Amsterdam is located in the north-west of Holland at the mouth of the Amstel and Hey rivers. The name of the city comes from the words Amstel and Dam, which means “dam on the Amstel River.” The first mention of Amsterdam dates back to 1275, when in its place there was a modest fishing village, thanks to the constructed dam, which later turned into a port.
In the XVI-XVII centuries, Amsterdam became a shopping center of world significance. In the next two centuries, the city had to reflect the claims of France and England. In the XVIII century, Amsterdam was captured by France, many buildings during this period were destroyed. From the end of the XIX century to the middle of the XX century, the city was in decline, continuing until the end of Hitler’s occupation.
Today’s Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city, a major cultural and financial center with a population of about 814,000. The Dutch capital is a city that has developed immunity to racial, sexual and religious discrimination, in which representatives of almost 200 nationalities coexist peacefully.
Amsterdam is located 4 meters below sea level, all of its buildings are built on huge stilts. The city is called the “Venice of the North” – 150 canals connected by 1,200 picturesque bridges are laid within Amsterdam. Nearly 3,000 houseboats moored in comfortable apartments are moored along the banks of the canals. Such dwellings on water are official, each has a mailing address.
The climate of Amsterdam is influenced by its proximity to the sea. The city often hosts the wind, driving rain clouds. Summer is warm, but without sweltering heat, the average temperature is from +18 ° C to + 22 ° C. Winters are windy, but not frosty, the average January temperature is around zero. Autumn is usually foggy and rainy. In Amsterdam, high humidity is 80%.
How to get from Schiphol to Amsterdam?
From the airport to the center of Amsterdam you can get:
- by train. Travel time is 17 minutes. Arrives at Amsterdam Central Station. The cost of a one-way ticket is 5.40 euros (4.40 for travel + 1 euro for a one-time OV-chipkaart). You need to buy a ticket at the machine or at the box office. From September 2017, tickets can also be bought online. So you can avoid overpaying 1 euro for a one-time card. The ticket is not tied to a specific train; it can be used throughout the day.
- by bus Amsterdam Airport Express No. 397 (previously it had number 197). Travel time is 30 minutes. Arrives at Museum Square. The cost of a one-way ticket is 6.50 euros (you can buy it directly from the driver, payment only by card). You can also buy a round-trip bus ticket No. 397 for 11.25 euros online.
- by taxi. A trip will cost you an average of 45 – 50 euros. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is better to order a taxi online with a fixed price >> The driver will meet you with a sign.
How to get from Eindhoven?
You can get from Eindhoven to Amsterdam:
by Air Express Bus directly from the airport. The cost of a one-way ticket is 24 euros, both ways – 40 euros. Online tickets can be bought at a discount of 1.50 euros.
by train. In this case, you first need to get to the Eindhoven train station (a bus ticket costs 3.70 euros). The cost of a ticket for the Eindhoven – Amsterdam one-way train is 20.50 euros (19.50 euros for the journey + 1 euro for a one-time OV-chipkaart). Train tickets can also be bought online.
Hotels in Amsterdam
Accommodation in Amsterdam can be found for every taste, from a boat on the canal to luxury five-star hotels. If you want to stay in the center of Amsterdam while avoiding the crowds, check out the hotels in the Jordan area. Here you will find a very convenient breakdown of hotels by category, area and star rating – it will help you make a choice.
The average cost of a more or less decent hotel in Amsterdam is 100 euros per day. If you want to save a little, there are two options here – stay in the vicinity of Amsterdam. Or book accommodation in advance, for several months for a trip. The cost of the hotel will be fixed for you at the time of booking. And hotel prices in Amsterdam, especially in the hot season, can rise very significantly.
Public transportation in Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s public transport (trams, buses, subways, ferries) is operated by GVB. Ticket price for 1 hour in 2019 is 3.20 euros. For 24 hours – 8 euros. Children under 4 years old travel for free. For children 4-11 years old there is a special ticket for 24 hours, which costs 4 euros. Tickets can be bought from the driver, at vending machines, or at GVB Tickets & Info offices. Trams, buses and the metro operate from 6 a.m. to 0:30 a.m. From 0:30 to 7:00, night buses run around the city.
Of course, you can cycle around Amsterdam and the surrounding area by bicycle.
To find out which transport will take you along the desired route, use the website 9292.nl.
Public transportation in Holland
The train is perhaps the main mode of transport in Holland. All information about the schedule and ticket prices can be found on the NS.nl website. Disposable train tickets are sold at vending machines or at the box office (look for the Tickets & Service sign) at stations, as well as online at NS International. Before starting the trip, you need to do a check-in – bring the card to the validator and make sure that it scans it.
Please note: the validator on which you need to check in is at the station, not in the train itself.
Money in Holland
The official currency of the Netherlands is the euro. Arriving in Holland, it is better to have banknotes no larger than 50 euros. Chip-type MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted in tourist places, but in many institutions (including supermarkets) you can pay only with Maestro cards or in cash.
You can exchange money for euros in Amsterdam at exchange offices (for example, GWK Travelex), but the rate will be unprofitable + you will be charged 0.75% commission (minimum 3.75 euros). Therefore, it is better to come to Holland, having money in local currency.
Prices in Amsterdam
How much money should I take on a trip? You can find out about prices in Amsterdam (the cost of transport, museums, entertainment, products) and, based on your plans, calculate how much you will need to spend.
In a good way, 50 euros per day per person is the minimum that is needed for a relaxing stay in Amsterdam (provided that you will not actively go to museums and that you have already booked a hotel).
What to see in Amsterdam? Here I have collected several options for plans and ideas for what to do in the capital of Holland. The article is constantly updated. Choose, combine, create your own program to your taste.
On my own behalf, I would definitely recommend going to Chinatown, the red light district (you should go there to feel the atmosphere of Amsterdam!), Ride along the canals of Amsterdam, and glance at the markets. Climb to the roof of the central library of Amsterdam (free admission) and look at the city from a height. All these attractions are located in the center of Amsterdam.
Want to see the non-tourist Amsterdam? Take a stroll around the Jordan area. Take a trip (or even better, walk through the Aud West area) to De Hallen. Check out the museums located in old canal houses.
Today in Amsterdam there are about 50 completely different museums. From the Rijksmuseum where you can see Rembrandt’s Night Watch and the Van Gogh Museum to the Micropia Microbe Museum. When planning a trip to museums, especially such popular ones as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House Museum and Heineken Experience Beer Museum, it is best to buy tickets in advance online to avoid long lines.
Attention! Sometimes, during the holiday season and on weekends, it’s almost impossible to buy online tickets to the Van Gogh Museum every day. Plan your visit in advance and buy tickets at least 2-3 days before the desired date.
The cost of tickets when buying online is not higher, and sometimes lower than the cost at the entrance. In particular, this applies to tickets to Madame Tussauds, the Amsterdam Dungeon Horror House, and the Heineken Experience Museum (2 euro discount).
If you plan to actively visit museums, then perhaps it will be more profitable for you to buy one of the three subscriptions:
- travel card I amsterdam city card
- tourist map of Holland Pass
- annual subscription to Museumkaart museums
Shopping in Amsterdam
The most popular shopping places in Amsterdam are the Kalverstraat pedestrian street (mainly mass-market brands are represented), the area of nine streets (local brands and creative shops), the De Bijenkorf shopping center on Dam Square (luxury brands and more affordable brands) and PC street Hooftstraat in the Museum Quarter (premium brands). Interesting designer shops can be found on Staalstraat. The sales time in Amsterdam falls mainly in January-February and July.
An hour away from Amsterdam is the Batavia Stad outlet. Here I described my impressions of his visit. In short, out of season discounts on particularly advantageous purchases are difficult to count there. But, if you like leisurely shopping in a pleasant environment, you can go. It is most convenient to get there on a special shuttle, which will cost 5 euros (round trip). Shuttles depart from Amsterdam daily at 10.00.
Cafes and Restaurants in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to people of 190 nationalities. In terms of gastronomy, it’s just a holiday of some kind: here you can try dishes of almost any cuisine of the world (here, however, locals advise being careful with Argentinean steaks). The renowned TripAdvisor is a great help in finding restaurants. Most of the good reviews I’ve heard about The Seafood Bar and Guts & Glory. Which ones did you like? Tell us in the comments!
What is worth keeping in mind. In Amsterdam you will not find complex three-course dinners, and indeed you will not find hot dishes during lunch far from everywhere. Soup or sandwiches, juice or coffee – this is what a traditional Dutch lunch looks like. So you have little to lose if you decide to have a snack on lunch on the go. But for dinner in many places they offer just the same complex – appetizer, hot, dessert. It costs about 25 – 40 euros.
Places I go to in Amsterdam:
- Thai cafe Jasmine Thai (update: cafe, alas, closed) and Bird Thai restaurant (eat take away) on Zeedijk street, when you want delicious and spicy Asian food
- Spanjer + van Twist cafe (Leliegracht 60, a half minute walk from the Anne Frank Museum), if you want to drink a glass of wine, sitting right next to the canal
- cafe in the central library (Oosterdokskade 143, near the station), if you want to drink coffee, looking at Amsterdam from a height
- for the best steaks in Amsterdam – at Loetje restaurants (pictured is a tuna steak)
- for sushi – in Sumo Sushi. Their restaurants have an all you can eat system.
Cafes and restaurants with panoramic views of Amsterdam:
- Blue amsterdam
- SkyLounge Amsterdam
- W Lounge and Mr Porter
- A’DAM Lookout and MadaM Restaurant
- LaPlace in the library
- Ron Gastrobar Indonesia Downtown
Cafes and restaurants with canal views:
- Marie at Hotel De L’Europe
- Cafe De Jaren (there is a terrace on the water)
- De Jaren Cafe in Amsterdam
- cafe in the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje bag museum (you need an entrance ticket to the museum to visit)
- Lunch at the Museum of Bags in Amsterdam
- Brasserie ambassade
- Amstel Lounge at the 5-star InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam
If you want something special, head out to the train for dinner. It begins with a meeting on the red carpet and continues with a three-hour trip to the picturesque places of Holland and, in fact, a four-course dinner. Book a table on the train in advance.
Here’s the Top 10 ideas for family vacations in Amsterdam from the guide Katie Bartels:
- First acquaintance with the city: a walk along the canals
- Acquaintance with art: Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum
- Artis, Holland’s oldest zoo
- Museum of Microbes, Viruses and Bacteria
- Amsterdam houses, residential boats and secret churches
- Residential boat museum, cat boat and Jordan walk
- Maritime Museum: “maritime” Holland for adults and children
- NEMO Interactive Museum
- World of Ajax and Amsterdam ArenA: for boys of all ages!
- Entertainment centers for children from 1 to 12 years old
- Souvenirs and gifts from Holland
What to bring from Amsterdam?
If you want to buy souvenirs for 3-10 euros (magnets, Amsterdam houses, klomps, etc.), go to the Flower Market. You can also buy tulip bulbs there. More interesting and sophisticated souvenirs are sold in museum stores.
14 Tips for savings in Amsterdam.
Transport in Amsterdam
1. Transport in the Netherlands is an expensive pleasure. But holders of travel cards (and most of such among local residents) can travel by train within the country with a 40% discount (the discount is valid at off-peak hours – until 6.30, from 9.00 to 16.00, after 18.30 on weekdays and around the clock on weekends). Moreover, they can take with them at a discount up to three companions. If you easily find contact with people, get acquainted with the owners of the travel card – and continue the journey with them (it is important that you travel together all the way). For example, if you fly to Eindhoven, a full train ticket to Amsterdam will cost you 18.80 euros per person, and a discounted ticket costs 11.30 euros.
Speaking of Eindhoven. If you decide to book a direct transfer from the airport to Amsterdam, it will cost 24 euros one way and 40 euros round trip. And online this transfer can be booked at a discount of 1.50 euros.
2. Check if a promotion for selling day tickets will be held during your trip. If you are lucky, you can travel by train around the Netherlands for an unlimited day for 13,99 – 17,99 euros.
3. Do not rush to buy a ticket for public transport in Amsterdam. Actually, it’s not such a big city, and it’s convenient (without a suitcase, of course), and most importantly it’s interesting to walk. Alternatively, you can rent a bike. It will cost from 6.50 euros per day.
4. If you are traveling to the Netherlands with a large company, and you have someone who can pay with a Dutch bank card, pay attention to the group train ticket. If you will be 10 people, then the trip will cost you only 8 euros each. Such tickets are sold only online.
Museums and excursions in Amsterdam
5. Before traveling, look at the Internet for prices on visiting attractions that interest you. In Amsterdam, to many popular museums, especially entertainment, tickets are sold online at a discount. In particular, this applies to tickets to Madame Tussauds (online discount of 3.5 euros), Heineken Experience museum (discount of 2 euros), Amsterdam’s Icebar (discount of 2 euros), Body Worlds body exhibition (discount of 2 euros), Madurodam miniature park ( online discount 2 euros).
6. Go to the tourist information center (it is easy to identify by the blue flags with the VVV logo. In Amsterdam, one of the centers is located directly on the forecourt) – and take these mini-cards there.
Each of them entitles you to a discount on an admission ticket (for example, 1.50 euros in Madurodam, 20% in a museum in Enkhuizen, 10% on a Volendam-Marken ferry) or a free cup of tea, coffee or a souvenir 🙂
7. If you plan to go to museums a lot (and especially if you moved to live in Holland), consider buying a museum card. At first glance, its cost (€ 64.90) seems rather big, but it pays off literally for 4 – 5 trips to museums. Other travel card options are I amsterdam city card and Holland Pass. Here you can find out how they differ and who are better suited.
Restaurants in Amsterdam
8. If you want a quick, tasty and budget snack, head to the self-service restaurant on the top floor of the Amsterdam library. There you can also enjoy great views of the city. Is free!
9. Every morning from 9.00 to 10.00 in Amsterdam or another city in Holland you can have breakfast in the cafe of the HEMA store for only 2 euros (note: on Sundays shops, and, accordingly, the NEMA cafe in some cities may open later).
10. Planning to buy groceries at the supermarket? At the Albert Neijn supermarket chain (they are at every step in the Netherlands) ask for a free bonus card at the information desk – and many products (their list changes every week) will cost you much cheaper.
11. Fly through Schiphol and plan on your way back to Duty Free? Sign up for news on the SeeBuyFly.nl website and get a coupon for a discount of 5 euros in all Schiphol stores for purchases worth more than 25 euros. And the shops there are great 🙂 Checked – it works!
12. Do not forget that if you make a purchase worth more than 50 euros, in many stores you can issue tax free checks. If on the way home you will be at Schiphol Airport from 8.00 to 19.30, you can get a refund right there, in the pavilions of the Global Blue Customer Service. You cannot issue a refund at Eindhoven Airport, as domestic flights fly from there, and tax-free checks are stamped at the point of departure from the EU.
13. While inside Amsterdam’s stores, pay attention to advertising. Often there you can see an announcement that you can get a small discount (usually within 5 euros for a total purchase amount of 50 euros) for like the store’s Facebook page or for subscribing to its news.
14. During sales in Amsterdam, clothes gradually lose their presentation. If you liked a thing, but it has some minor defects, do not hesitate to draw the seller’s attention to it. Of course, in most cases they will tell you that this is a sale, what you want. But there are exceptions. Once, paying at the checkout, I lamented that it was a pity such a beautiful and good-looking dress, but it was a little bit apart and I was immediately offered an additional 15% discount.