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*[ 15 Accor hotels in Amsterdam.] '''Hotels Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, Etap Hotel and Formule 1.'''
* '''Aalborg Hotel''', []. 3-star.
* '''Aalborg Hotel''', []. 3-star.

Revision as of 11:24, 3 April 2008

Corner of Prinsengracht and Bloemgracht, near Jordaan

Amsterdam is a city in the Netherlands with impressive architecture, lovely canals that criss-cross the city, great shopping, and friendly people who nearly all speak English well. There is something for every traveler's taste here, whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city. Amsterdam has over a million inhabitants in the urban area, and is located in the Province of North-Holland. Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, the seat of government is The Hague, and the provincial capital is Haarlem.



The 'Amsterdam' that most people know is the city centre, the semicircle with Central Station at its apex. It corresponds to the old city, as it was around 1850. Five major concentric canals ring the old city; the Singel, the Herengracht, the Keizersgracht, the Prinsengracht, and the Singelgracht (not to be confused with the Singel!), which runs alongside the roads Nassaukade, Stadhouderskade, and Mauritskade and marks the location of the former city moat and fortifications. Almost everything outside this line was built after 1870. The semicircle is on the south side of the IJ, which is called a river, but is more exactly an estuary. Going east from central station, the railway passes the artificial islands of the redeveloped Eastern Docklands. North of the IJ is mainly housing, although a major dockland redevelopment has started there too.

The river Amstel flows into the city from the south. Originally, it flowed along the line Rokin-Damrak. The dam in the Amstel, which gives the city its name, was located under the present Bijenkorf department store. The original settlement was on the right bank of the Amstel, on the present Warmoesstraat: it is therefore the oldest street in the city. The city has expanded in all directions, except to the north of the ring motorway. The region there, Waterland, is a protected rural landscape of open fields and small villages.

The radius of the semicircle is about 2 km. All major tourist destinations, and most hotels, are located inside it or just outside it. As a result, much of Amsterdam is never visited by tourists: at least 90% of the population lives outside this area. Most economic activity in Amsterdam -- the offices of the service sector, and the port -- is located on or outside the ring motorway, which is four to five kilometers from the centre.


Many people choose to visit Amsterdam because of its reputation for tolerance, although part of this reputation is attributable to cultural misunderstandings. Prostitution is legalized and licensed in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam it is very visible (window prostitution), and there are large numbers of prostitutes. The sale, possession, and consumption of small quantities of cannabis, while illegal, is condoned by authorities (the policy of gedogen). This does not mean that you can get away with anything in Amsterdam. In any case, public attitudes and official policy have hardened in recent years. For more on coffeeshops and drugs, see below in Stay safe.

Depending on your viewpoint some people will consider Amsterdam an unwholesome city whereas other people will find their relaxed attitudes refreshing. Amsterdam is not generally seen as a family destination, but if you avoid the red light district, it is no more objectionable for children than any large city.

Nearly everyone in Amsterdam, young or old, seems to speak excellent English.

When to visit

Amsterdam is a large city and a major tourist destination, so you can visit it all year round. However, in winter the days are short (8 hours daylight around Christmas), and the weather may be too cold to walk around the city comfortably, let alone cycle. Some things are seasonal: the bulb fields flower only in the spring, and Queen's Day (Koninginnedag) is always on 30 April, unless that is a Sunday. Queen Beatrix was in fact born on 31 January, but since January is too cold, the celebrations are held on the birthday of her mother Juliana. The color of Queen's Day is orange, symbolizing national pride in the royal House of Orange-Nassau.


Amsterdam Weekly is an English-language free cultural weekly published every Wednesday. It provides coverage of Amsterdam city life, and an arts and entertainment calendar.

Uitkrant is a free monthly magazine, listing all concerts, classical, jazz, pop etc., exhibitions, museums and anything cultural to do in Amsterdam. It can be picked up at many spots in the city, e.g. at the Uitburo at the Leidseplein.

NL20 is a free weekly listings magazine for Amsterdam, in Dutch.

BOOM! is a free magazine in English available from most hotels and coffee shops. It is published 4 times a year, by comedy show Boom Chicago, and if you can overlook their shameless self promotion, you'll find a wealth of up to date information about life in Amsterdam, going out, the best restaurants and a guide to the red light district, all written in an honest, witty style. offers summaries of Dutch news in English, and is useful to get a flavor of Dutch current affairs and politics.

Get in

By plane

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMS) (ICAO: EHAM), [2]. Situated 15 km south-west of the city, one of the busiest airports in the world., Easyjet and other low-cost carriers serve Schiphol, providing a fairly economical way to city-hop to Amsterdam from other spots in Europe (list LCC flights). As Amsterdam is a very popular destination, the cheapest tickets may be gone, and in that case a traditional carrier might be cheaper. So it pays to check a number of airlines before booking, to get the best deal. The former national carrier for the Netherlands is KLM, now merged with Air France. With partner Northwest Airlines they offer worldwide connections. The US, Asia and Europe are particularly well served at Schiphol.

For very frequent visitors to Amsterdam (6 or more times a year) it may pay to invest in a Privium card. This is available to EU passport holders only, but allows you to cut the queues at passport control. Instead of showing your passport you go to a special lane with an iris scanner, this will save a significant amount of time if the passport lines are long. Cost is currently €99/year + €55 for a partner.

From Schiphol there is a direct train to Amsterdam Central Station, for € 3.60, in 15 minutes. Buy the ticket from the machine (yellow with blue writing), at the counter you will pay extra charge (€ 0.50); beware: most machines may not accept credit or debit cards, however, there is a machine that accepts cash on the side of the main airport hall closer to terminal 1 and 2. Moreover, you'll find there is no problem getting tickets at the ticket office for the same price, and you will also be given advice as to the next train and at what platform. The train station at Schiphol is located underground, under the main airport hall. Watch out for pick-pockets and baggage thieves: a common trick is a knock on your window to distract you, so that an accomplice can steal your luggage or laptop. Another one is to have an accomplice jam the doors and then to steal your luggage. The thief jumps out and the door immediately closes, making it impossible to catch them.

If you are desperately trying to save money, you could use local transport from Schiphol to central Amsterdam, provided that you use a strippenkaart (see below). A trip would cost 6 strippen, that's about €2.75 on a 15 strippenkaart, and takes about an hour: take local bus 300 to the Amstelveen stop "Oranjebaan" and change there to Metro #51 to go to Amsterdam central station or take tram #5 to get into town directly.

Even easier, express buses 370 and 197 run to the Museumplein and the Leidseplein without transferring in about thirty minutes. They run once an hour middays and every 10ish minutes for the rest of the day. Surprisingly, late night bus service is even better, with frequent every five minutes or less. From midnight to six a.m., many night bus lines go to and from the airport.

Taxis from Schiphol are expensive and priced unexpectedly. You pay €6,80 - €7,50 (as of Feb 08) to get in and that includes the first two kilometers. Then the meter starts racing. The ride costs about €40 to go, say, the Leidseplein. Luckily, it could take only 25 minutes. Choose the nicest cab as that driver is more likely to be reputable. Don't just pick the first taxi in line.

Many hotels in Amsterdam share a paid shuttle bus service, and some hotels around the airport will send a free van for you.

If you decided to bring your bicycle on the plane with you, there is a 15-kilometer signposted bike route from the airport to Amsterdam. Turn right as you leave the airport terminal: the cycle path starts about 200 metres down the road.

When leaving Amsterdam, give yourself enough time to get to your plane and through security! (Especially when flying to the United States) Schiphol is a large airport - be there at least an hour in advance.

Using other airports than Schiphol could prove cheaper in some cases, as some budget airlines fly to Eindhoven and Rotterdam Airports. Then buses and trains can be used to get to Amsterdam. A taxi is not advisable: from Rotterdam to Amsterdam a taxi would cost €130, and from Eindhoven even more.

From Eindhoven Airport take a local bus (Hermes bus 401, 23 minutes, about four times per hour, €3.20 on board or €1.80 using a 15 strippenkaart) to the train station, from there take a train to Amsterdam (1:20 hour, four times per hour, single €16.80). Alternatively, take the express bus directly from the airport to Amsterdam central station, which takes 1:45 or 2:15 hours depending on the time of day. This service goes quite infrequently, see their website for a schedule. The ticket price is €18.50 for a single or €32.50 for a return [3].

From Rotterdam Airport ("Zestienhoven") take a city bus (RET bus 33, 26 minutes, every 10-20 minutes, €2.40 on board or €1.35 using a 15 strippenkaart) to Rotterdam Centraal train station, from there take a train to Amsterdam (about an hour, every 10-20 minutes, single €12.70).

By train

Sign for Platform 2b at Amsterdam Railway Station
Train stations in Amsterdam (in orange; centre in bright orange). Black lines: railways. Red lines: metro lines.

Most trains arrive and depart from Amsterdam Centraal Station (with one extra 'a' in Dutch), located between the old centre and the IJ waterfront. Other train stations are Duivendrecht, Bijlmer-ArenA, Amstel, Muiderpoort (all southeast), RAI, Zuid-WTC (both south), Lelylaan and Sloterdijk (both west). Schiphol airport also has its own train station, which functions as a major hub within the Netherlands. It has at least seven trains an hour to Amsterdam Centraal, with additional trains going to other Amsterdam stations.

Direct international trains run to Brussels (connecting with Eurostar trains to London St Pancras and Ebbsfleet (Kent) in England), Paris, Cologne, Frankfurt and Berlin.

By bus

Most international bus services are affiliated to Eurolines, which has a terminal at Amstel Station (train station, metro station 51, 53, 54, tram 12). One bus per day is usually the maximum frequency on these routes. There are other international bus services, but they are often aimed at very specific markets, e.g. Polish migrant workers. There are almost no long-distance internal bus services in the Netherlands, and none to Amsterdam.

By car

The western part of the Netherlands has a dense (and congested) road network. Coming from the east (Germany), the A1 motorway leads directly to Amsterdam. On the A12 from Arnhem, change at Utrecht to the A2 northbound. From the south (Belgium), the A2 goes directly to Amsterdam: the A16 /A27 from Antwerp via Breda connects to the A2 south of Utrecht. From The Hague, the A4 leads to Amsterdam. All motorways to Amsterdam connect to the ring motorway, the A10. From this motorway, main roads lead radially into Amsterdam (the roads S101 through S118).

In most cases, you should want to avoid going to the city centre by car: traffic is dense and parking spaces are expensive and nearly impossible to find. Instead, when on the A10, follow the signs to one of the P+R-spots (P+R Zeeburg to the east, P+R ArenA and P+R Olympisch Stadion to the south, P+R Sloterdijk to the west). Here, you can park your car, and take public transport to the city centre, for a single fare.

The speed limit on Dutch motorways is 120 km/h, except where indicated. On most sections of the A10 ring motorway around Amsterdam, the maximum speed has been lowered to 80 km/h. These limits are strictly enforced and there are many speed cameras.

By sea

The maritime Passenger Terminal Amsterdam is close to the city centre, but is only for cruise ships. The nearest ferry port is IJmuiden (ferry from Newcastle upon Tyne). There are also ferry terminals at Rotterdam Europoort (ferry from Kingston Upon Hull), and Hook of Holland (ferry from Harwich). More information, timetables and ticket prices for these ferries is available at Ferries To Amsterdam.

Get around

On foot and bike

Amsterdam's centre is fairly small, and almost abnormally flat, so you can easily get to most tourist destinations on foot - from the train station, within a half an hour.

A pleasant way to cover a lot of ground is to rent a bicycle. There are approximately three-quarters of a million people living in Amsterdam and they own about 600,000 bicycles. The city is very, very bike-friendly, and there are separate bike lanes on most major streets. In the city centre, however, there is often not enough space for a bike lane, so cars and cyclists share narrow streets. If you are not used to that, be very careful, and also watch out for other cyclists. Avoid getting your tire in the tram rails; it's a nasty fall. Always cross tram rails at an angle. There are bike rental shops at stations, and several others in and around the city centre. Bikes cost about € 9 to € 20 per day.

Make sure to get a good lock, and to use it. Amsterdam has one of the highest bicycle theft rates in the world, see the Netherlands page. Note also that if buying a bike, prices that seem too good to be true are stolen bikes. Any bike offered for sale to passers-by, on the street, is certainly stolen. There's an old Amsterdam joke; if to a large group of bicycles going by, you yell out, "Hey, that's my bike!" about five people will jump off "their" bikes and start running.

  • MacBike Bicycle Rental. Perhaps the most ubiquitous bicycle rental agency in Amsterdam, their bicycles are painted red with a MacBike sign on the front, everyone will know you're visiting. The bicycles are reliable, and in very good condition. Several locations around the city centre for assistance or repairs. Online bicycle reservations at their website.
  • You might opt for another Bike rental company, like Orangebike,Rentals & Tours. Their bikes are not so obvious coloured, more discrete ,reliable and sturdy.Even the typical Dutch Grandmotherbikes are available at Orangebike.Every day you could go on the +- 3 hours historical city tour and discover the hidden treasures by bike for 19.50 euro only.Online resevations on their website

Public transport

Public transport within the city is operated by the GVB (Gemeentevervoerbedrijf). The tram (18 lines) is the main form of public transport system in the central area, and there are also dozens of bus routes. Regional buses, and some suburban buses, are operated by Connexxion [4] and Arriva[5]. All tram stops have a detailed map of the system and the surrounding area.

There is a four line metro, including a short underground section in the city centre, that serves the neighborhoods of the South East. It takes 15-20 minutes from Central Station or Waterlooplein to the Bijlmer (Amsterdam Arena stadium, Heineken Music Hall and Pathe Arena cinema and IMAX).

Tickets can be bought on bus or tram, but it is always cheaper to buy a strippenkaart before boarding. They are available from machines in the metro and railway stations, from the GVB office opposite Central Station, and from supermarkets, newsagents and tobacconists. In Central Station, purchase them at the red GVB machine (bills and coins) or at one of the Albert Heijn To Go mini marts. Purchase multi-day passes at the Amsterdam Tourist office (ACTB) or GWK Money Exchange.

A strippenkaart is also valid for use on NS trains within Amsterdam, validate them on the platform. They are not valid for train trips to Schiphol airport. You can use them on buses to Schiphol but generally it's faster to get there by train.

The strippenkaart ticket consists of a number of strips, which must be stamped in a yellow machine prior to entering the metro, or by the driver or conductor when boarding a tram or bus. Travel for one hour through a single zone costs two strips; two zones cost three strips, and so forth. Typically tourists will only be traveling through the central zone of Amsterdam, unless they plan on visiting outer areas. Multiple people can share one strippenkaart but must be validated respective to the number of travelers (eg. for two people traveling in one zone, the strip can be validated on the second and fourth strip from the last validation stamp). a strippenkaart of 15 strips costs €6.90.

Alternatively, you can get a 1, 2, 3 or 4 day pass. Although convenient, it is usually cheaper to use strippenkaarten, especially for people who stay in the city center. (€7/1 day, €11.50/2 days, €14.50/3 days, €17.50/4 days, as of Feb 08).

Don't forget to stamp it before your first journey. If you stay longer in Amsterdam, you can buy discounted weekly or monthly tickets from most post offices or other ticket sale points which are really cheaper.

A new national ticketing system is being introduced, based on a contactless card (swipe card). The system is operational on the Amsterdam metro, at first in parallel with the old system. Trams and buses will be converted to the new system in 2008-9.

Most trams these days have conductors, near the rear of the tram. Board by the driver or the conductor. If you have questions, the conductor will always have more time for you.

Enter buses only via the front door.
See for some more and newer information on the Dutch Public Transportation-system ('Openbaar Vervoer' or O.V. in Dutch/NL): Other public transport-Info/ Openbaar Vervoer (O.V.)

There are several free ferry services across the IJ river, to Amsterdam North, the most frequent runs every seven minutes. They all leave from a new jetty on the northern (rear) side of Centraal Station.

The nicest one is the fifteen minute service to NDSM Werf, a funky, up and coming, industrial neighborhood with a nice cafe-bar (Ijkantine) restaurant (Noorderlicht), indoor skateboard park, and the Pancake Boat (Pannekoekenboot) which sails many times each week. Ferries leave :15 and :45 from Central Station and :00 and :30 from NDSM Werf. Double frequencies during rush hours.


For journeys outside the city, the train is usually the best option. Besides some exceptions, all trains in the Netherlands are operated by the Nederlandse Spoorwegen [6] (NS, "Dutch Railways"). Their website has English-language information.

Ticket machines are the standard way to buy a ticket, it costs 50 cents extra to buy a ticket at ticket counters, and at Central Station there are often long lines at these counters. Older machines are not in English and as such can be difficult to interpret. New machines come with a language selection, and support English, Dutch, French and German but usually only accept credit and debit cards (note that foreign credit and debit cards do not work in most NS ticket machines). In Central Station, there is a machine that accepts cash and is located in the hallway in front of the ticket office.

You face a fine of 35 euros, due immediately, if you are caught on the train without a ticket. The chance of getting caught without a ticket is almost certain on main routes during the day, but there is always a random element.

For discount tickets and rail passes see the Netherlands page.


Using a car in central Amsterdam is something of a pain. Many of the streets are narrow, the traffic (and parking) signs are baroque and obscure, and cyclists and pedestrians may get in your way. You can try parking at one of the secured parking garages, for example under Museumplein, or near the Central Station, and then walk around the city center, or use a tram. Car parking is very expensive in Amsterdam and it's often hard to find a place to park. You can choose to pay by the hour or for the whole day. Parking is free outside the center on Sunday. There is always a spot available on the Albert Cuypstraat. (Which is a market during the rest of the week). From there it is a 5 minute tram ride or 15 minute walk downtown.

Another option is to park your car further outside the city-centre. For € 5,50 you get a full day of parking and a return ticket downtown. The ride takes about 15 minutes. Look for the P+R (Park and Ride) signs. [7]

You can also park for free in some parts of Amsterdam outside the city centre though this may be slowly changing. Parking is still free everywhere in Amsterdam-Noord, and you can just take the bus from the Mosplein stop to the city centre easily. Plenty of buses run through here.


Taxis in Amsterdam are plentiful but expensive. Call TCA taxis at 777 7777 for a reliable driver who arrives almost immediately. Hailing taxis on the street is usually a positive experience, although it is not unheard of for passengers to be cheated by shady drivers.

Some drivers, traditionally at Centraal Station, will refuse short trips, or else they'll quote outrageously high fares, even though all taxis are metered. For reference, no trip within the historic centre should cost more than €10 or so.

The Netherlands (and Amsterdam) is in the middle of a huge taxi liberalization scheme which has been jarring to all involved. After many missteps, the government has introduced an unusual pricing scheme. First you feel sticker shock as the initial fare is now €7,50 (as of Feb 08). Luckily, that includes the first two kilometers of travel and there is no charge for waiting in traffic. If you need to run in somewhere, you need to negotiate a waiting fee with the driver. 50 cents per minute is customary.

Unlicensed, illegal, cabbies operate mainly in Amsterdam Zuidoost. These aren't easily recognized as such, and most certainly don't drive Mercedes cars. They are known as snorders and most easily reached by mobile phone. Rides within Amsterdam Zuidoost (the Bijlmer) range from €2.50 to €5, whereas Zuidoost-Center can run up to €12.50. Snorders have a shady reputation, so consider their services only if you are adventurous.


A Thai-influenced transportation service using three-wheeled, open-air (but covered) motorized vehicles was introduced in August 2007 and may be a more economical and fast way to get around the city center compared to taxis. Tuk-tuk pricing is based on a zone system. Within a zone, a ride is €3.50 per person, €5.00 for 2 persons and €6.50 for 3. If you go to another zone, €3.50 is added (irrespective of number of persons). This service is handy if it is past the regular tram/bus/metro service hours (approximately half past midnight) as they take reservations 24 hours a day at 0900 99 333 99 (note to call, there is a fee of €0.55 per conversation).


Architectural heritage

Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, with about 7 000 registered historic buildings. The street pattern is largely unchanged since the 19th century - there was no major bombing during World War II. The centre consists of 90 islands, linked by 400 bridges. Its most prominent feature is the concentric canal ring begun in the 17th century. The city office for architectural heritage (BMA) [8] has an excellent online introduction to the architectural history, and the types of historical buildings. The website includes a cycle route along important examples.

The oldest parts of the city are Warmoesstraat and Zeedijk. Two mediaeval wooden houses survive, at Begijnhof 34 and Zeedijk 1. Other old houses are Warmoesstraat 83 (built circa 1400), Warmoesstraat 5 (circa 1500) and Begijnhof 2-3 (circa. 1425).

The Begijnhof is a late-mediaeval enclosed courtyard with the houses of beguines, women living in a semi-religious community. Beguinages are found in northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and north-western Germany.

There are several large warehouses for more specific uses. The biggest is the Admirality Arsenal (1656-1657), now the Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum) at Kattenburgerplein. Others include the former turf warehouses (1550) along the Nes, now the municipal pawn office; a similar warehouse at Waterlooplein 69-75 (Arsenaal, 1610), now an architectural academy, and the warehouse of the West India Company (1642) at the corner of Prins Hendrikkade and s-Gravenhekje. The 19th-century warehouses, along the Oostelijke Handelskade, are surrounded by new office buildings.

The trading city of Amsterdam was ruled by a merchant-based oligarchy, who built canal houses and mansions in the most prestigious locations, especially along the main canals. The BMA website has a chronological list of the most important:

  • Singel 140-142, De Dolphijn (circa 1600)
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 14, Wapen van Riga (1605)
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 57, De Gecroonde Raep (1615), in Baroque Amsterdam Renaissance style
  • Herengracht 170-172, Bartolotti House (circa 1617)
  • Keizersgracht 123, House with the Heads (1622)
  • Herengracht 168 (1638)
  • Rokin 145 (1643)
  • Kloveniersburgwal 29, Trip House (1662)
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 187 (1663)
  • Singel 104-106 (1743)
  • Singel 36, Zeevrugt (1763)

The Jordaan was built around 1650 along with the canal ring, but not for the wealthy merchants. For a long time it was considered the typical working-class area of Amsterdam, and included some notorious slums. It was probably the first example of gentrification in the Netherlands, even before the word was used. The name probably drives from the nickname 'Jordan' for the Prinsengracht. Apart from a few wider canals, the streets are narrow, in an incomplete grid pattern.

19th-century architecture is under-represented in Amsterdam. Immediately outside the Singelgracht (former city moat) is a ring of 19th-century housing. The most prominent buildings from this period are Centraal Station (1889) and the Rijksmuseum (1885), both by P. J. H. Cuypers.


There are five main churches in the historic centre. The oldest is the Oude Kerk (1306) on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, in the red-light district. It was followed by the Nieuwe Kerk (15th century) on the Dam. The late-mediaeval city also had smaller chapels such as the Sint Olofskapel (circa 1440) on Zeedijk, and convent chapels such as the Agnietenkapel on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231 (originally 1470), now the University of Amsterdam museum. Around 1600, three new Protestant churches were built:

  • Zuiderkerk (1603) at Zuiderkerkhof, now an information centre on housing and planning.
  • Noorderkerk (1620/230) at Noordermarkt on the Prinsengracht.
  • Westerkerk (1620/31) on Westermarkt is the largest of the three. The church is open (free) for visitors from Monday to Friday, 11.00 -15.00, from April to September. You can also climb the tower, only with guide, every half-hour, € 6. In good weather you can see all of Amsterdam, and as far as the coast.

Later churches included the Oosterkerk (1669) in the eastern islands, and the heavily restored Lutheran Church on the Singel (1671), now used by a hotel as a conference centre. Catholic churches were long forbidden, and only built again in the 19th-century: the most prominent is the Neo-Baroque Church of St. Nicholas (1887) opposite Central Station.

The most prominent synagogue is the Portugese-Israelite Synagogue (1675) at Mr. Visserplein, in an austere Classicist style.

Also, try and investigate on some of the "hidden churches" found in Amsterdam, mainly catholic churches that remained in activity following the Reformation.

Modern architecture

Since there was little large-scale demolition in the historic centre, most 20th-century and recent architecture is outside it. The most prominent in architectural history are the residential complexes by architects of the Amsterdam School, for instance at Zaanstraat / Oostzaanstraat.

  • Museum of the Amsterdam School [9], located in the best-known example of their architecture. Open Wednesday to Sunday 13.00 to 17.00, entrance € 2.50.
  • The largest concentration of new residential buildings is in the Eastern Docklands. The zone includes three artificial islands: Borneo, Sporenburg, and Java/KNSM, together with the quayside along Piet Heinkade, and some adjoining projects. Accessible by tram 10, tram 26 to Rietlandpark, or best of all by bicycle.
  • The largest concentration of box-like office buildings is in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost (South-East) around Bijlmer station (train and metro), but the area does have some spectacular buildings, such as the Amsterdam ArenA stadium and the new Bijlmer ArenA station (nearing completion and already in use).
  • Amsterdam is replacing older sewage plants by a single modern plant, in the port zone. Connecting existing sewers to the new plant requires long main sewers, and the use of sewage booster pumps - a new technique at this scale. The new booster pump stations are a unique type of building, designed by separate architects. The three complete pumps are located at Klaprozenweg in the north, on Spaklerweg (just east of the A10 motorway), and beside and under Postjesweg, in the Rembrandtpark.


Windmills were not built in urban areas, since the building obstructed the wind. The Amsterdam windmills were all originally outside the city walls. Nearest to the centre are De Gooyer and De Otter:

  • De Gooyer (1814, restored) on Funenkade currently holds a microbrewery
  • De Otter (1631), a restored and functioning sawmill, opposite Buyskade, west of the Jordaan.
  • De Bloem (1878) on the Haarlemmerweg 465 at Nieuwpoortkade,
  • De 1200 Roe, Haarlemmerweg 701 near Seineweg
  • De 100 Roe (1674), in the Ookmeer sports fields along Ma Braunpad
  • D'Admiraal (1792), Noordhollandschkanaaldijk 21, on the bank of the Noordhollands Kanaal in the north, ferry from Central Station.
  • Riekermolen (1636) on the bank of the Amstel river at Kalfjeslaan
  • De Jonge Dikkert in Amstelveen (corner of Molenweg and Amsterdamseweg) is now a restaurant [10].

Only the Molen van Sloten [11] and De Gooyer are open for visitors. The Molen van Sloten at Akersluis 10, about 10 minutes walk from the terminus of tram line 2, open daily from 10.00 to 16.00. De Gooyer at Funenkade, Bus 22, Tram 7, open Wednesday to Sunday from 15.00 to 19.00.


An English-language list at the GVB (public transport) website includes the tram and bus routes for each museum: Museums and attractions.

The Museumkaart (museum card) costs €34.95 (or €19.95 for those under 25 years old). It gives discount admission (typically 40% or 50%) in over 400 museums across the Netherlands, and sometimes free admission. You can buy it at most major museums. It is valid for an entire year, and you will need to write your name, birthday, and gender on it. If you are going to the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, those are €10 each, so this card can quickly pay for itself.

The tickets to the major museums, including the audio guide; can be bought early from the tourist information desk at no extra cost.

  • Rijksmuseum - masterpieces exhibition, [12]. The largest and most prestigious museum for art and history in the Netherlands: works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other Dutch masters. The museum is being completely renovated, but the major masterpieces are still on show. Open 09.00 to 18.00, open until 22.00 on Fridays. Admission € 10 for adults, under 18 free, no discounts for students. In the garden is a small temporary exhibition on the renovation plans.
  • Sexmuseum, The largest and most prestigious museum for sex art and sex history in the Netherlands. Open daily 09.00 to 22.00.It charges 3Euros as admission.
  • NEMO. NEMO is the biggest science centre in the Netherlands; an educational attraction where you can discover a world of science and technology in an entertaining way. NEMO takes you on a voyage of discovery between fantasy and reality. You will discover how scientific phenomena influence your daily life. You will learn about technology and engineering, ICT and bio- and behavioural sciences. This is a great place to take kids.
  • van Gogh Museum, [13]. This museum is dedicated to this late 19th century Dutch painter. Do not expect to see all of Van Gogh's works however as they only have a portion at this museum, others are at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and elsewhere. Still worth the visit though as there are many famous examples of his worklike the Sunflowers and Potato Eaters.Also, there are selected works of Monet exhibited there. Consider the audio tour at only € 4,00, in the language of your choice, will give you a much better understanding of Van Gogh's life and his paintings. Entry is 10 Euros for adults, no student nor group rates. Open late on Fridays.
  • Diamond Museum. This brand new exhibition about the history of diamond trade in Amsterdam is located opposite the van Gogh Museum.
  • Stedelijk Museum, [14]. The Amsterdam municipal museum of modern art. Temporarily located east of Central Station, 10 minutes walk from there.
  • Amsterdams Historisch Museum, [15]. The city’s historical museum. Two entrances, at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 357 and Kalverstraat 92. Open 10.00-17.00, opens one hour later on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Entrance € 6 adults, € 3 children.
  • Anne Frank House, [16]. The house where the Jewish girl Anne Frank wrote her diary while hiding with her family from the Nazis. Don't let the long line discourage you; it moves quickly and the experience inside the hiding places on the top floors is moving. The museum lacks any exhibits to explain the historical context at the time of Anne's diary, however. Go in the early evening around 17:00 to avoid any lines. The Anne Frank House is open later during the summer.
  • Katten Kabinet, [17]. A cat museum. Housed in a beautiful restored palatial home in an upscale area street - very Masterpiece Theater. It was opened by the homeowner after his favourite cat died... and he still lives in the home. Lots of cat-related art, and two real felines. The admission fee is 5 euros. The exhibition is spread across the first floor of the house.
  • Filmmuseum, [18]. A non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of contemporary and historical films. Multiple screenings daily. The Filmmuseum is located in the Vondelpark, between park entrances Roemer Visscherstraat and Vondelstraat. Despite the name the "Filmmuseum" this is not a museum, rather just an alternative cinema funded by the government.
  • Museum Amstelkring, [19]. Most locals don't recognize the official name, but will know what you mean if you say "Our Lord in the Attic." This is a Catholic church stuffed into the upper stories of a house built in 1663, when Catholics were persecuted and had to disguise their churches. It's a beautiful place to visit, and amazing to see how they fit worshippers, an organ, and an altar into such a narrow place. Now a museum, open Monday-Saturday 10.00 - 17.00 , Sunday 13.00-17.00, admission € 7, under 18 € 1. Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40, in the red-light district.
  • Tropenmuseum, [20]. Ethnographic / cultural museum about Africa, Asia, and South America.
  • Royal Palace. This former City Hall (built in 1651) is currently closed for renovation. (It is mainly used for diplomatic receptions and to welcome visiting heads of state, not as a royal residence).
  • Allard Pierson Museum. The Allard Pierson Museum is the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam . The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Cyprus, the Greek World, Etruria and the Roman Empire are revived in this museum. Art-objects and utensils, dating from 4000 B.C. till 500 A.D. give a good impression of everyday-life, mythology and religion in Antiquity.
  • Schutters Gallery. Located between Kalverstraat and Begijnhof, shows 17th-century portraits, free.
  • Scheepvaart Museum. The Netherlands Maritime Museum is closed until 2009, for complete renovation. [21]
  • Pianola Museum
  • The Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum. Opened for over twenty years, the Hash Museum is dedicated to debunking the lies and demonisation about one of our most useful plants, the hemp plant. Although small, busy and seriously overpriced, it is a well-done museum where people go to get informed. [22]
  • Handbag Museum

Zoo and botanical garden

  • Hortus Botanicus, [23]. The 'Hortus' as it is called by locals, was formerly the Botanical Garden of the University of Amsterdam. Monday to Friday 9.00 - 17.00, Saturday and Sunday 10.00 - 17.00, open until 21.00 in July and August, admission € 6.
  • Artis Zoo, [24]. An entry ticket for Artis also provides admission to the Planetarium, the Geological Museum, the Aquarium and the Zoological Museum. Artis is also a botanical garden, with plants and trees gathered from all over the world, just like the animal species.

Parks and countryside

The nearest open countryside is north of the city, about 20 minutes by bike. Cross the IJ by ferry behind Central Station, and follow the cycle signs for the villages of Ransdorp, Zunderdorp, Schellingwoude or Durgerdam. Cycling along the Amstel river for about 30 to 40 minutes will also take you into open countryside, and the village of Oudekerk.

  • Vondelpark, [25]. The only large park in the older part of the city. Especially in the summer it's lively and crowded. Meet the locals there.
  • Rembrandtpark. Not too far west of the Vondelpark, but much bigger and quieter.
  • Museumplein. Not exactly a park, but a large grassed open space. Around its edges are the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Concertgebouw, and the temporarily closed Stedelijk Museum.
  • Wertheimpark. A small park opposite the botanical gardens. Has a second world war memorial and lies on one of the nicest canals in Amsterdam.
  • Westerpark, [26]. Newly expanded park, at the western edge of the centre, with cultural activities in a former gas factory. Access from Haarlemmerweg.
  • Oosterpark, Behind the tropical museum, at the eastern edge of the centre, holds several multicultural festivals throughout the year.
  • Sarphatipark, at the southern edge of the centre, is a place where people sunbathe and have picnics in the summer.
  • Amsterdamse Bos, [27]. A much larger forest-type park on the outskirts of the city. Access from Amstelveenseweg. Horse rental, canoe rental and an open air theatre are part of the attractions.


The whole coast west of the Netherlands is a single long beach. The nearest stretch is at Zandvoort - 27 minutes by train from Central Station, every 30 minutes. In summer there are extra trains, change trains at Haarlem. Zandvoort is very crowded on warm days in summer: parts of the beach attract the incrowd, others the somewhat less so. The long beaches continue north of IJmuiden, they are more family oriented. For the most accessible of these, take the train to Castricum, and then bus (or minibus) 267. Or, you can take the hydrofoil (Fast Flying Ferries) from behind the Central Station to IJmuiden, and then take a bus to the beach.

There is a temporary artificial beach Blijburg, surrounded by construction sites, in the new suburb of IJburg. Tram 26 to the last stop, then a few minutes walk, follow the signs.

Attractions and tours

  • Former Heineken Brewery (Heineken Experience), Stadhouderskade 78, [28]. Not a functioning brewery any more. Tuesdays to Sundays 10.00 - 18.00. Shameless promotion for Holland's leading export beer, but they charge tourists € 11 to get in. That includes three drink coupons and a take home a souvenir bottle opener inside a fake Heinken bottle. They no longer offer the souvenir beer mug. It is currently closed until June 2008.
  • Organised city tours. Several operators offer tours, visits to diamond factories, other guided visits, and canal cruises. Unless you really need a guide - for instance if you speak only Chinese - it is cheaper to visit everything yourself.
  • New Amsterdam Tours [29] offers a free three-hour guided tour (tips accepted at the end of the tour) of the major Amsterdam sites and history twice a day at 11:00AM and 1:00PM and once a day in Spanish at 11:00AM. Meet in front of the tourist information office across from Amsterdam Centraal Station, near the tour guide in a red "Free Tour" shirt. The company also offers a two-hour guided tour through the Red Light District at 6:45PM that meets at the same location for 10 euros per person (8 euros for students).
  • Amsterdam Insider [30] is a tour company offering bike, boat and walking tours. Their guides are artists, musicians and writers. Tours are € 15 per person. E-mail [email protected] for more information.

Red Light District

The Red Light District consists of several canals, and the side streets between them, south of Central Station and east of Damrak. Known as 'De Wallen' (the walls) in Dutch, because the canals were once part of the city defences (walls and moats). Prostitution itself is limited to certain streets, mainly side streets and alleys, but the district is considered to include the canals, and some adjoining streets (such as Warmoesstraat and Zeedijk). The whole area has a heavy police presence, and many security cameras. Nevertheless it is still a residential district, has many bars and restaurants, and also includes historic buildings and museums - this is the oldest part of the city. The oldest church in Amsterdam, the Netherlands-gothic Oude Kerk on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal at Oudekerksplein, is now surrounded by window prostitution. The area has many sexshops and peep show bars. Note: Don't try to take photos of prostitutes even from the streets, or you might lose your camera without any warning.

You can book a tour of the Red Light District via the I amsterdam information booths. The tour starts at 1700 at the VOC Cafe and is found to be very informative and entertaining.


  • Several companies offer canal cruises - usually about one hour. Departures from: Prins Hendrikkade opposite Centraal Station; quayside Damrak; Rokin near Spui; Stadhouderskade 25 near Leidseplein.
  • The Canal Bus [31] runs a fixed route, stopping near major attractions. You can get off or on at each stop and as often as you like, but it is expensive - € 18 for a day pass.
  • With a canal bike or rented boat, you can cruise the canals yourself, without the commentary.
    • Canal Company [32] has four rental locations; four-seater canal bikes cost €8/person/hour.
    • Rent a boat Amsterdam [33]family.
  • Smoking cannabis in public is something enjoyed by those who would be persecuted for doing so back home, but it is considerate to give some thought as to whether the location is appropriate. Amsterdam, as some tourists seem to forget isn't an adult disneyland and as such it is appreciated if you for instance don't light up in the quieter residential and family areas outside the centre. Places such as the Damsquare and the Vondelpark on the other hand are fine, and even historically known for this as this is where people gathered in Amsterdam in the sixties to exercise their freedom.
    • Grey Area
    • Barney's [34], coffeeshop.
    • Rokerij [35] - four coffeeshops.
    • Global Chillage
    • Pink Floyd
    • De Kroon
    • Abraxas
    • Homegrown Fantasy
    • Kadinsky
  • Queens Day. The national holiday, nominally in celebration of the Queen's birthday (in fact the previous Queen's birthday). The city is one big flea market, with bands playing, and many on-street parties. An experience you'll never forget! April 30th - but if that is a Sunday, it is one day earlier (to avoid offence to orthodox Protestants).
  • MEETin Amsterdam [36] is a not-for-profit social group to help expats meet new people away from the bar and dating scene. The site's primary focus is to provide a relaxed, 'non-pickup-scene' social environment for people to enjoy without paying membership fees. For people who have either just moved to Amsterdam or lived there for a while, this group can be a great way to meet new people in the area. Events are arranged by MEETin members and include a variety of activities such as pub crawls, potlucks, movies, concerts, day trips and much more. You have to register and create a profile in order to participate. The group consists mostly of expats from around the world and has grown to more than 1,400 members (January 2008). The site is financed through voluntary donations.
  • Canal Pride [37] Amsterdam gay pride on the first weekend in August. One of the biggest festivals in Amsterdam with parties, performances, workshops and a boat parade on the Prinsengracht on Saturday afternoon which is always well worth seeing.
  • BOOM CHICAGO [38] is a Chicago-based comedy group that has been performing in Amsterdam for over ten years. The shows are cheap and audience participation is always encouraged. They perform at the Leidseplein Theater nightly (check their website for times) and are attached to the Boom Bar which is always lively before and after shows. Don't miss their Heinekin Late Nite at 11:30 PM on Friday nights (13 euros) which includes the whole cast unscripted, beers handed out for good suggestions from the audience, and just a general good time.
  • CityNavigators [39] offers handheld GPS tourist maps for rent through participating hotels or online. The GPS devices are pre-programmed to take you to popular attractions or to guide you through walking (or bicycle) tours. E-mail [email protected] for more information.
  • Play Futsal [40] Football tour organisers Eurofives stage special tournament weekends in Amsterdam at which you can enjoy some Dutch-style five-a-sides.
  • Amsterdam Weekly [41] It is an Entertainment magazine in English on the Internet. You can find weekly Amsterdam events.
  • De Poezenboot [42] You really like cats? The poezenboot (cat boat) is an refuge for cats awaiting adoption. Located in the centre of the city, a must for any cat lover.
  • Rialto Cinema [43] For all arthouse cinema freaks. All films are shown in their original language with Dutch subtitles. They have late night and classic showings too. Just a short walk from the Albert Cuyp-Market/Heineken Brouwery, in a nice non-touristy neighbourhood.


Amsterdam is home to two universities, both offer summer courses and other short courses (with academic credits).

  • Vrije Universiteit (VU University) [44] Founded in 1880, the VU campus is located southwest of the city centre, and approximately 20 minutes away by bicycle. It is the only protestant general university in the Netherlands.
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam [45] Founded as the Athenaeum Illustre in 1632, in 1877 it became the University of Amsterdam. With about 25 000 students, the UvA is located on three separate campuses in the city centre, plus smaller sites scattered over Amsterdam.

The Volksuniversiteit [46] is, despite the name, not a university, but a venerable institute for public education. Among the many courses are Dutch language courses for foreigners.


Many people plan to move to Amsterdam for a year to relax before "settling down". This plan often falls apart at the job phase. Many people will find it difficult to get a suitable job, if they do not speak Dutch. However, hostels and hotels in Amsterdam may need bar staff, night porters etc, who speak English and other languages. There are also specialist websites for English and non-Dutch speakers looking to work in Amsterdam and they are a often a good place to start - Undutchables [47], Unique [48] and Xpat Jobs[49] are all useful resources.

Immigration matters are dealt with by the Immigration Service IND [50]. Registration is done by both police and municipalities. Immigration policy is restrictive and deliberately bureaucratic. That is especially true for non-EU citizens.

European Union citizens do not require a work permit. Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians are afforded a one year working-holiday visa. In general the employer must apply for work permits. Immigration is easier for "knowledge migrants" earning a gross annual salary of over € 45 000 (over € 33 000 for those under 30).


The main central shopping streets run in a line from near Central Station to the Leidseplein: Nieuwendijk, Kalverstraat, Heiligeweg, Leidsestraat. The emphasis is on clothes/fashion, but there are plenty of other shops. They are not upmarket shopping streets, and the north end of Nieuwendijk is seedy. Amsterdam’s only upmarket shopping street is the P.C. Hooftstraat (near the Rijksmuseum).

Other concentrations of shops in the centre are Haarlemmerstraat / Haarlemmerdijk, Utrechtsestraat, Spiegelstraat (art/antiques), and around Nieuwmarkt. There is a concentration of Chinese shops at Zeedijk / Nieuwmarkt, but it is not a real Chinatown.

The ‘interesting little shops’ are located in the side streets of the main canals (Prinsengracht / Keizersgracht / Herengracht), and especially in the Jordaan - bounded by Prinsengracht, Elandsgracht, Marnixstraat and Brouwersgracht. The partly gentrified neighbourhood of De Pijp - around Ferdinand Bolstraat and Sarphatipark - is often seen as a 'second Jordaan'.

For general shop info and their openings hours you can visit 'Openingstijden Amsterdam' it shows an overview of the most popular shops and their location on the map.

  • The Nine Streets [51] or De Negen Straatjes, nine narrow streets between the main canals from the Prinsengracht to the Singel, north of Dam Square. Boutiques, specialist shops, galleries and restaurants.
  • Santa Jet, Prinsenstraat 7, tel. (020) 427 2070. This little boutique specialises in hand-made imports from Latin America. You can find everything from mini shrines made of tin, to lamps, to kitschy postcards.
  • De Beeldenwinkel Sculpture Gallery. This is a gallery for sculpture lovers, with bronze statues, pottery, abstract sculpture, raku-fired statues and marble figures sculpture to suit every budget and taste.
  • Jordaan [52]One of the most picturesque 'village' areas of Amsterdam, the Jordaan has always been a centre for artisans, artists and creatives, today, this area has a wonderful selection of goldsmiths and jewellers, fashion boutiques, galleries, designer florists, and specialist shops.
  • Museum Quarter [53]Located in Amsterdam Zuid, this is considered the chiquest area for shopping in Amsterdam, close to the Museum district, the PC Hooftstraat and the Cornelis Schuytstraat have some of the finest designer shops in the city, including designer shoes, health and well-being specialists, massage, fashion boutiques, designer interiors, designer florists and specialist shops.

In the older areas surrounding the centre, the main shopping streets are the Kinkerstraat, the Ferdinand Bolstraat, the Van Woustraat, and the Javastraat. The most 'ethnic' shopping street in Amsterdam is the Javastraat. There are toy stores and clothing shops for kids in the centre, but most are in the shopping streets further out, because that's where families with children live.

A give-away shop can be found at Singel 267, open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1700-1900 and Saturdays 1200-1700.

For books, your best bet is The Book Exchange at Kloveniersburgwal 58 (tel. (020) 6266 266), diagonally across from the youth hostel. It is a secondhand bookstore specialising in English books, and has a large selection, with an escpecially good selection of travel writing, detectives, and sf/fantasy. Open M-S 10-18, Sun 11.30-16. For English literature and books, you can also try The American Book Center store on Spui square. Large Dutch bookstores also carry a selection of foreign language books.

Street markets

Street markets originally sold mainly food, and most still sell food and clothing, but they have become more specialised. A complete list of Amsterdam markets (with opening times and the number of stalls) can be found at Hollandse Markten and in English

Albert Cuyp Market in December 2006
  • Ten Cate Market. 3rd Largest in Amsterdam. Monday to Saturday from about 08.00 until around 17.00.
  • Albert Cuyp. Largest in Amsterdam, best-known street market in the country. Monday to Saturday from about 09.00 until around 17.00.
  • Dappermarkt. In the east, behind the ZOO was voted best market in the Netherlands. Monday to Saturday from about 08.00 until around 17.00.
  • Waterlooplein. Well-known but overrated flea market. Monday to Saturday until about 17.00.
  • Lindengracht. In the Jordaan, selling a wide range of goods, fruit and vegetables, fish and various household items. Saturday Only. 09:00 to 16:00. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk along the Lijnbaansgracht.
  • Spui. Fridays: Books. Sundays: Art and Antiques.
  • Bloemenmarkt. Flower market, open daily on Singel, near Muntplein. Buy pre-approved bulbs if taking them to the US or Canada. It was becoming a tourist trap market but the council told the stall owners to stop selling tourist junk.
  • Lapjesmarkt. Westerstraat, in the Jordaan. A specialist market concentrating on selling cloth and material for making clothes, curtains etc. Monday Only. 09:00 to 13:00. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein.
  • Noordermarkt. In the historical Jordaan area of the city. On Monday morning (09:00 to 13:00) the Noordermarkt is a flea market selling fabrics, records, second-hand clothing etc, and forms part of the Lapjesmarkt mentioned above. On Saturday (09:00 to 16:00) the Noordermarkt is a biological food market, selling a wide range of ecological products like organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, cheese, mushrooms etc, there is also a small flea market. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk down the Westerstraat.


For food during the day, the Albert Heijn supermarkets (largest national chain) usually have cheap ready-to-go meals on hand, from pre-packaged sandwiches and salads to microwavable single-serving meals. There is one right behind the Royal Palace on Dam Square, on the Nieuwmarkt, on Koningsplein and in the Vijzelstraat.

For vegetarians Maoz chain of falfels is a blessing. The falafels are excellent offering a variety of options to load onto the basics falafel and pita bread. One of the Maoz is in the north end of Amstel street.

Take advantage of the diversity of restaurants... especially Asian. The influence of the Dutch colonial past is apparent; Indonesian food is usually excellent, while Indian is often expensive and of poor quality. Surinamese food is widely available and worth a try. The highest concentration of Surinamese restaurants can be found in the Albert Cuypstraat. For Chinese food (generally good and cheap) check out the Zeedijk/Nieuwmarkt area. Also very good value are the numerous Falafel bars scattered around town, often sporting a "all you can pile" salad bar. And the Vlaamse Frites -- large french fries served with mayonnaise -- are great. Eetcafe's are pubs serving dinner too. Many restaurants of all kinds can be found in the Haarlemmerstraat and the Haarlemmerdijk, and in the narrow streets crossing the two. Also worth trying is the Van Woustraat in the Pijp, or continue to the Rijnstraat in the Rivierenbuurt. Exquisite but expensive restaurants can be found in the Utrechtse Straat.

Local cheese is marvelous, buy some at the Albert Cuyp market, or at specialist cheese shops found around central Amsterdam. Dutch cheese is tradionally firm, and is made in large wax-covered wheels, and falls into two main categories - Young and Old. Within those categories, there exists a rich variety. Among the more unusual young cheeses is Cumin (Komijn) cheese, which is particular to the Netherlands. Sheep (Schapen) and Goat (Geiten) cheeses are also common. Old (Oud) cheese can be made of any sort of milk, and is often reminiscent of Italian Parmesan in consistency and sharpness of flavor.

Don't forget to taste the main culinary contribution of the Amsterdammers to the world: Heineken - oh, except you've already done that, and it doesn't taste any better in Holland. Try some of the other excellent beers you can get from this part of the world - including "Witbeer" (White beer). Also check out "bitterballen", a kind of fried meatball, and the "kroketten" (the same, but shaped like a cylinder). Last but not least, don't forget to try the "broodje haring" (herring sandwich), available from the dozens of fish stalls that scatter the city. (And if they ask "with onions and gherkins?", just say "of course"!) If you're visiting in late November or December, you can enjoy oliebollen, which are round blobs of sweet fried dough embedded with raisins (sultanas) and dusted with powdered sugar.

For much more detailed restaurant listings, see the Iens restaurant guide [54], the web version of a published restaurant guide, similar to Zagat. The English breaks down occasionally, and you may not always agree with the opinions, but the listings are exhaustive.

  • Damsteeg, Reestraat 28-32, 1016 DN Amsterdam [55] They specialise in fish dishes, but they also have a wide variety of meat and vegetarian meals to choose from. With bar.
  • Restaurant Dosa, Overtoom 146, 1054 HN Amsterdam Tel: 020-6164838 [56] They specialise in traditional Southern Indian cuisine, especially the eponymous 'Dosa' (a rice an lentil pancake with a variety of fillings). The food is outstanding not being just the run of the mill Indian Reatuarant and well worth hunting out. The Dosa's are exceptional and a treat worthy of a visit by themselves.
  • En Route, Hobbemakade 63, tel 020-6711263. En Route offers the French cuisine for very reasonable prices (euro 22,50 for three courses). The chef changes his surprisingly good and creative dishes every week. Just opened, still fresh and comfortable!
  • Proust, Noordermarkt 4. Tel. 020-6239145. Proust is a little off the beaten path, near the intersection of Brouwersgracht and Prinsengracht, but it's worth a visit for the inexpensive and satisfying meals as well as the company: It's a favorite with locals.
  • Sari Citra, Ferdinand Bolstraat 52. Tel. 020-6754102. Located just off the far end of the De Pijp neighborhood's famous the Albert Cuyp Market, Sari Citra is one of the most delicious and most affordable Indonesian restaurants in town. Be sure to try several of the selections as the friendly staff builds a plate for you. Don't show up right at 5PM unless you feel like waiting in line behind a lot of hungry locals just getting off work. Open during the week from 2PM-9PM, and from 3PM-9PM on weekends.
  • Dimitrij, Prinsenstraat 3. Offering dozens of interesting sandwiches and salads, mostly on an Italian model Dimitrij is a must for at least one lunch, and it's on a street which is packed with an ever-changing lineup of fun boutiques.
  • La Margarita, Reguliersdwarsstraat 49, near the flower market. Tel. 020 623 07 07. Open 17.00-23.00, reservations accepted. This caribbean restaurant offers a huge range of plates, including three different vegetarian options. Every dish comes with ample sides of white rice, black beans, plantains, and vegetables. In addition to having great food the restaurant is decked out with a range of fantastic and magic-realist art. If you like your food hot be sure to ask for the special home-made hot sauce. 20-30 Euro per person, with drinks.
  • Vliegende Schotel, Nieuwe Leliestraat. Since Green Planet is closing now you better look for alternative vegetarian hang-outs. Believe it or not, but Vliegende Schotel is even better than its Australia-moving competitor. It has big portions of unbelievably good vegetarian food, in an unpretentious but authentic atmosphere. Minimalistic service and a little walk from the centre, but seriously worth it. Small selection of organic and fair trade wines and a non-smoking room. Mains €9-15, daily special €8. Bottle of wine €13.
  • Gary's Muffins [57] is a pleasant, warm cafe with oversized cups of coffee, muffins and bagels galore. It's a combination of a New York deli and a California cafe where American-style products are baked on location and available to eat there or to take away. Muffins, brownies, giant cookies, cheesecake and bagels spread with various toppings are served at reasonable prices to a clientele that is a mix of locals, tourists, and expatriates hungry for a taste of home. There are 3 locations in the city.
  • Rembrandt Corner, Jodenbreestr, around the corner of the "Rembrandt Huis" is a very nice "Eetcafe" with fresh food, wireless hot spots and internet workplaces. Try the dish of the day or the mussels, this always seems to be a good choice!
  • Q’s Café - Ruysdaelkade, De Pijp (Opposite the flower boat) [58]. Q's is worth a visit with its pleasant canal setting just around the corner from the Albert Cuyp Market. It does a wide variety of sandwiches (hot and cold) at extremely reasonable prices, as well as pancakes, soups and all day cooked breakfast. It also stocks a really good beer from the south of Holland and is the only place in the city that serves it. Definitely at least worth one of their excellent coffees which come in a variety of flavours.
  • Nam Tin - Jodenbreestraat 11, near Waterlooplein, just opposite Rembrandt's house. A huge Chinese restaurant. Very authentic food: about half of the customers are chinese tourists or expats. They serve cheap but delicious dim-sum at lunchtime.
  • De Orient - Van Baerlestraat 21, near Museumplein. Small restaurant serving authentic Indonesian cuisine. Open daily from 17:00 to 22:00.
  • Dim Sum Court - Two locations, one at Zeedijk 109 and one at Rokin 152. To get to the one on Rokin (the better location), take tram 4 from Amsterdam Centraal Station to the Muntplein stop, and the restaurant will be on your right just before the stop. Both locations offer an all-you-can-eat (maximum one hour) Chinese buffet for 7.5 euros (beverages not included, but available for an additional fee). Vegetarian and vegan options are available, just ask the cashier/waitress about the contents of individual dishes.
  • Akbar - Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 15, near Leidseplein [59]. Indian restaurant, Muslim (halal) / Hindu (no beef). Good quality dishes from different regions of India. Main courses €15-20.
  • Barney's- Haarlemerstraat 98, 1013 EW. A gorgeous brasserie with outside seating which has the best breakfasts in Amsterdam for very reasonable prices. Their strawberry milkshakes are to die for.
  • Koffiehuis van den Volksbond - Kadijksplein 4, 1018 AB. Former coffeehouse for harbour laborers. Now a small atmospheric restaurant in the east of the city center. Mainly visited by locals. Different menu every evening, ranging from 10 to 15 euro for a main course. Not possible to make reservations and you may have to share a table with other guests.
  • Los Lations South American grill Steak House. Damrak 32. [60]
  • De Bamboeseur - Plantage Parklaan 10, 1018 ST. 020-625 47 21. Fabulous little bar in the traditional "brown cafe" style in a fairly residential district near Artis Zoo. All the food is homemade daily; you really can't go wrong with any part of the menu. No reservations necessary, but seating is limited to a small bar and 8 tables of varying sizes upstairs. Great place to spend an evening. Open for lunch and dinner, 11:00-01:00.


  • Check out local "brown bars" with their gorgeous wood panelling and booths.
  • Mulligans Irish Music Bar Amstel 100 [61] The oldest Irish bar in Amsterdam, Mulligans has live music most nights. This is where the trad. music crowd gathers.
  • Hard Rock Cafe This is close to, or right next to the Holland Casino also close to the Leidseplein. Great service, great food, plenty of drinks.
  • Schuim Spuistraat 189, +31 20 638 93 57. The super comfy cafe is a great place to spend entire rainy days at a time. It heats up quite a bit at night. Pot smoking seems to be tolerated even though Schuim is definitely not a "coffee shop".
  • Dan Murphy's Leidseplein 7. One of the many Irish Pubs in the city. People from all over the world meet here and watch football, rugby and typical Irish sports like hurling and gaelic football while drinking a pint of Guinness.
  • Vrankrijk Spuistraat 216 [62] The most well-known and permanent squat café in Amsterdam has been a fixture on Spuistraat for over eighteen years. You have to ring at the door to be let in (the black door on the right with a single buzzer, please don't bother the people living in the building at the yellow-and-black checkered door on the left!), but once inside, you will find a super-cozy bar with an all-volunteer staff and the best prices in the inner city. All profits go to support various good causes. Open every night of the week, special nights are Monday night: queer night; Tuesday night: fancy cocktails to support refugees; Saturday night: dance night, the café's cavernous disco hall is opened for a mix of 80s, ska, and new wave; Sunday night: film night. Sunday through Thursday: 9pm - 1am; Friday and Saturday: 10pm - 3am.
  • In De Wildeman Kolksteeg 3. A very well stocked beercafe, or actually beer tasting room (bierproeflokaal) in the center of the inner city. 17 beers (usually from various countries) and a cider on draught, and about 250 different bottled beers offered. There is no music played, which makes for a very friendly and talkative atmosphere, and it even has a separate non-smoking room.
  • Gollem Raamsteeg 4 [63] A special beer café, serving many beers, especially from Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and other countries.
  • De Bierkoning Paleisstraat 125 [64] Not a café, but a 'supermarket' specialized in beer.
  • Cafe de Jaren - Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22, with a minimal art-deco interior next to Hotel d'Europe and a great view of where all the main canals come together.
  • Brouwerij 't IJ [65] Or in English The IJ Brewery. Its label with an ostrich egg is a visual pun, as IJ and 'ei' - the word for egg - sound the same in Dutch. East of the center, close to Artis Zoo, in a former bath house beside a windmill. A small scale brewery where delicious beer in several varieties and strengths is brewed and sold - at a bar - on the premises. Open Wednesday to Sunday, from 15:00 PM to 20:00 PM. The beer is available at some specialist beer shops, and of high quality and, in some cases, alcohol content. Internationally renowned!
  • Backstage Utrechtsedwarsstraat 67 [66]This café is really the only place in Amsterdam where strangers talk to each other and become friends after a while. As owner Gary Christmas puts it, "We don't have customers, we have friends." Gary offers a nice assortment of drinks (no alcohol) and sandwiches which fit very well into the ambiance. Easily spend a few hours here making friends. Open Monday to Saturday from around 10 am to 6 pm.
  • Café l'Opera Rembrandtplein 27-29 [67] A friendly spot for coffee, a beer, or something stronger. You may at first only notice the outside seating and the enclosed terrace, but there is also an elegant, (usually) quieter indoor area. Food, too, but you don't see many eaters.
  • Café Belgique Gravenstraat 2, +31 (0)20-6251974 Easily one of the smallest bars in Amsterdam, there is seating for at most 15 people, but if you can get in you will enjoy it thoroughly. Specializing in Belgian beers, Belgique's menu is extensive and it includes some hard to find beers on tap. This place is smoke friendly so don't be surprised to see people rolling joints as they drink.
  • Boom Chicago [68] In the Leidseplein. This is a great place to watch an American comedy show. They've been in Amsterdam for many years now. Great food, drinks, and a good time! They also have a quiz night in English for the large expat community.


  • Melkweg [69] - multimedia centre in Amsterdam with live-music, theater, photography, cinema, special events and parties.
  • Paradiso [70] - music venue in a beautiful former church, but with relatively bad acoustics.
  • Heineken Music Hall [71] - larger-scale music venue, best reached by train (train station Amsterdam Bijlmer) or metro/subway.
  • Concertgebouw [72] - Famous for its orchestra and its accoustics (among the top ten in the world), this is the world's most frequently visited concert hall. Classical music is the main fare, but they also bring other kinds of music on stage. They have a free "lunch concert" Wednesdays from 12:30 to 1 pm. In the same building is the "Kleine Zaal" or "Small Hall" for more intimate performances, often top-notch also. The building is near the major three museums on the Museum Square.
  • Bimhuis [73] - Piet Heinkade 3, 1019 BR. World class jazz and improvised music venue, five minutes by foot from Central Station. Tickets 14 to 18 euro.
  • Waterhole [74] - Light rock/funk jam sessions in a dingy but atmospheric bar with pooltables.
  • Maloe Melo' - Live 50's rockabilly bar. Drinks are cheap and the crowd are mostly Dutch rockers, but the music is good.
  • Jimmy Woo [75] - The most glamourous club in amsterdam offers a selection of house and r&b, with a spectacularly lit dance floor downstairs. Entry policy is strict so dress sharp to get in.
  • Cineac' [76] - Club nights on thursday, friday and saturday in Tiesto's new club gaurantee good music. Drinks are expensive and the crowd is mostly young professionals, but the music is good.


Amsterdam has over 400 registered hotels of varying standards from budget tourist to some of the most expensive hotels in Europe. Advance booking is recommended, especially for weekends and holidays. Mosts hotels are in the centre of the canal ring, especially south of Centraal Station, or near Museumplein. Hostels are also found around the Warmoesstraat, in the red light district. Prices: a bed in hostel starts around €15 in weekday winter time and might be up to €30 on a summer weekend. A twin room in a budget hotel, 1-2 stars, might cost around €40 in winter time on weekdays, and up to €100 on summer weekends. In a three and four star hotel, the prices would range from €100 to €200, depending on season, and five stars hotels can cost between €150 and €400 a night.

Most of the small hostels/hotels will not have elevators and have the usual steep staircases; so if you suffer from vertigo, do get an assurance that you would be getting a first/second floor room or that the hotel has an elevator.


  • Amsterdam budget hotel the Crown between Red Light District and CS.. [77] [78]
  • Amsterdam Bicycle Hotel in the de pijp province, a walk or short tram ride from the centre of the action, yet far enough away to feel safe. Surrounded by fantastic architecture with reasonable rates, even on peak. Rooms from single to quadruple and optional en suite. Comes with free coffee, breakfast and wireless internet access. Great for students. [79] [mailto: [email protected]] tel: 0031-20-679 34 52.
  • Bob's Youth Hostel, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 92, Phone +31 20 623 00 63, [80], [81]. Cheap hotel close to Dam Square. Breakfast, shower, and dorm bed at €18 a night. Private rooms with a kitchen and television are €70 for two and €80 for three people.
  • Bulldog, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 220, Phone +31 20 620 38 22, [82]. Friendly, cheap hostel right in the heart of the red light district. Breakfast, sheets, shower and a locker starting at 22 Euros. The Bulldog Coffeeshop is conveniently located on the ground floor (also where you get your breakfast).
  • Flying Pig, there are two Flying Pigs, Vossiusstraat 46 (The Uptown)[83], [84] and Nieuwendijk 100 (Downtown) [85]. Lots of students/young adults stay here. Wide range of prices and accommodations, from €13,90 for a dorm bed to € 70 for a private room. The Uptown is supposed to be the nicer (and cleaner) compared to the Downtown location. Do not stay in a 32 bedroom dormatory.
  • Hotel ABBA, Overtoom 118-122, Cheap hotel [86]
  • Hotel Ben, Beurstraat 21, Basic hotel
  • Hotel Brian, Singel 69, Very basic hotel, but free breakfast and free internet included.
  • Hans Brinker Hostel, Kerkstraat 136-138, tram number 1. Phone: +31 (0)20 - 622 06 87, [87]. No frills, nice bar inside. From US$32.10/€24.00/£17.09 per person.
  • Hotel de Stern,Utrechtsestraat 18, One star hotel
  • Hotel Tamara, N.Z Voorburgwal 144, Cheap "hotel" in a great location. Very close to the center, basic but clean rooms (single/double/triple/quad/dorm). From €23 shared, €49 private.
  • Oranje Tulp Budget Hotel On Amsterdam's main street, between CS and Dam Square. Cheap & functional.[88]
  • St Christopher’s Amsterdam Hostel (Amsterdam Hostel), Warmoesstraat 129, 1012 JA Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 206 231 380 (, fax: +31 206 392 308), [1]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Also known as St Christopher's @ The Winston this part hostel part hotel is located in the heart of Amsterdam. Each room is designed by local Dutch artists. €20 with breakfast inlcuded.
  • Stayokay Stadsdoelen, Kloveniersburgwal 97, Phone +31 (0)20 624 68 32, [89]. Stayokay operates a network of 30 hostels in the Netherlands, this hostel is the Amsterdam city centre location. A little smaller than Stayokay Vondelpark, this location does not take groups.
  • Stayokay Vondelpark, Zandpad 5, Phone +31 (0)20 589 89 96, [90]. Fairly large youth hostel, very clean and professional. Next to the pleasant Vondelpark, puts you on the southern side of downtown and just a few blocks from the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. The breakfast is filling and has a social atmosphere. This location is popular with school groups. Bring a padlock for your locker, or purchase one at the desk.
  • The Shelter, Barndesteeg 21 and Bloemstraat 179, Phone +31 (0) 20 - 62 44 717, [91]. Two alcohol & drug free Christian youth hostels in the heart of Amsterdam, the city-centre hostel has a curfew. Great value for money. Single-sex dormitories (including breakfast, bed linen) from € 17, € 19 in July and August.
  • The White Tulip, Warmoesstraat 87 Phone +31 (0)20 6255974 (Fax +31 (0)20 4201299, [92]. About 5 minute walk from the main station. Dorms and a few rooms right in the middle of things. Really a basic crash-pad, but quiet and relaxed due to their 'No large groups' policy. From € 20 per person.


  • Aalborg Hotel, [93]. 3-star.
  • Amsterdam Orange Tulip Hotel, [email protected] [94]. cheap 2-star hotel, 3 minutes walk from Central Station.
  • Amsterdam Season Star Hotel, [email protected], [95]. 3-star hotel, 2 minutes walk from Central Station. Free breakfast and Wi-Fi, clean & nice, reasonable prices, helpful team.
  • Amsterdam Hotel de Paris, [96]. 3-star hotel situated in the centre of Amsterdam, near the Leidseplein.
  • Amsterdam Hotel La Boheme, Marnixstraat 415, tel: +31 (0)20 624 2828, [97]. 2-star hotel with very friendly staff in the centre of Amsterdam, 200 meters from the Leidseplein. Clean rooms and free Wi-Fi.
  • Amsterdam Mozart Hotel. Renovated in April 2006. 47 en-suite rooms.
  • Bastion Hotels. Comfortable but soulless 4-star hotel near OverAmstel metro, 10 minutes walk then 10 minutes train ride to Centraal Station. But without pedestrian access to the road - you have to take your chance with the traffic. Doubles €70.
  • Borgmann Villa Hotel, [98]. An old brick villa with large windows, 15 rooms, beside Vondelpark, near museums and Leidseplein. Parking in front (€12 per day). Wi-Fi.
  • citizenM hotel Amsterdam Airport, Jan Plezierweg 2, 1118 BB, Phone: +31 (0)20 40 80 498, [99]. The brand new citizenM hotel, located at walking distance from the terminals of Schiphol Airport, opens spring 2008. citizenM claims to offer affordable but luxurious rooms. Rooms are including free wifi and movies, rainshower and XL kingsize bed. From 69 - 120 euro. Connected to the city center by the 24h a day train transportation, it makes it a perfect choice for a city centered trip.

  • Delta Hotel, Damrak 42-43, [100]. Close to the central station and Dam square. Clean rooms and friendly staff. Doubles €65-160.
  • Gresham Memphis hotel Amsterdam, De Lairessestraat 87, [101]. Near the Museum square and the Vondel Park.
  • Hotel Citadel, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 100, [102]. Close to the central station and Dam square. Clean rooms and friendly staff. Doubles €65-160.
  • Hotel Nicolaas Witsen, Nicolaas Witsenstraat 4-8, tel: +31 20 6236143 fax: +31 20 6205113, [email protected], [103]. tram 4 to Frederiksplein and walk the short distance from there to the hotel. From €75.
  • Hotel Y Boulevard, Prins Hendrikkade 145,[104]. Nice rooms, classy atmosphere, free breakfast.
  • Marnix Hotel, next to Leidseplein., [105]. 2-star hotel with dorm beds located on the Marnixstraat, city center. Prices: from 20 € a bed and 60 € for a room.
  • Rembrandtplein Hotel, Amsterdam, Groenbrugwal 27, [106]. Beautiful but sometimes tiny mid-priced (€70-90 including breakfast) near the flower market. Friendly staff, bar open all night.
  • RHo Hotel [107] - although the hotel is in the city center, rooms are quiet. Parking available. Friendly staff.
  • Roemer Hotel Vondelstraat 28, tel: +31 20 6120120. Trendy boutique hotel, housed in a converted from an 18th-century town house adjacent to central Leidseplein Square.
  • Rokin Hotel, [108]. Nice place in 2 renovated 17th century mansions. Very clean and good atmosphere, own parking.


  • Estherea, Singel 303-309 [109] - four star hotel on one of the main canals in the centre, 300 metres from the Dam Square and the Royal Palace. 17th century facade, 75 recently renovated rooms.
  • Hotel Ambassade, Herengracht 341, tel: +31 20 555 0 222 [110] - four star hotel on one of the main canals. Writers that stayed here left signed copies of their books in the hotel's library.
  • Hotel Krasnapolsky Amsterdam, Dam 9 Amsterdam [111] - somewhat seedy location for a 5-star hotel - the entrance may be on the main square but the hotel backs onto the red-light district, with a view of sex-shops and peepshows.
  • Hotel Okura, Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, tel: +31 20 671 23 44 [112] - five star Japanese-owned and operated hotel with an excellent range of Japanese food, clothing, and book shops in the basement, and wireless Internet in the lobby, bar, and conference rooms. The only drawback is that it's relatively distant from the central station (15 minutes by tram), but worth considering if work is paying and you don't mind taking cabs.
  • Hotel Pulitzer [113] - 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses overlooking two of the city's most picturesque canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, and made famous in Ocean's 12.
  • Hotel Toren, Keizersgracht 164 [114]
  • Hilton Amsterdam - site of John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's bed-in. Located in an upscale, older neighborhood outside of the city center but close to the Rijksmuseum and Vondel Park.
  • Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, Kattengat 1 (just off Nieuwe Zijds Voorburgwal) tel: +31 20 621 22 23 [115] - four star hotel with conference center, wireless Internet access in the lobby and café.
  • Park Hotel Amsterdam, Stadhouderskade 25, tel: +31 (0)20 671 1222, Bang in the middle of Amsterdam between Leidseplein, Rijksmuseum and P.C. Hooftstraat. 4-star hotel spread over several historical buildings. Parking. Very friendly staff.
  • Victoria Hotel Amsterdam, Damrak 1-5 [116] - historic building directly opposite Centraal Station, and currently also directly opposite the construction site for the metro.

Apartment and Canal Boat rentals

Some agencies rent furnished apartments or canal boats. Short-stay tenancies are permitted in Amsterdam, but the minimum is one week. Apartments (or houseboats) let for less than one week are officially an "illegal hotel". The city and boroughs have begun an enforcement campaign to close them. [117] This is not applicable to bed and breakfasts and private accommodation with a main tenant.

  • CityMundo, Schinkelkade 30, tel: +31 (0) 20 4705 705, fax: +31 (0) 20 676 52 71 [118]
  • Perfect Visit BV, Prins Hendrikkade 139, tel: +31 (20) 524 1144, fax: +31 (20) 524 1206 [119]
  • 1689 Amsterdam Apartments, Bethaniendwarsstraat 11, tel: +31 (0) 20 7706 180, [120]


The telephone country code for the Netherlands is 31, and Amsterdam's city code is 020. If making local calls to reserve hotel rooms or restaurants, or calls to other cities in the country, you will need a phone card (5 Euro minimum) as many green KPN telephone booths do not accept coins. Blue/orange Telfort booths accept both coins and cards. The KPN booths are currently being replaced by newer models, which will accept coins again.

There are phone centres/shops ('belwinkel') all over the city. Outside the city centre, they mostly serve immigrants calling their home country at cheap rates.

Tip: If you have a Simlock-free European GSM mobile phone( suitable for GSM 900/1800 networks ). Consider buying a prepaid simcard. You can buy these in any electronics store, and it's often on the same price level as buying a KPN phonebooth card, and you're mobile.


There are internet cafés in the centre, and almost every phone centre has internet access, even if only one terminal.

  • Amsterdam Network Collective [121]

Stay safe


You should take normal precautions against pickpockets and baggage theft, especially in the main shopping streets, in trams and trains, at stations, and anywhere where tourists congregate. Street begging is no longer common in Amsterdam, because the police take a harder line. Some beggars are addicts, some are homeless, and some are both.

What looks like a footpath, especially along a canal bank, may be a bike lane. Bike lanes are normally marked by red/purple tiles or asphalt, and a bike icon on the ground. However, the colour fades over time, so you might miss the difference. Don't expect cyclists to be kind to pedestrians: some consider the side-walk an extension of the road, to be used when it suits them. For the bike theft problem see above, Get Around.

Watch out for trams when crossing the street. Taxis are also allowed to use some tram lanes, and even if not allowed, they often use them anyway.

Visitors from outside the Euro zone should also take care they are not short-changed in shops. Unscrupulous vendors sometimes try to take advantage of those who are not familiar with the currency.

Groups of women visiting the Red Light District at night might feel harassed in the aggressive environment, though this is said to be the safest area because of the police presence. Keep to main streets and groups. Do not take photographs of the prostitutes!!

Cannabis and other drugs

It cannot be denied that many tourists come to Amsterdam for the coffeeshops. Coffeeshops (in English but written as one word) only sell soft drugs such as marijuana and hash - asking for other drugs is pointless because coffeeshops are watched closely by the authorities, and nothing will get them closed faster than having hard drugs for sale. 'Café' is the general name for a place licenced to sell alcohol, i.e. a bar. Since April 1, 2007 coffeeshops are no longer allowed to sell alcohol.

Quality varies! Coffeeshops aimed at tourists are more likely to have overpriced and poor quality products. A simple rule of thumb is: if the place looks good and well-kept chances are their wares will be good as well. Don't just enter a coffeeshop being overwhelmed that it's possible at all to buy and consume cannabis openly - be discerning as to the quality.

If you're not a smoker, and you really want to try it, start with something light, make sure you don't have an empty stomach, and don't combine it with alcohol. Be forthright with the counter person about your inexperience, they see it all the time. Go with an experienced person if you can. Regardless of the strength, your first experience can be quite a sensation at first, but will quickly decrease in intensity. You may want to plan to return to your hotel and "hole up" for a couple hours until you become comfortable with the feeling. If you do find yourself too strongly under the influence - feeling nauseous, woozey or faint - drink orange juice or eat something sweet like cookies or candy, and get fresh air. Dutch-grown nederwiet (a.k.a. super skunk) is much stronger than you might expect, even if you are experienced. The THC level can be as high as 15%, twice the norm (source: Trimbos Institute).

You will be approached by people offering to sell you hard drugs in the street, especially as you are walking through the Red Light District. Ignorance or failing that a firm refusal is enough - they will not pester you. The selling of drugs in the street is illegal and often dangerous; moreover the drugs sold to strangers are usually fake. When they invite you to see the goods, they can lure you into a narrow street and rob you.

So-called smartshops do not sell any illegal products, but a range of dietary supplements, including 'herbal exstacy' - a legal attempt at an XTC alternative which is a complete waste of money, various more or less obscure psychedelic herbs, and magic mushrooms. It is the latter which causes problems as people often underestimate their strength. Magic mushrooms have little physical risks attached to them, but can have a very strong short-acting psychological effect, which can either be great or very distressing, depending on your own mindset (e.g. if you are relaxed, have any serious worries, history of mental illness, etc.) and your surroundings (e.g. if you feel comfortable and safe in them). The first time you try this should always be in a familiar and trusted environment, not on the streets of an unfamiliar city. If you do decide to try it please get informed first. Conscious Dreams [122], the company who invented the entire concept of a 'smartshop' back in 1994 does this clearly (without downplaying the possible risks just to sell more like some other shops do) and responsibly. Also plan well ahead, make sure you have thought out where you will be, most recommended is going to a large park like the Vondelpark or the Amsterdamse Bos where it is quiet, and there is no risk from traffic. Make sure that being intoxicated will not endanger your safety, or that of anybody else. Be sure to make your purchase in the Smartshops rather than a regular coffeeshop. They are better regulated and information is available from the attendents that work there. They are also of better quality and stronger potency than at the coffeeshops.

If you're not sure of how much to take, take a small dose. Then you'll know what your "tolerance" level is. People who have bad trips are those who take a dosage over their own tolerance level. A good smart shop can give you more info about this.

Do keep in mind that all hemp related products (except the seeds) are still illegal. This can be confusing for most tourists, who do think hemp products are legal since they are sold in coffeeshops. Hemp products are not legal, rather they are "tolerated" under the Dutch Opium Act. Read more about the legalities in the article about the Netherlands.


Religious Services

Holy mass in catholic churches (Overview of cath. churches in Amsterdam (dutch)):

  • Begijnhofkapel (HH. Joannes en Ursula), Begijnhof 29.[123] Su: 10:00, 11:15 (french); Mo-Fr: 09:00, 17:00; Sa: 9:00
  • De Krijtberg (St. Franciscus Xaverius), Singel 448 (stop Koningsplein of trams 1, 2, 5).[124] Sa: 12:30, 17:15; Su: 09:30; 11:00, 12:30, 17:15; Mo-Fr: 12:30, 17:15
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, Keizersgracht 220/218 B (stop Westermarkt of trams 6, 13, 14, 17 or busses 21, 170, 172).[125] Sa: 19:00; Su: 11:15, 13:00 (surinam.); Mo-Fr (chapel): 12:15, 19:30
  • Papegaai (HH. Petrus en Paulus), Kalverstraat 58 (by feet 20 min from central station). Sa: 17:30; Su: 10:30, 12:15; Mo-Sa: 10:30
  • Zusters van Moeder Teresa, Amsterdam-Badhoevedorp, Egelantierstraat 147 (city center). Su: 15:00; Mo-Sa: 07:30
  • Vrouwe van alle volkeren, Diepenbrockstraat 3 (near to RAI congress centre), tel. (020)-6620504. Su: 09:30, 11:15; Mo-Sa: 12:15; Tu: 7:15

Get out

Direct trains connect Amsterdam to Paris, to major Belgian cities like Brussels and Antwerp, and to German cities like Cologne, Frankfurt or Berlin. The ticket machines sell tickets to nearby destinations in Belgium and Germany. For longer journeys you will need the international ticket office which is located on Platform 2.

Almost everywhere in the Netherlands can be reached within 3 hours travel from Amsterdam, by public transport. To make more sense, day trips can be divided into those very close to the city (about 30 minutes by public transport) and further afield.

Under 45 minutes away

Haarlem is the closest of the historic cities, only 15 minutes by train. Smaller towns just outside Amsterdam (all within cycling distance) include:

  • Weesp, nearest small town to Amsterdam (12 minutes by train), with a quiet historic centre on the Vecht river.
  • Muiden, formerly a small port at the mouth of the Vecht river, with the best-known castle in the Netherlands, Muiderslot.
  • Naarden, surrounded by a complete ring of 17th-century fortifications. Train to Naarden-Bussum station, then about 30 minutes walk or take bus 110 in the direction of Weesp (ask the driver where to get off).
  • Zaanse Schans, [126] Historic windmills, tradesmen's workshops and open-air museum. 20 minutes by train to Koog-Zaandijk station, then a 10 minutes walk.
  • Monnickendam, a small 17th-century port town, 20-25 minutes by bus lines 111 or 115, every 15 minutes from Amsterdam. Bus 111 also stops at the 'picturesque' village of Broek in Waterland, a tourist destination since the 19th century.
  • Volendam - once a fishing village, it is now the most commercialised tourist destination in the Netherlands, and can be quite disappointing. 30 minutes by bus, but fortunately they all continue to Edam.

The historic cities of Utrecht, Amersfoort, and Leiden, and the smaller historic town of Alkmaar, are 30 to 35 minutes away by train. So is Zandvoort, the nearest beach resort. The historic port of Hoorn is 40 minutes away by train, and the smaller historic port of Edam is 40 minutes by bus (lines 110, 112, 114, 116, 117, 118).

About one hour away

Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft, Den Bosch, Apeldoorn, and Arnhem all take about one hour by train. A slightly longer journey, 80 minutes, takes you to the historic cities of Zwolle and Deventer, by then you are already in the Eastern Netherlands.

The smaller historic town of Enkhuizen is also one hour away by train, it has a large open-air museum [127] showing how people used to live around the former sea, Zuiderzee. Several other smaller historic towns are within an hour by train.

  • The bulb fields are a seasonal attraction, in the spring (end of March to the end of May). The main bulb-growing area is on the sandy soil behind the dunes, between Haarlem and Leiden. If you just want to see the flowers briefly, you can do that from the train between Haarlem and Leiden. There are also signposted cycle routes through the bulb cock fields, such as the Leidse Bollenroute, a 37 km route, starting at the rear of Leiden Station. If you want to see many more flowers, the Keukenhof [128] is an elaborate park and floral exhibition. It is a promotion for the Netherlands flower industry, but you still have to pay to get in - € 12.50, children € 5.50. From Leiden Centraal Station, take bus 54, from Haarlem station bus 50 or 51. Combination tickets for the bus ride and entrance are on sale at the bus ticket offices, outside both stations.
  • Go Birdwatching in the Oostvaardersplassen, 40 km from Amsterdam. [129]
  • Kennemerland National Park, about 30 km west of Amsterdam. Are you sick of the city? Just west of Amsterdam there is a very unique national park, made of dunes formed over the centuries. A great place to go in the summer with the long days. Take the train to Overveen (the entrance is a short walk from the station). It's then about a 20km walk to Zandvoort where you can take the train back to Amsterdam. [130]

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