amsterdam

5 Essential Things You Need to Know When Visiting Amsterdam

One of the greatest city and safest to travel to in Europe is Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands. This tiny urban capital is packed with about a million inhabitants plus about 7 million visitors on the average each year. There’s so much to see and do here, from art museums to old churches, giant windmills, canal boat rides, it’s cobbled stone streets, you gotta pack extra batteries for your camera when visiting. Amsterdam is famous for its elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, 17th-century buildings, and where its legal to get high. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling and walking is key to discover the city’s character. amsterdam   Planning to visit Amsterdam soon? Here are 5 essential things you need to know before you go.

Your debit card may not work.

No it’s not your bank or your account. It has something to do with network in EU zone. Mine didn’t work at the luggage lockers at the Central Amsterdam Train Station when I needed to leave my backpack, it also didn’t work at the pastry shop there and in one of those souvenir shops. Good thing I have another credit card with me, so not much of a problem. Keep this in mind if you plan to mostly use debit card during your trip here.

Do not book for bus tours.

It’s a big mistake. Huge. Amsterdam is a walking city! It is best to do a photo walk here. Walk along the side streets  while enjoying the narrow houses that almost seem to collapse towards you. But watch out also for fast small cars navigating these narrow streets. It’s like Jason Bourne practised his driving skills here. Stop and sit for a while at the banks, and admire the navigation skills of the canal boat drivers as the canals get narrower in every turn and how they are able to turn their long boats. Another amazing thing about Amsterdam is it’s also a biking city. There are more bike parks than car parks here. There are also a lot of bike rentals in every street. And you can bike your way thru the small side streets too. amsterdam

You can book a ticket for Anne Frank Huis online. 

One of Amsterdam’s famous landmark is this building on Prinsengracht street in Central Amsterdam. This is where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding for more than 2 years during World War 2. This is also where she wrote her diary. Believe me, the epic long line here seems to never get shorter. It even extends to around the corner building and behind the church. (Not shown in the photo) But the tourists doesn’t seem to mind because most of them come in groups so they can keep each other company while standing and waiting for hours. But if you travel solo, it is best to buy the ticket online to save time. Here is the link to their website. Bring a printout of your ticket and take note of your time slot. They will only let you in during your slot. For more information about their operation and updates, click here. Oh and bring a pack of tissue with you. I cried after watching a short film about the Frank family at the end of the tour. amsterdam

 

Must Read: Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht (The Netherlands)

The red light district never sleeps. 

If you are searching for accommodation, try to steer clear of the red light district in Central Amsterdam. The accommodations in this area are pricier plus you will probably not be able to get some sleep from all the bars and the party noises that lasts through the night. Mind you the houses here are erected side by side, narrowly constructed  due to building code regulations, and with super steep wooden staircases that will make you throw your suitcases with rollers out the door. I opted to stay outside central Amsterdam, in the district of Reigersbos near Reigersbos Metrostation. It’s a bit of travel from Central Amsterdam but I don’t mind walking thru this beautiful path to and from my host’s place everyday. amsterdam

There’s more to see outside Central Amsterdam. 

There’s a tourist spot just 15 minutes train ride from Central Amsterdam where you can experience authentic Dutch windmills, historical houses, small picturesque coffee shops with lots of kinds of pastry and of course, their cheese. You will want to kill the bake shop owner for beautifully laying out all the deliciously glazed pastries. Never mind the calorie count my dear. Oh I liked it better paired with their Euro2,00 fresh orange juice. This place is called Zaanse Schans. You need to come here when visiting Amsterdam. I have no words, just go and book a day to visit. Here is their website. I regretted spending only a few hours in this magical place because simply there is so much to see! I will definitely be back soon! If you want to rent a bike, there is one bike rental shop right on the train platform. Hard to miss it.

Read : Recommended affordable places to stay in Amsterdam

If you’ve been to Amsterdam and have more tips to share for first-timers, share it in the comment section below!

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  1. Reply

    Aw! love this, I so want to visit Amsterdam some day, I made a good friend here in Thailand who lives there. Thanks!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 31, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you, I have a friend who moved to Amsterdam too. Want to visit them someday, a great excuse to see Amsterdam again. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  2. Reply

    I lovers Amsterdam. When I visited, I returned home telling my then bf now husband we should move there! The artist lofts around the canals are gorgeous and inspiring.

    You have a great list of tips – couldn’t agree more with Anne Frank’s House. I didn’t pre-buy tix and left the city missing out.

    http://www.thewanderlusteur.com

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 1, 2016
      Reply

      Glad that you find the article helpful. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  3. Reply

    I’ve never been to Amsterdam but this is good to know! I like to walk everywhere so sounds like a good city for me!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 1, 2016
      Reply

      Couldn’t agree with you more, Yes, its one of the things I love Amsterdam, its a walking city! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

    • marie
    • April 1, 2016
    Reply

    Lots of really good and useful tips, I will use them if I go to Amsterdam. I like the idea of the nearby countryside area too.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 1, 2016
      Reply

      Glad that you find my tips helpful. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  4. Reply

    Good tips! I’d definitely prefer to bike and walk around Amsterdam than take a bus!

  5. Reply

    I loved this! You basically summarize what I actually would love to experience whenever I get to visit Amsterdam. Hope to follow your tips soon!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 1, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you, I did a lot of research months before my trip. But when I was already there, I realized that these tips were the most essential ones and no need to worry especially for first timers. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  6. I must disagree with “the red light district never sleeps”. My plane go tin early and I was in the city at 5:30am and everything was dark!

  7. Reply

    I love the idea of including some itineraries for us to check out. I have never visited Amsterdam, but like you mentioned, I imagine walking and biking my way around the city!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 2, 2016
      Reply

      Glad that you find the itinerary ideas helpful. Thanks for visiting and drop by again soon!

  8. Reply

    Good ideea about buying the online ticket for Anne Frank museum. I was in Amsterdam twice and missed this landmark because of the huge number of people in line. Thank you.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 2, 2016
      Reply

      Yes and that line starts early in the morning! It is a good idea to buy the tickets online so you can breeze your way in and save the hours of lining up. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

    • Dora
    • April 1, 2016
    Reply

    I have been to Amsterdam and agree with you! I love the tulip parks outsode Amsterdam which are best to visit around April. Great article!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • April 2, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks and visit again soon! I was there during September and fall about to start. You are right, it really is beautiful there. I loved looking at the narrow buildings and comparing which one is the narrowest hahaha

  9. Pingback: Great Destinations for the First Time Solo Traveller - Just Travelling Solo

  10. Reply

    Amsterdam sounds amazing! We hope to visit someday. Thanks for the tips. We will be sure to pack tissues when visiting the Anne Frank museum.

  11. Reply

    After learning about Amsterdam and seeing articles and photographs for years, I have always had such a draw to visit. Thank you for these lovely tips, especially about the debit card as I usually depend on drawing out cash from ATMs to avoid the exchange rate fees (my bank typically covers the cost of any fees up to $30!) I also would love to visit Anne Frank’s home so that was also a useful tip! 🙂

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 7, 2016
      Reply

      Yes, I agree with using the debit card for ease of use when travelling but the problem is with the EU networks I guess. So good thing I have a back up credit card. Make sure to have extra one too, when you visit. Thanks for dropping by!

    • Cora
    • November 7, 2016
    Reply

    Amsterdam has been on my bucket list for years you’ve just given me more reasons to go. Thx

    • Ana
    • November 7, 2016
    Reply

    Im a huge fan of the city therefore I loved reading about it.
    Amsterdam is full of beautiful colors, smells and good time.
    Im glad you enjoyed the city and I loved your intake of events and places.

    My next visit Ill be sure to follow some of your footsteps and recommendations.
    Hope to see you some day in Israel.
    Ana
    ourholytestament.com

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 8, 2016
      Reply

      Israel is a lovely idea! Would love to visit sometime and meet you one day. Thanks for dropping by Ana.

  12. Reply

    Some really great tips here that you won’t see in too many other posts about Amsterdam. I couldn’t agree more about the part about not staying in the Red Light District. A friend and I stayed in a hostel there (due to cheaper accommodation prices, honestly) but we never got a wink of sleep the entire time there and while fun, it wasn’t always ideal. Nice post and thoroughly enjoyed

  13. Reply

    I’ve been to Amsterdam a couple times, even had a friend who stayed with Dutch nudists! But, I still learned a few new things! Props to you for renting a bike. I was too scared to, because I’m such a clutz.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 8, 2016
      Reply

      Its the only way to go to cover more of those beautiful narrow buildings! Thanks for dropping by Colleen!

  14. We have friends in Amsterdam so we would really go and visit. It will have to wait til next spring though! Thanks for the tips!

  15. Reply

    I loved reading this post especially with the writing style.Found some valuable tips such as debit card may not work.I think it is valid for many countries and better to check before travel…

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