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?