Exploring Amsterdam: The Ultimate Travel Guide
Exploring Amsterdam is a fantastic experience you should add to your travel itinerary. Its characteristic canals (UNESCO World Heritage), surrounded by narrow, low, and crooked 17th-century houses, make it one of Europe’s most charming capital cities most travelers want to visit. Despite its full-scale city size, Amsterdam maintains its small-town feel thanks to its vibrant culture and numerous entertainment options.
With over 50 museums, of which many are famous across the globe, this city is a real treat for art lovers: highlights include the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. Use my travel tips from this Amsterdam travel guide to plan your trip!
Best time to visit
Summer is the most popular time for tourists to visit Amsterdam. To avoid crowds, come in April–May, or September. The spring season is characterized by mild temperatures, while golden trees indicate autumn.
The peak tourist season occurs in April and May. Regardless of the season, be prepared for rain. Locals use websites like buie.nl to predict when the weather is down to minutes.
Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination in the summer, so expect long waits at popular attractions. Regarding accommodation, summer is also the most expensive time of year.
As the temperature drops in the autumn and winter, so do hotel prices and tourist numbers. Museums and cafes are the perfect indoor attractions during this time of year. Seeing the city blanketed in snow is a spectacular sight. If the winter happens to be particularly cold, you can ice-skate on the frozen canals. Some cafes set tables and chairs straight on the ice.
Getting to Amsterdam
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is a modern, efficient, and traveler-friendly airport. Ninety airlines depart from Schiphol to over 250 destinations worldwide. The easiest and cheapest way to travel from the airport to Amsterdam is by train. The train station at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located directly below the airport. During the day, trains leave at least every 15 minutes for Central Station (less frequently at night). Purchase your ticket at the NS service desk or ticket machines.
Getting around Amsterdam
You can take taxis to and from the airport when the trams stop running late at night or when you’re running late. During peak traffic times, however, public transport might get you there even faster. You can hail a taxi at tourist hotspots or catch one at designated cab stands.
A GVB day or multi-day ticket is the most convenient way to travel. In Amsterdam, you can choose from 15 tram lines, 41 bus lines, seven ferry connections, and four metro lines to reach various destinations. These tickets are available at GVB Tickets & Info and tourist offices.
The Netherlands uses the 220-240 Volt (50 Mhz) system that’s common everywhere in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. But since electricity plugs often differ, visitors from some countries (e.g., the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland) must bring a plug adaptor.
In Amsterdam, as well as in all the Netherlands and many other countries of the European Community, the accepted currency is Euro (EUR, €); no other currencies are commonly accepted, so you will have to change your dollars, sterling, yen, etc. to Euros.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Anne Frank House During World War II, Anne Frank wrote her famous diary in the Anne Frank House. In this location, you can find quotes from a journal, photos, films, and original objects owned by the people in hiding and those who helped them. Anne’s original diary is on display in the museum as well. As a museum, it recreates the holocaust and war years.
Pro tip: If you plan to visit Anne Frank House, we recommend purchasing tickets at least three weeks in advance or when the tickets come out on the 1st of the month before the month you plan to visit.
Rijksmuseum Rijksmuseum is the largest and most important museum in the Netherlands. After extensive renovations, the Rijksmuseum has reopened with a completely revamped layout. More than 1 million objects are displayed, including many masterpieces and artifacts worldwide.
Pro tip: We highly recommend booking skip-the-line tickets for Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, along with other major attractions.
Read more: 5 amazing things to do in Amsterdam.
Where to stay
Amsterdam has a lot of hotel options for all budgets. Jordaan is the city’s most affluent neighborhood and home to world-class hotels and restaurants. For first-time visitors, the city’s center is a great place to stay. To help you out, here are a few of our favorite hotels in Amsterdam.
We hope that this travel guide has helped inspire you to visit Amsterdam. If you have any questions about the city, reach out to us.
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