Canals from the golden ages surrounded by narrow historic buildings, relaxing coffee shops, art museums portraying the brightness as well as the misery of people, crowded markets and crazy nightlife, the Dutch capital of Netherlands – Amsterdam is one of the most exciting cities to visit in Europe.
The official language is Dutch although most locals speak English too. The best time to visit Amsterdam is during the summer months of July and August which are the hottest months of the year but the city has an air of excitement no matter what the season. The longer days and the pleasant temperatures during the summer and spring months allow for more time outdoors. The spring months are excellent for enjoying the most picturesque view of Amsterdam where the Keukenhof Gardens are opened to reveal tulips, the national flower, to the public. The city’s municipality area is 219 km square but the city area is only 8km square and is easily walkable.
Founded as a small fishing village in the thirteenth century, Amsterdam commercial success in the world occurred during the Dutch Golden Age of 17th century.
It derived its name after a community that lived near a dam that was built on river Astel. The city expanded rapidly as the Canal Belt neighbourhoods were constructed. The "Amsterdam" experience consists of the city centre, the semi-circle with Central Station at its apex.
Amsterdam has a reputation for tolerance due to the legalisation of Prostitution and the sale, possession, and consumption of small quantities of cannabis (up to 5 grams), while technically illegal, is tolerated by authorities.
On arriving at the Amsterdam airport Schiphol, there are several ways to commute towards the central city. Trains in Netherlands are operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) and the trains, NS Sprinters, run every ten minutes from the airport platform 1 and 2 to the city between 5:00 am and 1:00am. It takes 20 minutes and costs €4.20.
You can buy the tickets at these Yellow ticket booths. The instructions are fairly simple to understand. Also, make sure you don't buy the day pass to travel from the Airport to the city because the Day pass doesn't cover the transfer from Airport to the city. You will have to buy a separate ticket to reach the city center.
Bus #197 / Amsterdam Airport Express operates service between the airport and Museumplein and Leidseplein (City centre areas) every 15 minutes and is only worth taking if these stops are closer to your accommodation. The bus costs €4.75/single €9/return if purchased online or €5/single if purchased from the driver. One can even take an Interliner 370 to reach the city centre. Also, if you are travelling at night i.e. between 00:30 to 05:00, you can take bus numbers 97 and 358 (called as Niteliner) to reach the city centre.
Taxis and car rentals are also an option but it can get very expensive. The journey to the city centre takes 25-45 minutes, depending on traffic, and costs €40-50.
For travelling within the city, there are 3 options available to you. You can either walk (which we highly recommend), ride a Bicycle or buy a transport pass.
Walking is great fun in the city of Amsterdam. It is a great option as the city is not big. Everything you would want to see will be in a 2-3kms range. Walking also helps save a lot of money by not buying a transport pass or renting a bicycle.
Bicycling is a great option in the land of the Dutch and the best way to feel like a local. A cycling path starts right outside the airport all the way to the city. Bicycles can be rented for approx. €10-12/ day. If you can, you should experience riding a bicycle in Amsterdam. Bicycle riders here are no less than Motor-bike riders and might get upset if you block their way, advertently or inadvertently. Understand the terms related to insurance before renting the Bicycles as the costs associated with losing the bike or components can be way too much than buying the insurance.
For visitors wanting to travel by a transport pass, the most useful type transport pass is a disposable OV-card without extra cost. This allows the holder to travel on an unlimited number of journeys on tram, metro and GVB bus services throughout the validity period of the pass. This can be obtained from GVB vending machines in all metro stations, from some bigger stations (including Centraal Station) and some shops. The cost of OV-card depends on the duration of your stay - €7.50/24 hours to €34/168 hours.
Rijksmuseum is one of the best museums in the world that has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Rembrandt van Rijn’s Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s Milkmaid would provide you with the best insight on life of people during the impressionist period. Another great place to visit is the Van Gogh Museum. This Dutch Post-Impressionist painter had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colours and emotional impact. The entry cost is €17.50 for the former and €15 for the latter and timings are between 9am to 6pm.
Anne Frank House:
The Anne Frank House shows the life of a Jewish girl who kept a diary while hiding from Nazi persecution in hidden rooms at the rear of the building. It captivates its visitors with the misery, persecution and discrimination during the Nazi period. The entry fee is €9.50 for an adult and the timings are between 9am to 3pm.
Red Light District:
The Red Light District is a major highlight of Amsterdam city. It’s not a sight for the light hearted but it provides a crazy insight into the life of prostitution for the curious minds. It is a bunch of medieval alleyways with strip shows and haze filled “coffeeshops”. Vondelpark is the largest and the most famous park in the Netherlands, which welcomes about 10 million visitors every year.
The Vondelpark is loved by Amsterdammers and tourists equally due to the pleasant environment. Enjoying a sunny day, dog-walking, jogging, roller-skating, listening to music, people-watching, or just lazing about in grass, this park is the perfect place to be. The best part – the park is absolutely free of cost!
You can learn more about the sightseeing's and also how to see the sightseeings by reading this article.
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Three days is a perfect amount of time to spend in a city like Amsterdam.
A day can be spend exploring the museums, churches and parks. Another day for strolling around the city or cycling like a true local exploring the markets and trying the local cuisine.
One day can be utilised for discovering the exciting night life of Amsterdam. If an extra day or two is available, it could be spend exploring the beautiful and picturesque countryside.
Have a nice and heavy early breakfast and go for a Canal Cruise. After the Canal Cruise go to the beautiful and refreshing Vondel Park, which is frequented by both tourists and locals. Make your way to the Anne Frank House and take a dive into the history of the Nazis through her eyes. Have a relishing lunch at De Pijp and go to the Rijksmuseum. The night can be enjoyed at the famous nightclub in Amsterdam-Paradiso.
Begin the day with a good enough breakfast and head over to the Amsterdam Museum first. Then visit the Jood Historic, which is a quaint museum devoted to the history and culture of the Jews. Go to the Stedelijk Museum. Stop for lunch after the visit. Visit the Van Gogh museum after that. Round of the day at the Negen Straatjens.
Have a hearty breakfast and visit the unique Electric Ladyland, which is an amazing neon museum. Pay a visit to De Kaaskamer and fulfil your cheese fantasies there. Walk to the Albert cup market and shop your heart out, as the place is lined with beautiful little shops and innumerable eating places. Have lunch there and later in the evening walk along the canals to savour the charm of the city.
The best places to try traditional Dutch dishes is at Bistro Bij Ons, La Falote or old-school kroketten (croquettes) expert Van Dobben.
A fun fact about the Netherlands is that since Indonesia was a Dutch colony, all the spices were imported to Amsterdam thereby influencing the local cuisine significantly. Don’t miss out on a spicy rijsttafel by Tempo Doeloe ('rice table'; Indonesian banquet of small dishes) in Amsterdam as it is one of the best.
Indian restaurant Gandhi is located 7 minutes walking from the Amsterdam Central Station for those who would like a quick taste of home.
If provided a chance try Gouda cheese as the Dutch is one of the largest and best producers of cheese in the world and it should definitely be a part of your Amsterdam bucket list.
When it comes to nightlife in Amsterdam, it is not as rough as people make it sound. It is host to some of the best venues, dance festivals and club nights that suits every taste.
Some of the best clubs include Melkweg, WesterUnie and SugarFactory which are located at the heart of the city and can be easily accessed through trams or cycles.
Another exciting aspect of the night life as mentioned earlier is the Red Light area. This area provides a look into the life of prostitutes but avoid taking photographs as this is considered extremely offensive.
One can even join a Pub Crawl which, takes you through many pubs at once.
Do not walk in the bicycle lanes not only due to the safety factor of being run over but also for avoiding any troubles with the locals.
Drinking alcohol in public is illegal and same goes for smoking tobacco or the use of hard drugs even though marijuana is legal.
Do give a firm handshake and a double or triple cheek kiss and don't take offense if locals give you a blunt but frank opinion. It's not considered rude, rather it comes from the wish to be direct and honest.
Always greet a person before asking a query otherwise it is considered to be really rude.
Police No/ Ambulance/ Fire- 112.
Indian Embassy Contact: +31 70 346 9771.
Free things one can do:
Red District Walk
Paid things one can see:
House of Bols for around 15 Euros
Canal Cruise for around 8-10 Euros
Anne Frank House - 8.5 Euros
Sex Museum - 4 Euros.