Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

You’re visiting Amsterdam for the first time? I’ve got you covered!

After living in Amsterdam for 5 years, I know how overwhelming it can feel to visit or move to this amazing city for the first time.

This is why I compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions so you’ll be well prepared to visit Amsterdam.

Before You Go

Getting To and Around the Netherlands

The Netherlands is well-connected, and you can easily reach major cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht by flying into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of the efficient train system, rent a car or rent a bike and discover the cities like a local.

Two important transportation phone apps when in the Netherlands are: 9292 and NS Travel Planner.

Amsterdam Travel Guide

Best Time to Visit

The Netherlands is stunning all year round, but the best time to experience its beauty is during spring (April to May) when the iconic tulip fields are in full bloom and autumn when Amsterdam transforms into a magical city. The weather is mild, perfect for exploring the cities and enjoying the outdoor attractions.

Where to Stay in the Netherlands

You can book your hotel via as they consistently have the cheapest rates for hotels and guesthouses.

If you prefer a hostel, then you can book with Hostelworld as they have the best deals and the biggest inventory.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel insurance protects you against theft, illness and cancellations. EKTA covers travellers all over the World with 24/7 client support from 1.65 USD a day.

European eSIM

With eSIMs from Airalo, you can download and install a digital data pack for over 200 countries/regions and get connected anywhere in the world as soon as you land.

Book Your Attraction Tickets

Get Your Guide, Viator and Tiqets are some of my favourites.


What is Amsterdam Known For?

Amsterdam is renowned for its picturesque canals, its cheese and bike culture, the windmills and tulip fields.

Known as the “Venice of the North,” the city of Amsterdam offers culture, history, art, and an open-minded society.

As someone who has visited Venice, I assure you that Amsterdam is a completely different story. Their only connection is that they both have canals.

Read: What Is The Netherlands Famous For?

What Language Do They Speak in Amsterdam?

The primary language spoken in Amsterdam is Dutch.

Dutch is the official language of the country and is used in government, education, and daily communication.

However, Amsterdam is a multicultural city, so most people are fluent in English.

Do They Speak English in Amsterdam?

Even though the official language is Dutch, English is widely spoken, especially in the capital.

In Amsterdam, there are 170 nationalities to speak your language with, so don’t worry if you don’t speak Dutch or even English.

How Many People Are There in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam has a population of 1,174,000 people in 2023.

The city has seen an increase of 0.69% in comparison with 2022.

How Long to Go to Amsterdam for?

The ideal duration for a visit depends on your preferences and possibilities, but a well-rounded experience can be achieved in one week.

What to Buy in Amsterdam?

Delft Blue
Delft Blue

Amsterdam is known for its unique souvenirs such as Dutch cheese, stroopwafels, and Delftware.

People would normally buy tulip bulbs from the Flower market or some cheese from the numerous cheese shops.

Tip: If you prefer some unique souvenirs, visit the local markets for authentic finds.

Read: The Best souvenirs to Buy In Amsterdam here!

Shopping Hours in Amsterdam

Most shops open around 8 am and close at 8 pm.

Thursday evenings often have extended shopping hours, while Sundays have reduced hours.

Amsterdam Pickpockets

Amsterdam is generally safe, but be cautious of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas.

Keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.

How do People Dress in Amsterdam?

Usually, Amsterdam locals wear comfortable clothes and good walking shoes. It is not common to see women wearing make-up, and white sneakers are widely used by women.

Do You Tip in Amsterdam?

Tipping is not mandatory but rounding up the bill or leaving a 5-10% tip in restaurants is appreciated.

Tipping is not very common in bars.

I Amsterdam Sign Letters

The famous “I Amsterdam” sign has been a popular attraction for years, however, as of recent years, the sign has been removed from its original location in front of the Rijksmuseum.

The decision was made to disperse visitors and encourage exploration of different parts of the city.

While you may not find the sign in its original form, smaller versions are placed in Amsterdam West. To reach it take the tram number 17 and stop at the station called ‘Meer en Vaart’.

What to Wear in Amsterdam?

So, you’re ready to travel but don’t know what to pack for Amsterdam?

These are my recommendations:

1. Practical and comfortable clothing:

Amsterdam’s weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers, so you can adapt to changing conditions throughout the day. Comfortable jeans or trousers, paired with T-shirts or sweaters, are suitable for most seasons.

2. Shoes:

Comfortable and sturdy shoes are essential.

3. Rain Gear:

Amsterdam is known for its occasional rain showers. A waterproof jacket or coat, along with an umbrella, will help you stay dry.

4. Evening Wear:

Amsterdam’s nightlife ranges from casual to upscale. For dinner at a nice restaurant or a night out, smart-casual attire is appropriate. A stylish jacket or dress.

What are the Best Instagram Spots in Amsterdam?

Best Instagram Spots in Amsterdam - Jordaan District
Jordaan District

It is hard to go anywhere in Amsterdam without noticing a photo opportunity around every corner.

The architecture and canals of Amsterdam make it a city that is very photogenic.

Read: The Best Instagram Spots in Amsterdam

How to not Look like a Tourist in Amsterdam

Here are my suggestions to avoid looking like a tourist.

  • Avoid typical tourist attire like large backpacks, sneakers, and travel gear.
  • Walk confidently and with a purpose. Locals often move with determination, and this simple adjustment can help you blend in.
  • Visit beyond the city centre and explore neighbourhoods like De Pijp or Jordaan.
  • Cashless transactions are common in Amsterdam. Use contactless payment methods to avoid fumbling with cash.
  • When using the trams always enter either through the front door or the double door in the middle-end of the tram. The other doors are only for exiting.
  • Unless you feel comfortable biking in a bike city, don’t rent a bike.

Planning a trip to the Netherlands

What Not to Do in Amsterdam

One thing you need to know is that the Dutch love their bicycles.

There are bicycles everywhere, and the locals are very skilled at riding them.

If you’re not used to riding a bicycle, be careful when you’re walking around, as you might get run over by one!

Furthermore, be aware of the bike lanes and don’t stand on the bike lanes.

Last but not least, respect local customs, such as keeping noise levels down in residential areas, which is basically the entire city center.

Amsterdam Tourism | Travel Guides

Amsterdam Insider Tips

  • Visit lesser-known neighbourhoods like Jordaan and North Amsterdam for a more authentic experience.
  • The boat to the north part of Amsterdam is free of charge so it’s worth exploring northern Amsterdam including NDSM Wharf, STRAAT museum, WONDR Experience and This is Holland.
  • Escape to the Amsterdamse Bos, a huge park where you can go for a bike ride or just have a stroll.
  • Have a bite in the Foodhallen, an indoor food market with different cuisines.
  • Visit Micropia, a unique museum near Artis Zoo. It’s a hidden gem to learn about biology and science.
  • Use the apps 9292 and NS Travel Planner to check the public transportation schedule.

Is it Safe to Drink Tap Water in Amsterdam?

Yes, it is generally safe to drink tap water in Amsterdam.

The tap water in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, in general, is of high quality and meets stringent health standards.

The water supply is closely monitored and treated to ensure it is safe for consumption.

If you have any specific concerns or doubts, you can check with your accommodation provider or restaurant staff for confirmation of the water quality.

Is Amsterdam a Nice Place to Visit?

Amsterdam has a rich cultural heritage with world-class museums like the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Anne Frank House.

Amsterdam embraces diversity and tolerance. This is reflected in the city’s open-mindedness and acceptance of different lifestyles.

As a result, Amsterdam is a great place to visit not just once, but many times as you’ll get to experience the city at different times of year.

Are you travelling alone to Amsterdam and wondering if the city is worth visiting alone? Read this guide to travelling to Amsterdam alone.

Is Amsterdam Safe at Night?

Amsterdam generally has low crime rates compared to other European cities. Violent crime is rare, so the city is considered safe for tourists.

The public areas, including popular tourist spots and main streets, are well-lit at night.

Be aware of cyclists as Amsterdam’s streets can become busy with cyclists even at night.

Lastly, like everywhere else in the world, avoid walking alone in poorly lit or secluded areas, especially on the outskirts of the city centre, to minimize the risk of petty crime.

Discover the 35 Best Things To Do At Night In Amsterdam

What Time Do Bars/Clubs Close in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam club

Bars and clubs typically close around 3 am.

It’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings in crowded places and use public transportation or a taxi when heading back to your accommodation.

The Best Area to Stay in Amsterdam for First-time Visitors

Centrum is ideal for first-time visitors because it’s close to major attractions.

The Centrum is the city’s historic centre. This area is full of cobbled streets and is also home to some of the city’s most popular attractions, such as the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.

De Pijp and Jordaan are also popular choices for a more local experience.

The Jordaan is one of the most popular areas for visitors. This area is known for its picturesque canals, boutique shops, and cosy cafes. It’s also conveniently located near some of the city’s most visited attractions.

The De Pijp district is another great option for first-time visitors. This area is home to the famous Albert Cuyp Market, where you can find everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. The area is also home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars.

No matter where you decide to stay in Amsterdam, you’re sure to have a great time. The city is full of unique experiences and I hope you’ll make the most of your time there.

Be Sure To Check Out Booking.Com For The Lowest Rates For Accommodation

Best Places to Stay in Amsterdam for Couples

Romantic options include boutique hotels along the canals or charming bed and breakfasts in quieter neighbourhoods.

If you want to be close to the attractions, the Canal Ring is a great choice, especially in the Jordaan neighbourhood.

If you’re looking for a quieter neighbourhood, the Westerpark area is a good option.

There are also a number of neighbourhoods outside of the city centre that are worth checking out.

Amsterdam Dos and Don’ts

Amsterdam Dos:

  • Explore by Bike: Embrace the local culture and explore the city like a resident by renting a bike. Amsterdam’s flat landscape and extensive bike lanes make cycling a popular and efficient mode of transportation.
  • Visit Cultural Sites: Immerse yourself in Amsterdam’s cultural heritage by visiting museums like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
  • Respect Local Customs: While Amsterdam is liberal, it’s essential to respect local customs and traditions. Be mindful of noise levels in residential areas.
  • Try Dutch Cuisine: Sample local dishes like stroopwafels, Dutch cheese and fries, and bitterballen.
  • Experience the Canals: Take a canal cruise to discover Amsterdam’s beauty from a different perspective.

Amsterdam Don’ts:

  • Block Bike Lanes: Be aware of the large network of bike lanes and avoid standing or walking in them. Biking is a major mode of transportation and bikers are the kings and queens of the roads!
  • Purchase Drugs on the Street: While cannabis is legal in Amsterdam, buying it on the street is illegal. Purchase from licensed establishments if you choose to partake, and do so responsibly.
  • Litter: Maintain the cleanliness of the city by disposing of trash responsibly. Amsterdam takes pride in its well-maintained public spaces, so contribute to its preservation.
  • Photos: It is forbidden to take photos of the workers in the Red Light District.

Amsterdam Safety Tips

Here are some safety tips especially if you’re travelling to Amsterdam by your own:

1. Be Aware of Pickpockets:

Amsterdam, like any tourist destination, has pickpocketing risks. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas, public transportation, and popular tourist spots.

2. Use Reputable Transportation:

Opt for reputable transportation options. Licensed taxis and recognized ride-sharing services ensure a safe journey. Public transportation, including buses and trams, is generally reliable.

3. Stay in Well-Lit Areas:

Stick to well-lit streets, especially at night. Avoid poorly lit or secluded areas, reducing the risk of petty crime.

4. Be Cautious in the Red Light District:

While the Red Light District is a popular attraction, exercise caution, especially at night. Be aware of your surroundings, and avoid engaging in confrontations.

5. Secure Your Belongings:

Use anti-theft measures such as money belts or secure bags. Avoid displaying expensive items openly, reducing the likelihood of theft.

6. Know Emergency Contacts:

Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and the location of the nearest embassy or consulate.

Local emergency number in the Netherlands: 112.

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing you can call a text equivalent via 0800 8112.

Police (theft and other queries): 0900-8844 / +31 343 578 844

Tourist doctor +31 (0)20 427 5011

7. Respect Local Laws:

Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. Understanding and following the rules contribute to a safe and enjoyable visit.

8. Use ATMs Wisely:

Use ATMs in well-lit and secure areas. Be cautious of your surroundings when withdrawing money to avoid becoming a target for theft.

9. Stay Informed:

Stay informed about current events and any safety advisories in the city. Local news sources and official travel advisories provide valuable information.

Which Amsterdam Canal Cruise is the Best?

amsterdam canal cruise
Canal cruise boats in Amsterdam

You won’t want to miss a canal cruise during your stay in Amsterdam!

Check out the most popular cruises below.

Classic Canal Cruise:

A classic canal cruise will give you views of Amsterdam’s iconic canals, historic buildings, and bridges.

Most classic cruises offer informative audio commentary, providing insights into the city’s history and landmarks.

The downside is that popular classic cruises can be crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Evening or Sunset Cruise:

An evening or sunset cruise is very romantic as the city lights come to life.

You’ll experience Amsterdam’s landmarks beautifully illuminated against the night sky, but some sites might not be as visible in the dark.

Small Group or Private Cruise:

A small group or private cruise provides a more intimate experience with personalized attention from the guide.

Private cruises often allow you to customize the route based on your preferences.

Lastly, private or small group cruises may be more expensive compared to larger, standard options.

Dinner Cruise:

Combine sightseeing with a dining experience on a dinner cruise, offering a unique way to enjoy the city. I had a dinner cruise as a gift and I really loved it.

Some dinner cruises include live music or entertainment.

The focus may shift from the views to the dining experience during the meal portion of the cruise.

Tip: There is an annual Light Festival in winter, in which you can admire the year’s light creations and experience the canals after dark.


By Lala