Amsterdam travel tips to make your trip a little more affordable.
How can anyone not like Amsterdam? There are pretty canals, narrow houses, cute bridges, plenty of bicycles, flowers everywhere and an extremely liberal culture. It’s the city that’s gateway to Europe for many 20 and 30 something travelers who start their Euro trips here.
Yes, Amsterdam is absolutely gorgeous and you will not be able to stop yourself from clicking hundreds of photos while you’re there. But it’s not Amsterdam’s beauty that WOWs me, it is the fact that literally every kind of traveler will find something fun to do here is what makes it special. Wether you’re traveling to Amsterdam alone or with your family, you will surely enjoy your time here.
I visited Amsterdam for the first time back in 2014 but one visit was not enough. I visited this glorious city just a few days back and I can’t stop thinking about it. In fact, I’d love to visit it again in autumn and then again during the winter months.
If you’re visiting Europe anytime soon, please do yourself a favor and include Amsterdam in your itinerary. However, keep in mind that Amsterdam can end up being super expensive if you don’t research enough. Based on my experience, I want to share my top travel tips for Amsterdam with you so that you can save some money while you’re there. Wether you’re visiting Amsterdam for the first time or the third time, some of these tips are sure to help you while you’re there.
Amsterdam Travel Tips
01 | Avoid Weekends and Visit during the week = Cheaper Rooms
Amsterdam is one of the most visited destinations of Europe and over 7 million international travelers visit Amsterdam in a year. Many Europeans who live in nearby cities frequently visit Amsterdam over a long weekend. This happens even more during summer months.
Believe it or not, but a dorm bed that costs $20 during the week, can be as high as $70 or $80 during the weekend. If you plan well in advance and research, you can save some serious money by just making sure you visit Amsterdam on any of the weekdays. Moreover, you will save a lot of time when you don’t have to stand in long queues and can ultimately explore more.
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02 | Get yourself an I Amsterdam Card
Apart from your accommodation costs, where do you think you will spend most of your money while you’re in Amsterdam? I’m sure you’re thinking internal local transport, boat ride, museum entry, food, etc. Well, good news – you can save money on this by getting yourself an I Amsterdam city card.
Based on your duration of stay, you can get yourself a card that is valid for 1 to 4 days. A 24-hour card is for 57 euros and a 4-day card is for 87 euros. This card includes a free entry to Amsterdam’s many museums, unlimited use of public transport (trams, buses and metros), free canal cruise, and discounts in many restaurants. For information about how to order this card, visit the Amsterdam tourism board website.
I Amsterdam card is a blessing and I wish I had it back in 2014 when I first visited this city. The best part is that, the transport parts and museum parts of this cards get activated separately. The museums part is automatically activated when you visit a museum the first time, and stays active till the duration of your card. The public transport part is automatically activated the first time you use a tram, bus or metro in Amsterdam. This way, you don’t have to get a card for the full duration of your trip and can just plan your trip in such a way that you check out all the museums in a day or two, overlap one day with transport and include museums which you can’t reach by walking and extend the card longer.
03 | Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are not exactly Cafes
A coffee shop in Amsterdam is not your typical café but means something else entirely. I feel it is my duty to educate you so that you don’t get a shock when you visit a coffeeshop in Amsterdam just to drink coffee.
I’m sure you know by know that Amsterdam is one of those few places on earth where you can legally buy and consume marijuana for personal consumption. This happens not on the streets but in coffeeshops where you can see several kinds of weed, hash, etc., being sold per gram or in pre rolled joints. Check point 8 for Amsterdam tips for stoners, more information about coffee shops and safety while experimenting / buying drugs in Amsterdam.
04 | No Photography in the Red Light District
Yes, prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and the red light district comes alive as soon as the evening sets in. If you walk around the red light district at night, you will see prostitutes through pretty much every glass window in this area.
If you’re visiting Amsterdam’s Red Light District just to look around, please don’t photograph the sex workers that you see through the windows. Just because they’re sex workers, doesn’t mean you can disrespect them. Not only clicking these photographs is rude but you can get your camera snatched by the cops or pay a hefty fine. Believe it or not, I saw many people who were trying to photograph the prostitutes and were caught by the cops.
05 | Don’t Get in the way of cyclists
One of the first things that you will notice about Amsterdam is its bicycle dominated roads. The city is full of them and the locals love traveling on them. After all, Amsterdam has been declared as the most bicycle friendly city in the world.
However, much to annoyance of the locals, many tourists don’t notice the bike lanes and walk on them. A bike obviously doesn’t move like a car, and it is not easy to stop it instantly within seconds. Please be mindful of bike lanes and stay off them to avoid getting injured.
Here’s something that will make you laugh: there are many who think Dutch bicycles don’t have breaks. It is because when you look at them, you won’t see the hand breaks. In reality, they don’t have traditional hand breaks that are on handles but have pedal breaks.
06 | It can rain anytime in Amsterdam, so be prepared
Not just London, but it can rain anytime in Amsterdam too. Prepare yourself mentally and physically to handle the rain. If you want to be comfortable, don’t forget to carry your rain gear, especially shoes. Carry gumboots or flip flops, or any other rainproof shoes so that your socks don’t get soggy.
If you forget to carry your rain poncho, don’t worry because you will find cheap rain ponchos being sold for 1 – 5 euros in several stores.
07 | Carry a bottle and drink tap water
The Netherlands is one such country where the quality of tap water is regulated and is totally safe to drink it. A water bottle can cost around 2 euros and you can save some money by filling your bottle with tap water. Why waste money on bottled water when you can safely drink tap water?
If you think bottled water is cleaner, let me tell you – it depends on how it is stored and transported. These bottles are made with plastic and if they’re kept in the sun by mistake for a long duration, the water is no longer safe.
Before you proceed, here’s a 10 second long video with a 360 degree view of Amsterdam.
08 | Amsterdam tips for Stoners – Don’t buy drugs on the road
Ok, so you have heard Amsterdam has an open-minded drug use policy and you are visiting this city just to party. I understand, but please don’t buy drugs on the road. Believe it or not, there are cops everywhere and you can get caught. Why buy on the road when you can legally buy and smoke weed (and hash) in coffeeshops? In Bulldog (Amsterdam’s most famous coffeeshop), a gram of weed or hash is sold for around 10 – 12 euros. You can also buy 4 pre rolled splifs for around 16 euros.
As of 2008, you can no longer buy magic mushrooms in Amsterdam but can buy truffles in head shops (or smart shops). Truffles are just like magic mushrooms, except they grow under the earth. There is a herbal version of many things, including MDMA. Just because it is herbal, doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause any damage to your body. Please research well in advance before you decide to experiment here.
09 | Park your car outside Amsterdam
Parking in Amsterdam is expensive and can be as high as 10 euro per hour. If you’re reaching Amsterdam by driving, then you need to park your car outside to save money.
On the highway that leads to Amsterdam, watch out for “P+R” signs because this is where you need to park your car. Parking in P+R spots is usually 1 euro per hour and from here you can easily take public transport to the centre of the city.
10 | Don’t Get Stuck at the Centre. Get out and explore
Amsterdam is more than just coffeeshops, red light district and the center. Many tourists just get stuck in the center and miss the surrounding neighborhoods.
Go visit Jordaan, Noord or Oost – you will be surprised to see how few tourists visit these places. You can easily reach here by hopping on trams, buses and metros where you can use your I Amsterdam city card. Click here for more information about Amsterdam’s neighborhoods.
11 | You will probably get lost
Prepare to get lost because in the beginning, most of the canals in Amsterdam will look similar and you will think you’re walking in circles. Some streets are so narrow that it is very easy to miss a turn. Moreover, if you rent a bike, the traffic can be confusing because there are trams, buses, cars and pedestrians on the road.
I am not sure about you but I really enjoy getting lost in new places. However, it is not so much fun when you get lost right before you need to catch a train (or bus in my case) to get out of Amsterdam. Download an offline version of Amsterdam’s map on Google maps or Maps me, so that you can be aware of where you are.
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12 | Respect the locals and their city
Just because Amsterdam’s city council is open-minded and has legalized many things like marijuana consumption, prostitution, etc., it doesn’t mean that you can take advantage of this. Be a responsible traveler and don’t do more than you can handle.
Don’t get excessively high in public places and please don’t create a scene. Prostitutes are not porn stars, don’t photograph them and share their pictures on social media. Just remember to treat Amsterdam exactly how you would want the visitors to treat YOUR hometown.
13 | Carry your photo ID
No, you don’t just need a photo ID if you’re visiting a coffeeshop or a bar, but even the cops can stop you on the road and ask for an ID. We were told this happens specifically when people look intoxicated or have “red eyes”.
You may just be sleepy but perhaps you look stoned, it is better to keep your ID with you all the time. If you’re worried about losing your passport, then just keep your driver’s license that shows your picture.
14 | Amsterdam has pickpockets, beware
Just like most touristy places, Amsterdam also has pickpockets. Moreover, some of the areas tend to get highly crowded and you may not even notice when someone picks your pockets.
Keep your valuables in your hotel room or hostel locker and carry only the essentials.
15 | Where to stay in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of those places where you need to book a room in advance to avoid shockingly high costs. Believe it or not, my husband once paid 20 euros for just two hours in a hostel, which is usually a nightly cost in hostels all over Europe.
If you’re looking for a budget hotel, try Vivaldi guesthouse near the Heineken experience. I stayed here in 2014 and I enjoyed this place. You can also try the famous Flying Pig Downtown hostel. This same chain has two more – Flying Pig Uptown Hostel and Flying Pig Beach hostel. If you don’t have any budget restrictions, then try NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, which is in Dam square – the center of Amsterdam.
So, are you ready to visit Amsterdam and fall in love with it? If so, let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear abut your experience. If you know anyone that’s heading to this beautiful city, then please share this post about Amsterdam travel tips with them. I’m sure it will help them tremendously and will save their travel costs.
Disclaimer: we collaborated with I Amsterdam for a part of our trip. However, all opinions expressed in this articles are definitely our own.
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