Insider Tips: Planning a trip to Amsterdam
Matthew Kepnes runs the award winning budget travel site, NomadicMatt.com. His writings and advice have been featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Budget Travel, BBC, Time, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other publications. When not traveling the world, he lives in New York City.
What should I do on my first trip to Amsterdam?
The first thing to do when you visit Amsterdam is take a walking tour. It's the best way tos ee the sights and get an introduction to the city. There are all kinds of free and paid options available, so it's perfect for every budget. After that, my favorite thing to do is wander the Van Gogh Museum. He's one of my favorite artists and the museum has tons of his works on display.
What are some hidden gems to see in Amsterdam?
I think the small Tulip Museum is something a lot of people miss. Additionally, exploring Jordaan (a nearby neighborhood) is one of my favorite things to do in the city as there's few tourists here.
How much time should I spend in Amsterdam?
At a minimum, you'll want 3-5 days to see the highlights. If you have 5-7 days, you can fit in some day trips, such as a visit to nearby Haarlem or a bike ride out of the city to see the windmills.
What food is Amsterdam known for?
If you have a sweet tooth, stroopwafel (a waffle cookie with a syrup filling) is the go-to choice for locals.
What is the best way to get around Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is easy to get around by public transportation. The buses, trams, and the metro and fast, clean, safe, and easy to use. Cycling is also super popular and bike rentals are affordable (10-15 EUR per day). It's one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world (there are more bikes than people here).
What are the best months to visit Amsterdam?
The city is most lively from June-August, but it's also super crowded these days thanks to the surge of travel post-COVID. To beat the crowds, try to visit in September/October or May/early June. The weather is still nice and you'll find far fewer crowds. Prices will be a little lower too.
What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Amsterdam?
Jordaan (for charm), De Pijp (for local vibes), De Wallen (for affordable accommodation), and Centrum (for the best location) are a few of my favorite areas to stay in the city. Whenever I visit, these are the places I spend the most time. If it's your first time visiting, stay somewhere central so you can easily walk everywhere. You'll save a lot of time and money that way.
What's are 4 best tips for a person traveling to Amsterdam?
1) Get the Amsterdam Pass - This pass offers free entrance to most of the major museums and attractions as well as free public transportation. If you’re going to be bouncing between museums a lot, get this card.
2) Take a free walking tour – If you want an overview of the city, take one of the free walking tours. The biggest one is offered by New Europe Tours and will give you a solid introduction and overview. Just be sure to tip!
3) Eat on the cheap – Febo, Walk to Wok, and Maoz are all cheap places to get food. Moreover, cafes in the city offer prix-fixe lunch specials for between 10-15 EUR. If you’re going to eat out, lunch is the best time to do it in Amsterdam!
4) Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use.
What should people avoid doing in Amsterdam?
If you're visiting the Red Light district, don't take photos of the people you see in the windows. There are signs everywhere warning you about this, so keep your camera off or you'll risk a bouncer grabbing it from you.
What are your top 5 favourite GetYourGuide experiences in Amsterdam?
1) Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum Ticket
2) Amsterdam: Classic Boat Cruise with Cheese & Wine Option
3) Amsterdam: Life of Anne Frank and World War II Walking Tour
4) Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum Entrance Ticket
5) Amsterdam: Royal Palace Entry Ticket and Audio Guide
What is one thing that surprised you about Amsterdam?
I've been to Amsterdam more times than I can count (I even lived there for a while). The biggest recent surprise was when I visited post-COVID becasue the city was packed. I mean, it was wall to wall tourists. Since that's not a pleasant surprise, I really suggest travelers visit the city beyond the popular months of June-August. Do that, and you'll beat the crowds, save money, and have a much more enjoyable time.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Amsterdam?
If you're traveling with family, a canal cruise is a must. It's a fun way to explroe the city and learn about how vital the canls were to Amsterdams development. They're usually just an hour or so , which means kids won't get too bored! For something outside the city, head out and see the windmalls. You can reach them in just 20 minutes from Centraal and they make for a fun half-day excursion.
What is the best thing to do in Amsterdam for solo travelers?
If you're a solo traveler, sign up for a walking tour. It's the best way to meet other solo travelers and connect with an expert local guide that can answer all of your questions and give you insider tips on what to see, where to eat, and much more. There are tons of walking torus around the city, both free and paid, so no matter what you're interested in you'll be able to find a tour that's both entertaining and informative.