Amsterdam: known for its eccentric nightlife, flowing canals and unique attractions. It’s no wonder the ‘Venice-of-the-North’ is among one of the top travel destinations in Europe, although on the flip-side, that means there are tourist traps everywhere and can dilute one’s experience of the city.
Get familiar with the Amsterdam by reading our insider tips to learn how to avoid the over-priced restaurants and skip the ridiculously long lines before you jump into the Dutch capital. For a more in-depth look at one of our favourite cities take a look at our city guide.
21. Grab snack at the Albert Cuyp Markt
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Looking for a local’s lunch on a budget? Look no further. Amsterdam’s largest market takes place from Monday – Saturday (9 am – 5 pm) and offers an array of fresh fruit and herbs, along with typical Dutch dishes like herring sandwiches, egg rolls, and caramel-syrup-filled stroopwafels.
20. Most places don’t accept non-Dutch credit or debit cards
This often stumps visitors in the Venice-of-the-North. It’s true that the majority of bars, supermarkets, stores etc. don’t accept credit/debit cards which aren’t Dutch! So take advantage of an ATM when insight!
19. Tipping is polite
Tipping is considered as a polite and regular thing in Amsterdam, it’s usually 10% for food and for drinks rounding up the price works fine.
18. Research free concerts before setting off
Amsterdam is a hub of music, whether classical or electro, they have it all! The Concertgebouw holds free classical concerts on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm from September to June. They are popular, so get there a little early to be sure of getting a seat and always make sure to check the website before attending as occasionally the day can be changed. You can get a free ticket for the small hall as little as 1 hour in advance and for the big hall a ticket is not required.
17. Pick up water in grocery stores
Like any other city with a healthy influx of visitors, water can be expensive anywhere in a close radius of the tourist attractions. Keep an eye out for cheap supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl to stock up on water.
16. Grab an unlimited ticket for the tram
Whether you’re in town for a day or a week, get an unlimited ticket. A single trip ticket costs €2.90, so if you’re travelling from sight to sight it can leave your wallet feeling empty. Day tickets start at €7.50 and a 7 Day ticket is around €33. Extra tip: The tickets you buy from the local transport company GVB, can be used across buses and the metro too!
These fast-food establishments are found all over the city. Perfect for a quick bite for merry visitors meandering between bars. If you do pop into Febo, make sure to pick up the native’s favourite snack – croquettes.
14. But do try Stroopwafels
The Dutch like their stroopwafels, and why not? Layered between crispy sheets of wafer lies a smooth, rich caramel syrup. Where’s the best place to get it? Albert Cuypmarkt mentioned previously, is the spot to grab some authentic (and delicious) stroopwafel!
13. The cheapest bars are generally in hostels
Drinks don’t come cheap in this city. Forget the idea of drunken teenagers on a Euro-trip causing a ruckus in the lobby, as most of the big hostels in Amsterdam have trendy bars and restaurants attached.
12. There are an endless array of great bars and clubs
If you decide to dive into Amsterdam’s nightlife you’ll be thrilled with the selection of bars and clubs. From massive EDM clubs like Chicago Social Club, Club Air and Closure, to hole-in-the-wall jazz joints, cosy bars, and open-air events in the summer!
11. Buy your museum tickets in advance!
Don’t spend an hour or two of your holiday in line for one museum, book your tickets online or pick up a discount card.
10. The same can be done for Anne Frank’s house
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To skip the massive queues for Anne Frank’s house it’s worth investing an extra 50 cents on an online ticket. Simply book your time slot and show up!
9. Noord Island is a hidden treasure
Hop on a free ferry by the back of Central Station to the alternative area of Noord! With only a few tourists knowing about this area you’ll have trendy coffee shops, quirky bars and, not to mention, Europe’s largest flea market all to yourself (and the locals of course).
8. Airbnb may be your best option
Accommodation in Amsterdam can be pricey so why not hop on the Airbnb bandwagon? With prices starting as low as €30 for a private room in the city centre it’s only a little pricier than staying in a hostel.
7. Amsterdam is incredibly safe
Amsterdam is one of the safest cities in the world. Locals believe this is down to the laid-back attitude the city has, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings in the tourist districts, as in any city.
6. Watch your step
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Boats, bikes, cars, trams, if it’s public transport, Amsterdam has it. You’ll hear a horn and have little to no idea which direction it’s coming from or what kind of transport it is, so always keep your eyes peeled while crossing the road! Tip: There are special roads for bikes, so pay attention to the path to avoid getting in the way of a bicycle (or twenty).
5. There’s so much more to Amsterdam than coffee shops
Cannabis is generally the first thing people think of when Amsterdam comes up, but the truth is, you don’t need to be interested in smoking joints to visit the city. Amsterdam has been overflown with artistic culture, incredible architecture and not to mention, sensational history. Tip: It is illegal to be sold and/or consume alcohol and marijuana at the same time.
4. Don’t worry about the language barrier
Even the Dutch will admit that their native language can be tricky to pick up, but because Amsterdam is an international city you’ll find most people will speak English.
3. Winkel 43 – the best apple strudel in town
A serving of the best apple pie is a must when visiting the city! Winkel 43 is a favourite among locals and visitors alike and it’s not uncommon to make a few trips while you’re in town.
2. The Van Gogh Museum is a must!
Bring out your inner artist and be taken aback by Van Gogh’s work, and see his most popular paintings, such as ‘Sunflowers’, ‘The Potato-Eaters’ and ‘Bedroom in Arles’. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised with works of art from Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin.
1. Going in summer? Check out the urban beaches!
Take advantage of a sunny day by heading to Amsterdam Roest, an authentic urban beach located in the east of the city. Check out their artistic junkyard, laid back music, indoor and outdoor bars and indulge in the post-industrial hip-hop hot spot.
Ready to dive in?