Everything You Need to Know
Visiting Amsterdam? This Amsterdam Travel Guide has everything you need to know before exploring this charming European city. As the capital of The Netherlands, this popular tourist destination is incredibly charming. Known for its elaborate canals, museums, boathouses, historic architecture & coffee shops, as well as its unique culture & history, the city truly has something to offer everyone.
Founded in 1275, Amserdam is a small and compact city that is bursting with history and offers endless things to do. Due to it’s size, the city easy to navigate and explore on foot, with most attractions being located in and around the city center. But just in case you aren’t up for walking, the city also offers a great public transportation system with trams, buses, and the metro. Between the world-class museums, bicycle tours, thriving arts scene, world-class restaurant scene, cultural attractions & more, there is no shortage of fun to be had. We have broken down all the details about where to stay, what to do, where to eat and drink & more in this Amsterdam Travel Guide below!
Amsterdam “Coffee Shops” are actually smoke shops. If you want coffee, look for cafes!
When To Visit
The best time to visit Amsterdam is April-May or September- November, right before or directly after the summertime high tourist season.
The official language is Dutch, but nearly everyone speaks English as a second language.
Schiphol Airport is the main airport serving Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. Located just outside the city, Schiphol is a major hub for air traffic and is known for its impressive architecture. It’s the third busiest airport in Europe and serves as the home base for Dutch airlines KLM, with several others passing through with layovers like Delta, EasyJet, etc. Getting to the city center from the airport is super simple! A taxi should costs around 39€ and takes 15-20 minutes. You can also catch the train to the city center, which costs 5.40€ and it takes around 20 minutes.
What To Expect
Amsterdam has one of the best public transportation systems in Europe, but if you really want to get around like a local, rent a bike! Biking is the prefered transportation for locals, but can be a bit intimidating due to the vast number of bikes, cars, and people navigating the streets.
Biking: Bike rentals are ubundant throughout the city. However, one reputable place with locations all over the city is MicBike. Due to their exceptional service, this is our top recommendation for bike rentals.
Walking: Being a small, compact city, most places are within walking distance of each other. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes, as we were averaging around 20,000 steps a day!
Public Transportation: Traveling within Amsterdam by public transport is straightforward, convenient and quite affordable. The extensive network is operated by GVB and connects the city’s neighborhoods by train, tram, metro, bus and ferry.
If you’re thinking about sending a postcard from Amsterdam, you might want to consider one that features Grachtengordel. It’s a really charming area of the city that’s surrounded by the main canals – Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht. You’ll find lots of cute colorful townhomes, restaurants with waterfront views, fancy hotels, and popular attractions like the Anne Frank House.
Considered by many to be the most desirable neighborhood in the city of Amsterdam! Jordan is an absolutely gorgeous area with winding streets, canals, cute cafes, and high-end boutiques. It’s like a maze of charm and beauty, and it’s definitely worth a visit!
If you’re into art and culture, you might want to check out Museumkwartier, also known as the ‘Museum Quarter’. Located in the Oud-Zuid borough of Amsterdam, this neighborhood is home to some of the world’s most important artistic and historical contributions, chic dining experiences, and also one of the best-sounding orchestral concert venues on the planet. When you need a break from all the history, be sure to check out the array of high-end jewelry stores and designer boutiques in the area.
De Pijp, which is located just south of Amsterdam’s city center, is a neighborhood that has undergone a transformation from a working-class area to a trendy hub. It has an urban industrial vibe mixed with bohemian flair, and there’s so much to do and see. You can visit the Albert Cuyp Markt for delicious food, or hang out at one of the cool brunch spots, retro pubs, or contemporary ateliers
De Wallen, or Amsterdam’s Red Light District, is the oldest neighborhood in Amsterdam and has been an important cultural center for over 600 years! If the cobblestone streets could talk, they would have plenty of stories to tell. This area is known for its peep shows, sex shops, cannabis cafes and nightclubs, and attracts a lot of travelers who are looking for a unique and unconventional experience.
Amsterdam Things To Do
At this trendy restaurant in Amsterdam, avocado isn’t just a breakfast food. All of the dishes feature the humble fruit in creative ways, including poke bowls, pancake stacks and even avocado cheesecake.
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience in Amsterdam, this two-starred Michelin restaurant is a must-visit. Known for its stunning ambiance and top-notch cuisine, it’s a very popular spot. Be sure to make reservations well in advance!
For a trendy dining experience with a focus on modern Dutch cuisine, head to Wild Boar in Oost. The industrial, shabby-chic interior and daily menu featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients make this a must-visit spot. Choose from a three or four course meal and pair it with some wine for a truly memorable experience.
If you’re an early diner, you won’t want to miss this charming wine bar near the Dappermarkt. They offer one of the best deals in town, with dishes like pappardelle with ragù being a favorite. The gnocchi changes seasonally, featuring strong flavors like smoked scamorza in winter and fresh green peas in spring.
Pesca is the perfect spot for seafood lovers! As soon as you arrive, the friendly staff will offer you a glass of champagne to sip on while you browse the day’s fresh catch of fish, mussels, octopus, and scallops displayed on ice. Choose your favorite and add some drinks and sides, then grab a table and wait for your plate of perfectly cooked seafood to arrive.
At Bak, you’ll enjoy a culinary experience that celebrates the best of Dutch ingredients, all while taking in stunning views of the river IJ. Benny Blisto, has crafted a mouthwatering menu featuring sustainable fish and a variety of vegetables. And to wash it all down, you’ll find a fun and varied wine list with a great selection of natural wines at reasonable prices.
Hiding in Plain Sight (or HPS, as locals call it) is a secret, speakeasy-style bar that feels like an exclusive clubhouse. Located close to the center of Amsterdam but tucked away enough to avoid the tourist crowds, this classy bar is the perfect place to relax and enjoy an evening with friends or solo. The bartenders are knowledgeable, the cocktails are inventive, and the lounge-style seating makes it a cozy and comfortable place to spend the evening.
Bar Bukowski is a cozy neighborhood hangout near Oosterpark that’s dedicated to literature and liquor. It’s named after writer Charles Bukowski and has a laid-back atmosphere that feels like the neighborhood’s living room. The bar has a great selection of classic cocktails and a well-rounded beer list, and the decor is inspired by literature, with a typewriter-inspired light installation above the bar and Bukowski quotes on the menu.
This spot has been gaining international recognition for its amazing drinks and talented mixologists. Co-owner Tess Posthumus has been nominated for the best international bartender at the Spirited Awards for many years in a row, and she brings her expertise to this buzzy, centrally-located bar. The focus here is on classic cocktails based on recipes that are up to 400 years old, and there’s a wide selection of spirits to choose from, with over 500 bottles behind the softly lit bar.
The Brouwerij ‘t IJ brewery is located in an old bath house at the base of Amsterdam’s largest windmill, and has been brewing Belgian-inspired beers on-site for over 30 years. Their beers can be found on menus all around the city, and they even have a second tasting room at Het Blauwe Theehuis in Vondelpark. But the original outpost is definitely worth a visit, where you can take a tour, try a flight of their beers, or enjoy the sun on the large terrace with the windmill overhead.
Known as being a tourist spot, don’t be surprised if there aren’t many locals here. While only 11 stories up, this spot is known for its unbeatable views over Amsterdam. With soaring windows and immaculate views, the ambiance is almost as good as the drinks.
This whiskey café has a wide selection of specialty craft beer and whiskey. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable about their spirits, and the warm interior makes for an excellent spot to spend time with friends.
If we haven’t convinced you yet, Amsterdam is well worth visiting. The best part? You can visit as a quick stop over on the way to your final destination in Europe. In fact, our first time visiting Amsterdam was on a layover to France! With its iconic canals, historic townhomes, and cobblestone lanes, Amsterdam is a picturesque destination that truly has something for everyone. Thanks for reading and please reach out with any questions or feedback!