Amsterdam is one of those cities that is worth doing some research on before you visit. A lot of the time you’ll only be in the city for a few days, so it’s vital you know the ins and outs of how to make the most of your time there before you arrive. With that in mind, here are 7 questions you should be asking before you visit, and some (hopefully) helpful answers and tips…
Amsterdam is a maze of canals and narrow streets. What’s the easiest way to get around?
Thankfully, Amsterdam’s tram system is one of the best in Europe. There are numerous routes that can take you to all parts of the city and beyond, with two main stops situated just outside of Centraal Station. The best (and cheapest) thing to do is to purchase an OV-chipkaart, allowing unlimited travel over a period of either 24, 48 or 72 hours. Just hop on and off at your chosen stop and explore the area before moving on again. Trams 1 & 2 are likely to be your most used routes, and tickets start from €7.50.
What can I do with my luggage to save me carrying it all around Amsterdam?
A great thing to know is that there are drop-and-go lockers available to use within Centraal Station. These are perfect if you’re visiting for a day or two and arrive with your luggage before having a chance to drop it off at your hotel. It’s perfectly secure and only costs € 4 (bigger pieces for € 7).
Where can I hire a bike?
Bikes are everywhere in Amsterdam. In fact there are approximately 800,000 of them throughout the city! They also have the right of way in most places so be sure to look both ways before crossing the street. Hiring a bike and joining the crowds is a great way of getting around, and there are an abundance of shops dotted on every street for you to hire from. The most popular of which is Yellow Bike, around 3 minutes’ walk from the station…here you can rent a bike for 24 hours at around €12.
Which museums should I visit during my stay?
With more than 50 museums, it can be difficult to decide which ones you should visit during your stay. Personally, I’d pick the ones that offer the most unique experiences, so that leaves us with the Anne Frank House (for obvious reasons), the Rijksmuseum which is one of the largest in the world, the Van Gogh Museum housing the biggest collection of his works and finally, the Amsterdam Zoo and Nature Museums – a city centre zoo plus one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world…it’s worth a visit! To save a little money, add an Amsterdam Sightseeing Card onto your booking for access to either 5 or 7 museums.
Which are the best areas to stay in?
Staying as centrally as possible gives you the best chance of seeing everything you want to, obviously. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to stay in central Amsterdam than it is in a lot of other major cities. So, choose from hotels right on Damrak (Amsterdam’s main street) or any of the number of side streets that make up this fascinating city. If you want to venture a little further out, stay near to the Rijksmuseum which is around 10 minutes on the tram from Dam Square.
How far is the centre from Europoort (Ferry Port)/Schiphol (Airport)?
Two of the best ways to travel to Amsterdam are via ferry on a mini cruise from Hull, or by flying into Schiphol Airport. If you hop on the ferry you’ll travel via Rotterdam and arrive at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station in around 1.5 hours. If you fly in to Schiphol, the transfer is around 20 mins on one of the connecting train services.
TOP TIP: If you love cheese, pay a visit to the Old Amsterdam Cheese Store for the best grilled cheese sandwich you will ever eat!
Travelling in a group?
Amsterdam attracts plenty of groups, whether it’s a stag do or a city break with friends. One of these groups involved our very own Sarah who wrote a fabulously helpful blog on ‘Travelling in Numbers’ after her weekend break in the Dutch capital. The main things to remember are;
– Communicate ideas before you go – it’s easy to lose each other in Amsterdam
– Make sure everyone’s interests are covered – there’s so much to do here, and not everybody wants to spend all day in museums or a bar
– Pre-book, pre-book and pre-book – wherever you go the crowds will already be there, so make sure you book any tours and tickets in advance
– Have a meeting point – don’t waste your break by searching for those in your group who took the wrong tram
Hopefully this mini Q&A has given you some helpful advice on planning your break in Amsterdam, plus a good idea of what to expect once you arrive. If you have any more questions feel free to comment below and we’ll get back to you!