Planning a trip is the best idea to make the most out of it. Amsterdam is definitely a destination worth travelling to, but it is also important to do your research before getting there to understand how everything works and enjoy the time of your life, even if it rains a lot!
- Travel to Schiphol: quick and easy
- Public Transportation is the key
- Expect it to be expensive and it won’t be that bad
- Book everything online, Dutch like that
- Travel with a card: debit or credit is the best idea
- Plan ahead: another Dutch favourite
- It is for everybody, even for a family trip
I have lived in Amsterdam for years and I have worked in hotels and surrounded by tourists. I believe these 7 tips are the way to start to plan your trip and to start understanding the Dutch culture, even if it is only for a weekend there, you will feel much more comfortable and enjoy it more, if possible.
Tips: Make the most out of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is on my top three of favourite cities in the world, literally, the more time I spend there the more I like it. For the same reason, I have gotten to know a lot of the ups and downs, tips and tricks of this wonderful city… not only by living there but also by helping tourists around and answering the most frequent questions. Basically, I learnt some things the hard way and you can learn them easily by reading there 7 tips.
Tip 1: Getting there
Ok, maybe this is an obvious one but not so much for my family and friends: for Argentinians or Americans, distances are relative and Europe is literally a nutshell. Therefore, travelling to Brussels or travelling to Paris may seem like you are almost in Amsterdam, right?
Well, it actually will take off a whole day of your holidays to travel here and you may end up paying on public transportation or car renting the same as a flight. Of course, if you have a flight transfer is just ok, but if you are planning to getting to Amsterdam by train or car consider it if it is worth a whole day less of holidays.
I would strongly recommend checking for flights to Schiphol, Amsterdam’s ONLY airport. It is just 20-30 min away from the city and you can take a bus, a train or a taxi to the city.
If you are worried about being scammed by taxis, you can also contact the hotel you are staying in and asking for a taxi to wait for you when your flight arrives. It may not be the cheapest option but it is doable and if the taxi isn’t there you have a contact place to call and arrange everything if it doesn’t work out to begin with.
Tip 2: Use Public Transportation
For coming to the city from the airport or just getting there, Amsterdam is not a place for cars. Linking it with the tip above, getting to Amsterdam by car is also expensive because parking in the city is a nightmare and you will have to pay for a parking space far away from the city and get there by public transportation. It is worth thinking about it.
The smartest idea is to get a daily ticket, or a 2-days, weekly one. It is easy to get one at Central Station (the only place where you can get weekly ones) or you can get the daily or one-hour tickets with the driver of any bus or tram.
The prices vary between 7-8 euros per day, but it implies you can take EVERY tram, bus or metro in the city (except the night ones and the airport ones). If you want to check more about it you can read a post of this blog or check the official Dutch websites 9292.nl or NS.NL. If you want to book it online beforehand, do it online.
Tip 3: Accept that it is going to be Expensive
Amsterdam is an expensive city: my friends and I argue and fluctuate between Paris and London being maybe more expensive but it definitely belongs to the same category. I haven’t seen anything more expensive than Reykjavik or Zurich… but you get the idea.
One night at a hotel or Airbnb is never going to be less than 100 euros per night for two people, THE CHEAPEST. Some people, maybe coming from Switzerland or England may think it is not too much, other coming from Slovakia or Spain may think it is a skyrocketing price.
I recommend you to calculate your expenses and budget beforehand to avoid surprises: the good thing is that in Amsterdam you will pay for what you get and you can check the real prices beforehand for almost everything. Luxury, however, is expensive.
If you are good at planning, another tip you will read more about down below, you fill find useful to know it is expensive but you can check menu prices online, prices of hotels or transportation also online and everything can be calculated beforehand, there are no surprises.
Tip 4: Book EVERYTHING Online
As you could see on the public transportation part, you can book your tickets online. You can book everything online, literally everything.
Dutch are lovers of doing everything with their phones, literally everything, from booking a car to a restaurant, public transportation and museums tickets. It is not only easier to keep things organised and in a safe place but also good for the environment, right?
In any case, there are many ADVANTAGES for booking things online:
- Avoiding queueing
- Arrive on time (something helpful in 2020 when waiting around people is not the best idea ever)
- Getting a place! Not missing out
- Environmentally friendly
- Time saving and easy to cancel or change
- Language advantage: you won’t really have to talk to anyone if your spoken English is not great or you want to avoid Dutch at all costs.
Tip 5: Travel with a Credit or Debit Card
For booking activities and tickets online or to pay for public transportation or just coffee, you will need a card, debit or credit.
In most countries around the word the advantage would be to bring cash or the currency of the place because you can’t or it is not convenient to pay by card. However, the Netherlands is the exception that confirms the rule.
In the whole Netherlands, and specifically, Amsterdam, EVERYBODY takes card payments, of any sort (except Visa Electron, which sometimes is troubling). For coffee, for a bus ticket, at the supermarket or at a restaurant, they take card everywhere.
Moreover, some places only take card and no cash, like public transportation, which makes it extra important for you to travel with a debit or credit card.
Tip 6: Plan Ahead
Like any other trip, the more you plan ahead the better: Amsterdam is no exception. If you want to make the most out of Amsterdam and not miss out, book in advance.
It is a very popular destination and it is because of this that you have to book your museum tickets, and sometimes also restaurants in advance because otherwise, you will have to take the chance of missing it.
For example, in most cases people who want to visit Anne Franke’s house have to book their tickets a few months ahead. It is also convenient to book the time you want to visit it and make the most out of your day.
This normally applies to plane tickets, hotels and other things to end up paying them less. Something important to keep in mind is that it is NOT more expensive beforehand, it will end up being the same price or even cheaper!
Tip 7: It’s for Everybody
I know some people believe Amsterdam is for bachelor parties, for party people or for eccentric visitors. However, Amsterdam has a lot to offer to everybody:
- Family and Children: there are a lot of activities and museums for children and the whole family.
- Couples: romantic places, hotels and restaurants, as well as great activities, day trips and sporty activities for a romantic weekend.
- Art and History: one of the oldest cities in Europe, with hundreds of museums of any sort, historic buildings, amazing architecture and a long history of artists, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh. Literally for everybody…
- Party People: yes, of course, Amsterdam is also for the party people, but not only. You will find literally everything you want, for all tastes.