How can anyone not like Amsterdam? There are pretty canals, narrow houses, cute bridges, plenty of bicycles, flowers everywhere and extremely liberal culture. It is the city that’s a gateway to Europe for many 20 and 30 something travelers who start their Euro trips here.
Avoid weekends and visit during the week
Amsterdam is one of the most visited destinations of Europe and over 7 million international travelers visit Amsterdam in a year. Many Europeans who live in nearby cities frequently visit Amsterdam over a long weekend. This happens even more during the summer months. As a result, most of the Amsterdam hotels sell out months in advance. Believe it or not, but a dorm bed that costs $30 during the week, can be as high as $80 or $100 during the weekend. If you plan well in advance and research, you can save some serious money by just making sure you visit Amsterdam on any of the weekdays. Moreover, you will save a lot of time when you don’t have to stand in long queues and can ultimately explore more.
Get a GVB Card OR an I Amsterdam Card
Good news – you can save money on this by getting yourself an I Amsterdam city card. Another alternative is the GVB City card.
I Amsterdam card is a blessing. It can be used for all of Amsterdam’s public transport PLUS you can enter most of the top museums for free with it. The best part is that the transport parts and museum parts of these cards get activated separately. The museum's part is automatically activated when you visit a museum the first time and stays active until the duration of your card. Based on your duration of stay, you can get yourself a card that is valid for 1 to 4 days. A 24-hour card is for € 59 euros and a 4-day card is for € 98 euros. This card includes free entry to most of the top museums in Amsterdam, unlimited use of public transport (trams, buses and metros), free canal cruise, and discounts in many restaurants.
Coffee shops in Amsterdam are not exactly Cafes
A coffee shop in Amsterdam is not your typical café but means something else entirely. I feel it is my duty to educate you so that you don’t get a shock when you visit a coffee shop in Amsterdam just to drink coffee.
Amsterdam is one of those few places on earth where you can legally buy and consume marijuana for personal use. This happens not on the streets but in coffee shops where you can see several kinds of weed, hash, etc., being sold per gram or in pre-rolled joints.
In case you’d like to experience this part of Amsterdam, and you are too scared to do this alone, then you may want to check out some tours.
This way, you can relax and let someone watch over you.
No Photography in the Red Light District
Yes, prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and the red light district comes alive as soon as the evening sets in. If you walk around the red light district at night, you will see prostitutes through pretty much every glass window in this area.
If you’re visiting Amsterdam’s Red Light District just to look around, please don’t photograph the sex workers that you see through the windows. Just because they’re sex workers, doesn’t mean you can disrespect them. Not only clicking these photographs is rude but you can get your camera snatched by the cops or pay a hefty fine.
Don’t Get in the way of cyclists
One of the first things that you will notice about Amsterdam is its bicycle dominated roads. The city is full of them and the locals love traveling on them. After all, Amsterdam has been declared as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. As per the Amsterdam tourism board website, there are more bikes in Amsterdam than permanent residents!
However, much to the annoyance of the locals, many tourists don’t notice the bike lanes and walk on them. Please note that the bicycle lanes in Amsterdam are usually red. A bike obviously doesn’t move like a car, and it is not easy to stop it instantly within seconds. Please be mindful of bike lanes and stay off them to avoid getting injured.
Carry a Bottle and Drink Tap Water
The Netherlands is one such country where the quality of tap water is regulated and is totally safe to drink it. A water bottle can cost around 2 euros and you can save some money by filling your bottle with tap water. Why waste money on bottled water when you can safely drink tap water?
If you think bottled water is cleaner, let me tell you – it depends on how it is stored and transported. These bottles are made with plastic and if they’re kept in the sun by mistake for a long duration, the water is no longer safe.
Don’t buy drugs on the road
Ok, so you have heard Amsterdam has an open-minded drug use policy and you are visiting this city just to party. There are cops everywhere and you can get caught. Why buy on the road when you can legally buy and smoke weed (and hash) in coffee shops? In most of the coffee shops in Amsterdam, a gram of weed or hash is sold for around 10 – 12 euros. You can also buy 4 pre-rolled splifs for around 16 euros.
Park your Car outside Amsterdam
Parking in Amsterdam is expensive and can be as high as 10 euro per hour. If you’re reaching Amsterdam by driving, then you need to park your car outside to save money. On the highway that leads to Amsterdam, watch out for “P+R” signs because this is where you need to park your car.
Look for P+R Zeeburg, P+R Sloterdijk, P+R ArenA or P+R Olympish Stadion. Parking in P+R spots is usually 1 euro per day and from here you can easily take public transport to the centre of the city.
If you’re arriving in Amsterdam on your camper van, then you will be happy to know that there are a bunch of places that are in Amsterdam but a bit outside the city centre where you can stay.
Tips about Amsterdam’s Museums
Amsterdam has some of the world’s best museums for not just art but also for cannabis, sex, alcohol, etc.
There’s the Rijkmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Ann Frank Haus, the Hermitage – just to name a few.
Most of these museums are in the Museumquarter, where Amsterdam Tourism board earlier had an IAmsterdam sign. There are so many museums in this city that a first-time visitor can be lost for choice.
During the peak season, there are unusually long queues outside the museums. It makes total sense to buy special “skip the line” tickets so that you don’t end up spending your time in Amsterdam waiting in a line. (After all, you won’t keep coming back to Amsterdam every few months, no?).
If you’re visiting more than one museum, then buying the I Amsterdam city card makes total sense. It INCLUDES entry to most of the museums on this list as well as the local transport, a canal tour, and 25% discount in many places. The card costs €59 for 1 day, €74 for 2 days, €87 for 3 days and €98 for 4 days. [Amsterdam is not a cheap destination but you can save a little money by buying the City card.]