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Amsterdam has 165 canals. The Canal Ring became part of the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010.
Amsterdam uses the Central European Time Zone, so if it’s 8:00 pm on the East Coast in America, it’s 2:00am in Amsterdam (6 hours ahead of EST).
- You can stay in the Netherlands without a visa for a maximum of 90 days.
- If you do not need a visa, you need a passport issued in the last ten years (make sure it’s valid 3 months after your departure)
- Check the Schengen Visa Advisor to determine if you need a visa to travel to the Netherlands. This visa allows a foreign national to stay and travel in the Schengen area for up to three months within a six month period.
- If you are a foreign national from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you are exempt from the visa requirement.
- If you will be staying in the Netherlands for longer than three months, you must apply for a provisional residence permit. EU members and a few other countries are exempt from this,
*Check your passport/visa requirements concerning your specific country of origin for more detailed information.
Schiphol Airport located in Amsterdam is the major airport of the Netherlands. It is one of the busiest airports in the world, so make sure you have enough time departing from Amsterdam to other countries.
The Amsterdam airport has three main levels with car rental service available. Buses run every 30 minutes and cost 5 euros. Taxis are more expensive at around 50 euros with a 25 minute ride to Amsterdam city center. Under the airport is a railway system with train service operating 24 hours a day; trains come and go every 10-15 minutes.
Other top airports in the Netherlands include Rotterdam The Hague Airport and the Eindhoven Airport, but both of these are not located close to Amsterdam.
There are many ways of getting around Amsterdam: bicycles and public transportation are the most common. 38% of all journeys are made by bike; the government has sponsored initiatives to discourage car traffic in the city center.
Due to the many canals in Amsterdam, you can take canal boats for a cheap price to get around to the museums, restaurants, etc. Public transport consists of the metro, tram, and bus, and using the “I amsterdam” card is an easy way to get on and off public transport with the swipe of a smart card. Click on the link above for more city card info about the types of discounted attractions the card offers as well as card prices based on the amount of hours you’ll be visiting the city.
An Uber ride is typically 35% cheaper than a taxi in Amsterdam. Taxis and Ubers are always available. Make sure to check for the Uber sticker and correct Uber license plate numbers in order for a safe ride.
This may surprise you, but in 2017 Amsterdam was voted number 6 of the world’s safest cities. Even though you can buy marijuana in coffee shops/drugs in smart shops and prostitution is legal, there is not a lot of crime in Amsterdam.
- Don’t leave valuables in back pockets and always watch your wallet/purse.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash (tourists are targets for pickpocketing).
- Most of the crime happens in the Red Light District, with high organized crime, sex trafficking, prostitutes working for pimps (illegal) and dodgy coffee shops.
- Watch for drunk tourists as fights are often started due to intoxication.
- Be watchful in busy, crowded centers of town.
- Never go out alone, whether it’s night or not–always stay in a group!
- Double-check that you’re getting in the correct Uber.
- Be careful of bike traffic: there are many bike lanes and they usually cross in front of foot traffic.
For women: Don’t take any risks traveling alone. Don’t trust strangers, no matter how friendly they may seem. If you are uncomfortable in a situation, walk away with your group.
The best time to visit Amsterdam is in April and May or in September-November, going right before or after tourist season. You’ll experience Amsterdam at its best: just as the locals do. August is the hottest month with an average of 63 degrees F and January is the coldest with an average of 37 degrees F.
*note: In Amsterdam, you can get four seasons in a single day. Make sure to pack layers!
The official language in the Netherlands is Dutch, but the majority of Amsterdam’s residents speak English. You can usually get by in Amsterdam without speaking any Dutch, although most residents are fluent in two to three languages.
Helpful words and phrases
|Do you speak English?||Spreekt u Engels?|
|Goodbye||Dag or doei (pronounced: doowee)|
|Thank you||Dank u|
|Please||Alstublieft (pronounced: alst-u-bleeft)|
|Yes||Ja (pronounced: yah)|
|No||Nee (pronounced: nay)|
- Greet store owners with a polite “hello” when entering shops.
- Always have cash on you because the Netherlands is not a major credit card-using country.
Wine and Dine:
- Try and say “thank you” in Dutch. It will show even more appreciation.
- Ask waiters if you’re allowed to smoke if you’re not sure. Smoking is not allowed on terraces for restaurants.
Other things to avoid:
- Don’t gawk at locals riding bikes without helmets–this is very common!
- Don’t walk on the bicycle paths.
Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands use the Euro currency. If you bring USD$ you will have to exchange it. It’s a good idea to exchange most of your money before you leave in case of any emergency abroad.
ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels but not all restaurants. Non-Dutch/non-European credit cards are sometimes rejected, so check with your bank before you leave to make sure your credit card will work while traveling.
If you’re in a café or restaurant, expect to tip about 10% of the total bill. People usually don’t tip more than this and often round up the bill by a few euros or leave a couple euros per person.
The electrical service in the Netherlands is the standard voltage 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz. If you are from the UK, Europe, most of Asia/Africa, and Australia, your appliances and plugs should work when visiting Amsterdam. Because Europe’s electrical current runs twice that of America’s, if you are from America you will need a converter to run on European current.
Tap water is safe to drink. Amsterdam supposedly has the best water in the country and the safest tap water in all of Europe. Most restaurants refuse to serve tap water, but it has nothing to do with the quality.
In Amsterdam you can find free wifi almost anywhere. Free wifi connection is possible in most museums, restaurants, bars, etc.
You can also purchase a Dutch SIM card once you arrive at the Amsterdam airport or from telecom shops like Vodafone and T-mobile.
Amsterdam is extremely accepting of LGBTQ+ people and allies. It has a proud history of supporting this community and openly promoting rights for all people. It hosts major celebrations such as Pride Amsterdam. While you’re visiting you can search for specific LGBTQ+ bars, restaurants and event highlights in Amsterdam to make the most of your stay.
Amsterdam has long since been eco-friendly, limiting the amount of car emissions in favor for bicycle travel. Electric cars, solar panels, and household wind turbines are becoming more common. Stiffer efficiency rules are in place to cut carbon dioxide footprints, on the path to creating a “smart city.”
CHECK THIS OUT:
Amsterdam’s De Ceuvel is a sustainable playground where houseboats are repurposed for work events and parties. Kitchen waste is used for garden fertilizer.
Eco hotels are becoming hotter by the second with energy efficient amenities, organic towels, recycled furniture and bike rental service.