Why visit Amsterdam?
The cultural capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is situated in the province of North-Holland. This tourist hotspot attracts 4 million tourists every year who come to explore the old city’s architecture and take a boat ride through the famous canals, visit museums and experience the liberal & international culture.
The city of Amsterdam is best known for its majestic canal layout and charming Dutch gabled facades, but the city has remarkable architecture that completely mesmerizes you. The streets have untouched patterning which dates back to the 19th century. Amsterdam’s got the picturesque windmills, amazing bridges and some of the most beautiful houses with cutting-edge modern design.
The Dutch cuisine is shaped by its location in the fertile soil of the North Sea river delta of the European Plain, giving rise to fishing, farming and trading over the sea, its former colonial empire and the spice trade. It has a long and interesting history and includes everything from family meals to delicious desserts!
Amsterdam is one of the top five cities in Europe with the cleanest air. Two of the striking features of this city are the well organised public mode of transport and the easy accessibility of electric cars. Amsterdam acquired its upscale ranking by the European Environmental Bureau along with such other metropolises as Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Amsterdam has got one of the best nightclubs and is brimming with Irish bars ranging from classic cafés to Belgian beer clubs. Adult entertainment also adds some spice to Amsterdam’s nightlife.
Amsterdam Travel Restrictions
Visiting Amsterdam? If yes, there are a few things you should keep in mind before travelling to Amsterdam. Here's all you need to know about the travel restrictions in Amsterdam.
Top 10 Things To Do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Trip Planner
Here's all you need to know before you book your tickets to Amsterdam and pack your bag!
Weather in Amsterdam
Fondly known as the city of canals, Amsterdam is the prettiest city in Europe with an unparalleled artistic heritage. A favourite amongst most travellers, Amsterdam makes for a great destination year round. If you're planning a trip to Amsterdam, here's all you should know about the seasons and what to expect before you book your flight!
You can check the weather here.
Amsterdam in Spring
Spring brings out the best in Amsterdam and its countryside. The tulip season starts from mid March to early May, drawing in thousands from around the world to see the famous Dutch buds. If you're planning your visit around this time, make sure you visit the Keukenhof Gardens to witness the best bloom of tulips.
Amsterdam in Summer
Summer is the time people look forward to catching some warmth, and pleasant weather. But summers are also marked by occasional heavy rainfall. Lounge on the beach or a terrace, enjoy a boat cruise along the canals, and celebrate the festivals organised during summers in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam in Autumn
With shorter days, a nip in the air, red and orange leafed trees covering up the roads, Amsterdam airs a magical charm during autumn. There is a calm cosiness in the streets, parks and canals after the bustling summers. With a plethora of cultural events planned for fall, Amsterdam is a treat during the autumn months.
Amsterdam in Winter
If you love winters there's no better place than Amsterdam to experience the cold. This fairytale-like city twinkling of soft snow looks straight out of a postcard. Festive fairs, snow activities and gourmet food galore add to the city's charm. Evenings are all the more dazzling with the Amsterdam light festival adorning the canals with magical fairy lights and cosy cafes humming with live music.
Best Time for Sightseeing : Months of April and May and September to November, the time just before and after summer is great for sightseeing with fewer tourists around.
Best Time for Backpackers : Cold winter months of December and January with few tourists and fabulous deals are good for backpackers on a shoestring budget.
Best Time for Honeymooners : November to April is great for honeymooners though the weather is cold as the city is blanketed in romance with the added advantage of shoulder season.
Best Time For Experiencing The Local Festivals in Amsterdam : Amsterdam has an active social calendar through the year, but April is the most sought after month with the tulip festival, film festival and many others.
Read our detailed blog on the best time to visit Amsterdam.
Daily Budget Singapore
- Budget Traveler: 57 USD (48 €)
- Mid-Range Traveler: 74 USD (63 €)
- Luxury Traveler: 314 USD (265 €)
Budget Your Trip here.
Amsterdam has made it to the bucket list of travelers from across the globe. More than 18 million tourists visit the city each year, spanning from weekend tourists to tulip chasers, and those who want a taste of the Dutch culture. The city has remarkable infrastructure and is super tourist-friendly but it is also grappling with an explosion of tourism. We have listed our top travel tips that have been vetted by the locals to help you navigate the city for the first time. Read these Amsterdam travel tips to travel cheaper, explore better, and make the most of your time in the city (away from the tourist traps).
- Clothing essentials: Always carry an umbrella and a light sweater or jacket in hand since evenings in Amsterdam are prone to rainfall and cool breeze. Also remember to wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Always carry cash in hand, particularly when in street markets. ATMs are available in most street corners and accept all major credit and debit cards.
- Remember to carry an umbrella at all times. Amsterdam weather is often unpredictable and you don't want to be stuck in the rain,
- To discourage the use of plastic, most stores charge for a carry bag. You can always carry a foldable cloth bag on your way out.
- Given how bike-friendly Amsterdam is, there's a dedicated lane for bikes in the city. Make sure you stick to this lane while riding. Also, don't stop in the middle of the lane to click photographs since you'll be obstructing the way for other riders.
- Book tickets in advance for main attractions to avoid waiting in lines or missing out on fun. You can also opt for skip-the-line tickets and guided tours for a more seamless travel experience.
- Fridge magnets and keychains aren't the souvenirs you would want to take home from Amsterdam. Instead, you can choose from unique Dutch licorice, candy, cheese or alcohol. You'll also find wooden clogs at Zaanse Schans, funky crockery, cookie moulds and more items specific to Amsterdam.
- The Amsterdam public transport system is almost entirely cashless. You will not be able to pay for a bus, metro or tram ticket by cash. Make sure to top up your transport pass before traveling at any nearby convenience store.
Detailed Amsterdam Itineraries
We've done all the hard work for you and lined up the best things at the best times! All you have to do is pick the number of days you'd like to visit Amsterdam to find a readymade itinerary tailored to suit all your needs!
How to Save Money in Amsterdam
1. Choose hostels
Amsterdam is known for its unique and designer hostels. While they are cheaper than most star hotels, they do not have a grungy backpacker vibe and are suitable for couples and groups of travellers, too. AirBnbs are the next best option to save money, especially if you're travelling with your family.
2. Grab a city pass
The I Amsterdam Card, Holland Pass and This is Holland Access Ticket are the passes you should consider while sightseeing in the city. With canal cruises, free public transport and free access to museums like Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt, save money while exploring Amsterdam with these passes.
3. Get a nightlife ticket
Cover charges can make quite a dent in your pocket in Amsterdam. To avoid those charges buy the Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket which costs €10 (2 days access) and €20 (7 days access) for 20 popular nightclubs including Club Escape, Air Amsterdam, Club Panama, Blue Ivy nightclub and Supperclub.
4. Buy attractions tickets online in advance
Online booking for tickets works on multiple fronts. It helps you plan your trip in advance, saves time and money. Headout has several discounted tickets for Amsterdam attractions and group tours. Additionally you can also avail cashback and save it for other tickets.
5. Squeeze a visit to the free attractions
Entry to Amsterdam’s museums is never free but there are some iconic attractions in Amsterdam that are absolutely free. Take a free ride on the GVB Amsterdam Ferry, visit the Civic Guard’s Gallery in the Amsterdam Museum, and walk into the courtyard of Begijnhof by paying nothing at all. Head to Vondelpark for open-air concerts, or take a stroll through Rijksmuseum Garden, all for free!
Museums in Amsterdam
Amsterdam was established in the early 14th century. It has seen the Spanish, the French, and the English inquisition arrive and withdraw. All of this has left Amsterdam with plenty of history that demands to be explored. And, the Dutch have packed all of it in more than 75 museums across the city. From the canal-side Photography Museum, FOAM, to the lavish Rijksmuseum, the city has it all. Here's our pick of the 11 Best Museums in Amsterdam.
Here is your guide to the best Museums in Amsterdam.
Best of Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Nicknamed the Venice of the North, the unparalleled beauty of this ancient canal city originates from the rich cultural and artistic history. This sight can be caught along its intricate network of canals. No trip to the Dutch capital is complete without experiencing an Amsterdam Canal Cruise. Here are the two divisions of canal cruises you should know about to pick the right tickets that suit your likes.
Amsterdam Canal Cruises
These are the most popular and economical options, the no frills canal cruises that simply sifts through the canal, showcasing the best of Amsterdam. All you have to do is figure out the time of the day you'd like for the cruise and grab your Amsterdam Canal Cruise tickets. They're quick and easy, and worth every penny!
Read more about the best Amsterdam Canal Cruises.
Amsterdam Culinary Cruises
Set sail on a luxury boat that will take you through the iconic canal network in the city under the glow of twilight. Amidst the fairytale-like illuminated buildings and in the comfort of the luxury boat, sink into a perfect evening. Enjoy views of the charming medieval bridges, 17th-century houseboats, and stately antique mansions all in their illuminated splendour.
Read more about Amsterdam Culinary Cruises.
I Amsterdam City Card vs Holland Pass
Grab a pass to explore Amsterdam without burning a hole in your pocket. Here are the two best city passes in Amsterdam and what they include.
I Amsterdam City Card
Worried about maximizing every cent in the Euro on your next trip to Amsterdam? Take a leaf out of the backpacker’s secret book and save money on exploring the attractions and museums in Amsterdam - use the I Amsterdam City Card! Like in every major tourist city in the world, Amsterdam has a tourist pass called the I Amsterdam Card that offers visitors the option of visiting over 70 attractions at almost 50% savings, in different time variants. The card covers all the important attractions in Amsterdam City and its neighboring region, and includes exciting tours and discounts on shopping, restaurants and activities.
Read more about I Amsterdam City Card | The Good, Bad & Everything In Between.
Amsterdam Holland Pass
Amsterdam has a never ending selection of things to do and see, no matter what time of the year you’re visiting. While most of the rewarding experiences are found when you step out of the well-trodden tourist paths of the city centre, there are many unmissable experiences within the city limits as well. The Amsterdam Holland Pass or simply the Holland Pass, is a boon of a pass that gifts you free admission and discounts for over 100 museum and tourist attractions in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden and Utrecht. Those looking to discover the best of Netherlander culture, cuisine and history; look no further than the all-in-one Holland Pass.
Read more about, how to make the most of your Amsterdam Holland Pass.
Day Trips From Amsterdam
Once you've had your fill of Amsterdam's serene canals, picturesque windmills and cutting-edge museums, set out to explore the rest of the Netherlands located just a day trip from Amsterdam. What this unpacks are jaw-dropping views of the countryside of Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and more hidden spots.
Here are our top picks for the best day trips from Amsterdam.
Getting Around in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands and also a very well connected city. You can travel from about anywhere and reach your destination via public transport. Amsterdam has an efficient and reliable public transport system. You can use your I Amsterdam Card to save on transport costs. Here’s an overview of the different ways to get around the city with public transport:Here are a few things to keep in mind to traverse without worry and some tips on choosing the right transport.
Bike taxis are your way to go green and are available all over the city. In fact, they are the city’s favourite mode of transport. The next best option is to hire a rickshaw and can accommodate upto two people. Amsterdam Fietstaxi charges reasonable prices for electric rickshaw taxis that can be booked in advance.
To use the tram lines, you need a public transport card -- OV-Chipkaart -- or other validated travel cards. Tram services are available from 6:00 AM to 12:30 AM. You can also purchase a one hour, 24-hour or 48-hour ticket for the tram, bus and metro services. Visit GVB Tickets & Info offices for more information about tickets.
The metro system covers four routes, starting from Amsterdam Central Station, spreading across various outlying districts like Biljmer, Amstelveen, Diemen and Amsterdam Noord. The metro operates between 6:00 AM to midnight. You need a public transport card (OV-Chipkaart) or other validated travel card to use the metro lines.
Amsterdam’s bus network is extensively-spread throughout the city. The day buses run between 6:00 Am to 12:30 AM, while the special Nightbuses run between 12:30 AM to 7:00 AM.You can use your public transport pass to use the bus services in the city.
Ferries depart from Amsterdam Central Station and convenient to reach attractions in Amsterdam North. Ferry services in the city are free and run through the night.
Biking is a great way to see the city and explore different neighborhoods at your own pace. Amsterdam is equipped with up to 400 km of biking paths in and around the city. There are plenty of bike rental shops dispersed throughout the city like Mac Bike, Rent a Bike and Black Bikes. Make sure to stay on the designated bicycle paths and not steer onto roads and sidewalks.
Tip: Download the 9292 app for up-to-date public transportation travel advice. The app provides travel suggestions for all off the Netherlands, is free to download, and is available in Dutch and English.
Free GVB ferries
The GVB ferries provide free connections across the River IJ in the northern part of the city. This makes a great chance of catching wonderful sights of the canals as well as functional and free of cost transportation.
The blue-and-gray trams roll through all the major streets and the city also boasts an extensive bus network. Amsterdam also has 5 metro lines that connect the city centre with the suburbs. To top all of these, there are passes such as the I Amsterdam card available that offer visitors with unlimited access to the city's public transport, entry to 60+ attractions, 1-hour canal cruise and a complimentary city map.
Renting a car
If you intend to venture out of the city, you should definitely look into renting cars. But if you choose to rent a car to travel inside the city, be prepared for a nightmare since the city is not exactly four-wheeler friendly, and deliberately so that more people opt-in for public transport and pollute less.
Hotels in Amsterdam
The cost of living in a hotel in Amsterdam is quite high compared to other cities with an average of $474 per night. The next best option is to Airbnb or stay in cosy hostels. However, if you are in for spending a luxurious night, the hotels are absolutely worth it!
Dining in Amsterdam
A gastronomic adventure is a must while in Amsterdam and the city offers everything from Croquettes from a vending machine to Mint Tea. Be sure to add these must-have dishes to your Amsterdam bucket list.
Herring is perhaps the most famous and traditional Dutch street food. This raw, salted fish snack is available across fish stalls in the city. You can have it plain or with a bun, go the local way: grab a whole herring by the tail, tip your head back and eat it one go.
The stroopwafel, a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, consists of two thin cookie layers held together by a soft, caramel-like filling. The perfect treat with a cup of tea, you will often see locals balancing a stroopwafel on their cups to soften the caramel filling with the steam from their tea. You can find a stroopwafel stand at any outdoor market in the city.
When in Amsterdam, try a bitterballen: small, round, fried snacks that have a hot, meaty ragout filling and are served with mustard. They are often paired with kopstoot -- a beer that consists of a genever-filled shot glass -- and shared between groups of friends and colleagues.
A kroket is essentially a larger, cylindrical bitterbal, which is served on a bun or plain with mustard. To try krokets, head to FEBO, a Dutch fast-food chain that sells warm snacks in a vending machine. Along with a kroket, you can also pick up hamburgers and other fried snacks from these machines.
The Dutch love their pancakes, or pannenkoeken. Dutch pancakes, however, are much larger and thinner than others. Toppings such as bacon, cheese, apples or raisins are common, but whether you go for salty, sweet or plain, you will always find Dutch stroop (syrup) on the table. Locals usually eat their pancakes for lunch or dinner, rather than for breakfast. If you are in the mood for a snack, opt for poffertjes: small, fluffy pancakes served with butter and powdered sugar.
This traditional dish, made from a combination of mashed potatoes and other vegetables like sauerkraut, kale, carrot and/or onion, is a classic in the Netherlands during winter. This hearty meal is typically served with gravy and a rookworst (smoked sausage) and is perfect after a long day sightseeing.
How to save money while dining out in Amsterdam?
- Street food is the saviour of backpackers across the world and it’s no different in Amsterdam. You will find street vendors and food trucks with Dutch favourites like Stroop waffles, Herring, Frites, Bitterballen, Leidse Kaas and Poffjertes.
- ‘Dagschotel’ is what the dish of the day is featured as on most menus in Amsterdam’s restaurants. It is the cheapest dish on the menu served for lunch and will help you save a few euros.
- ‘Eat where the locals do’ is one of the most common travel tips you will hear anywhere in the world. The Dutch in Amsterdam spend their time in what they call ‘Bruin cafes’ or Brown cafes, which are warm and comfortable cafes that serve authentic and affordable food. De Wetering, In ‘t Aepjen, Papeneiland and Het Molenpad are some of the best brown cafes in Amsterdam.
- All you can eat buffets are excellent places to fill up on a wholesome meal for less than €20. Of course, these buffet restaurants do not offer Dutch cuisine and mostly offer Chinese or Asian specialities. Some of the good restaurants are Restaurant Vandaag, Shabu Shabu, Genki Garden and La Cubanita.
- Water is not cheap in Amsterdam and can run up to €2.50 at kiosks in tourist locations. You will rarely also get water freely in restaurants, which is why it’s a good idea to buy water bottles at grocery stores or bring a bottle from home and fill them up in public water outlets.
- You will notice a lot of Argentinian steakhouses in Amsterdam, especially in the tourist centre. Just remember, they are all tourist traps and they have nothing to do with the culture of the city. Instead, opt for ‘Tokos’ or restaurants that serve Surinamese and Indonesian food, cultures that came along to the city after the Indonesian revolution.
- If you are looking forward to a round of drinks before dinner, try going to a hostel. Most of the hostels serve alcohol at cheap rates and have a fun atmosphere to boot! Have a drink there and then head out to the nightclubs for a cheap night out.
- The best way to save money on food in Amsterdam continues to be by buying your own groceries! Even if you don’t have the time or space to cook big meals, you can buy basic stuff to make sandwiches to save on at least a meal every day.
Useful Dutch Phrases to Get You By
- Hallo ("hahlow"): Hello
- Doei ("dooey"): Goodbye
- Alstublieft ("ahl-shtu-bleeft"): Please (formal)
- Alsjeblieft ("Ahl-shyuh-bleeft"): Please (informal)
- Dank u wel ("dahnk-vel"): Thank you (formal)
- Bedankt ("be-dahnkt"): Thank you (less formal but commonly used)
- Pardon ("pahr-dohn"): Pardon/Excuse me
- Proost (“prow-sht”): Cheers!
Festivals in Amsterdam
This dynamic city is also famous for its music, art and dance festivals. While planning your trip, make sure to look up festivals taking place at the same time. During spring and summer, outdoor music festivals take place almost weekly throughout the city, while during fall and winter, festivals move indoors but continue to attract big names. Check out this page for more information on festivals in Amsterdam. Here are the top recurring festivals that you should know of:
- Light Festival – Amsterdam City Center: December - January
- Christmas Markets – Throughout Amsterdam: Late November until early January
- Tulip Day – Picking Garden on Dam Square: January 21st
- Chinese New Year – Zeedijk: February 1st
- Amsterdam Gay Pride – Throughout Amsterdam: Late July until early August
- King’s Day – Throughout Amsterdam: April 27th
- Vondelpark Open-Air Theater: Early May until late September
- The Open Garden Days – Throughout Amsterdam: Third weekend of June
- Sail Amsterdam: Sail Amsterdam (it takes place every five years)
- Heritage Day (Open Monumentendag): The second weekend of September
Nightlife in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is known for its fantastic nightlife. Bars and cafés in the city center generally stay open until 01:00 AM on weekdays and 03:00 AM on weekends, while clubs usually stay open till 04:00 AM on weekends. The dress code for most bars and clubs is casual. Make sure to carry your ID card; you must be 18 or older to enter most clubs. At select locations, the minimum age to enter a club is 21.
If you are planning to party in Amsterdam, consider purchasing an Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket. With this pass, you can gain entry into 12 nightclubs in the city, enjoy free welcome shots and get great deals on drinks and Uber rides.
Whether you’re looking to dance the night away, listen to some live music or hop from one brown bar to the next, here are are few options to spend a night out in the city:
Leidseplein is the most popular nightlife hub in the city. On both weekdays and weekends, crowds of young people flock to bars, restaurants and clubs in and around this famous square. The following spots near Leidseplein guarantee a memorable night out:
- Bars: Dan Murphy’s Irish Pub, De Zotte, Café de Waard
- Clubs: Paradiso, Melkweg, Club Up
- Live Music: The Waterhole Live Music Bar, Bourbon Street Blues Club
- Theatres: Stadsschouwburg (International Theater Amsterdam)
Like Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein is another fun part of the city to enjoy a drink. It is conveniently located right in the city center. If you visit Amsterdam during winter (between November and February), you can also visit the magical Christmas market.
Amsterdam Culture Tips
Amsterdam is an international city that celebrates the diversity of its inhabitants. It is home to 180 different nationalities and 45% of the population comprises ethinc minorities, making it one of the most diverse cities in Europe. The different cultural, socio-economic and religious diaspora in Amsterdam makes this city a vibrant and tourist-friendly destination.
To get a taste of what makes this city unique, balance out visits between classic historic locations like Museumplein and Dam Square, while exploring different neighborhoods around the city center or visiting contemporary exhibitions and shows in the city.
As a population, remember that the Dutch are extremely straightforward. While ordering food/drinks, asking for directions or striking up a conversation with a local, don’t expect any embellished responses -- the Dutch will cut right to the chase. Additionally, they are known for their punctuality; being on time for your tour or dinner reservation will win brownie points with the locals.
Should you choose to visit the Red Light District, please remember not to photograph the sex workers, avoid shouting and littering.
Tipping is optional so keep the calculators in. Amsterdam has a good living wage even for restaurant workers, which is why unlike the USA tipping is not mandatory. If you are eating out in a fancy restaurant you can tip up to 10% if you are exceptionally happy with the service. But do remember that customer service here does not mean waiting on your hand and foot, it is more relaxed and organized to assist you rather than pamper you. You don’t need to tip in bars or cafes; at the most you can round it off to the nearest zero.
More culture per capita
The tiny city is packed with its long enduring history and proudly show-off what they’ve gained from it. This means, there is always more to explore in the city. From the historical Anne Frank’s hiding to the innumerable museums, there are plenty of things to see and do.
Talking about museums
Say anything and an Amsterdammer will respond with, “There’s a museum for that”. You can find small museums just about anywhere in the city from drugs to funerals. Make sure you walk into museums about all the things you are passionate about to see what hidden facts you never knew.
A city of cyclists
63% of Amsterdammers cycle every day and the total length of bike paths in the city is about 500 km. This makes the city one of the most holistic in the world and is a great way of travelling close distances. Tourists can also take a “backie”. This is a new initiative by the locals of the city to lend a lift for tourists as a pillion rider. All you have to do is shout “backie” when you spot a cyclist with a yellow luggage rack.
A boathouse for cats
If you are a cat person, you have come to the right place. Amsterdam has built a boathouse for the abandoned moggies of the city. It is a floating feline sanctuary moored on the Singel canal. It’s called De Poezenboot and you can make a reservation here to see the quirky attraction.
The notorious RLD
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a peek into the Red Light District. If you are someone who wishes to uncover the mysteries of the Museum of Prostitution and crack the clichés, definitely should pay a visit. Don't let Instagram know that you have been here by taking pictures since the women behind the windows do not like to be photographed.