Amsterdam: tips from experienced travelers
There is only one airport in Amsterdam, which is only 15 km from the city center. You can get from it by train, bus or taxi. We recommend the first option – it is the cheapest and most convenient. Trains leave every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Airport Station, which is located directly at the airport. To get to the city center, you need to get to the Amsterdam Centraal station. Travel time is only 15-20 minutes. Ticket price € 4.10.
The exact train timetable can be found on the Netherlands Railways website. You can also buy a ticket online there. Although there are few controllers on the trains, we advise you not to neglect the rules and buy a ticket at the ticket office or vending machines, since the fine for free travel is substantial – € 40.
Hotels in Amsterdam are not cheap, you have to take it for granted. Even small 2-3 star B&Bs can cost € 100. But there are several travel hacks that will save you money on accommodation in Amsterdam. First, we can traditionally recommend booking accommodation in advance, because the best deals are snapped up like hot cakes.
Secondly, we advise you to go not on weekends, as many Dutch, Belgians and Germans often come to spend the weekend in Amsterdam, which means that competition and prices rise accordingly instantly, compared to working days.
Thirdly, in Amsterdam, oddly enough, there is a seasonality: in the periods November-mid-December and mid-January-March, housing prices in Amsterdam are reduced by 30-50%.
Another way to save money on a hotel is to stay not in Amsterdam, but in Haarlem, which is 15-20 minutes away from the capital. Housing prices are much lower there, even locals often move there to save money.
Public transport in Amsterdam can hardly be called cheap, so we recommend buying a special Amsterdam Travel Ticket for one, two or three days. Their prices are respectively € 15, € 20 and € 25. With this single ticket, you can travel freely on buses, trams and metro, as well as sail on ferries. The locations where the Amsterdam Travel Ticket are sold can be found here.
We have already written about the magical tourist map in Amsterdam, which also gives free travel on public transport, as well as free admission to most attractions, one canal walk and discounted parking. This card is worth € 49, € 59, € 69 for one, two or three days, respectively. Together with it, you will receive a detailed map of Amsterdam with interesting places and institutions. We advise you to buy a tourist card of Amsterdam in advance, you can do it here on this website.
Amsterdam is definitely one of the most cyclist-friendly cities in the world. There are paths and special routes, there are parking lots near every house and cafe, local people ride their bikes to work and on business. As we already wrote, renting a bike for a day in Amsterdam will cost € 14-17, depending on the brand and rental point. If you find places with white bicycles, know that the first hour of rental there is free.
But we advise you not to save money and book a bike tour around Amsterdam. As a rule, they are led by local or special guides who will show you the real Amsterdam. A bike tour around Amsterdam costs about the same € 14-17, but if you search for a long time, you can find free ones. A list of cycling trips for the coming dates can be found here.
We highly recommend taking cash to Amsterdam, because in many institutions and shops our bank cards (even with a chip) are not accepted. In some cases, you can pay exclusively with the card of local Dutch banks. Therefore, it is better to always carry cash with you, and small bills. For example, € 500 in Amsterdam can be exchanged only in banks, and even then not in all.
To see the sights of Amsterdam, you do not have to pay for expensive tours, you can go on a free tour, which is conducted by local enthusiasts in English. You can find out about the nearest dates and times of such a sightseeing tour, as well as register for it on this website. If you are a big fan of Hop on Hop off bus excursions, we strongly advise you to buy tickets not at the hotel, but at the tourist office on the central Damrak street, the difference in price can be up to € 15.
You won’t find these museums and monuments in ordinary travel guides, but they are the details that give Amsterdam its special charm:
- Museum of hashish, marijuana and cannabis (Oudezijds Achterburgwal, 148) – if you are not yet ready for tasting the “forbidden”, here you can explore the question of the influence of soft drugs on the psyche.
- Women’s Breast Monument (Red Light District) – in the most famous quarter of Amsterdam, it is worth looking not only around, but also under your feet. Indeed, right on the pavement you can see such a spicy monument.
- Science Center NEMO (Oosterdok, 2): Amsterdam is not only about drugs and sex, it is also about science and art. And if you want to get acquainted with the scientific achievements of our time, you are welcome to the interactive museum NEMO.
- Art Market (Spui) – every Sunday a kind of painting exhibition is organized on Spui Square, where you can immediately buy a painting you like, and bargain for half the price.
- “You didn’t drink the branch you sit on” (Leidseplein) – an instructive monument is hidden in Leidseplein in a small square. The author of this miracle is an unknown local resident.
To feel what Amsterdam lives, you need to eat as the locals do. For example, for breakfast, eat pastries and drink a glass of orange juice, it will cost you a couple of euros at any bakery in the city. Also, a similar breakfast of coffee or juice, croissant and omelet can be obtained for only € 1 in HEMA stores from 9:00 to 10:00 daily. Store addresses: Nieuwendijk, 174-176 and Kalverstraat, 212
Despite the fact that there are a lot of Argentine restaurants in Amsterdam (where you will certainly be invited on the main tourist streets), the locals never go there. They prefer small, home-based establishments far from the center. By the way, these are the places where you can taste local beers and homemade wine from the cellars. Well, we recommend buying food in the markets, not in supermarkets: they are fresh there, cheaper, and you can bargain.
Many people travel to Amsterdam to try new sensations of psychotropic substances and hiking in the Red Light District. We can say that rumors about the promiscuity of this city are quite exaggerated, but you can really find coffee shops here, as well as smart shops and growshops. Many have heard about the first establishments where you can smoke weed. But few have heard about smart shops where mushrooms are sold and growshops where you can buy everything for growing marijuana. Here are just a few of the hot spots in Amsterdam:
- Sensi Seeds growshop network – shops are scattered throughout the city center. They can buy everything you need to grow marijuana at home. Remember that this is prohibited by law in our country.
- Cofeshop 36 (Warmoesstraat, 36) is a cozy place with an excellent view of the center of Amsterdam.
- The Mellow Yellow coffee shop (Vijzelgracht, 33) is the oldest currently operating coffee shop in Amsterdam, opened in 1972. Today you can come here like a museum, at the same time and try the best offers from the local menu.
- Smart shop Kokopelli (Warmoesstraat, 12) – the richest selection of mushrooms and the appropriate atmosphere are guaranteed.
- Smart Shop Magic Mushroom Gallery (Spui, 249) is a legendary place that has now become too touristy.
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