Amsterdam is one of our favorite cities in Europe for many reasons. We love its charm and relaxing ambiance, the architecture and the kind, tolerant people. Here is an ultimate guide to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.
Country: Kingdom of the Netherlands
Territory: 219.4 km2
Languages spoke: The official language is Dutch, but everyone understands and speaks English. Dutch is very similar to German, so if you understand German, you might understand it a bit 🙂
Fun facts of Amsterdam:
- It is legal to smoke and buy weed and other weed products in coffee shops and some stores since 1976
- Number of canals: 165
- Amsterdam is famous for its Red Light District as well, you can also find “sex guides” in the city in diverse kiosks and cafeterias
How to get to Amsterdam?
Flights to Amsterdam
There is one airport in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It’s the fifth most trafficked airport in Europe because there are lots of international flights coming in from all over the world.
The best way to arrive at the city from the airport is with the train that goes to the Amsterdam central station. The price is 6.50 euros. Remember to put your ticket inside of the checker before taking the train!
Buses and trains in Europe
Amsterdam is also reachable by bus and train from Europe.
The biggest budget-friendly bus company, Flixbus has affordable buses to Amsterdam.
Trains can be very expensive in Europe, so if you’re planning to travel by train, you should book your tickets online in advance.
There is a special train ticket like Eurail that is a ticket for a special price that allows you to take as many trains as you want for a month for example.
Best time to visit Amsterdam
Weather in Amsterdam
September, October, and November are the rainiest months in Amsterdam. But even with the rainy weather, there are a lot of activities that you can enjoy. Visiting the amazing museums, taking canal tours, and enjoying cultural events are just some of them.
Budgeting for Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of the more expensive cities in Europe. The economy of the Netherlands is great, and this is one of the reasons why Amsterdam is a little more expensive than other European cities.
The food and the accommodation are probably the most expensive things in Amsterdam, but with great planning, it’s possible to do a lot of things in Amsterdam even on a low budget.
The most important thing is to plan your trip in advance, so you know how much do you want to spend and how to make the best out of your budget.
Costs to consider:
- Eating out in a restaurant isn’t cheap. The minimum price for a meal per person in a restaurant is about 10-14 EUR (in a budget-friendly place). Fast food is a bit cheaper, for example, you can get one portion of fries for 3-4 EUR.
- Accommodation is more expensive than in other European cities: a bed in a dorm room costs min. 15-20 EUR per night. 25 EUR for a bed in a hostel per night still counts as budget-friendly in Amsterdam.
Budget travel tips for visiting Amsterdam
- Visit Amsterdam in the off-season. The European high tourist season is between July and September. Try to book your Amsterdam trip for the shoulder season or off-season. Shoulder seasons: April – June (it’s a great time because it’s already warm but not too hot and there are fewer tourists in the city, so it’s cheaper), October- it’s great because it’s still a little bit warm and you might find the autumn colors charming. Off-seasons: Winter months, in general, are less popular, except around Christmas of course, when everyone comes to visit the Christmas markets.
- Book your accommodation in advance! Try to book accommodation a little bit further from the city center but still close to a subway or bus station. Book an accommodation with a kitchen, so that you can cook your own food.
- Buy your food outside the city center in the supermarkets. If you want to eat out, here are some of the cheaper restaurants in the city (look at our paragraph about budget-friendly restaurants)
- Avoid taxis! choose public transport, take a bike tour or walk instead.
- Avoid Argentinian steakhouses, they are too expensive
- Don’t get an audio guide in museums
- Instead of getting breakfast in bakeries, try buying snacks in grocery stores.
- If you are planning to visit museums and take activities, consider getting a city pass or I Amsterdam City Card.
- If you are getting alcohol, avoid cocktails and try some wine or beer, that’s the cheapest.
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How to get around Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is not a car-friendly city, it’s bike-friendly instead. Don’t rent a car or take a taxi, spare your time and money, and choose public transport instead.
The public transport system in the city is one of the most efficient in Europe. To move around the city you will be able to use the subway, buses, trams, trains, and even ferries! You can choose between paying per ride around 3.40 euro, or buy a ticket for 24, 48 or 72 hours for 8, 13.30 and 19 euro each.
We recommend you choose the one that will allow you to move around as much as your plan needs it. For example, if you will stay in a place near to the center, you will find a lot of museums and interesting places very reachable by walking, so maybe you will just need to pay one ride to go and another one to go back. But if you will stay more time and explore also the outside areas of the city, it is recommendable to get a day ticket.
Click here to read more about public transport in Amsterdam.
You should also consider if you will want to explore the city on a bike, but we will talk about this in a moment.
Amsterdam is famous for its amazing bicycle infrastructure and urban presence in the city. Actually, the number of bicycles in the city overpass the number of cars and even the number of people! There are citizens that have two or more bikes around the city just in case they go to that area and they will need to bike.
This situation makes the life quality in the city very high, keeping the emissions of vehicles in a very low level and of course, granting a healthy habit for the people.
If you want to move around the city on a bike, you can find a lot of places where to rent one, even almost all the hostels and hotels can provide you one.
Amsterdam has plenty of green initiatives. Everywhere you look, you will be able to find green businesses trying to make a good impact on the environment.
Turning to green energy, circular economy models, and new, sustainable designs for fashion, transport, accommodation, and technology are just some of the examples that you can find wandering around the streets of Amsterdam. In November of 2019, we were invited by I Amsterdam to experience the most amazing sustainable activities and visit sustainable businesses in the capital and the surroundings.
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Best Things To Do in Amsterdam
Some months ago we wrote an article about the 24 best things to do in Amsterdam. You can click down to read it all, but here we want to talk about some of the points that are a must!
1. Wandering around the Amsterdam Canals and the city center
If you only have one day or a short time in Amsterdam, don’t miss out on the city center! Almost all the popular landmarks are easily reachable by walking around the center. It is also convenient that the main Central station is connected to all the transport systems. It will be easy for you to move everywhere from there.
You can easily walk around the canals and get amazed by the unique canal system of Amsterdam.
The most charming photo spot is definitely at Damrak
2. Visiting museums
There are more than 20 museums in Amsterdam that you can visit. But two that you really need to visit are the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. The second one was our favorite museum in the whole of Amsterdam. We both love the artwork of Van Gogh, and the interesting story of his life as well. For entering the museum you can choose between buying a ticket in the place or buy it online. We strongly recommend you to buy it online. Both of these museums are included in the I Amsterdam City Card and you can find more information about them in our other post Top 24 Things To Do in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The Sex Museum of Amsterdam is the best place to learn about everything related to sexuality, erotism, and the crazy nightlife of Amsterdam.
Banksy is a worldwide famous graffiti artist that has artwork all around the world. His work gives voice to social causes and justice, and it is always portraying the human condition over the problems of the world. This museum keeps some reproductions and original works of Banksy. If you are a fan of street art, you can’t miss this one.
Anne Frank House
WW2 affected the lives of millions of people. Anne Frank lived the horror of the Nazi occupation and the persecution of her family. You can visit the house where she lived her last 2 years of life.
3. Exploring the coolest neighborhoods
It’s very easy to get caught up in the city center of Amsterdam, but let’s not forget about the neighborhoods! Each one of them has a unique character. Let’s see, what can you visit in our favorite neighborhoods:
This neighborhood has some of the best landmarks in the city like the Rembrandt House, the Hortus Botanicus, and the Hermitage Museum of Amsterdam. This last two have a system between them to spare energy and air conditioning to keep the ideal temperatures inside of the buildings and the greenhouses.
The west neighborhood is full of wine restaurants and very creative landmarks. You can find a lot of fine terraces and there is plenty of space for making outdoor activities, The Tropenmuseum is a great ethnographic museum that holds a lot of elements and objects from a lot of cultures around the world.
The Rijksmuseum is located in this neighborhood, but there are also other interesting landmarks and activities to do here. We can recommend you to visit the Frietboutique, here you will be able to try some of the traditional croquettes and fries of Amsterdam.
4. Take a cruise or a boat tour
You can’t leave Amsterdam without taking a romantic cruise on the canals! You can find cruises with different focus or theme, and your guide will tell you interesting stories and legends about Amsterdam for sure.
Three cruises are also included in the I Amsterdam City Card:
- Amsterdam Circle line BV
- Blue Boat company
- Canal tours Amsterdam
There aren’t only big cruises, but also boat tours you can choose from. The little boats have fewer passengers, and they can take you to smaller and more narrow canals, where the bigger ships can’t go! Our favorite was definitely the boat tour of Romantic Tours of Amsterdam!
5. Taking day trips
We also wanted to include in our guide to Amsterdam the best day trips that you can take. If you have one or two extra days, we definitely recommend you to visit one of these destinations:
Zaanse Schans is the classic postcard place in the Netherlands. A group of beautiful windmills, tulip fields flowering during the spring and summer, and a lot of incredible museums and outside activities. It is a great trip that has everything, and you can enjoy it even better if you have the I Amsterdam card.
Harleem is one of the star cities of the Netherlands You can easily arrive with the train or even with a boat tour, so it is a great opportunity to experience the navy feeling in the Netherlands. The church looks incredible and also the museums there like the Teylers and Franz halls are amazing.
This city is known for being the residence place of the U.N. International court of justice. The most interesting place to visit here is the Mauritshuis, where you can find the famous picture of the Girl with the Pearl Earring from Vermeer.
6. I Amsterdam City Card
Amsterdam is full of attractions. When you plan your trip it’s quite difficult to choose what to see, which museums to visit, how much time to spend in a place. We also had that struggle! We indeed took into consideration the days that we spend in the capital of the Netherlands. As we’re both museum lovers, we both wanted to take a cruise on the Amsterdam canals, so we decided to get the I amsterdam City Card. It was the best decision that we could take!
I amsterdam City Card is an all-inclusive city pass where you get free admission to museums, attractions, and free city-wide public transport. Save time, money, and stress during your visit to Amsterdam!
Cheap eats in Amsterdam
De Pizzabakkers – this famous restaurant chain offers delicious Italian, oven-baked pizza in four locations in Amsterdam.
Skek – affordable burgers and fast food, an eco-friendly café run by students near the Red Light District
Sir Hummus – a place for cheap falafel and kebab.
Eco-friendly restaurants in Amsterdam
This is a rather luxurious restaurant, but if you can afford it, we recommend you to dine out in this beautiful sustainable restaurant.
handpicked from the garden right next to the restaurant, this sustainable restaurant serves the food they grown in their own greenhouse and organic gardens.
Café de Ceuvel – is one of the best cafés in Amsterdam with a sustainable mission, offering great green workspace as well.
Pianeta Terra – this new Italian restaurant offers quality organic and sustainable food.
Traditional and delicious Amsterdam foods
There are some traditional foods in the Netherlands that are so popular that we are sure that you have try them even in your country! Here in Amsterdam you will be able to try some of the best snacks to give you a great taste of the city.
Is a wafer cookie made from two thin layers of baked dough joined by a caramel filling. You can find them in a lot of stores around the city, fresh made and also in packs for bringing back with you. Don’t miss the chance to try them! They are very sweet and they are perfect for eating them with coffee or tea.
The popular fries, we are sure that you have tried them before. But the dutch style is very unique! Even if normally the fries are eaten with ketchup around the world, in Amsterdam is more common to eat them with mayonnaise. There are tons so of fries stores around the city, but we can recommend you the Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx! This fries are very well prepared, and you can choose a lot of different sauces!
Dutch croquettes are a very popular snack in The Netherlands. They are sold in Dutch fast-food restaurants, and also little snack places. The Kroket is a deep-fried, breaded roll of meat ragout but you can also get it in a vegetarian version. If you get the I amsterdam City Card, you can get a discount on the famous Eetsalon Van Dobben and try the most famous croquettes around the city.
Where to stay in Amsterdam?
In Amsterdam, you can find great hotels and hostels with sustainable initiatives that fit every budget.
We spent some nights in the beautiful Conscious Hotel Westerpark. This is part of a chain of hotels focused on sustainability and very aware of the choices they make, and the impact that they may have on the environment. The Conscious Hotels chain has been around 10 years now, they are pioners of the eco-tourism in Amsterdam always maintaining their same ideal. Making sustainability comfortable and stylish. Their hotels have very cool eco-friendly designs, they recycle, use eco toiletries, and have a fantastic organic restaurant and bar.
If you want to know more about our experience at Conscious Hotel Westerpark, you can click on the link below and read our blog: Our stay at the Conscious Hotel Westerpark, Amsterdam – Eco-sexy design and sustainability
Luxury eco-friendly hotel with energy-saving systems. They even harvest their own veggies and fruits in the greenhouse on the top floor.
The whole structure of the hotel is a kind dedication of the SeARCH Architectural firm to the eco-design and sustainability. The whole structure’s main structure of the building is made of wood, this main wood structure is complemented by other materials like aluminum, steel, bamboo, and glass that give the building a warm and sustainable character.
You can also check down our Booking deals finder for Amsterdam and get the best deals!