Amsterdam: 7 quickie travel tips from a local

Amsterdam canal scene with bicycles and bridges
Amsterdam canal scene with bicycles and bridges. Photo: Shutterstock

It's said that Amsterdam (the most visited city in the Netherlands) is too touristy, and that you're better off heading to, say, Utrecht. But let's just say there's a reason Amsterdam continually attracts visitors from across the globe; there's simply no place like it.

Here are a handful of insider travel tips that only a local can tell you.

1. Know how to get around

It may be normal in London to spend an hour on the metro, but my city boasts easy accessibility to a number of must-visit destinations. What's more, Amsterdam has a size and atmosphere that's more in line with a village than a major metropolis - especially with the charming canals and little houses that are literally hundreds of years old.

When it comes to getting around, forget the metro or bus. (Buying a ticket isn't as easy as you might think.) It actually isn't possible to buy a ticket in the bus or metro. Instead, you have to make your purchase at official selling points located at designated parts of the station.

Tempted to grab a taxi? I'd definitely advise against it; a ride in a Dutch taxi doesn't come cheap. A great alternative is to grab a bike. It's fun, and also a great way to catch the best sights in the city while doing your part for the environment.

Read more: Top tips for visiting Amsterdam

2. Understand that we're as authentic as they come

The Dutch, in general, aren't the phony type, so don't be put off if a good number of us are a bit on the blunt side. (It's just how we roll.) On the flip side, when something is funny, you'll hear us laugh.

Overall, Amsterdam is a multicultural city that welcomes visitors of all stripes - especially when it comes to food. From Japan? We have some of the best sushi in Europe. Have Spanish roots? We've got all the tapas you could dream of. If you're in the mood for some traditional Dutch dishes, give 'stamppot' or 'patatje mayo' a try.

Vondelpark favorite place for rest and walking residents and tourists. Photo: Shutterstock

Vondelpark, a favorite place for residents and tourists. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Know where to grab a pint

Our friendly little neighbour to the south is Belgium. They may be known the world over for their excellent beer, but Holland is catching up and actually has more little breweries than Belgium these days. You can find them throughout all of Amsterdam. I definitely suggest enjoying a cold beer along with a bitterballen (a delicious meaty snack) with mustard.

4. Check out Amsterdam's incredible parks

Vondelpark is the biggest park in Amsterdam, and certainly worth visiting. But when it’s sunny and you want to be outside, consider Sarphatipark. It’s situated in the cosy neighbourhood of De Pijp, where there are a ton of good restaurants and bars. The park is a dog-free grassy area separated by water, and there are also basketball courts, table-tennis facilities, and an enclosed playground for children. Checking out the beautiful monument is another must.

Valentino store in the P.C.Hooftstraat shopping street in Amsterdam. Photo: Shutterstock

Valentino store in the P.C.Hooftstraat shopping street in Amsterdam. Photo: Shutterstock

Read more: Amsterdam Travel Guide

5. Take in the history

With its famous canals, Amsterdam in itself is an open-air museum. But when it’s rainy, you can also find a lot of history inside. My top picks include Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House. For something more modern, check out NEMO Science Museum!

6. Our football and music are tough to beat

If you love outdoor events, do explore the Bijlmer area, where Ajax plays in the Amsterdam ArenA. You can also put the Heineken Music Hall and the Ziggo Dome on your list, both great locations for catching  a concert. But the best way to enjoy music is to go to the Melkweg, Paradiso, or Bitterzoet.

7. Don't underestimate our shopping

If you've got money to spend, shopping in Amsterdam won't disappoint. The P.C. Hooftstraat is one of the most expensive and well-known shopping streets around. Czaar Peterstraat has also been chosen as this year's best shopping street in Holland.

Tot ziens! (See you soon!)


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