10 Top Tips for Visiting Amsterdam for the First Time

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Well-known for its quirky architecture and picturesque canals, Amsterdam is an ideal European weekend getaway destination. From its narrow houses and small bridges to vibrant neighbourhoods with trendy cafes, the capital of the Netherlands is packed with thousands of attractions and offers something for everyone. If you are visiting Amsterdam for the very first time, it is important to have some general knowledge about the city. Here is a short list of tips to help you navigate through the city and get to know it better.

1. Purchase an I Amsterdam Card

Amsterdam has an excellent public transport system which includes trains, metros, ferries, and buses. To save some cash on transportation, it is best to purchase an I Amsterdam City Card. This card offers unlimited use of the public transport system and is valid for 1 to 4 days. By getting an I Amsterdam City Card, you will also gain free access to a number of museums in the city.

2. Explore Amsterdam’s cool neighbourhoods

No visit to Amsterdam is complete without exploring some of the city’s best neighbourhoods. You will find that the Centrum is home to many major attractions and also offers an abundance of cool restaurants and bars worth visiting. Expect to see thousands of tourists here enjoying the city’s vibrant nightlife. If you wish to spend your time in a quieter neighbourhood, then check out Oud Zuid which is kind of laid-back, but still close to all the major attractions. Travellers who wish to experience the local life here in Amsterdam should visit the lovely Oud Oost. De Pijp is well-known for its hipster vibe, while De Wallen is home to the famous Red Light District.

Red Light District in Amsterdam

3. Plan your accommodation well in advance

Since Amsterdam attracts large crowds of tourists throughout the year, it is best to book your accommodation well in advance and make sure to get value for your money. Whether you wish to stay in a luxury hotel with all the premium amenities or you want to book an apartment or a hostel, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. First-time visitors who are looking for something more original can consider booking a houseboat.

Use the map below to find great places to stay for your trip. Use the top box to change your destination.

4. Enjoy local and international cuisine

Whether you are looking for a Michelin-starred dining establishment or a cosy local restaurant that serves delicious breakfast in Amsterdam, you’ll find plenty of cool places to eat. If you wish to try local foods, try ordering bitterballen, stroopwafel, and raw herring. The city is also home to hundreds of International restaurants and casual eateries ranging from Italian joints to Indonesian restaurants and Mexican tapas eateries. Some top restaurants in Amsterdam include Restaurant C, Winkel 43, Floreyn, and Le Due Sicilie.

Restaurants and Grills- Amsterdam

 5. Many locals speak English, Dutch and German

Although the official language of the country is Dutch, the majority of people living in Amsterdam speak English. The truth is that you can easily communicate with the locals without knowing a word of Dutch. However, learning a couple of phrases like” Dank u wel” (thank you) and “Graag gedaan” (you’re welcome) might come in handy. It is also worth mentioning that many Dutch people also speak German, which is kind of similar to their own language, although some of them might not agree with you on this.

6. Find the best clubs and bars

The capital of the Netherlands boasts tons of unique clubs and many of them can be found in two areas: Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Here, you will find everything from casual clubs popular among students to dance venues that attract tourists. As for live music venues, the most popular and the biggest include Ziggo Dome, Johan Cruijff ArenA and AFAS Live. Of course, there is also the infamous Red Light District which houses many hip bars.

Escape Club in Amsterdam

7. Exchanging your currency in Amsterdam

Travellers from Europe will be happy to hear that the official currency in Amsterdam is Euro. The most favourable rates in the city can be found at ATM machines which are located basically on every corner of Amsterdam, especially in the city centre.

8. Pack an umbrella

When travelling to Amsterdam you really need to be prepared for all-weather, as you never know when it’s going to rain. Therefore, it is important to have an umbrella and plenty of layers of clothes. Like many other major European cities, the capital of the Netherlands is a destination best explored on foot, so make sure to bring a pair of waterproof shoes.

9. Visit a museum

Did you know there are more than 70 museums and galleries in and around the city of Amsterdam? Therefore, it comes as no surprise that museums and other cultural spaces are visited by millions of tourists each year. From the famous Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum to the Science Center Nemo, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Museums in Amsterdam-Anne-Frankhuis

10. Cyclists Rule Amsterdam

Well, they don’t actually rule the city, but walking on bike lines is a big no-no in Amsterdam. Everywhere you look, you’ll see numerous cyclists heading in all directions and it’s important to look before you cross the road, as people here tend to pedal at great speeds.


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Contributed by: David van Brakel

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