam – De Negen Straatjes is the central canal between the Leidsestraat and the Jordaan districts which is connected with amazing restaurants, jewellery shop, boutiques and vintage stores, a paradise for shopaholics.
If your looking for Upscale designers and labels, you should head for the Museum District where brands like Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Mulberry and Chanel gallore.Further, the Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat are the two main streets in Amsterdam where you will find various well-known retail brands such as H&M, Zara, Esprit, Urban Outfitters, Pull & Bear and UNIQLO. Don’t forget to flaunt those branded bags!
On the other hand, the Spiegelkwartier is the centre for antiques and art. Here, you will find more than 70 antique galleries, ethnic jeweler shops, tribal and Asian collectibles, paintings, ceramics and glass arts – another heaven for art lovers.
Go for a Cafe instead of a Fancy Restaurant
Like I said earlier, Amsterdam has something for every traveler, no matter what is your budget or preference. There are various cafes and restaurants which have exotic and delectable food menus.
There are a few cafes which you should try during your trip to Amsterdam.
Getto is a famous burger bar and it is unique because they have named each burger after the drag queens who performed there.
Singel 404 Lunch Cafe is popular for its sandwiches. Here, you will find local crowds eating out. When at Singel, try Broodje which generic name for a sandwich made from your choice of bread .
Pocoloco is open 24 hours. You can get both your morning breakfast and midnight snacks here.
Apart from these, there are various other must-visit cafes which you should explore during the trip with the likes of Yam Yam, Sawaddee Ka and Cafe Het Paleis.
- Know the Difference between Coffee Shop and Coffee Café
Yes, there is a huge difference between a Coffee Shop and a Coffee Café. Knowing this difference will make your trip easier. I will tell you how.
Coffee Shop/Cafe is shop which sold coffee and Coffee Shop are the shops which sell marijuana. These are the places where you can legally buy soft drugs. There are, however, a few shops which sell marijuana and others which are more like cafes where you can consume marijuana without tobacco and have some beer with snacks.
If you are looking to buy some stuff, avoid buying more than five grams per day. The maximum recreational cannabis a person can keep at home in Amsterdam is 500 grams.
Don’t take Pictures in Amsterdam’s Red Light District!
Avoid bringing your camera to Amsterdam’s Red Light District and if you are carrying one, avoid taking pictures of sex workers. In order to protect the identities of sex workers, photography is strictly prohibited. If found guilty, your camera will be smashed to pieces.
When visiting the Red Light District, also avoid peeking through cracks and the curtains; don’t stand too long in front of the window brothels. As a recommendation, don’t block their business and don’t buy drugs from street dealers.
As a matter of personal safety, be alert in the Red Light District.
Carry Some Cash and Do Not Depend Entirely on Debit/Credit cards
Debit and Credit cards are only accepted in tourist areas such as museums, restaurants and bars, and cafes. You are advised to always carry some amount of cash because there are some stores, cafes, smaller shops and restaurants which only accept either cash or Dutch cards.
In Amsterdam, Credit Cards and Debit Cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted widely at hotels and some restaurants. The Dutch supermarkets do not accept debit/credit cards. You might get stuck in a situation without cash quite easily in this city. To avoid that, please ensure that your wallet is not just filled with plastic money.
Must be Aware of the Sidewalks and Bike Lanes in Amsterdam
If you are visiting an European city for the first time, you must know the difference between the sidewalks and bike lanes. A bike lane can be figured out with the help of a bike icon on a signboard.
In many places, bike lanes are colored red and you will find bicyclist lists on it and a sidewalk is just adjacent to it in the white colour. If your going for bike tours, you have to be on the bike lane because if you cycle on the sidewalk, you may easily end up hurting other people. That is why there are bike lanes reserved only for bicycle rides.
I would suggest you not to take the bicycle tour as there is almost always a large group of people on bike tours. Sometimes it gets problematic to ride a bike on the bike lane because of the huge traffic. It is better to park your bike and walk.
Be Aware of the Drug Laws in Amsterdam
In Amsterdam, drugs are divided into two groups – soft drugs and hard drugs depending upon their effects on human body or health. LSD, heroin, cocaine and morphine are considered as hard drugs and are forbidden in Amsterdam.
Weed, hashish, hash oil and hallucinogenic mushrooms are called soft drugs and are sold at Coffee Shops but only in a limited and controlled manner. You can buy these drugs in small portions of 5 grams at the maximum. Drugs can only be bought by adults and the sellers can’t advertise such products.
Avoid buying drugs or weed on the street because they may turn out to be highly toxic. If you are, however, stuck in such a situation, do not hesitate to ask for help from the police or an ambulance.
When trying to let loose, make sure you are aware of the laws and scams in order to keep yourself safe.
These 10 tips are bound to help you plan a memorable trip to Amsterdam. As great as a destination it is, it is also rife with inside-stories many of which have been discussed here. To make the most out of your trip, be sure to keep these tips hands.
Here’s wishing you a happy journey and a safe stay at one of the best getaway destinations in this world!
About The Author: Abhyank Srinet holds a Masters in Management degree from ESCP Europe & has an engineering degree with a specialization in Instrumentation & Control. His interest in the digital landscape motivated him to create an online start up for Masters in Management application consulting (MiM-Insider.com), focused on spreading quality information about the MiM degree & performing application consulting services for clients. He is the chief consultant of the company and takes care of Business Development and Digital Marketing side of the company. He is very passionate about writing and marketing.