Micha and I recently went to Amsterdam, as most of you know… and we had a great time! But there are some things I wish we would have known ahead of time or wish we would have done differently. So I am going to share some tips with you that might help you if you ever choose to go to Amsterdam!
- Stay in an AirBnB!
This was the best decision we made. We were able to stay in De Pijp which is in the central part of Amsterdam, but is also not the city center. We were just a tram ride away from the main parts of town! Staying in an apartment gives you the opportunity to get into the culture. De Pijp was also an awesome place to be because there weren’t any tourists and there were a ton of great local restaurants and bars! Also having an apartment gives you the opportunity to cook your own meals, so you get to save money! AND our host was sooo nice! She left us a bunch of books about things to do in Amsterdam and was always just a text away whenever we had a question or needed something.
2. Do not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES take a car to Amsterdam.
We learned this the hard way. But not as hard as others. Unless you know that where you are staying there is a place to park for free for the whole time. Otherwise… parking on the street costs you 3€ AN HOUR. Parking houses are even more expensive. The only option you then have is to park at a park and ride. But, you have to do your homework. We had to find a park and ride location that was open 24 hours where we could leave our car for the four days we were there. Some locations are only open during the week and not on weekends. Others may be closed due to events. We also tried to find a place that was closest to where we were staying. The one we wanted to park at was already full when we arrived, but we found another one that worked out just as well. Park and ride works out well, we payed 4€ for parking for the four days (1€ a day) and 5€ for two tickets to the city center and back to get our car.
3. Brush up on some info about the street trams.
This is connected to the tip number 2. I was HEAVILY confused about the tram tickets and how they work, especially with park and ride. Basically, the park and ride is outside of the “city center”. When you get into a tram, there is a little machine where you scan your ticket and you “check in”. Once you get into the city center (designated on a park and ride map) at the location you want to get off at, just scan your ticket again and you are then “checked out”. The park and ride is only good for two rides. Once into the city center and once to get back.
For other tickets, 1 hour or 24 hour tickets, you can buy them from the conductor on the train. FYI, they do not accept more than a 20€ bill. We made this mistake and had to get off at the next stop and try to find a store where we could break a 50.
The trams are fairly easy to figure out if you know where you need to go. Most tourist books will tell you which stop you need to get off of for a specific place. Just look at the signs at the stops to see where the train will be going to in that direction (sometimes you will have to cross the street to go in the other direction). When in doubt, ask!
4. Get to the Anne Frank Huis at least 30 minutes before it opens.
And also try to go there on a weekday. We tried to get there at 8:30, but because of tram problems and confusion, we got there an hour later than planned. We had to wait almost 2 hours, but it was also very much worth the wait! However, I know that had we gotten there an hour earlier, we would have saved ourselves a TON of time.
5. Take the city in quarters.
In Amsterdam, there are different areas. For example, “De Pijp”, “Jordaan”, “Western Canaal”, and “Medieval and Red Light District”. There are others, but figure out which districts are most important to you and make a day out of it! Try a new restaurant in each quarter. Check out all of the cool and unique shops! Buying a tourist book will help you plan out a daily itinerary.
6. Try your hardest to not got to a restaurant made for tourists.
We tried a lot of different places that weren’t filled with tourists. The food was better AND cheaper! Don’t miss out on these goodins! But definitely eat the popular Dutch fries. SO GOOD.
7. Go on a canal tour!
These can be expensive, but it is a great option to get a view of the city from a different perspective. You can get through all of the coolest parts of town and just relax and hear about the history of specific things. There are also a variety of companies and tours that they do. The most average tour there is, is one that is about an hour or hour and a half long for 18€. I think it’s worth the money. Now, if you are willing to spend a little bit more money and want to have a romantic getaway with your significant other, there are also dinner tours. These can be quite pricy. But I’m sure the food is good!
8. Pick out some of your favorite museums you must see in your time there.
My must see’s were the Heineken Brewery, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank Huis. Depending on how much you are into museums, Amsterdam is full of them! Ranging from modern art to a museum about the Red Light District. There is genuinely something for everyone. Micha is not much a museum goer, but the Heineken Brewery was a lot of fun and we got a few free beers out of the deal!
9. Buy yourself some damn good Stroopwaffels.
Broooo. I don’t know where to begin. These things are so good. You can get them pretty much anywhere in Holland in a supermarket. They are these little round waffels that are stuck together like a cookie with caramel. It is goodness from heaven. I wanted to eat the whole thing at once, but it is so sweet that you can’ have more than two or three at a time. This is just a culinary must.
10. Go during the Tulip festival.
The tulip festival is between March and May and there are tulip farms outside of the city. We would have gone, but those tours can be pricy. However, downtown there are BUNCHES of tulips all throughout the city. Mostly located at the most popular places. They are so pretty and we were so lucky to go in April right in the middle of the festival where the flowers were out and about and everywhere! Love springtime in Amsterdam!
11. Finally, bring a jacket!
You are on the water so it will be windy and chilly. It can get real cold real quick.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Got any tips you would like to add on? Tell me about your experiences! I would love to again sometime soon!
Until next time,