Hello guys, hope you are doing well! Amsterdam is probably one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m not just saying that because I am living here right now (Not anymore, but I was at the time of writing this). There must have been a reason for moving here in the first place don’t you think?
Anyway, if it is your first time visiting Amsterdam there might be a few things that you wish you would have known in advance. Some facts might even surprise you or you already knew all of these and are thinking “What a waste of a post”.
Whatever the case, here are 20 things you should know before traveling to Amsterdam. Some of these particularly apply to Amsterdam, whereas others apply to the rest of the Netherlands as well.
Thinking of moving to rather than just visiting Amsterdam? Everything you Need to Know when Moving to The Netherlands!
1. Accommodation books out in advance
Staying in Amsterdam is not only expensive, but it is also of really high demand. Especially in the summer or during holidays, accommodations will usually book out quite early in advance.
Therefore, make sure to already have your hostel/ hotel booked prior to arrival, to avoid arriving in Amsterdam without having a place to stay.
2. Buildings are usually quite narrow and tall
Because renting/owning any kind of property in Amsterdam is crazy expensive and back in the days houses were taxed on the width of the frontage, houses are build pretty narrow as you can see in the picture below.
3. OV day pass
If you are planning on taking public transportation within Amsterdam during your stay (Bus, Tram, Metro), you will be best off investing in an OV-day pass. These can be purchases at all metro station ticket machines or in the middle of the tram where tickets are being sold.
These passes can be purchased for a different amount of days (e.g. 24h/48/72h etc.), whereas, the longer the ticket period the cheaper the price per day compared to the 24h ticket alone.
Especially if you do not have a Dutch OV card that you can top up with your transportation money, buying tickets every time you take public transport can become quite expensive.
Prices as of last time I checked the website are 8€ for 24h, 13,50€ for 48h, 19€ for 72h etc. (for more information check the website). The time period starts counting from the minute you first check into public transportation.
4. Public Transport requires you to always check in/out
At the train station you can not even get to the train tracks without a valid ticket to check in. The same applies for the metro stations in most cases.
5. The best way to explore Amsterdam is by bike
For once, it’s cheaper but you can also be more flexible when planning your trip around Amsterdam. And since Dutch people pretty much bike everywhere, doesn’t matter what the weather conditions look like, it is the best way to get the most authentic Dutch experience.
6. There are parking houses for Bikes
At my university they even have people guide you towards a parking spot for your bike in the parking house so you don’t have to search that long. There are also huge parking spaces for bikes at the Central Station (see below).
7. Don’t walk on the Bike Lanes
And on that note, do not ever walk on the bike lanes. Because for once you can get run over by passing bikes. But also what i find the most annoying is when tourists stand on the bike lane and when biking I have to get quite close to the tram tracks which can be pretty dangerous.
8. There is no use for 1 and 2 cent coins
Apart from not really using cash in a lot of places anyway. In the Netherlands, people do not use 1 and 2 cent coins. Your payable amount will therefore, be either rounded up or down depending on the amount due.
9. You might not get far with your credit card
Other than not being big on using cash, a lot of places will also not accept your Visa/Master credit cards. In general people always pay with maestro cards. So keep that in might if you do not have a European Maestro card.
In general, however, usually a place will take either cash or credit cards in addition to maestro cards, so usually you will be able to make payments somehow.
10. If you don’t feel like queuing all day, buy Museum Tickets in advance
Everywhere in the city centre you can see people queuing in front of random places, Madame Tussauds, Amsterdam Dungeon, some random museum etc, you name it.
To avoid that or to make sure that you will definitely get to enter on the day that you where planning on going, make sure to buy museum tickets online beforehand.
11. There is also the possibility to buy a Museum Pass
If you are really into museums, there is also a museum pass that you can purchase that might save you a couple of €€. There is one that can only be purchased by Dutch residents and that is also valid for a longer period of time, but from what I read, there is a tourist version as well.
12. You can also invest in an IAMSTERDAM Pass
Just like the London Pass or any other city pass, the IAMSTERDAM pass allows you to visit a bunch of attractions for less money if you were planning on visiting them all anyway.
13. Everyone speaks English
In general, Dutch people speaking English really well. Mostly, I guess because a lot of TV Shows/ Movies do not get translated into Dutch and people always watch it in English with subtitles instead.
But then again, with the amount of expats living in Amsterdam and the amount of tourists wanting to visit the city every year, English is kind of essential in this city.
14. Stores are open on Sundays
This might be completely normal to you but coming from a country where everything is closed on Sundays, this is totally worth mentioning. Stores might close a little earlier than during the week but in general Sunday is just like any other day in Amsterdam.
On the other hand, some stores open a little later on Mondays than on other days of the week.
15. Amsterdam is Heaven for Cheese lovers
In the centre of Amsterdam you will find a bunch of stores selling only cheese: And the best part about it, is that you can try all the cheese beforehand. Also, there will be all kinds of cheese, such as pesto cheese or garlic cheese or pumpkin cheese or whatever cheese you can thing of.
16. Coffeeshops vs. Cafés
I feel like this is something that is kind of obvious when traveling to Amsterdam, but for some reason I see every blogger including it in their “Things to know before traveling to Amsterdam”-List, so I thought I might include it as well.
Anyway, if you see a coffeeshop, they might sell coffee as well bust mostly weed. If you are looking for a real coffee instead then you should look for a café.
17. You are not allowed to take pictures of the Red Light District
Just out of respect alone for the people working in the red light district you are not allowed to take pictures. There will be signs around and you can be asked to deleted the pictures by police if they are around.
18. It’s illegal to drink Alcohol on the Streets
Especially in the tourist districts you can find a lot of signs stating fines for when you are drinking on the street. So just don’t do it.
19. You can buy Burgers in Vending Machines
And not only burgers, but also “krokettes” or “frikadell” or other typical Dutch food that you can take on the go. The cool thing about it that it saves you the hassle of waiting in line or talking to employees. You can find these pretty much every where in Amsterdam, mostly in train stations or shopping areas.
20. People usually don’t buy Water but rather Drink the Tab Water
Dutch Tab water is always drinkable and at a lot of places within the city you can find free water fill up station. Also Dutch people are not too big on sparkling water and in general you will get free tab water when going to a restaurant.
This is my favourite website when it comes to booking accommodation abroad because I can always find the cheapest Hostel deals. Would 100 % recommend, go check it out 🙂
Here you have it. My list of 20 things you should know before traveling to Amsterdam! Is there anything that surprised you or that you would like to add to this list?
Let me know in the comments
Talk to you soon x
pin this post for later