Amsterdam Blog

Amsterdam travel tips for first timers

You still haven’t been to Amsterdam? Change that as soon as possible. Amsterdam is one of those cities that you have to visit at least once. And it will not disappoint. Before going, here are some things to take into account for your first time trip to Amsterdam.

When to go to Amsterdam?

With 920,000 inhabitants versus 21 million overnight visitors (2019), it is safe to say that I can get a bit busy. Pick your potion: opt for better chances of dry days and get more crowds, or the other way around.

  • Shoulder seasons (April-May, September-October): Pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices make these periods ideal.
  • Summer (June-August): Expect sunshine, lively events, and peak crowds (and prices).
  • Winter (November-March): Cozy cafes, festive markets, and fewer tourists, but colder temperatures and shorter days. Admire the lights during the Christmas period, and special events like Amsterdam Light Festival. Expect more rain.
See the canals with Explore Pass Amsterdam

Where to stay?

  • City Center: Immerse yourself in the action, but be prepared for noise and higher costs.
  • Jordaan or Plantage: Quaint neighborhoods with charming canals and unique shops.
  • De Pijp or Oud-Zuid: Trendy areas with trendy accommodations and vibrant nightlife.
  • Cool experiences: consider canal boats, unique but limited space and privacy.

Read this blog to learn about the different neighborhoods, and what there is to do there.

Getting around

Choose your favourite way of moving around; biking, walking, e-scooters, tram, bus or metro. Amsterdammers prefer their bike. Practice riding in a calmer area before you dive into the city madness. Read more tips about cycling in the bike capital of the world here.

  • E-scooter: if you have a driver’s licence, make an account on Felyx or Check. Do it in advance, because they have to verify your licence. You can find them all over town. Make sure you are aware of the rules of driving in Amsterdam.
  • Public transportation: the provider in Amsterdam is GVB. You can get a ticket inside the tram or at the metro stations, or check in with your bank card. For convenience, purchase a 24-hour ticket, where you have unlimited checking in and out.
  • Taxis: travel by car way using Uber, Bolt or regular city taxis.

What to visit in Amsterdam?

You have come to the right place. There are some essentials that every tourist has to visit when they come to Amsterdam.

  • Anne Frank museum: the house where Anne Frank and her family were hiding during the second world war. This is where she was writing in her diary during that period. Get your tickets on time, because it can be booked up for months.
  • Canals: take a cruise on the waterways that make Amsterdam the city it is. Enjoy a relaxing tour that gives you better understanding of the city.
  • Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum: two art museums, in close proximity to each other that cannot be missed. Learn about the biggest Dutch masters. At these places it is also recommended booking your tickets in advance.
  • Red Light District: a sight to see once, and then maybe you never return again or you want to party there every night.
  • Heineken Experience: did you know this beer was created here?
  • Vondelpark: the prettiest park of the city. When the sun shines, this place is full of people hanging out on the grass fields or jogging, walking, skating, biking around.
  • Albert Cuyp Market: shop and taste flavours from all over the world. Nothing like some market atmosphere!
Hash and Marihuana Museum Amsterdam

Coffeeshop culture

The coffeeshops in Amsterdam are little different from the ones with your selection of hot drinks. In here, you can buy and smoke cannabis and hashish. You have to show legitimate identification proofing you are over 18 years old to enter. These cannabis cafes area place to hang out where you can eat, drink and smoke.

Is weed legal in the Netherlands?

It is not, it is only allowed, or tolerated. The possession of soft drugs for your own use is not an issue. Selling (any type of) drugs, is an offence. You can legally carry 5 grams of weed with you. If you are caught with more than this amount, it will be considered dealing.

Why are they called coffee shops? Selling substances is a little less obvious if the name doesn’t suggest the real purpose of the store. Before there rules were what they are now, the owners had to be more secretive.

Do you want to learn more about this interesting plant? Visit the Hash & Marihuana museum.

Scams in Amsterdam – amster-scam

While Amsterdam is a safe destination, there are some tricks to be mindful of. Like in any big city, pickpockets can be quick to grab some of your euros. Be aware in busy and touristy areas and keep your surroundings.

  • Money transfer and ATMs: Avoid ‘independent’ ATMs, for example Euronet and Travelex. They have high fees and will take way more money than an ATM from a normal bank would. Stay on the lookout for ‘Geldmaat’, the yellow ATMs. These are controlled by the big banks and can be trusted.
  • Cheap bikes: The most typical Dutch scam if we have ever seen one! It might seem tempting to buy a bike from someone on the street for a very low price, but it is not worth the risk. The bikes that are sold on the streets are obviously stolen. Since this is one of the oldest crimes, the police is very strict about it. Buying a stolen bike is a criminal offence.
  • Street dealers: Street dealers are making money by selling low quality drugs, laced with other products. In previous years there have been some dangerous mixing in the drugs sold on the streets. The government was warning tourists about the dangers of white heroin being sold as cocaine. So just stay away from drugs, kids.

Day trips from Amsterdam

Explore beyond the rings and visit some quaint old Dutch towns. Choose for a catered package where you follow along, enjoy the views and learn about the Dutch culture. Or, you can create your own trip using the public transport system.

  • Countryside and windmills: visit the most picturesque Dutch villages.
  • Rotterdam, Delft and the Hague: tour to new cities, from modernity to classic.
  • Utrecht: board the intercity train, departing every 10 minutes, and within 30 minutes you will arrive in the student city Utrecht. That feels like a smaller Amsterdam (but don’t say that to the Utrechters).

Why go to Amsterdam?

We can write an infinite amount of blogs about why you should visit this city. The house boats, canals and merchant houses are some of the views that you will never get tired of. There are lots of nice cafes and interesting food to try (read more here). The people are friendly, the parties wild. So, what’s keeping you?

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Hidden gems in Amsterdam

You are not like other tourists! You want to experience authentic Amsterdam. Dam square? You don’t need to see that. Rijksmuseum? So cliché. No, you are here to walk off the beaten track. Beyond the well-trodden paths of tourists lie hidden gems, secret spots, and unique experiences waiting to be discovered by you! Let us assist in finding the true hidden gems of Amsterdam.



Visit these places soon, before the TikTok-ers find their way there too! In this blog, we’ll delve into the lesser-known side of Amsterdam, unveiling the city’s best-kept secrets and highlighting some crazy and unique activities that will make your Amsterdam adventure truly unforgettable and so much more underground and interesting.

Biking to unexplored gems in and outside Amsterdam

Of course you have to ride a bike when you are in the city of a million bicycle spokes. Navigating through the center is an experience alone, but you are there with the other tourists. For bike rides to tranquil areas make your way outside of the center, into adventure.

Ouderkerk aan de Amstel: This cute village is loved for the churches and monuments. Enjoy scenic views along the Amstel river while you make your way to this village. A countryside experience, just a 30 minute bike ride from the center!

Weesp: Officially part of Amsterdam since 2022. You will hardly find any tourists in this neighborhood. Explore this historic city with amazing waterways, monuments and windmills. Truly worth your visit if you are looking for a relaxed, more country-side feel.

Guided Tour outside of the center: join a bike tour that takes you away from the touristy streets and into the local neighborhoods. Take a Fatbike Amsterdam Tour and let the guides take around to find the hidden gems of Amsterdam. While simultaneously, looking cool on the scooter-style fat bikes.

Secret Book market in the Red Light District

The small cobblestones streets in the Red Light District provide plenty of adventure. A sight to see at least once, with the famous windows, coffeeshops and the erotic theatre Casa Rosso – so much to do. And therefore, it accumulates a lot of tourists to the area.

There is one spot, an oasis of inside this hectic center, that mass-tourism didn’t discover yet. Enter the Oudemanhuisport. A courtyard that belong to the buildings of the University of Amsterdam. Walk around to browse the stalls where you can buy second  hand books.

Do you love reading? Explore the five story large bookshop Scheltema at Rokin. There’s also a book market on Spui every Friday.

Location: Oudemanhuispoort

Hidden art gallery: What Is Happening Here?

There has never been a location more properly named than this one. On one of the party streets, this huge gallery takes you from the hustle into another dimension. It is completely free to enter, as they run on donations. Dare to enter this secret experience and explore art that engages all your senses.

Not just the art, but also the building is impressive. The location used to be a old bank, where the queen had her own vault. Walk around, get lost in the vaults and witness art as never before. If you are lucky, you can even join a hidden party in the basement.

Location: Regulierdwarsstraat 73

Festival without the crowds: Our House

Are you the new headliner for Tomorrowland? Or just interested in learning more about this genre of music and its history? Step inside our House museum. As educational as it is fun. With amazing light shows and unmatched acoustics. Enjoy a museum that feels like a festival, but without the crowds!

Location: Amstelstraat 24-26

Art house movie theatres

Maybe catching a movie was not on your list of things to do when you’re in a different city, but seeing amazing architecture is, right? These movie theaters fit right in. You do not even have to sit down for a screening, just having a drink or bite is a whole experience in these monumental or interesting buildings!

  • Lab111: one of the most unique venues you will find, as it is inside a former laboratory. Explore the different rooms, eat a fresh pizza and drink amazing cocktails. Even the toilets are fun!
    Location: Arie Biemondstraat 111
  • The Movies: At one of the coolest streets in the city enter this theater where they play movies. I wish they made that clear in the name, but that’s just me. It is Amsterdam’s oldest movie theatre and dates all the way back to 1912. Enjoy the Art Deco interior and have look at the monumental venue.
    Location: Haarlemmerdijk 159 – 163
  • Rialto: For arthouse movies with a special aim towards non-western cinema, Rialto on the Ceintuurbaan in the Pijp is a pearl of a location. Founded in 1920 by a film enthusiast, the classic charm has never left the building.
    Location: Ceintuurbaan 338
  • Kriterion: established in 1945 by a group of students as a self-supporting student organization. The original purpose was to provide employment for students who had lost their jobs during World War II. Over the years, Kriterion has evolved into a cultural and social hub, hosting not only film screenings but also various events, debates, and activities.
    Location: Roetersstraat 170

Unique attractions in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is rich in not just hidden gems but also one of a kind attractions. Some of them already found the limelight of tourism, but still worth your time if you are looking for a unique experience.

Red Light Secrets Museum

Truly Amsterdam and one of a kind. This small museum tells you all about the history of the famous Red Light District and what it is like to work there now. You can even sit behind a red lit window yourself! Walk through the rooms and listen to the story of Angela, a former prostitute. Or as she calls it: a sex therapist.

Location: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60h

Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Ripley’s is certainly one of those unusual places in Amsterdam that you will not soon forget. With real shrunken heads, the world’s longest fingernails and art made on rice kernels, it is safe to say that this place is unlike anything else. Not so much a secret of Amsterdam but not a cliché.

Location: Dam 21

Kattenkabinet – Cat Cabinet

Calling all cat lovers: this is your new favourite museum! Admire artworks and artifacts of cats, felines and only that inside a historic canal house. Explore the relationships between cats and humans throughout the years, as reflected in the artworks in the museum.

Location: Herengracht 497

Electric Ladyland

Have you ever been? Brighten up your trip by entering the Electric Ladyland. A place full of color as it is dedicated to the world of fluorescent art. Psychedelic vibes and immersive creations draw you in from the moment you step into the building.

Location: Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5

Sup the Amstel River and the city canals

Experience the quintessential canals! Try stand up paddle boarding on the Amstel river and – if you feel comfortable – make your way to the city centre. See the city from your paddel board. Encouter party boats, canal cruises and people chilling all along the canals. 

You can book this fun way to explore Amsterdam via Canal Sup or other paddle board rental places.

Discover these hidden gems and unique attractions in Amsterdam and make the most out of your trip!

Amsterdam Blog

24 hours in Amsterdam with the Explore Pass

Enjoy your day in Amsterdam to the fullest

Amsterdam is filled with amazing attractions, museums and other activities. When you are only in Amsterdam for 24 hours, you have to set priorities. You’ll want to see the absolute highlights and with Explore Pass you can do so at a great discount.

For 24 hours the Explore Pass with 50 Explorer Points can give you a great experience in Amsterdam. You can choose between 35 different attractions, museums and tours in the city to explore. Here is our recommended selection if you only have 24 hours in Amsterdam, which will use up all 50 of the Explorer Points.

An iconic canal cruise in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous for its canals and a cruise along these waterways is a must-do for any visitor to the city. Whether you choose the classic 1hr Canal Cruise or the Semi-Open Boat Cruise, is up to you. For warmer weather, such as in spring and summer we recommend the Semi-Open, while the classic Canal Cruise will give you a great experience on colder and wetter days.

Both cruises are operated by LOVERS Canal Cruises, who have been sailing through the Amsterdam canals since the 1950s. Both cruises take you along the iconic calls of Amsterdam, including the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. Though each cruise is unique to avoid congestion on the canals, you will see plenty of bridges, merchant houses and churches along the way.

The largest street art museum in the world

One of the newer museums in Amsterdam is the STRAAT Museum and it is quickly becoming a statement location for the city. The STRAAT Museum is the largest museum dedicated to street art and graffiti in the world. Set inside an old industrial shipyard, the art inside is as monumental, rough and radical as the building itself.

The art on display is constantly changing, with new pieces constantly added to the collection. The pieces on display were all created on location often during regular opening hours of the museum. The art inside the museum is as big as street art pieces are outside on the streets, only here you can learn more about the context within which the art was created.

Explore the city by bus

As you make your way through the city, you may want to give your feet a break between activities. A great to move between attractions and activities in Amsterdam is with the Hop-on Hop-off bus from City Sightseeing Amsterdam. With multiple stops around the city centre, you can make your way around Amsterdam.

You can hop-on and off as many times as you want over the course of 24 hours. You can start at Amsterdam Central Station and take the bus around the city centre to parks such as the Oosterpark and Vondelpark, or to neighbourhoods such as the Jordaan and the Pijp. With the free City Sightseeing Amsterdam app, you can see exactly when the next bus will arrive near you.

The Vondelpark is a favourite place for both locals and visitors of Amsterdam and the most famous park in the city. The streets of the Jordaan are lined with indie boutiques, cosy pubs and hip eateries. At the Pijp, you can try typical Dutch food and snack at the Albert Cuyp Market such as haring, stroopwafels and poffertjes.

The national museum of the Netherlands

For a true Dutch experience, a visit to the Rijksmuseum has to be on your must-do list. The national museum of the Netherlands is the largest art museum in the country and is home to a collection that tells the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history. The entire collection contains over one million pieces of which around 8000 are on display at the Rijksmuseum.

Amongst the pieces on display are world-famous works by Dutch masters including Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. Not-to-miss artworks on display are Rembrandt’s Night Watch and Vermeer’s Milkmaid. And the building itself is a work of art as well, with stained glass windows and mosaic floors.

Amsterdam Blog

What is the Explore Pass Amsterdam?

Explore Amsterdam with ease: this is the Explore Pass Amsterdam
If you are planning a trip to the capital of the Netherlands, and want to experience the top attractions, highlights and maybe even some quirky gems, without any hassle the Explore Pass is the city card for you. This fully digital pass gives you access to your choice to the best museums and attractions in Amsterdam. Let’s get acquainted.

What is the Explore Pass?

The Explore Pass is a fully digital city card available with 50, 75 or 100 points. Use these points for discounted tickets to the attractions in Amsterdam of your choosing.

Explore at your pace

The pass is valid for a year from the moment you activate it. This means you do not have to rush your trip, you can spend your Explore Points whenever you want. Do not tire yourself out by cramming all your visits in a few days! Plan your trip conveniently and with enough time to experience the city and its true culture.

You can get the pass in advance of your trip, and book tickets before you even arrive. This way when you get to Amsterdam, you are sure that you are already have your ticket on the day you want to visit. No let downs because of fully booked venues!

Fully digital

The Explore Pass makes it easy to discover Amsterdam. When you get the pass, you can start planning. Because it is all digital, you will always have it with you. All the tickets to the attractions are in your Explore wallet. Easy to find, hard to loose.

What is included in the pass?

Hop on Hop off Amsterdam

There are more than 35 attractions, tours and museums in and around

Amsterdam available with the pass. Pick your favorites!

Enjoy some sightseeing around the city by hopping on and off the famous City Sightseeing bus, included in your pass for free. Every Explore Pass is equipped with a 24 hour ticket for the bus, without spending any of your explore points. To make it as easy and convenient as possible to experience the most of Amsterdam.

Use the sightseeing bus to hop from one attraction to another. Rest your feet and enjoy the tour. Get to see the highlights of Amsterdam and hop out when you want to visit a cool attraction!

How to make the most of your Explore Pass

Open your explore pass in the web-app. In this live booking hub, select the attractions that tickle your fancy. Find the top things that you want to do and get your tickets to reserve your spot.

Check out the example itineraries to see how much money you can save!


There are three types of passes available, the 50, 75 or 100 Point pass.
50 Explorer Points – €50,- euros per pass
75 Explorer Points – €75,- euros per pass
100 Explorer Points – €100,- euros per pass