10 tips for booking your trip to Amsterdam
Don’t let the hundreds of things to do, see and eat overwhelm you when planning a trip to Amsterdam – instead, take advantage of the perks of this tourist-friendly city.
Hit all the highlights with a City Card
Maximise your time in Amsterdam by planning ahead, especially if you’ve got limited time in the city. But since there’s lots to see in Amsterdam, it may not be feasible (or affordable!) to arrange it all on your own. Instead, take advantage of the I amsterdam City Card: you get instant access to dozens of museums and attractions in Amsterdam, such as the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt House and Artis Royal Zoo, as well as unlimited public transportation and, of course, a canal cruise. There’s no obligation to visit all the sights available through the card – you can plan your Amsterdam adventure the way you want to.
Visit the must-see sights at the best times
It may be exciting to be among a throng of likeminded tourists at each and every attraction, but that may mean you’ll struggle to get the best views or un-photobombed photos. The I amsterdam City Card will ease some of this stress – you won’t have to wait in long lines to get a ticket to the museum – but there are plenty of other ways to beat the crowd, such as visiting museums early in the morning or late in the evening. The line at the Anne Frank House, for example, is always long; instead of showing up and purchasing a ticket at the door, book your tickets online in advance.
Hang with the locals
If you’re more into experiences than sights, check out the local events, festivals and parties that are going on when you arrive – and your choices will be almost endless, as there’s always something happening in Amsterdam. With plenty of regular art shows, music festivals, special events such as the Amsterdam Light Festival and more, there is something for every interest. Clubgoers in particular will love the Nightlife Ticket, which offers seven days (or, more accurately, nights) of access to eight nightclubs around Amsterdam, as well as free welcome drinks at each location.
Get into the seasonal spirit
There’s no perfect time to visit Amsterdam – every season has its specialty. In the summer, the sunny, not-too-warm but not-too-brisk weather offers the opportunity to wander the many parks or lounge at Amsterdam’s unique urban beaches, while winter brings a nonstop festive atmosphere that just radiates holiday cheer. If you’re into colourful sights, spring is naturally one of the most popular times to visit with the abundance of blooming tulips, but Amsterdam’s leafy streets mean that autumn transforms the city into a wonderland of red, orange and yellow.
Explore more of the Netherlands
Though Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands’ most prized gems, there is plenty more the country has to offer. The Netherlands is small – and therefore quickly traversed – and its public transportation network makes it as simple as hopping on and off the rail to get to your next destination. A trip to historical Haarlem takes just 10 to 15 minutes, giving you plenty of time to explore. Head a little further north to Volendam to see what life was like in an old Dutch fishing village, or take some very Instagram-worthy shots of the windmills at the Zaanse Schans.
Make your stay sustainable
Travel can be notoriously environmentally unfriendly, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan wisely. Amsterdam is a green city, especially with its plethora of bikes and sustainability-focused hangouts and cafes. Plan your travel to include the places that put being green at the forefront: spend a day lounging at De Ceuvel, where you can enjoy food made specifically for social impact, or stay in a Green Key-certified hotel such as Conscious Hotel Vondelpark.
Choose awesome accommodation
For some, where you bunk down for the night is of little importance – but Amsterdam’s eclecticism means that the city’s hotels can be an experience of their own. Stay in one of Amsterdam’s most unusual hotels to make every moment a memory: when drifting off to sleep at night or waking up in the morning. The Faralda NSDM Crane Hotel lets you stay in an actual crane along the River IJ for fantastic views, while the Hotel Not Hotel lets you live within a piece of art.
Embrace the rain (but still pack an umbrella)
No matter the season, you may see a couple of rain showers in Amsterdam – but because the city is so used to these rainy days, you can enjoy your time in the city no matter the weather. Pack or buy an umbrella, of course, but you can also go all out and simply embrace the typical Dutch weather. Cruising along in a covered boat with a cup of hot coffee or tea is just what you need when the skies are grey, so pick up a Canal Cruise Ticket to ensure you get a seat – and you won’t have to wait in line.
Enjoy everything from Michelin-starred cuisine to mum’s home cooking
Amsterdam has a little-known secret: its cuisine is just as remarkable as its canals. Because the city is such a cultural melting pot, it’s got flavours from every corner of the world. Your meals can be more than an opportunity to refuel – have Dutch-style pancakes aboard the Pancake Boat, or enjoy an exceptional dinner at one of Amsterdam’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Chic eats and down-home grub are available on every corner – and you don’t have to do all that much hunting to find a great restaurant in Amsterdam.
Brave the bike lanes
One of Amsterdam’s most famous sights isn’t a museum, statue or building: it’s a bicycle or, more specifically, thousands of bicycles zooming throughout the city. Riding a bike in Amsterdam is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in that quintessential Dutch culture, but if you're not an experienced biker we do not recommend renting a bicycle.