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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam at night

Discussion on defining district borders for Amsterdam is in progress. If you know the city pretty well, please share your opinion on the talk page.


Amsterdam [75] is the capital of 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 traveller'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 in the Province of North-Holland. Amsterdam is not the seat of government (which is in The Hague), but it is the biggest city and the cultural and creative centre of the Netherlands.

Understand

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 on or outside the ring motorway, which is four to five kilometers from the centre.

Attitudes

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 coffee shops 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. If you avoid the red light district, Amsterdam is an excellent family destination.

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. July and August are the warmest months, with an average temperature of 72°F (22°C). Some things are seasonal: the tulip fields flower only in the spring, and Queen's Day (Koninginnedag) is always on 30 April, unless it falls on a Sunday. Queen Beatrix was actually born on 31 January, but since January is very cold, the celebrations are held on the day she became the queen of the Netherlands, which is also the birthday of her mother, Juliana.

Media/listings

  • Amsterdam Weekly. An English-language free cultural weekly published every Wednesday. It provides coverage of Amsterdam city life, and an arts and entertainment calendar.
  • Mijn NL [76]. A free bi-weekly magazine which lists all events happening in Amsterdam. The section is divided into Music, Night(clubs, DJs), Gay, Comedy, Cabaret, Stage, Festival, Musical, Dance, Expositions, Children, and also Movie listings. It can be picked up at any Albert Heijn supermarket, and many venues. Covers more events than Uitkrant and Amsterdam Weekly. Although written in Dutch, it would be easy to understand the basic idea. Also provides suggestions on bars, restaurants, shops and hair dressers. Check out the online edition.
  • UnderwaterAmsterdam. An online English-language guide to the Dutch capital which evolved from the free magazine Shark. It has an extraordinary number of daily events for English speakers – music, parties, theatre, opera, queer etc – plus annual events and upcoming gigs. It posts the latest gigs as they're announced by via Twitter. Written by an experience travel writer, it also features a city guide – with the best places to visit in town – plus daily news and horoscopes (written by celebrity astrologer Bridgett Walther) . [77]


  • Uitkrant. 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.


  • Amsterdam Spoke. An English magazine featuring Amsterdam’s daily life, its ambiance and trends.[78]

Get in

By plane

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMS) (ICAO: EHAM) [79] is one of the busiest airports in the world, situated 15 km south-west of the city. Jet2.com [80], Easyjet [81], WizzAir [82] and other low-cost carriers serve Schiphol, providing a fairly economical way to city-hop to Amsterdam from other spots in Europe. 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 national carrier for the Netherlands is KLM [83], now merged with Air France. With partner Northwest Airlines [84] 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 [85] 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 €119 + €65 for a partner.

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. If you have time to kill, drop into the Rijksmuseum's Schiphol branch, between E and F Pier (non-Schengen area airside), which is free and open 7 AM-11 PM daily.

Schiphol by train

From Schiphol there is a direct train[86] to Amsterdam Central Station, for €3.80 (or €7.00 for same-day return), in 20 minutes. Buy the ticket from the machine (yellow with blue writing); if you purchase your ticket at the counter you will pay €0.50 extra. Not all machines accept credit or debit cards. The train station at Schiphol is located underground, under the main airport hall; trains to Amsterdam Central Station usually run from platform 3.

A new national ticketing system is in the process of being introduced, based on a contactless chipcard, which is currently valid in Amsterdam's public transport system and nationwide in the train. A train journey from Schiphol to Amsterdam is slightly cheaper using this card, €3.50, but it might not be interesting for tourists unless you already own one: a card costs €7.50, and you have to have at least €20 on it to be able to travel by train. The old system will be used in conjunction for the foreseeable future. See the section in the Netherlands article.

There are 4 to 5 trains per hour between Schiphol and Amsterdam in peak times. Trains run all night, although between 01:00 and 05:00 only once an hour. The price and duration of the journey are the same as during the day.

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. However, in recent years, railway police have made a great effort to reduce this sort of crime; nowadays it is at 'normal', big-city like levels.

Schiphol by local transport

If you are desperately trying to save money or are staying near Leidseplein, you could use local transport from Schiphol to central Amsterdam, provided that you use a strippenkaart (see below). A trip takes about thirty minutes and leads directly to the south-west of the centre of Amsterdam (namely Museumplein and Leidseplein). The price depends on which bus you take: on local bus 197 the trip would cost you 6 strippen, that's €2.92 on a 15 strippenkaart, or €4.80 on board; on "interliner" bus 370 (an express bus, although in this case the local bus is equally fast) you pay €3.60.

Bus 197 currently runs every 15 minutes for most of the day, from 0501 to 2400 daily; bus 370 runs every hour during the day and every 30 minutes during peak hours. From midnight to five a.m., night bus lines go to and from the airport: if you don't want to change buses, take either night bus N97 or N72 (both €3.50). These buses run once an hour, within about 15 minutes of each other unfortunately.

Schiphol by taxi

Taxis from Schiphol are expensive and priced unexpectedly. You pay around €7.50 (as of Oct 08) as a minimum charge and that includes the first two kilometers. Then the meter starts racing. The ride costs about €40-50 to go to, say, the Leidseplein. Depending on the time of day and traffic levels, it could take only 25 minutes. If you're unlucky, it could take twice as long. Choose the nicest cab as that driver is more likely to be reputable. You don't have to pick the first taxi in line.

Schiphol, other modes of transport

The Connexxion Hotel Shuttle [87] serves over 100 city center hotels, with 8-seater shared van departures about every 30 minutes between 6 AM and 9 PM, cost to most city center destinations €14.50/22.50 one-way/return -- more convenient than the train if you have heavy luggage and still cheaper than a taxi. Buses depart from platform A7 and can be reserved for the trip back from +31-38-3394741.

If you plan to rent a car for the duration of your stay, Schiphol has several car rental companies on site [88]. Typical opening hours are 06:30 to 23:00 daily (some are open longer, 06:00-23:30). The car rental desk can be found in Schiphol Plaza, on the same level as the arrival halls. The A4 motorway leads straight from Schiphol to the Amsterdam ring road A10, in about 10 minutes.

If you decided to bring your bicycle on the plane with you, there is a 15-kilometer sign-posted 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. There is a map of the cycle paths around Schiphol available on this PDF (green lines are cycle paths).

Other airports

Using airports other 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. Renting a car is also an option. A taxi is not advisable, from Rotterdam to Amsterdam a taxi would cost €130, and from Eindhoven even more.

From Eindhoven Airport (IATA: EIN, ICAO: EHEH) [89] take a local bus (Hermes bus 401, duration about 25 minutes, frequency about four times per hour, €3.20 on board or €1.95 using a 15 strippenkaart) to the train station, from there take a train to Amsterdam (duration 1:20 hour, frequency four times per hour, single €17.50). Alternatively, take the express bus directly from the airport to Amsterdam central station, which takes 2:15 hours. This service only goes 3 to 4 times per day; see their website for a schedule. The ticket price is €22 for a single or €38 for a return [90].

From Rotterdam Airport (IATA: RTM, ICAO: EHRD) [91] ("Zestienhoven") take a city bus (RET "airport shuttle" bus 33, duration 20 minutes, frequency every 10-20 minutes, €2.40 on board or €1.46 using a 15 strippenkaart) to Rotterdam Centraal train station, from there take a train to Amsterdam (duration about an hour, frequency every 10-20 minutes, single €13.30).

Schiphol airport is 11km from the centre of Amsterdam in a straight line, Rotterdam is 57km and Eindhoven is 107km. Other airports that could possibly be used are:

  • Groningen Airport Eelde (142km) (IATA: GRQ, ICAO: EHGG) [92]
  • Maastricht Aachen Airport (173km) (IATA: MST, ICAO: EHBK) [93]
  • Weeze Airport in Germany (121km) (IATA: NRN, ICAO: EDLV) [94]
  • Antwerp International Airport in Belgium (135km) (IATA: ANR, ICAO: EBAW) [95]
  • Brussels Airport in Belgium (167km) (IATA: BRU, ICAO: EBBR) [96]

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 Central, with additional trains going to other Amsterdam stations.

Direct international trains run to Brussels (which is two and a half to three hours away and connects with Eurostar trains to London St Pancras and Ebbsfleet (Kent) in England), Paris, Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan, Zurich, Vienna, Prague and Moscow. See NS Hispeed [97] for an international journey planner for trains into/out of the Netherlands.

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. There are also a few places a short walk from outer tram stops to park for free.

The speed limit on Dutch motorways is 120 km/h, except where indicated. On the A10 ring motorway around Amsterdam, the maximum speed is 100 km/h, and 80 km/h on the Western section. 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) with DFDS Seaways, who offer a daily overnight ferry services from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (North Shields) in the United Kingdom see [98] (official site). 125km away by car there is a ferry terminal at Rotterdam Europoort (ferry from Kingston Upon Hull), and Hook of Holland (ferry from Harwich). it's about 80 km by the road to Amsterdam by the most direct route. Hook of Holland has an train station. Take the train to Schiedam or Rotterdam CS and from there a train 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. Cyclists have the right of way. 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.

A good map for cycling (routes, repairs, rentals + also public transport) is Amsterdam op de fiets (a Cito-plan). When preparing a route, there's a digital bicycle route-planner for Amsterdam, see Routecraft.com [99]

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 [100]. 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.
  • Orangebike, Rentals & Tours [101]. Their bikes are not so obvious coloured, more discrete, reliable and sturdy. Even the typical Dutch Grandmother bikes are available at Orangebike. Every day you could go on the 3 hour historical city tour and discover the hidden treasures by bike for €19.50 only. Online reservations on their website.
  • Frederic Bike, insurance, bags, locks, and children seats all included for €10 a day. Extremely close to central station. Bikes are offered "incognito", for the discerning guest who does not want to appear "touristy".
  • Damstraat Offer daily to weekly rentals. Have promotions in place with several hotels for "discount tickets", ask at the front desk. €12.50 for the first 24 hours, insurance included. Offers repairs for your bike and new and used bike sales.
  • Het Zwarte Fietsenplan [102]. Het Zwarte Fietsenplan rents traditional Dutch bikes. Tourists that rent bikes here will be able to explore Amsterdam as a local; not as a tourist. On a traditional black bike. The same on which the rest of Amsterdam is riding. There are no bright red, yellow, blue or orange bikes in their shops. There are 3 locations throughout the city centre and the shops have long opening hours, 7 days a week. Also rents out cagobikes for kids.

The bicycle is ideal for exploring the surrounding countryside. Within half an hour you're out of town. Go North, take the ferry across the IJ to Waterland. Or go South, into the Amsterdamse Bos (a giant park), or follow the river Amstel where Rembrandt worked. You can also take your bike on the metro (with a reduced fare ticket, see public transport gvb.nl [103]) to end of line Gaasperplas, and cycle along rivers and windmills to old fortified towns like Weesp , Muiden and Naarden.

Public transport

Public transport within the city is operated by the GVB (Gemeentevervoerbedrijf [104]). 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 [105] and Arriva [106]. 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 neighbourhoods of the South East. It takes 15-20 minutes from Centraal 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 will often be cheaper to buy a strippenkaart before boarding (note however: the strippenkaart cannot be used on the metro, see below). They are available from machines in the metro and railway stations, from the GVB office opposite Centraal Station, and from supermarkets, newsagents and tobacconists. In Centraal 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), located just outside Centraal Station, or GWK Money Exchange. At the tourist office, you will have to take a number and wait to be called, which can take half an hour.

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 it's usually quicker to get there by train.

The strippenkaart can also be used nationwide in most other cities' respective local transportation systems.

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 regardless of the number of transfers used during that time. Sometimes 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 is used meaning if you read 9 1/2, it means you boarded at 9.30. It is possible that the machine, driver or conductor may round-up the time stamped, giving you slightly more than an hour to travel (e.g. it is 9.20 but you the strippenkaart may be stamped as 9.30 allowing you to travel until 10.30 before having the strippenkaart stamped again). Typically tourists will only be travelling 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 travellers (e.g. for two people travelling 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 €7.30.

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 centre. (€7/1 day, €11.50/2 days, €14.50/3 days, €17.50/4 days, as of Jul 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, called OV-chipkaart ("Public Transport chip card"). The system is operational on the Amsterdam metro, trams and buses run by GVB, at first in parallel with the old system. The old system cannot be used anymore in the metro, and the withdrawal of the old system in trams and buses is planned for 2009/2010. Three types of OV-chipkaart are available: a personal card on which you can load weekly/monthly/yearly subscriptions; an anonymous card on which you can load money which can be spend on public transport; and a disposable card which can be used for one or two trips only. The first two types carry a fee of €7.50 for the card itself, and you have to have at least €4 on it to be able to travel. Note that the old system works with travel zones, whereas the new card system uses a fixed price per kilometer, so in some instances one system can be cheaper or more expensive than the other. The OV-chipkaart can be obtained from GVB vending machines in all metro stations, from the desks at some bigger stations (including Centraal Station) and some shops (see this map). To travel with a card, one has to check in at the start of the journey and check out at the end.

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 be sure to respond to your query.

Enter buses only via the front door.

For current information on the Dutch Public Transportation-system ('Openbaar Vervoer' or O.V. in Dutch/NL) check online 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 neighbourhood with a nice cafe-bar (IJkantine) restaurant (Noorderlicht), indoor skateboard park, and the Pancake Boat (Pannekoekenboot) which sails many times each week. Ferries leave every 30 minutes from Centraal Station and from NDSM Werf. Double frequencies during rush hours.

Trains

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 [107] (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 many 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 in the hallway in front of the ticket office.

You face a fine of €35, 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.

By car

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. Plus, gas is about €8 (11 dollars) per gallon. 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 centre, 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 centre 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. [108]

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.

Popular car rental chains operate in a smaller capacity in Amsterdam, including Avis and Budget Rent a Car, a week long rental from more popular chains can run anywhere from $275 US for a micro car to $1000 US for a luxury sedan.

Taxis

Taxis in Amsterdam are plentiful but expensive. 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 kilometres 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.

Tuk-Tuks

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 centre 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). They take reservations 24 hours a day on 0900 99 333 99 and there is a fee of €0.55 per call.

See

  • Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Herengracht 605, 020-5231822, [1]. €6.

Architectural heritage

Idyllic canals and houses with hoists

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) [109] 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 [110] is a late-medieval 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. House number 34 at the Begijnhof is the oldest home in Amsterdam. Entry to the courtyard and surrounding gardens is free.

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 (although of course it predates the term). The name probably derives from the nickname 'Jordan' for the Prinsengracht. Apart from a few wider canals, the streets are narrow, in an incomplete grid pattern.

  • Magere Brug A traditional Dutch style draw bridge, over 300 years old and nearly in it's original capacity. The Magere Brug is a beautiful place to overlook the river and take in some traditional Dutch architecture.

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.

Churches & Synagogues

  • Oude Kerk (1306) [111] Located on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, in the red-light district. The oldest of the five main churches in the historic centre. You can climb the tower from April to September on Saturday & Sunday, every half-hour. Also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 10 people) cost €70 per hour. Email [email protected] for more information.
  • Nieuwe Kerk (15th century) [112] Located on Dam Square. Used for royal coronations, most recently the crowning of Queen Beatrix in 1980, and royal weddings, most recently the wedding of crown prince Willem-Alexander to princess Máxima in 2002. Today, the church is no longer used for services but is now a popular exhibition space.
  • Zuiderkerk (built 1603-1611) [113] Located on Zuiderkerkhof ("Southern Graveyard") square. Now an information centre on housing and planning. You can visit the tower from April to September Monday to Saturday (with guide only) every half-hour, cost €6. Also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 15 people) cost €70 per hour. Email [email protected] for more information.
  • Noorderkerk (built 1620-1623) [114] Located on Noordermarkt on the Prinsengracht.
  • Westerkerk (built 1620-1631) [115] Located on Westermarkt near the Anne Frank House. 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 (with guide only) every half-hour, Mon to Saturday €6. The tower is also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 10 people) cost €70 per hour. Email [email protected] for more information. In good weather you can see all of Amsterdam, and as far as the coast.

The late-medieval 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. 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 Esnoga (or The Portuguese Synagogue) [116] (1675) located at Mr. Visserplein 3, in an austere Classicist style.

Also, investigate some of the "hidden churches" found in Amsterdam, mainly Catholic churches that remained in activity following the Reformation. A prominent hidden church is Amstelkring Museum (Our Lord in the Attic Chapel)[117] Well worth the visit.

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 [118]. The best-known example of their architecture. Open Tuesday to Sunday 11AM to 5PM, entrance € 7,50, includes 20 min. guided tour.
  • Eastern Docklands. The largest concentration of new residential buildings. 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.
  • 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

Windmills were not built in urban areas, since the buildings 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 is the site of the popular microbrewery Brouwerij t' IJ.
  • 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. [119]

Only the Molen van Sloten [120] 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 10:00AM to 4PM. De Gooyer at Funenkade, Bus 22, Tram 7, open Wednesday to Sunday from 3PM to 7PM.

Museums

Amsterdam has an amazing collection of museums, ranging from masterpieces of art to porn, vodka and cannabis. The most popular ones can get very crowded in the summer peak season, so it's worth exploring advance tickets or getting there off-peak (eg. very early in the morning).

The Museumkaart (museum card) [121] costs €39.95 (or €22.45 for those under 25 years old). It covers the cost of admission to over 400 museums across the Netherlands and 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 at least €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.

  • 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.
  • Amsterdams Historisch Museum, [122]. The city’s historical museum. Two entrances, at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 357 and Kalverstraat 92. Open 10AM to 5PM, opens one hour later on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Entrance € 6 adults, € 3 children.
  • Anne Frank House [123]. 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 (or maybe a very short line if you're lucky) 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 5PM to avoid any lines, or alternatively skip the lines entirely by reserving tickets from the official website. The Anne Frank House is open later during the summer. Entrance €8.50 for adults, museumkaart not valid.
  • Diamond Museum. This brand new exhibition about the history of diamond trade in Amsterdam is located opposite the Van Gogh Museum.
  • Filmmuseum [124]. A non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of contemporary and historical films. Multiple screenings daily. The Filmmuseum is 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.
  • Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum [125]. Opened for over twenty years, the Hash Museum is dedicated to debunking the lies and demonization 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.
  • Hermitage Amsterdam [126]. Recently opened and an annex to the famous Hermitage museum in st Petersburg (Russia). This museum hosts exhibitions with paintings and other cultural artifacts from the vaults of its Russian parent. It's located at Amstel 51, 1001 GR Amsterdam. +31 (0) 20 437 648 243
  • Katten Kabinet [127]. 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. The exhibition is spread across the first floor of the house.
  • Museum Amstelkring [128]. 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 10AM to 5PM, Sunday 1PM to 5PM, admission € 7, under 18 € 1. Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40, in the red-light district.
  • NEMO [129]. 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 behavioral sciences. This is a great place to take kids and is best for those ages 11 and below - teenagers will probably get bored. Admission € 11.50 adults 6.50 for students. Free for kids 3 and below.
  • Rembrandt House. This is where the artist Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn and his wife, Saskia, lived between 1639 and 1658. The house is a reconstruction of the painter’s life at that time and provides interesting insight. You will be able to see 260 of his 290 etchings, find out about how they were created, see where he worked and explore the nooks and crannies of this fascinating building.
  • Rijksmuseum [130]. 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. This makes it easy to catch the highlights, but it also means that it gets packed, and the line just to get in can be lengthy. Open 9AM to 6PM, open until 10PM 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.
  • 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).
  • Schutters Gallery. Located between Kalverstraat and Begijnhof, shows 17th-century portraits, free.
  • Scheepvaart Museum [131]. The Netherlands Maritime Museum is closed until 2009, for complete renovation.
  • Sexmuseum. [132] The largest and most prestigious museum for sex art and sex history in the Netherlands. It shows a lot of sex oddities. Open daily 9AM to 10PM ages 16 and up. It charges €3 as admission. Located at: Damrak 18, 1012 LH Amsterdam. +31 (0) 20 622 8376
  • Stedelijk Museum [133]. The Amsterdam municipal museum of modern art. The museum is under construction, the re-opening date is unknown, but they do have some projects throughout the city [134]
  • Torture Musuem, Singel 449, +31 (0)20 320 6642, [2]. This museum depicts the history of different torturous techniques used over the centuries.
  • Tropenmuseum [135]. Ethnographic / cultural museum about Africa, Asia, and South America.
  • Van Gogh Museum [136]. This museum is dedicated to this late 19th century Dutch painter, and is extremely popular: expect to queue to get in and jostle elbows with other museumgoers inside. Do not, however, expect to see all of Van Gogh's works: while there are many famous examples of his work like Sunflowers and Potato Eaters, many masterpieces (eg. Starry Night) are elsewhere. 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 €12.50 for adults, no student nor group rates. Open late on Fridays.
  • Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) [137]. Award-winning museum showing what Amsterdam and Holland were like during the Nazi occupation.
  • VodkaMuseum Amsterdam [138], Damrak 33. The latest gimmicky tourist trap near the Central Station, claims to be the world's first and old museum devoted to the drink. Open daily 9:00-22:00.

An English-language list at the GVB (public transport) website includes the tram and bus routes for each museum: Museums and attractions [139].

Zoo and botanical garden

  • Hortus Botanicus [140]. The 'Hortus' as it is called by locals, was formerly the Botanical Garden of the University of Amsterdam. Monday to Friday 9AM to 5PM, Saturday and Sunday 10AM to 5PM, open until 11PM in July and August, admission € 6.
  • Artis Zoo, [141]. 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. Don't miss the Artis ZOOmeravonden [142].

Tickets €18,50 seniors €17 children (3-9years) €15

Amsterdam ArenA

There is the Amsterdam ArenA which was built from 1993 to 1996 and has a capacity of 51,628 seats during sports matches. This stadium is home to Dutch football club,Ajax.

This arena can hold up to 68,000 people during concerts and regularly holds popular music events. In past many well known artists have performed here including Tina Turner,Justin Timberlake and U2.

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.

South, cycling along the Amstel River for about 30 to 40 minutes will also take you into open countryside, and the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.

Southeastwards, about half an hour cycling along the impressive Amsterdam-Rhine canal : the fortified towns of Weesp and Muiden, with it's medieval castle (Muiderslot [143]).

  • Vondelpark[144]. The only large park in the older part of the city. Especially in the summer it's lively and crowded. Meet the locals there. A lovely place to hang out and if you chose to try magic mushrooms, do them here.
  • 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 [145]. 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[146]. 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.

Beach

The whole west coast 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 in crowd, 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 [147]) from behind the Central Station to IJmuiden, and then take a bus to the beach.

There is a temporary artificial beach at Blijburg [148], 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

  • The Heineken Experience. Former Heineken Brewery , Stadhouderskade 78 [149]. A must visit experience for young and old people. Open from Monday until Sunday from 11.00 'o clock until 19.00 'o clock. Entrance closes at 17.30 'o clock. heinekenexperience.com
  • 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 [150] 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 per person (€8 for students).
  • Amsterdam City Tours [151] is a tour company offering bus, bike, boat, and walking tours through some of the most fascinating places in Amsterdam and Holland. Call +31(0)299-770799 or see their website for more information..
  • Amsterdam City Guide [152] Is Amsterdam City Guide with touristic articles, attractions, tips, tours services, concert tickets & accommodation. Customized Amsterdam maps are available as well and answers to most touristic questions.
  • Homomonument [153] Is a memorial to gays and lesbians murdered in the Second World War, a call for vigilance against homophobia, and an inspiration for gays and lesbians the world over. Three equilateral triangles made of pink granite that are connected by an inlaid band of pink bricks. These three triangles represent the past, present and future. It is located between the Westerkerk [154]and the Keizersgracht canal

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 quays) 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 and 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. This section of town is a common attraction for bachelors celebrating a stag night, if you ever get hassled, a firm and loud "Leave me alone" will work most of the time.

Entering and exiting the premises is half of the job that might take some strength for first timers as you might hear some chuckles from people you'll never see again in your whole life. This part of town gets very crowded, especially on a normal weekend night, sometimes up until 3AM. A fifty euro bill will get you either oral sex or a girl laying on her back, the rest is up to you. Although every room is booked by the girl herself, some of the sex workers are still being pimped by outsiders.

You can book a tour of the Red Light District via the I amsterdam information booths. The tour starts at 5PM at the VOC Cafe and is found to be very informative and entertaining.

Do

  • Several companies offer canal cruises, usually lasting from one to two hours. Departures from: Prins Hendrikkade opposite Centraal Station; quayside Damrak; Rokin near Spui; Stadhouderskade 25 near Leidseplein.
    • The Canal Bus [155]. Runs three fixed routes, stopping near major attractions (Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank's House, etc.). You can get on or off as often as you like, but it is expensive—€20 per person per 24 hours. The first boats start between 9.15 a.m. and 10.45 a.m. depending on which stop you get on. The last boats start dropping off at around 7 p.m.
    • Lovers Canal Cruise [156] start opposite the Rijksmuseum. It is €12 per person, but you cannot get on and off. The cruise is about one-and-a-half hours.
    • Amsterdam Jewel Cruises [157] offers an evening dinner cruise. It is the only classic boat offering a private table for a romantic dinner cruise. A la carte dining, but not cheap! The cruise starts at 7.30 pm and lasts just under three hours.
  • You can cruise the canals yourself, without the commentary with a canal bike (pedal boat) or rented boat.
    • Canal Company [158]. Has four rental locations; two-seater canal bikes cost €8 per person per hour.
    • Rent a boat Amsterdam [159].
  • Ultimately you can also rent a Venetian Gondola, hand made by an Amsterdam girl who traveled to Venice to learn the craft and build her own Gondola . [160] which she brought back to Amsterdam for you to enjoy.
  • Queens Day. The national holiday, nominally in celebration of the Queen's birthday (in fact the previous Queen's birthday) is hard to describe to anyone who's never been there. The city turns into one giant mass of orange-dressed people (all Amsterdam locals, and another 1 million or so from throughout the country visit the parties in the city) with flea markets, bands playing, and many on-street parties, ranging from small cafes placing a few kegs of beer outside to huge open-air stages hosting world-famous DJ's. 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 [161]. 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 [162]. 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.
  • CityNavigators [163]. 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 [164]. Football tour organisers Eurofives stage special tournament weekends in Amsterdam at which you can enjoy some Dutch-style five-a-sides.
  • Amsterdam Weekly [165]. It is an Entertainment magazine in English on the Internet. You can find weekly Amsterdam events.
  • De Poezenboot [166]. 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 [167]. 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.
  • Wynand Fockink [168]. Pijlsteeg 31 - 1012 HH Amsterdam - 020 639 26 95 - [email protected] Wynand Fockink is a distillery started in 1679. Right near Dam Place, they offer distillery tours (must reserve at least a week in advance as they fill up quickly), great liquors, and a great time in the back alleys of Amsterdam. They have numerous liquors, brandies, and jenevers and encourage you to try them all. It is traditional to stoop and sip the first drink and not spill.

Several companies offer private tours by car, van, or mini bus for groups of up to 8 people. Bike tours are also available at a more affordable price, and offer a more authentic dutch experience.

Boaty Rental Boats [169]. Boaty offers rental boats (max. 6 persons) for your own private tour: decide where to go yourself or choose one of Boaty's free canal routes. These rental boats are electrically driven which means they are silent and free of exhaust fumes. They are charged with renewable energy every night so you can enjoy your time on the water as long as you like. The boats are very stable, unsinkable and of course the rental is accompanied by free life vests in different sizes.

Learn

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

  • Vrije Universiteit (VU University) [170]. 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 [171]. Founded as the Athenaeum Illustre in 1632, in 1877 it became the University of Amsterdam. With about 25 000 students, the UvA is on three separate campuses in the city centre, plus smaller sites scattered over Amsterdam.

The Volksuniversiteit [172]. Despite the name, it is not a university, but a venerable institute for public education. Among the many courses are Dutch language courses for foreigners.

Work

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; Blue Lynx - Employment by Language [173], Undutchables [174], Unique [175] and Xpat Jobs[176] are all useful resources.

Immigration matters are dealt with by the Immigration Service IND [177]. 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).


There are many flexible office solution in Amsterdam that enable you to rent office space for a short term. See for example

Regus[178] or the Ph120 flexible office solutions at Prins Hendrikkade 120 [179]

Buy

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' [180] it shows an overview of the most popular shops and their location on the map.

  • The Nine Streets, De Negen Straatjes,[181]. Nine narrow streets between the main canals from the Prinsengracht to the Singel, south-west of Dam Square. Boutiques, specialist shops, galleries and restaurants.
  • Santa Jet, Prinsenstraat 7, tel (020) 427 2070. This little boutique specializes 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 [182]. 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.
  • Fashion & Museum District [183]. Located in Amsterdam Zuid, this is considered the chic 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.

You can find plus size clothing in the center of Amsterdam. C&A, and H&M are both on the main shopping streets from the Central station. A bit further from the city center you can find Mateloos, Promiss, Ulla Popken as well as several stores by chain M&S mode.

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 second-hand bookstore specialising in English books, and has a large selection, with an especially good selection of travel writing, detectives, and SF/fantasy. Open Mon- Sun 10AM- 4PM, Sun 11:30-4:30PM. For English literature and books, you can also try The American Book Center [184] store on Spui square. Waterstone's (Kalverstraat 152) is also a good tip for English literature. Large Dutch bookstores also carry a selection of foreign language books.

  • Cracked Kettle [185]. Located at Raamsteeg 3, 1012VZ Amsterdam, this beer, wine, and spirits shop carries independent, unique, and rare bottles. The staff are friendly, but the space is quite confined and obtaining bottles from the very top shelves requires assistance and a dust rag. 12.00 - 22.00 everyday

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 online at Hollandse Markten [186] and Amsterdam.info [187] in English.

Albert Cuyp Market
Bloemenmarkt
  • Ten Cate Market. 3rd Largest in Amsterdam. Monday to Saturday from about 8AM until around 5PM. Food, households, flowers and clothing.
  • Albert Cuyp. Largest in Amsterdam, best-known street market in the country. Can get very crowded, so watch out for pickpockets. Monday to Saturday from about 9AM until around 5PM.
  • Dappermarkt. In the east, behind the zoo, and was voted best market in the Netherlands. Monday to Saturday from about 8AM until around 5PM.
  • Waterlooplein. Well-known but overrated flea market. Monday to Saturday until about 5PM.
  • Lindengracht. In the Jordaan, selling a wide range of goods, fruit and vegetables, fish and various household items. Saturday only. 9AM to 4PM. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk along the Lijnbaansgracht.
  • Spui. Fridays: Books. Sundays: Art and Antiques.
  • Bloemenmarkt. Floating flower market, open daily on the Singel canal, near Muntplein. Very touristy, but you could do worse than buy your tulips here. Make sure you buy pre-approved bulbs if taking them to the US or Canada. They will have the holographic licence and export tag on the bag.
  • Lapjesmarkt. Westerstraat, in the Jordaan. A specialist market concentrating on selling cloth and material for making clothes, curtains etc. Mondays only. 9AM to 1PM. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein.
  • Noordermarkt. In the historical Jordaan area of the city. On Monday morning (9AM to 1PM) the Noordermarkt is a flea market selling fabrics, records, second-hand clothing etc, and forms part of the Lapjesmarkt mentioned above. On Saturday (9AM to 4PM), 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.

Other

  • Treinreiswinkel is a travel agency specializing in rail travel. They are well informed and can arrange international train tickets and even a complete package tour if you wish. They also sell interrail tickets. It's at Singel 393, 1012 WN +31 (0) 71 5137008. They also have an Leiden office which is their main office.

Eat

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Below €20
Mid-range €20-50
Splurge €50+


Smoking Ban
Smoking is banned in all Dutch bars and restaurants.


There is a large diversity of restaurants in Amsterdam, especially if you are looking for Asian cuisine. The influence of the Dutch colonial past is apparent, as can be seen in the wide array of Indonesian restaurants. Most Asian restaurants are clustered at the Zeedijk in Nieuwmarkt, for this reason often dubbed as Amsterdam's Chinatown. It's also home to many tokos, small Asian grocery stores that sell Eastern food and spices. Indonesian restaurants are usually of excellent quality, but Indian ones can be expensive and of poor quality. Chinatown also offers plenty of Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants. Nearby is the Damstraat, a fairly busy road filled with small and cheap Chinese and Middle Eastern restaurants - expect sticky tables, but it's definitely a good place for budget travelers. The numerous falafel bars have a good value, often sporting a "all you can pile" salad bar.

Surinamese food is widely available and worth a try. The highest concentration of Surinamese restaurants can be found in the South, especially in the Albert Cuypstraat. 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 Haarlemmer Neighborhood (north of Jordaan), 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 marvellous, buy some at the Albert Cuyp market, or at specialist cheese shops found around central Amsterdam. Dutch cheese is traditionally 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 flavour.

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.

Avoid at all costs any steak house in the centre - they are well known tourist traps. You will also never be hungry enough to make Febo [188] a good idea.

Budget

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 budget meal, check out also the various Falafel and Shoarma restaurents around the city center. They usually include in the dish a large amount of salad.

  • Pancakes! Amsterdam, Berenstraat 38, 1016 GH Amsterdam, Tel: (0)20 528 9797 [189]. Amazing variety of both sweet and savory pancakes. Quaint atmosphere and the street side tables are great to people watch. The only downfall is that street side tables attract too many tourists asking for directions.
  • 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 €7.50 (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.


  • Thaise Snackbar Bird, Zeedijk 72. Very crowded little snack bar with fantastic Thai food. Not to be confused with the restaurant of the same owner, on the other side of the street. Try the chicken in oyster sauce.


  • Rapper, 30 Oudebrugsteeg (off the Damrak) offers a delicious sandwiches in freshly backed wraps and salads with a selection of home sauces.prices vary from €3.95 for vegetarian wrap to €5.95 for Black-Angus Entrecôte wrap.

Mid-range

  • De Blauwe Hollander, Leidsekruisstraat 28, +31-20-6270251, [3]. Noon-10 PM. Dutch restaurant with an extensive menu of hearty home cooked dishes like herrings, pea soup and hutspot. Unlike most restaurants in this area, this one gets local diners too, and if it gets crowded enough you may have to share tables. Pancakes served only until 5 PM. €20.
  • Greetje, Peperstraat 23-25, 1011 TJ Amsterdam, Tel: (020) 779 7450 [190]. Interesting, traditional Dutch dishes which you will not find elsewhere, alongside French classics. Excellent food combined with friendly, professional service. Located in an historic building on a quiet side street near Central Station; it's off the beaten track so most of the diners are local. Open 6 days a week (not Mondays); a reservation is usually necessary.
  • Cafe Restaurant STOUT!, Haarlemmerstraat 73, 1013 EL Amsterdam, 020 - 616 36 64, [4]. Nice and modern bar/cafe/restaurant with young people as customers and mattresses on the terrace. (52.380168,4.892317)
  • Damsteeg, Reestraat 28-32, 1016 DN Amsterdam [191]. 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 [192]. They specialise in traditional Southern Indian cuisine, especially the eponymous 'Dosa' (a rice and lentil pancake with a variety of fillings). The food is outstanding and well worth hunting out. The dosas 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 (€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 favourite 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. Dimitrij is a must for at least one lunch, and it's on a street which is packed with an ever-changing line-up of fun boutiques.
  • Vliegende Schotel, Nieuwe Leliestraat. Since Green Planet is closing, 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 [193]. 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.
  • De Korte Prins [194]. De Korte Prins is a lunchroom café on the Haarlemmerdijk 8, in the heart of the Jordaan area in Amsterdam. The friendly staff serves great bagels, rolls and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. In the afternoon the café is filled with coffee lovers who enjoy a rich coffee with a delicious brownie or cheesecake. Regulars often drop by for cookies and muffins takeaway as well. Open daily from 8 am till 4 pm, Sat. 9 am till 6 pm. Closed on Sundays.
  • 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) [195]. 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 5PM to 11PM.
  • de Ponteneur, Eerste van Swindenstraat 581, 1093 LC Amsterdam, +31 (0) 20 6680680, [5]. An inexpensive bar-restaurant with great food and atmosphere. All food served is fresh- and home made. Free wifi available. Excellent bang for the buck and suited for only a drink as well. Main courses start at 15 Euro. No English menu, some waiters speak English.
  • Barney's, Haarlemerstraat 98, 1013 EW. A gorgeous brassiere 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 labourers. Now a small atmospheric restaurant in the east of the city centre. Mainly visited by locals. Different menu every evening, ranging from €10 to €15 for a main course. Not possible to make reservations and you may have to share a table with other guests.
  • Jerry's Eetcafe, Veemkade 1288, 1019 CZ Amsterdam (Left to the Albert Heijn super market), +31 (0) 20 3628000, [6]. 18.00 - 22.00, closed: Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Reservation required for groups more then 6 people. Amsterdam's best kept secret until now. Small and very cheap restaurant. Good food and service. Great view from the restaurant. Don't let yourself be put off by the unwelcoming entrance to the restaurant shared with a fitness center. Walk up two stories and you feel welcome at once! Mains from €10.
  • Kantjil & de Tiger, Spuistraat 291. Great spices and meat dishes, Indian/Indonesian food. Try the Nasi Goreng Rames.

Splurge

  • La Margarita, Reguliersdwarsstraat 49, near the flower market, Tel 020 623 07 07, open 5PM to 11PM, 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 per person, with drinks.
  • Akbar, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 15, near Leidseplein [196]. Indian restaurant, Muslim (halal) / Hindu (no beef). Good quality dishes from different regions of India. Main courses €15-20.
  • 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, 11AM to 1AM.
  • Proeverij 274, Prinsengracht 274 (1016 HH), +31 20 4211848, [7]. kitchen 18.00 - 22.00, 7 days a week. Small, cosy restaurant at one of the main canals. Business but also romantic dinner. Small menu, bit classic french based with italian and asian influences. Personal service, nice wineadvises and fresh food in a relaxed environment.

Drink

Amsterdam's famously wild nightlife caters to all tastes and budgets.


Bars and pubs

The archetypal Amsterdam watering hole is the bruine ("brown bar" or "brown café"), a neighborhood pub of sorts with gorgeous dark wood panelling — hence the name — and booths. These do not sell cannabis, see coffeeshops below for that.


  • d'Oude Herberge, Handboogstraat 17/19, 020 - 6231840, [8]. 9pm-4am. One of the oldest original brown cafés in the central district op Amsterdam, a side street of the famous Spui Square. Get a stool at the bar or get comfy in one of the three wood panelled booths. On weekdays a highly popular student bar and in the weekend the hangout for the more adult locals and travellers from Couchsurfing.com. Low prices for a centre pub!
  • Café Katoen, Oude Turfmarkt 153, 1012 GC Amsterdam, +31 20 6262635, [9]. Nice bar/cafe close to the Southern Canal Belt. Good/alternative music and cozy atmosphere also in the evenings. (52.367718,4.894004)
  • Feijoa, Corner of Vijselstraat and Reguliersdwarsstraat. Near Rembrantsplein. Cocktail bar with a lovely atmosphere, pleasant music and friendly staff, including one of the Netherlands leading cocktail barmen. Will make any cocktail you ask for.
  • Mulligans Irish Music Bar, Amstel 100 [197]. The oldest Irish bar in Amsterdam, Mulligans has live music most nights. This is where the traditional 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, and 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 [198]. 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!). 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. The place is unavailable for the time being, as the municipality indefinitely revoked the license!
  • In De Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3 [199]. A very well stocked beer café, or actually beer tasting room (bierproeflokaal) in the centre 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 [200]. A special beer café, serving many beers, especially from Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and other countries.
  • De Bierkoning, Paleisstraat 125 [201]. Not a café, but a 'supermarket' specialized in beer.
  • Cafe de Jaren, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22. 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, The IJ Brewery [202]. 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 centre, 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 3PM to 8PM. The beer is available at some specialist beer shops, and of high quality and, in some cases, alcohol content. Internationally renowned!
  • Café l'Opera, Rembrandtplein 27-29 [203]. 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.
  • Café Cuba. Great bar, really nice atmosphere, close to red light with a nice terrace in the summer. Good selection of cheap cocktails, best long island ice teas in the world! No smoking naughty stuff though.
  • The Soundgarden. Top metal/grungy/punky pub, most relaxed drinking atmosphere in town. Really nice, secluded terrace for drinking beer in the sun. can smoke, but not buy, puff.
  • Whisky Cafe L&B, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 82-84, 06-24554162, [10]. If you like whisky, this small, laid-back and friendly cafe is the ideal place to visit. Many unusual whiskies from independent bottlers and closed distilleries are available. The menu stretches along one wall and is about 2 meters in height, the cafe having had 1001 whiskies available since they opened. Just be warned the stairs to the toilets are pretty steep!
  • Molly Malones Irish Pub, Oude Zijds Kolk 9, [11]. Authentic Irish pub with affordable, high quality food. Pleasant mix of ex-pats, locals and tourists and a friendly staff. Situated on a romantic canal off the Zeedijk, close to Centraal Station and Warmoesstraat. Open every night, live music in the week-ends and large-screen television.
  • 't Arendsnest, Herengracht 90 (at the intersection of Herenstraat and Herengracht), (020) 421 20 57, [12]. Sun-Th: 4PM-midnight; F-Sat: 4PM-2AM;. Excellent biercafe serving only Dutch beers and liqueurs, including jenever. Around 30 beers on tap, 17 or so which change regularly, and over 100 bottled. Very friendly bartenders who know beer well and give great recommendations. Try the €8 sampler, which gives you 12cl samples of 3 beers with a glass of water and some crackers.

Clubs

  • Melkweg [204]. Multimedia centre in Amsterdam with live music, theater, photography, cinema, special events and parties.
  • The Cave Rockclub [205]. Cozy metal bar with friendly barstaff and interesting regulars, with live performances by touring metal bands on weekends.
  • Korsakoff [206]. Alternative nightspot for fans of metal, industrial, goth, and techno. Some live music and popular club nights. A bit off the beaten path but worth it.
  • Paradiso [207]. Legendary music venue in a beautiful former church, but with relatively bad acoustics in the main room. Serves as a disco on non-event nights and gets fairly packed.
  • Heineken Music Hall [208]. Larger-scale music venue. More "headliners" are booked in Amsterdam for the Heineken Music Hall than any other venue. Best reached by train (train station Amsterdam Bijlmer) or metro/subway.
  • Concertgebouw [209]. Famous for its orchestra and its acoustics (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 12:30PM to 1PM. 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 [210]. Piet Heinkade 3, 1019 BR. World class jazz and improvised music venue, five minutes by foot from Central Station. Tickets €14 to €18.
  • Waterhole [211]. 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 [212]. The most glamorous 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.
  • Flex Bar [213]. Flex Bar is known for its innovative musical program and their openminded approach towards music as well as their public. Expect electro, techno, house, dubstep, hiphop, indie, funk, soul...
  • Escape Venue Famous and conviently located on the main clubbing square, the rembrandtplein. It´s large and attracts the more or less wannabee hip people of the city.

Coffeeshops

Amsterdam's coffeeshops are more famous for their cannabis than for their coffee. Thanks to the Netherlands' policy of toleration, coffeeshops are allowed to sell personal use quantities of cannabis and hash, and their customers can smoke on premises. However, the trade is increasingly strictly controlled: garish advertising is not allowed (look for red-yellow-green rasta colors and the English word "coffeeshop"), no alcohol or edible cannabis products may be sold, and customers who want to smoke their weed mixed with tobacco are limited to special rooms. Prices hover around €5 for 1 grams, with the average joint around 2g and a 5g/person sales limit. Most coffeeshops are happy to recommend varieties and prepare your joint for you.

  • Bulldog, [214]. Chain of touristy coffeeshops.
  • Grey Area.
  • The Bluebird - one of the best selections of pot in Amsterdam.
  • De Kuil (420 Cafe)
  • Global Chillage - Good produce and nice tunes but uncomfortable seating.
  • Barney's [215]. Multiple Cannabis Cup winner.
  • Rokerij[216]. Four coffeeshops.
  • Kadinsky
  • Hill Street Blues - lively atmosphere but buy cannabis elsewhere.
  • Club Media - Completely organic menu, fair selection, good prices, lovely staff, free fruit!
  • Katsu - Just around the corner from Media, good prices + nice atmosphere.
  • The Greenhouse - usually pretty crowded but when warm or if you can get a seat definitely one of the nice coffeeshops near the red light. Also has a bar next door.
  • De Dampkring - three locations, bought out Pink Floyd and renovated it. Original shop featured in a scene in Ocean's 12.
  • De Kroon.
  • Abraxas.
  • Homegrown Fantasy.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €50
Mid-range €50 to €150
Splurge Over €150

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. Most 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 a 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.






Budget

  • Durty Nellys Inn, Warmoesstraat 117, [13]. Good location (5 min walk to the central station). The staff was friendly, the dorms clean and the beds confortable enough. There is an Irish pub downstairs with discounts for people staying in the hostel (€3.5 for a pint of Amstel, 5€ for a burger and chips). Breakfast was served 9-11am and it was quite good compared to other hostels. The hosted didn't have any common area though (apart from the bar itself). Breakfast, sheets, shower and a locker starting at €17.


  • Hostel Cosmos, Nieuwe Nieuwstraat 17, +31 (0)20 625 2438, [14]. Friendly, cheap youth hostel right in the Centre of Amsterdam. As far as location goes, Hostel Cosmos is hard to beat. It is in central Amsterdam, a four minute walk from Central Station and within walking distance of most of the city’s major tourist attractions - including Dam Square, the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt Square and the famous Red Light District. And if the fabulous location were not enough, the hostel has a resident cat so you can get a pet fix while you are away from home. (Of course, if you are allergic to cats, that is another problem entirely.) Breakfast, sheets, shower and a locker starting at €24.
  • Bicycle Hotel, De Pijp (Van Ostadestraat 123), +31 (0)20 679 3452 (), [15]. 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. Doubles €50-85, doubles ensuite €80-120..
  • Bob's Youth Hostel, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 92, +31 (0)20 623 0063 (), [16]. Breakfast, shower, dorm bed at €22 a night. Private rooms with a kitchen are €70 for two persons and €90 for three people..
  • Bulldog, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 220, +31 (0)20 620 3822, [17]. Friendly, cheap hostel right in the heart of the red light district. The Bulldog Coffeeshop is conveniently located on the ground floor (also where you get your breakfast). Breakfast, sheets, shower and a locker starting at €22..
  • Flying Pig (Uptown), 'Vossiusstraat 46', +31 (0)20 400 4187 (), [18]. Wide range of prices and accommodations, f The Uptown is supposed to be a bit more quiet compared to the Downtown location, which has more of a party vibe. Both hostels are famous for their laidback atmosphere, bars and indoor smoking areas. A lot of free extra's, check out the facility page on their website. Undergoing renovations, noisy at times, kitchen is closed, as are some showers. Lockers require lockpads, which are not available for rent, only sale for 5 Euro. From €25 for a dorm bed.
  • Flying Pig (Downtown), Nieuwendijk 100, +31 (0)20 420 6822 (), [19]. Wide range of prices and accommodations, f The Uptown is supposed to be a bit more quiet compared to the Downtown location, which has more of a party vibe. Both hostels are famous for their laidback atmosphere, bars and indoor smoking areas. A lot of free extra's, check out the facility page on their website. From €14 for a dorm bed to €70 for a private room..
  • Hotel ABBA, Overtoom 118-122, +31 (0)20 618 3058, [20]. Cheap but clean hotel, close to the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum.
  • Hotel Brian, Singel 69, +31 (0)20 624 4661, [21]. Very basic hotel, but free breakfast and free internet included.
  • Hotel Beursstraat, +31 (0)20 626 3701, [22]. Hotel Beursstraat is a simple and clean hotel, mostly visited by (young) people who are looking for an inexpensive accommodation.


  • Hans Brinker Hostel, Kerkstraat 136-138 (Take tram number 1), +31 (0)20 622 0687, [23]. Very light atmosphere, one of the hostel's cleaners also moonlights as a lesbian vampire in one of Amsterdam's infamous sex shows. Doesn't take itself seriously. Very fun bar and downstairs club. Also has the Happy Feelings coffeeshop opposite. A must for students! From US$32.10/€24.00/£17.09 per person..
  • Hotel Tamara, Nieuwezijds 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., +31 (0)20, [24]. Expensive, but posh
  • St Christopher’s Amsterdam Hostel, Warmoesstraat 129, +31 206 231 380 (), [25]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Also known as St Christopher's @ The Winston, this part hostel, part hotel is in the heart of Amsterdam. Each room is designed by local Dutch artists. €20 with breakfast included.
  • Stayokay (Stadsdoelen), Kloveniersburgwal 97, +31 (0)20 624 68 32, [26]. 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, +31 (0)20 589 8996, [27]. 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.
  • Stayokay (Zeeburg), Timorplein 21, +31 (0)20 551 3190 (), [28]. This 480 bed hostel is located to the east of the city centre in a typical Amsterdam neighbourhood. Amsterdam’s historic centre is less than 15 minutes away by bike or tram. The hostel is in the same building as budget diner and movie theatre Studio K.
  • The Shelter, Barndesteeg 21 and Bloemstraat 179, +31 (0)20 624 4717, [29]. 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), +31 (0)20 6255974 (fax: +31 (0)20 420 1299), [30]. About a 5 minute walk from the central 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.

Mid-range

  • Amsterdam Seven Windmills Bed & Breakfast, Kerkstraat 369, +31 (0)6 4284 4533 (), [31]. Your own private luxury vacation apartment complete with kitchen and spacious lounge, includes continental breakfast. Very helpful hosts. Walking distance to all of Amsterdams attractions. Excellent for conference visitors to the RAI. Wi-Fi access. See website for special offers. €95 per night. (52.362943,4.89795)
  • Hotel Continental, Damrak 40-41 (Amsterdam), +31 (0)20 6223363, [32]. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 10.00. Comfortable hotel located conveniently on a 5 minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station.
  • Amsterdam Alex Bed breakfast De Vliegende Kok / The Flying; Breakfast, Transvaalkade, +31 (0)20 4686508 (), [33]. Quiet art deco bed breakfast with culinairy arrangements. In East part, Watergraafsmeer of center. Wi-Fi access. See website for fotos. €90 per night.
  • CityCenter Bed and Breakfast Amstertdam, Sint Jacobsstraat 21 (Amsterdam), +31(0)6-451-600-78 (), [34]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Just one minute walking from Central Station and Dam Square, in the center of Amsterdam. Famous sights, neighborhoods, museums and nightlife at hand. From €90.
  • Hotel Seasons, Stadhouderskade 135 (Amsterdam), 0031206750553, [35]. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 11.00. The hotel offers the latest requirements of 3 star hotel. All the floors are reachable by elevator. All rooms have their own private bathrooms.
  • Hotel Linda, Stadhouderskade 131 (Amsterdam), 0031-20-6738739, [36]. Hotel Linda is a newly renovated hotel in the centre of Amsterdam. The hotel offers 42 rooms with private facilities.


  • Mozart Hotel, Prinsengracht 518-520, +31 (0)20 620 9546, [37]. 47 en-suite rooms Singles from €50 and doubles from €60.
  • Hotel Flipper, Borssenburgstraat 5 (Amsterdam), +31 020-6761932, [38]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Hotel Flipper Amsterdam is very attractive with its peaceful location in a quiet residential area in the southern part of the centre of Amsterdam.


  • Bastion Hotel', Nachtwachtlaan 11, +31 (0)20 669 1621, [39]. Comfortable but lacking in charm, 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.
  • Hotel City Garden, Hooftstraat 162 (Amsterdam), +31(0)20-6727919, [40]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. The hotel has 70 rooms with stylish interior and a beautiful view.


  • Blue Moon Bed & Breakfast Amsterdam, Weteringschans 123A, +31 (0)20 428 8800, [41]. Super slick Bed & Breakfast in the centre of Amsterdam opposite the Rijksmuseum. From €105 to €165.
  • Hotel De Looier, 3e Looiersdwarsstraat 75 (Amsterdam), +31 (0)20 6251855, [42]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Hotel De Looier Amsterdam was built as a diamond factory in 1886 and had recently renovated to a 3 star hotel which is situated in the city centre.


  • Hotel La Boheme, Marnixstraat 415, +31 (0)20 624 2828, [43]. Two star hotel with very friendly staff. Clean rooms and free wi fi.
  • Borgmann Villa Hotel, Koningslaan 48, +31 (0)20 673 5252, [44]. An old brick villa with large windows, 15 rooms. Wi fi access. Double room from €99, parking in front €12 per day..
  • NH Caransa, [45]. The hotel overlooks the lively Rembrandtplein in the centre. Spacious modern rooms with bath and possibility to have breakfast on the sunny first floor terrace. (There are another 12 NH hotels in Amsterdam [46] to choose from).
  • citizenM' (Amsterdam Airport), Jan Plezierweg 2, +31 (0)20 408 0498, [47]. Opened in 2008 and accessible via Schiphol Airport by a covered walkway. Rooms include free WiFi and movies, a rainshower, and an XL kingsize bed with luxury linens. This hotel is connected to the city center by the 24 hour a day train transportation. From €69 - €120.
  • citizenM (Amsterdam City), Prinses Irenestraat, +31 (0)20 408 0498, [48]. Second property by citizenM hotels, opened in 2009. Located on Beethovenstraat in Oud-Zuid. Rooms include free WiFi and movies, a rainshower, and an XL kingsize bed with luxury linens. From €69 - €120.
  • Delta Hotel (Damrak 42-43), +31 (0)20 620 2626, [49]. Clean rooms and friendly staff. Doubles €65-160.
  • Eden Lancaster Hotel, Plantage Midden Laan 48 (Opposite the Artis Zoo), +31 (0)20 535 6888, [50]. Recently renovated, quaint 3-star hotel with 91 rooms and bags of character. Friendly and helpful English-speaking staff, quiet area and very good value for money. From €69 for a double.
  • Gresham Memphis hotel, De Lairessestraat 87, +31 (0)20 673 3141, [51]. Singles from €70 and doubles from €90.
  • Hotel Citadel, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 100, +31 (0)20 627 3882, [52]. Doubles €65-160.
  • Hotel Falcon Plaza Amsterdam (Hotel Falcon Plaza Amsterdam), Valkenburgerstraat 72 1011 LZ Amsterdam, 0031-20-6382991, [53]. Hotel Falcon Plaza is situated in the centre of Amsterdam, on 5 minutes walking distance from the famous Waterlooplein flee market and the buzzling Rembrandtplein, surrounded by cafés and restaurants. The wonderful and attractive location is a great starting point for exploring the city by foot or by public transport. The trams number 9 and 14, which stop at the Waterlooplein, will take you in a few minutes to the nearby attractions, such as the Heineken Brewery, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and the Dam Square. 80 Euro.
  • Hotel de Paris', Marnixstraat 372, +31 (0)20 623 7524‎, [54]. Three star hotel. From €99.
  • Hotel Nicolaas Witsen, Nicolaas Witsenstraat 4-8 (Tram 4 to Frederiksplein and walk the short distance from there to the hotel.), +31 (0)20 620 5113 (), [55]. from €75.
  • Hotel Y Boulevard, Prins Hendrikkade 145, +31 (0)20 623 0430, [56]. Nice rooms, classy atmosphere, includes a free breakfast. From €109.
  • Marnix Hotel, Marnixstraat 382, +31 (0)20 664 6111‎, [57]. 2 star hotel with dorm beds. Prices from €20 a bed and €60 for a room..
  • Moevenpick Amsterdam, Piet Heinkade 11 1019 BR Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 5191200 (, fax: +31 20 519 1239), [58]. The hotel is located in the Eastern Docklands, the renewed area of the city centre which makes it perfect for business or pleasure. 149 euro.
  • Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam, Koninginneweg 34-36, +31 (0)20 664 6111‎, [59]. Ideally situated right by the Vondelpark, museum district within walking distance. Close to Amsterdam's famous upscale shopping street, PC Hooftstraat and the business district Zuidas and the RAI Congress Centre. from €69 - €120.
  • Rembrandtplein Hotel, Groenbrugwal 27, +31 (0)20 428 4244, [60]. Beautiful but sometimes tiny, near the flower market. Friendly staff, bar open all night. €70-90 including breakfast.
  • RHo Hotel, Nes 11-15, +31 (0)20 620 7371‎ (), [61]. Although the hotel is in the city centre, rooms are quiet. Parking available. Friendly staff. Doubles from €100.
  • Roemer Hotel, Vondelstraat 28, +31 (0)20 612 0120. Trendy boutique hotel, housed in a converted from an 18th-century town house adjacent to central Leidseplein Square. Doubles from €129.
  • Rokin Hotel, Rokin 73, +31 (0)20 626 7456, [62]. Nice place in 2 star renovated 17th century mansions. Very clean and good atmosphere, own parking. From €100.

Splurge

  • InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, Proffessor Tulpplein 1, +31 (0)20 622 6060, [63]. Historic 5-star hotel located on banks of Amstel River, near financial, shopping and theater districts. Voted the Netherlands' best in 2008 by Condé Nast Traveller. 19th-century palace, 79 guestrooms and suites, indoor swimming pool, spa facilities including a Turkish bath. From €495.
  • Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam, Rusland 17, +31 20 623 1231 (, fax: +31 20 520 8200), [64]. Looking for a luxury hotel in Amsterdam? We have hotel accommodation for city breaks or conferences in central Amsterdam and in the rest of Europe. From 159EUR per room.


  • Estherea, Singel 303-309, +31 (0)20 624 5146, [65]. 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. From €220.
  • Hotel Ambassade, Herengracht 341, +31 (0)20 555 0222, [66]. Four star hotel on one of the main canals. Writers that stayed here left signed copies of their books in the hotel's library. From €195.
  • Hotel Krasnapolsky Amsterdam, Dam 9, [67]. A 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. From €159.
  • Hotel Okura, Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, +31 (0)20 671 23 44, [68]. 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. From €275.
  • Hotel Pulitzer, Prinsengracht 315-331, +31 (0)20 523 5235, [69]. 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. From €259.
  • Hotel Sofitel, +31 (0)20 555 3111, [70]. Close to Dam Square, offers gorgeous canal views. Weather permitting, lunch is served in the beautiful courtyard. From €365.
  • Hilton Amsterdam, Apollolaan 138, +31 (0)20 710 6000, [71]. Site of John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's bed-in. Located in an upscale, older neighbourhood outside of the city centre (Oud-Zuid) but close to the Rijksmuseum and Vondel Park. Nationally famous for being the site where Dutch artist Herman Brood commited suicide by jumping from the roof. From €249.
  • Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, Kattengat 1 (just off Nieuwe Zijds Voorburgwal), +31 (0)20 621 2223, [72]. Four star hotel with conference center, wireless internet access in the lobby and café. From €289.
  • Park Hotel Amsterdam, Stadhouderskade 25, +31 (0)20 671 1222, [73]. Bang in the middle of Amsterdam between Leidseplein, Rijksmuseum and P.C. Hooftstraat. Four star hotel spread over several historical buildings. Parking. Very friendly staff. From €149.
  • Park Plaza Victoria Hotel Amsterdam, Damrak 1-5, +31 (0)20 623 4255, [74]. Historic building (1890) directly opposite Centraal Station and next to Dam Square,four star hotel located in the heart of Amsterdam. From €110.

Apartment and Canal Boat rentals

Some agencies rent furnished apartments or canal boats. Short-stay tenancies are permitted in Amsterdam. However at the moment the city is developing a policy, with a minimum of one week. In spite of negative advice from the national government (house of commons), Amsterdam is looking to implement the new policy somewhere in 2009. It could happen that apartments (or houseboats) let for less than one week will be treated as an "illegal hotel".

  • CityMundo, Schinkelkade 30. CityMundo is an agency licensed by the local municipality to offer Amsterdam accommodation for short-term rental and takes reservations from 3 to 21 nights. [217] or email [218] - CityMundo can be contacted on +31 (0)20 4705705

Contact

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 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.

Warning about payphones: There are very few public telephones on the streets or in the train/bus stations in the Netherlands. If you need to make a call and do not have access to a local phone or hotel phone, it is best to go to a call center or use a calling service over the internet (like Skype, for example). Most payphones require phone cards which can be bought at post offices and some delis, although the cards are increasingly hard to find. Also, as in any area, some of the pay phones are scams. If you do need to use a payphone, call the free customer service number listed on the payphone first to make sure the phone is actually in service. When you call the customer service number listed on the phone, if you get a recorded message or 'number not in service' message in Dutch or English, then DON'T put your money or credit card into the phone. Phones run by BBG communications, common in Europe and the U.S., have repeatedly been alleged to make fraudulent charges with credit cards used in their phone, for calls that were never made.[219]


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.

Internet

There are internet cafés in the centre, and almost every phone centre has internet access, even if only one terminal. The Public Library ('Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam' -- oba) offers free internet access (however, limited to web-only) and is located near the Central Station.

  • Amsterdam Network Collective- Has wi fi. [220]

Almost all hotels (not hostels) in the city offer wifi free of charge for guests.

Stay safe

General

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. Never stay or walk on the bike path or street for extended periods of time, as you will only be greeted by angry bell ringing. Keep in mind that for many Amsterdammers, the bike is their main means of transportation. 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 ecstasy pill alternative which is a complete waste of money and various more or less obscure psychedelic herbs and despite a change in the law, one type of magic mushrooms. It is the latter which causes problems as people often underestimate their strength. Magic mushrooms have few 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 [221], 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, the Rembrandtpark 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 attendants 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. Never take more than one packet of mushrooms - usually half is good for your first time. 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.

As of April 2009 you can still buy Magic mushrooms.

Amsterdam plays host to the Cannabis Cup, the most important marijuana related event in the world every year during the week of Thanksgiving. The Cannabis Cup is organized by High Times magazine, and offers both tourists and natives the chance to enjoy 5 days of consuming and judging marijuana in different forms. Participants are eligible to pay $199 in advance or €250 at the door to obtain a "judges pass", which allows entry to the event for all 5 days, admission to numerous concerts and seminars held during the event, the ability to vote on numerous awards that are handed out, and free bus tours to and from the event. Day passes are available for €30 for each day, and certain concerts sell tickets at the door provided they are not already sold out.

Cope

Religious Services

Holy mass in Catholic churches (Overview of cath. churches in Amsterdam (dutch): [222]):

  • Begijnhofkapel (HH. Joannes en Ursula), Begijnhof 29. [223] Sun: 10PM 11:15PM (in French); Mon-Fri: 9AM, 5PM; Sat: 9AM.
  • De Krijtberg (St. Franciscus Xaverius), Singel 448 (stop Koningsplein of trams 1, 2, 5). [224] Sat: 12:30PM, 5:15PM; Sun: 9:30AM; 11:00AM, 12:30AM, 5:15PM; Mon-Fri: 12:30PM, 5:15PM.
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, Keizersgracht 220/218 B (stop Westermarkt of trams 6, 13, 14, 17 or busses 21, 170, 172). [225] Sat: 7PM; Sun: 11:15AM, 1:00PM (surinam.); Mon-Fri (chapel): 12:15PM, 7:30PM.
  • Papegaai (HH. Petrus en Paulus), Kalverstraat 58 (by feet 20 min from central station). Sat: 5:30PM; Sun: 10:30AM, 12:15PM; Mon-Sat: 10:30AM.
  • Zusters van Moeder Teresa, Amsterdam-Badhoevedorp, Egelantierstraat 147 (city center). Sun: 3:00PM; Mon-Sat: 07:30AM.
  • Vrouwe van alle volkeren, Diepenbrockstraat 3 (near to RAI congress centre), tel. (020)-6620504. Sun: 09:30AM, 11:15AM; Mon-Sat: 12:15PM; Tue: 7:15PM.

The older generation of Dutch people tends to be more religious.

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. Citynightline trains (reservation compulsory) run directly from Amsterdam Central Station to Milan, Vienna, Copenhagen, Prague, Warsaw, Moscow, Munich, Innsbruck, and Zurich (possibly including others). For longer journeys, you will need the international ticket office which is 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, and only 15 minutes by train. Smaller towns just outside Amsterdam (all within cycling distance) include:

  • Weesp, nearest small fortified town (14 minutes by train), with a quiet historic centre on the Vecht river and windmills.
  • Muiden, formerly a small port at the mouth of the Vecht river, with the best-known castle in the Netherlands Muiderslot [226].
  • 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).

A combined visit to Weesp, Muiden and Naarden, and the classic Dutch countryside in between, is perfect for a bicycle day trip. Bike rental possible at the train station in Weesp.

  • Hilversum, wealthy town, known for it's magnificent town hall. Also offers interesting cycling tours through forests and the heath
  • Zaanse Schans, [227] 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 [228] 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 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 [229] 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 - €13.50, children €5.50. Tickets can be purchased at the door (but be prepared for a lengthy wait), or combination bus and entrance tickets may also be purchased from Tourist Information in Amsterdam (at Centraal Station or Leidseplain). There is no direct bus or train from Amsterdam: instead, travel to Schipol by bus or by train and then take the 58 ot 61 bus.

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. Bus 58 and 61 run from Schiphol Airport to the Keukenhof: additional services are put on during the height of the season, but crowds of tourists at the height of the season can cause near riots.

  • Go Birdwatching in the Oostvaardersplassen, 40 km from Amsterdam. [230]
  • 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. [231]Create category


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