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Amsterdam Tips - City Guide for Visitors & Expats brings you up-to-date insider guides from local experts to help you get more from your stay in Amsterdam. You'll find the best English-language resource on travel and public transport in the Netherlands. Plus top tips on Amsterdam hotels, museums, what's on, things to see and do and Living in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Tips Guide: Introduction

Start here for an overview of AmsterdamTips site sections plus links to useful pages:

What's On in Amsterdam

Our comprehensive one-page monthly listings include exhibitions, special events, festivals, concerts and sport in Amsterdam. See what's happening in December 2018 and January 2019

Travel to/from Amsterdam

If arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol airport (AMS) then see getting from Schiphol to Amsterdam to get the lowdown on transport (train/bus/shuttle/taxi/Uber) to the city centre.

Amsterdam Central Station is the main transport hub of the city. To get your bearings on stations, see this handy rail map of Amsterdam

If arriving from other airports, see our guides to getting to Amsterdam from Eindhoven airport (EIN) and Rotterdam-The Hague airport (RTM)

There are a number of international Amsterdam rail services running including Eurostar (London-Brussels-Amsterdam), Thalys (Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam), ICE International (Amsterdam-Dusseldorf-Cologne-Frankfurt) and Intercity (Amsterdam-Berlin).

International coach services to/from Amsterdam include Eurolines, OUIBUS and Flixbus

UK-Netherlands ferry services are Harwich-Hoek van Holland (Stena Line), Newcastle-Amsterdam (DFDS) and Hull-Rotterdam (P&O).

Hotels/Accommodation in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a wide range of hotels ranging from top 5 star establishments, chain hotels, trendy properties and stylish budget options. See our section for specific recommendations.

There are many appartments in Amsterdam listed on AirBnB, although this continues to be a controversial issue locally.

Getting Around Amsterdam

NS (Dutch Railways) operates a comprehensive domestic train service which is normally reliable and reasonable value. See how to buy a Dutch train ticket for tips and tricks on the system.

There are various Amsterdam transport ticket options available for visitors including good value day cards.

The OV-chip smart card is used for most forms of public transportation in the Netherlands. GVB is the municipal transport company of Amsterdam which operates the metro, trams, buses and free ferries.

Regional buses can get you to places of interest further afield such as Keukenhof and the Waterland region.

Taxis in Amsterdam are not particularly cheap - a short ride will cost around €10, a cross town journey about €20. Taxi cabs are taken from official ranks rather than hailed in the street.

The city has 515km of cycle lanes so go local and get on your bike! See our Amsterdam cycling guide

If you are reasonably fit, the main sights of Amsterdam can be reached on foot. Just watch out for trams and cyclists.

Amsterdam is truly a canal city (80km of canals and 1,250 bridges). If this is your first visit then a must-do activity is taking a canal tour in a glass-topped boat.

Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a number of excellent museums. We highly recommend purchasing the annual Museum Card (€64.90) which gives free access for 12 months to over 400 museums in the country. Note that non-residents can only buy a 31 day temporary card - which has a 5 museum-visit limit - although EU residents can upgrade to the full card online.

Alternatively there is the Iamsterdam City Card which is valid from 1/2/3/4 days (€59/€74/€87/€98) giving free entry to a number of museums, a transport pass and other discounts.

The top 5 museums in Amsterdam are Rijksmuseum - an amazing collection of Dutch history in a stunning building. Van Gogh Museum - the world's largest collection of Van Gogh paintings. Anne Frank House - the canal house where Anne Frank hid during WW2 and where she wrote her teenage diary. Stedelijk - modern and contemporary art on show. Maritime Museum - a multimedia journey about Dutch seafaring exploits.

Other museum of note: Micropia, the world's first museum about micro-organisms; MOCO Museum features well-known contemporary artists.

Panoramas in Amsterdam

Check out our guide on venues around the city where you can get a cool view - from church towers to rooftop terraces, lounges and bars! A good place to start is the A'DAM Toren Lookout

Things to See/Do in Amsterdam

There are lots of things to see and do in the city. Have a look at our guide to Dam Square. On a sunny day head out to Vondelpark, the green heart of the city. Kids will love Royal Artis Zoo located near the city centre.

Perhaps jump on a free ferry to the quirky NDSM wharf or how about taking a tour of the Amsterdam ArenA stadium, home of local football club Ajax.

Excursions/Day Trips from Amsterdam

Why not take the opportunity to head out of Amsterdam and see some more of the Netherlands. From windmills and tulips to other historic Dutch cities including the nearby Utrecht.

Eat/Drink in Amsterdam

Popular Dutch delicacies include pickled herring with onions, pancakes and poffertjes, Flemish-style chips with mayonnaise. Try an Indonesian rijsttafel (rice table) or a meal in a traditional eetcafè.

If you want to go green in Amsterdam see our guide to organic food shopping in Amsterdam.

Shopping in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has some excellent independent stores and trendy boutiques - particularly around the Jordaan, Negen straatjes, Haarlemmerdijk and Utrechtsestraat areas.

For premium shopping head to either PC Hooftstraat (in the Museum quarter) or the department store Bijenkorf on Dam Square. There are a number of Dutch chain stores on the main shopping streets including Kalverstraat, Nieuwendijk and Leidsestraat.

For a more lively experience have a wander around one of Amsterdam's markets including the Albert Cuyp Markt or Dappermarkt. The world famous Flower market is located on the Singel canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein.

For food shopping see our comprehensive guide to supermarkets in Amsterdam. If you're a bookworm check out our English bookstore guide.

Cheap Amsterdam

For a comprehensive guide on doing Amsterdam on a budget please see our 101 free things to do in Amsterdam list.

amsterdam by night

Essential info on Amsterdam and Netherlands

Amsterdam is the historic capital city of the Netherlands. With origins as a 12th century fishing village, it rose to become one of the world's great ports. Its renowned canal ring was built in the 17th century during the Golden Age when Dutch art, science, military and trade flourished.

Today Amsterdam remains an important international economic and transport hub attracting millions of visitors annually.

The Netherlands is a flat northern European country bounded by Belgium (south), Germany (east) and the North Sea. Schiphol airport is located 4m below sea level. The lowest point in the country is Zuidplaspolder near Rotterdam at 7m below sea level. The highest point is Vaalserberg in Limburg at 323m.

Is it Netherlands or Holland? This question brings up much confusion to some visitors. The Netherlands comprises of 12 provinces: Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, North-Brabant, North-Holland, Overijssel, South-Holland, Utrecht and Zeeland.

Amsterdam (population 850,000) is located in North-Holland and makes up part of the Randstad ring of cities (Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Utrecht) which has 7 million inhabitants.

The Netherlands is part of the Schengen area agreement which allows open borders between European member states. See visa entry requirements into the Netherlands

Netherlands uses Central European Time (CET) which is 1 hour ahead of UK time. Standard business hours in Amsterdam are 0900-1800 during the week although on Mondays some shops open at 1100 and a few smaller museums are closed. Weekend shopping hours are generally 0900-1700 (Saturday) and 1200-1800 (Sunday). Late night shopping is on Thursday until 2100.

Note that Dutch people traditionally eat at around 1800 in the evening and some restaurant/cafè kitchens can close relatively early (say 2100) by international standards.

Dutch is the language spoken in the Netherlands - however many people can speak English reasonably well. Local cable TV will have CNN, BBC World, BBC1 and BBC2 available.

Public holidays for 2018 in the Netherlands are 1 January (New Year's Day), 1/2 April (Easter Sunday/Easter Monday), 27 April (King's Day), 10 May (Ascension Day), 21 May (Whit Monday), 25/26 December (Christmas Day/Boxing Day).

Public holidays for 2019 are 1 January (New Year's Day), 21/22 April (Easter Sunday/Easter Monday), 27 April (King's Day), 30 May (Ascension Day), 10 Jun (Whit Monday), 25/26 December (Christmas Day/Boxing Day).

Climate / Weather: Netherlands has a temperate, oceanic climate with cool winters and mild summers. Average daily high/low temperatures are 6°C/1°C (Jan), 14°C/5°C (Apr), 22°C/13°C (Jul), 15°C/8°C (Oct). With 133 days of precipitation per year always be prepared for rainy weather at any time.

Money: Netherlands is part of the Eurozone which uses the Euro € currency. The most commonly used note denominations are €5, €10, €20 and €50, with the €100 note sometimes seen. The €250 and €500 notes are rarely used and are not accepted in many shops. The Dutch central bank issues euro notes signified by a letter "P" on the serial number.

Coins in use are the 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro cents plus the 1 and 2 euros. The country does not commonly use the 1 and 2 cents coins - prices are rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents - for example, you would pay 2 euros if the total price ranged between 1.98 and 2.02; you pay 2.05 for price totals between 2.03 and 2.07.

ATM machines for international cards are found all over the city - the main Dutch banks are ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank. Credit card payments are not that common but are becoming more accepted. Tipping in the Netherlands is not expected though rounding up a standard restaurant bill to the nearest 5 euros would be appreciated.

In terms of electric power, the Netherlands uses the standard 230V 2 pin plugs. Many business hotels will also have international adapter sockets.

Telephone: The Netherlands country dialling code is +31. The Amsterdam city code is (0)20. Call 112 for emergency services.

Pre-paid SIM cards can be easily bought from telecom shops, supermarkets or HEMA.

Mandatory ID law: It is obligatory for all individuals over the age of 14 to carry a valid form of identification. Acceptable forms of ID are Dutch ID cards, Dutch residence permit, Dutch or European passports, Dutch or European photo driving license. Those from outside Europe need to show a passport with a valid entry permit. Copies of ID are apparently not valid, the original must be produced. Failure to do so carries a €60 fine.

In reality many visitors do not carry a valid ID, for example preferring to leave their passports in the hotel safe. Just be aware that police and public transport ticket inspectors could ask you to produce ID in some cases.

Strict no smoking laws are in effect at all work places and public buildings in the Netherlands - this includes cafès, bars and restaurants.

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are permitted to sell up to 5 grams of cannabis to customers over the age of 18. Smoking tobacco is not permitted in coffeeshops.

Amsterdam is well known for its red-light district located in De Wallen area of the city centre. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and regulated by the local authorities. The minimum legal age for a prostitute in Amsterdam is 21. Be aware that you should not take photos of the prostitutes working in the windows.