Amsterdam Travel Tips: Things to Know Before Visiting Amsterdam [+Covid Update]

Amsterdam Travel Tips: Things to Know Before Visiting Amsterdam [+Covid Update]

Traveling to Amsterdam? After visiting 5 times, here are my top Amsterdam travel tips to make your trip hassle free. I will help you plan your trip, I will tell you the best way of traveling in Amsterdam and share the do and don’ts. This post also contains NEW information about the travel situation in Amsterdam during COVID times. I last visited Amsterdam in July 2021.

How can anyone not like Amsterdam? The city is known for its pretty canals, narrow houses, cute bridges, plenty of bicycles, flowers, and an extremely liberal culture.

As per popular culture, is often portrayed as the city that’s gateway to Europe for many 20 and 30 something travelers who start their Euro trips here. That’s actually not entirely true because Amsterdam is for people of all ages.

Yes, Amsterdam is absolutely gorgeous and you will not be able to stop yourself from clicking hundreds of photos while you’re here (ahem, see my Amsterdam Instagram guide).

Amsterdam’s beauty definitely WOWs me, but there’s more. There’s so much to do here that literally every kind of traveler will find something interesting to do while traveling in Amsterdam, that makes it special. My travel style has changed over the years and I had as much fun in Amsterdam in July 2021 as I had in July 2014 even though I am now interested in different things.

There are hundreds of things to do in Amsterdam, that no single travel article can list them all. Wether you’re traveling to Amsterdam alone or with your family, you will surely enjoy your time here.

Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night - Travel Tips for Amsterdam

Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night – Travel Tips to Amsterdam

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 (July 2021) for the fifth time 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 your Amsterdam holidays can end up being super expensive if you don’t research enough.

After my multiple trips to Amsterdam, I have figured out many ways of saving money and time in this amazing city. Based on my experience, I want to share my top travel tips to 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.

Tips for Traveling to Amsterdam

1) Visiting Amsterdam in 2021? I visited during the Corona Times, here’s what I saw

I visited Amsterdam in July 2021 during the lighter phase of the Corona pandemic and it seemed that things were pretty much back to normal except a few things. Thankfully I was able to enjoy Amsterdam’s lovely without the excessive crowds and it was a refreshing change.

Amsterdam Covid Restrictions for travelers – July 2021

Amsterdam Covid Rules for Tourists

  • It is mandatory to wear a mask on public transport in Amsterdam. The mask needs to cover your mouth, nose and chin. So if you’re traveling on tram, metro, bus or ferry, then you can only enter if you’re wear a mask. This extends to also stations – so tram stations, metro stations, bus stops, airports and ferry stops.
  • Maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from others.
  • Cough or sneeze in your elbow (if you must).
  • If you’re in a public spot that’s getting too crowded then leave as soon as you can.

Are Bars Open in Amsterdam?

Yes, they are. I entered Amsterdam at the end of July in 2021 and I was told since 2 weeks the bars are newly opened. Yayy!!

Are Amsterdam’s museums and attractions open?

Yes, as of mid June 2021 almost everything is open. Even the boat tours have reopened. Read more about the museums and attractions in the next point.

View from the Bridge in Amsterdam Flowers Canal Narrow Buildings in Jordaan

View from the Bridge in Amsterdam Flowers Canal Narrow Buildings in Jordaan

2) Mandatory Advance Booking for Museums & Attractions Post Covid

Amsterdam has some of the world’s best museums for not just art but also for cannabis, sex, alcohol, etc. There’s the Rijkmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Ann Frank Haus, the Hermitage – just to name a few. Most of these museums are in the Museumquarter, where Amsterdam Tourism board earlier had an I Amsterdam sign.

The Famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

There are so many museums in this city that a first time visitor can be lost for choice. I also have a post about some of the best museums in Amsterdam.

So are there really long queues outside the museums in Amsterdam? Well, before the corona pandemic yes. As of June 30, 2021, most of Amsterdam’s museums and attractions are open because a majority of the locals are now vaccinated. It  is now mandatory to book a time slot in Amsterdam’s museums and attractions. So even if people queue up, the queues move fast because the slots are prebooked.

It is actually a good thing, it means if you book a slot for yourself in advance then you don’t have to wait and waste time in a long queue. Yes there will be a queue outside popular museums in Rijksmuseum but it moves very fast since the only ones who stand there are the people who book a time slot. 

How do I know this? I was personally there in July 2021. 

If you’re visiting Amsterdam on a weekend then you should try to preplan your visits to attractions and museums as early as you can.

If you’re visiting more than one museum, then it makes sense to get the I Amsterdam City card.  A few years back the tourists could also buy a card that’s just for visiting museums – Museumkaart. However, as per new rules only the Dutch residents can use it. 

3) Rooms are Expensive in Amsterdam (Here’s How to Save Money on Accommodation)

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. As a result, most of the Amsterdam hotels sell out months in advance.

Believe it or not, but a dorm bed that costs EUR 50 during the week, can be as high as EUR 100 during the weekend. In an earlier version of this article, I did say that one should avoid visiting Amsterdam during the weekends but now I change my words, here’s why:

This is what I said earlier – 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.

But after revisiting in July 2021, here’s what I have to say – if you only have time to visit Amsterdam over the weekend, then that’s when you will visit. Yes, rooms are expensive on the weekends but not so much if you book in time.

I did say that the queues are long but things work differently after Covid-19. Post Covid-19, one must book a time slot for almost all the museums and attractions. And when you do that, then there’s hardly any queue and even if there is, it moves very fast.

So, to summarize, here are the tips for saving money on your accommodation in Amsterdam:

  • Find places to stay in that aren’t in the city center. Avoid areas like Dam Square and De Wallen.
  • Try to visit Amsterdam during the weekdays.
  • Look for early bird discount deals.
  • Consider hostels or private rooms in hostels.
  • Park your car in Gasper camping and sleep in a tent.

Oh and by the way, I have two itineraries for Amsterdam. You’re going to love my itinerary to spend 2 perfect days in Amsterdam and a newer itinerary for spending the perfect weekend in Amsterdam. The first itinerary is a little faster faced and the second is more relaxed one. Both of them have the touristy things as well as the offbeat things to do in Amsterdam. These are my self made itinerary and are better than any other Amsterdam itinerary on the internet – I challenge you to find a better one.

Suggested: Places to stay in Amsterdam for EVERY Budget

4) Get an I Amsterdam City Card if You’re Visiting 3+ Attractions

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

I Amsterdam City Card - Amsterdam Travel tips

I Amsterdam City Card – Amsterdam Travel tips

I Amsterdam city card is a blessing and I wish I had it back in 2014 when I first visited this city. It can be used for all of Amsterdam’s public transport PLUS you can enter most of the top museums for free with it. 

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 € 65 euros and a 4-day card is for € 120 euros. This card includes a free entry to most of the top museums in Amsterdam, unlimited use of public transport (trams, buses and metros), free canal cruise, bicycle rental, so many free tours and discounts in many restaurants.Get Your I Amsterdam City Card Here

 

An alternative to the I Amsterdam City card is the GVB card. I will explain the difference here. The I Amsterdam City Card covers it all – transport, museums, bicycle, boat tours, attractions and many other things. A GVB day card on the other hand is only for the transport so get it only if you’re sure you don’t need to visit any attractions.

Amsterdam Public Transport - GVB Day Ticket

Amsterdam Public Transport – GVB Day Ticket

A GVB card can be for one day or a multi day card. It ONLY covers the public transport so it is cheaper. These cards can be used for the metro, trams, buses and ferries. A single day card costs just € 8-10 per person and € 4 for child.

In short: if you’re visiting Amsterdam for the first time for a quick visit and want to visit some the major attractions, this I Amsterdam city card will save you a lot of time and money.  If you’re not planning on visiting any attractions but are only looking for a card for the public transport in Amsterdam, then just get a GVB day card.

In my experience, you should get an I Amsterdam city card, because if you end up even renting a bike or visiting just 1-2 attractions or going on a boat tour, you will spend more money separately. At least when you have the card then you know you can do it all at your own pace. We also suggest you check out this Amsterdam itinerary for 3 days for Indians.

Suggested: Prague Travel Tips – essential things you need to know before visiting

5) Eat at Least ONE Meal in FoodHallen (De Hallen)

Me in De Hallen Amsterdam

You may want to write this down – visit Foodhallen in De Hallen for an epic food experience. 

Most of the first time visitors in Amsterdam get stuck in the centre and eat at one of the overly priced or below average restaurants where as they could be eating an amazing meal in Foodhallen.

Foodhallen is Amsterdam’s gourmet food court where foodies will end up spending hours trying different food and beer. My personal recommendation is Dim Sum Thing and De Ballenbar. Go crazy and try out new things. That’s what this place is all about.

I mention this place in detail in my post about spending a weekend in Amsterdam. Keep in mind that the restaurants and bars in De Hallen close by 10 pm and you will see them start packing up even a few minutes before time.

6) Indonesian, Indian, Japanese: Get a Taste of Amsterdam’s International Food

Amsterdam’s food scene is awesome and it isn’t just limited to the local Dutch food. If you really want to eat like a local in Amsterdam, then you wouldn’t just restrict yourself to Dutch food.

You will be surprised to know that Amsterdam has a large Indonesian population. Why so? Indonesia was a colony of the Netherlands till 1949. Because of this, you can find some amazingly authentic Indonesia restaurants in Amsterdam. 

If you want to try Indonesian food in Amsterdam and aren’t sure about what to order, then get yourself a rijsttafel. A rijsttafel a variety of contains small sized dishes and you get to try a lot of things on just one plate.

Amsterdam also has a lot of Indian restaurants but you know what’s the most desi out of all? There’s a restaurant called Sarvana Bhawan in De Pijp. It is definitely authentic and you will mostly see Indians. I was there, and I’m very Indian.

One of the best things that you can order in Sarvana Bhawan and it is a specility there is a Dosa (it is a super crispy rice pancake kind of a thing), it comes with a variety of chutneys and one bowl of daal. Normally one Dosa is enough for a person but I had two, it was that good.

If you’d like to experience Japanese food in Amsterdam, then head to Taka Japanese Kitchen and order a okonomiyaki. That’s like a Japanese pancake (yes another pancake in this point) and it is super yummy.

7) Amsterdam’s Coffeeshops are not exactly Cafes

A coffeeshop 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.

A pack of Reefers from one of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam

A pack of Reefers from one of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam

I’m sure you know by now that Amsterdam is one of those few places on earth where you can legally buy and consume marijuana for personal use. This happens not on the streets but in coffeeshops where you can see several kinds of weed, hash and edibles being sold per gram or in pre rolled joints.

In case you’d like to experience this part of Amsterdam, and you are too scared to do this alone, then you may want to check out some tours. This way, you can relax and let someone watch over you. 🙂

These below tours are some of the top tours in Amsterdam. I keep updating this list from time to time and only mention the best available tours.

I also have more details, check below for Amsterdam tips for stoners, information about coffee shops and safety while experimenting / buying drugs in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Coffeeshops - Travel Tips for Amsterdam

Amsterdam Coffeeshops – Travel Tips for Amsterdam – Photo by RKLoever [cc0] via Pixabay

Also, if you’re visiting Amsterdam for the first time, then don’t get stuck in one of these coffeeshops for the rest of your day. 🙂 There is more to Amsterdam than weed. Also, the coffeeshops close by 1 am and some even as early as 6. Do keep this in your mind while planning a party night to experience the nightlife in Amsterdam.

8) 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.

Red Light District in Amsterdam - Travel Tips for Amsterdam

Red Light District in Amsterdam – Travel Tips for Amsterdam

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.

Never disrespect the sex workers. 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.

Suggested: 20 Fun Things to do in Hamburg – Germany’s Canal City

If you’d like to explore the infamous Red Light District of Amsterdam, I have handpicked a few tours for you:

Alternatively, you can also visit Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution.

9) Should You Do a Canal Cruise (Boat Tour) in Amsterdam?

Canal View of Amsterdam from the edge of a boat under the bridge

I did a boat tour in Amsterdam during my first visit in 2014 and then one more in 2017. I hated the earlier one but loved the second one.

If you would have asked me before 2017 about doing a boat tour in Amsterdam, I would have said no, it isn’t worth it. But my thoughts have changed since then, and I will explain why.

in 2017, I did a leisurely tour on a small open boat that was privately owned and the experience was spectacular. In comparison, my first canal cruise was on one of those typical semi open boats which you see that are filled with tourists. It had a kind of recording that went on in English and Dutch about which landmark was around us.

The smaller boat took us to all sorts of smaller canals in not so touristy areas in Jordaan and we clicked amazing photos from the edge of the boat. The second canal cruise in Amsterdam was a much better experience and it changed everything for me.

Nevertheless, I must say that canals are an important part of Amsterdam’s landscape and it is interesting to see the city from the perspective of sitting on a boat. It may not always be easy to find a fully open boat for a private tour, unless you’re in a group of 8-10 people. In our case, it was arranged by our place of residence and it worked out perfectly.

One more thing: a fully open boat is much better in every way except when it rains. So make your decision wisely.

10) Don’t Get in the Way of Cyclists, they Rule the City

Amsterdam has more bicycles than people - Info for Traveling to Amsterdam

Amsterdam has more bicycles than people – Info for Traveling to Amsterdam

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. As per the Amsterdam tourism board website, there are more bikes in Amsterdam than permanent residents.

Please note that the bicycle lanes in Amsterdam are usually red. They are all marked with a bicycle icon at every single entry point so that the bike lane can’t be mistaken for a walking lane.

However, much to annoyance of the locals, many tourists don’t notice the bike lanes and walk on them. Many first time visitors also stand in the middle of the bike lanes and click pictures.

You don’t want the cyclist to suddenly brake, just because you’re standing in the middle of the bike lane. This can cause the ones behind to crash into him or her. Please be mindful of bike lanes and stay off them to avoid getting injured.

This happens even more in Amsterdam’s touristy hub – Dam Square. On my recent visit, I was cycling in that area as I was returning back from Amsterdam-Noord, on several turns I encountered travelers with their suitcases trying mistaking the bicycle lanes for sidewalks.

11) Renting a Bike? Tips for Riding a Bicycle in Amsterdam

NDSM Werf on bicycles and admiring street art

San and I exploring NDSM Werf on bicycles and admiring street art

Amsterdam is one of is the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. The best way to enjoy Amsterdam’s awesomeness is by getting on to a bicycle and exploring the city.

Cycle through the parks, on narrow bridges and also get on the ferry to Amsterdam Noord and make the most of your time here. You can see all of Amsterdam’s attractions on two wheels because the city is amazingly bicycle friendly.

 

But wait, how will you get a bicycle? The most obvious answer is rent your own bike. But hey, if you’re traveling to Amsterdam on road from Europe, you can also carry your own bicycle, like we did. We got ours on the train from Germany! It was super convenient because we started cycling in Amsterdam (with our backpacks) as soon as we arrived in Amsterdam.

My number one tip for renting a bicycle in Amsterdam is to take notice of how the breaks work because Dutch bikes are a little different.

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 usual hand breaks. In reality, they don’t have traditional hand breaks that are on handles but have pedal breaks.

Here's me riding my bicycle in Amsterdam - Nieuwendammerdijk

Here’s me riding my own bicycle in Amsterdam with “normal breaks” – Nieuwendammerdijk

In case you’re not used to pedal breaks, then ask for a bicycle with normal breaks. I have seen many tourists falling on the road while cycling because they couldn’t break in time!

Always stay on the bicycle tracks and use your hands to gesture before you turn. Be careful of the tram tracks because if your bicycle tyre gets stuck in one, you will fall on your head. Always lock your bicycle with two locks because there are many thefts.

You don’t really have to carry your own bicycle like we did, but you can book one of the many tours. Booking a bicycle tour can make a lot of sense if you’re a little scared of riding a bicycle alone in Amsterdam and getting completely lost. There are many Amsterdam sightseeing tours on bicycles. Here are some of the tours that we recommend:

It is easier to cycle around Amsterdam-Noord because it isn’t as crowded as the main centre. You can cycle here first if you’re not so confident and come back to the centre on the next day.

12) 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 that can handle rain. Carry gumboots or flip flops, or any other rainproof shoes so that your socks don’t get soggy.

Amsterdam Travel tips - weather in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Travel tips – weather in Amsterdam

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. I normally carry my own rain gear and I can recommend this super tiny yet powerful umbrella that folds to just 12 inches and is easy to carry.

So what to do in Amsterdam when it rains? Visit one of the museums. Here’s a list of some of the top museums in Amsterdam and information about entering them with IAmsterdam card.

13) Pause in Amsterdam’s Parks and Hofje (Hidden Courtyards)

Visit Vondelpark in Amsterdam to beat the crowds

Visit Vondelpark in Amsterdam to beat the crowds

I get it, Amsterdam is a busy city and if you’re a nature lover (like me) then you need to sit on the grass and pause for a few minutes. It is like a quick detox.

Amsterdam has a lot of parks and they are beautifully maintained. The Dutch gardeners and botanists are known all over the world and you will see a proof of that in the parks. If you visit the Museums, then keep in mind that the Vondelpark is right there. I did stay next to the Oostpark and loved it there.

Oh hey, when you’re traveling to Amsterdam then there aren’t just parks, there are Hofjes too. A Hofje is a courtyard and Amsterdam has many historical ones all around the city. Most were built by the wealthy locals in the 17th century. You can read more about Amsterdam’s Hofjes here.

I did enter a few of them without realizing during my earlier visits because I love getting lost. Some of the notable Hofjes in Amsterdam are:

  • Karthuizerhof,
  • Begijnhof,
  • Hofje van De Zeven Keurvorsten
  • Zon’s Hofje 

Wherever you are in Amsterdam, if you want to visit one of the Hofjes, then just open Google maps, type “Hofje” and find the nearest ones. Not all are free but this is something you will figure out on Maps or as you cross them.

Please note, that even though most of the Hofjes are free to enter, you should definitely maintain peace and not overstay.

14) 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. It tastes good too.

Buying bottled water all the time isn’t environmentally friendly. Moreover, 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 AND increase your plastic waste when you can safely drink tap water?

It isn’t just about being “cheap” but about being environmentally friendly.

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.

15) Where to Go in Amsterdam for the Most Epic Photos?

Amsterdam’s Narrow Buildings by the water

It is 2021 and everyone likes to click memorable photos. We all have fancy phones or cameras and we all love posting photos on Instagram, right?

So where to go in Amsterdam for the best photos? I will be a meanie and not tell you the exact locations because I want you to read my latest post and that’s just about Amsterdam’s Instagram spots. Trust me, I found the best photo spots where one can click amazing photos without even a fancy camera, because the locations are lovely.

16) Tipping in Amsterdam

The tipping culture in most of Europe is very different than how it is in the USA. (Or even the UK – but hey, that’s a part of Europe). If you’re an American, then you’re probably used to tipping 10% of the bill amount. Living in Germany, I have realized that most of the people just leave 1-2 euros if they have a nice meal experience. The same is the case in Amsterdam too. 

As per my conversations with the locals in Amsterdam on multiple occasions, I have realized that they’re usually not leaving a tip and if they do, it is 1-2 euros. However, things aren’t as simple as that, because Amsterdam receives many international visitors and has many expats that live here. All these aspects have shaken up the dynamics of tipping in Amsterdam.

Many restaurant workers often receive decent tips by those who aren’t local and they can easily figure out who’s not. They sort of expect a good tip if they know you’re an American or are from the UK. Even then, anything above 10% is unusual.

Essentially tipping is still seen as a sign of gratitude and not an entitlement. So, if you’re particularly happy about your food and service, then by all means tip 10 per cent over and above the bill. A tip that’s between 5 – 10% 

Btw, Here’s an amazing discussion about Amsterdam’s tipping culture that I found on Reddit.

17) 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 most of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam, 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. By the way, if you’re a first time smoker in Amsterdam then I feel it’s my duty to warn you – go SLOW.

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.

18) What are Amsterdam’s Tourist Traps?

Tourist traps – every famous city that’s a tourist hub has them, no matter now lovely the locals are. Amsterdam also has a few of them.

Amsterdam has a lot of fake museums. Some of them are just shops but they claim to be museums. To name a few, there’s the Vodka museum, cheese museum, prostitution museum, tulip museum, etc. Instead, find an actual museum like the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh museum. I have a post about Amsterdam’s museums.

Believe it or not, Amsterdam has a lot of tourist trap restaurants and many are in Leidseplein and Damrak. To get a memorable meal, head to De Pijp, FoodHallen or Noord.

Avoid “Tours and Tickets” shops – they are all over the touristy areas and are very expensive.. Do your research online, book your museums and attractions tickets online or get an I Amsterdam City card

In general, avoid the main squares – Dam, Rembrandtplein and Leidsesplein (especially on the weekend). All these areas are full of overpriced shops, restaurants and fake museums. If it is your first time, sure I understand if you want to photograph these places. I did too, but now I avoid them.

19) Head to HEMA or Waterlooplein or Hortus Botanicus for Souvenirs

You will see a lot of souvenir shops in Dam Square, Dam, Rembrandtplein and Leidsesplein. Souvenirs from the shops in touristy areas are full of small overpriced things. They are mostly same and can get boring after a while.

If you have a thing for fridge magnets, then sure you will find a lot of them here and if you’re looking for something more meaningful then I have a few options for you.

Find something in HEMA – it is actually a famous Dutch chain for everyday life products. You will find useful things here and not just decorative pieces like typical touristy souvenirs. HEMA is known for its good quality, simple timeless style and affordability.

In HEMA you will find colourful clothes, bags, socks and literally everything possible. You will also find food items that you can consume and gift. There are around 20 HEMA stores in Amsterdam so you will definitely find one near you wherever you go.

Apart from HEMA, you can also visit one of Amsterdam’s flea markets like the Waterlooplein Market or the 9 Straatjes (which. I mentioned in my fast paced 2 day Amsterdam itinerary).

The best souvenir that I bought from Amsterdam was from Hortus Botanicus (the Botanical garden). I got a set of three big 3-D butterflies for my daughter and we hung them in her room together. They look like they are actually floating.

20) Park your Car outside Amsterdam [+ Camper van Parking Spots]

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. Look for P+R Zeeburg, P+R Sloterdijk, P+R ArenA or P+R Olympish Stadion. Parking in P+R spots is usually 1 euro per day and from here you can easily take public transport to the centre of the city.

If you’re arriving in Amsterdam on your camper van, then you will be happy to know that there are a bunch of places that are in Amsterdam but a bit outside the city centre where you can stay.

We stayed in Gasper Camping where we parked our campervan next to a river. It is a massive camping and parking area, which is peaceful at night. Gasper camping also has an in house restaurant, bar, super market, snack vending machine, amazing toilets and showers.  

There’s the Gaasperplas Metro station that’s right outside this campground, from where you can take Metro 53 to the main Amsterdam city centre.

Apart from Gasper, there’s also the Camping Zeeburg, one of the highest rated campground in Amsterdam which was full when we visited. [You can read reviews on TripAdvisor about this place here]. 
 

21) Don’t Get Stuck at the Centre. Also, Don’t Miss Noord

There are many places to visit in Amsterdam and the city is more than just coffeeshops, red light district and the center. Many tourists just get stuck in the center and miss the surrounding neighborhoods.

Cycling in Amsterdam-Noord and Windmill D’Admiraal in the background

Cycling in Amsterdam-Noord and Windmill D’Admiraal in the background

Spend a few days in the city’s hipster neighborhood – Amsterdam-Noord and get lost in NDSM. Noord is across the IJ River and is very different as compared to the rest of Amsterdam in every way. I make sure I visit Noord ever single time I’m in Amsterdam and drink a beer (or more) in Pllek.

Go visit the nearby Plantage, De Pijp, Oud West – 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.

For the best of everything, sleep in the east (green, affordable yet close to the centre), eat in De Pijp and party in Noord. You don’t need anything else, except a bit of Jordaan to complete your Amsterdam trip. 

 

22) 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.

It is funny how I get lost everyone. Even with Google Maps, I would sometimes get confused about which direction of the tram I needed to get on to in order to reach my destination in Amsterdam. But hey, that’s fun.

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23) Respect the locals and their city

Amsterdam - Respect the Locals and their city - travel tips

Amsterdam – Respect the Locals and their city – 1681551 (CC0) via Pixabay

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.

24) 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.

25) 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. Consider getting yourself a “pickpocket proof” travel pouch and passport holder.

26) How to Travel from Amsterdam Airport to the City Centre

The Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is the Netherlands‘ top international airport. It is an extremely busy airport and many international airlines run daily flights to Amsterdam that arrive here from all over the world.

This airport also services budget carriers like Easyjet, Eurowings, Vueling, and Transavia run cheap flights to Amsterdam too. Actually, this airport isn’t exactly in Amsterdam, it is in Haarlemmermeer.

To reach Amsterdam’s centre from the Amsterdam Schiphol airport, the most convenient way is by hopping on to a train. The journey is just 20 minutes. You will first have to get to the lower level of the airport and look for NS Dutch Railways.

Inside a Train in Amsterdam - tips for traveling to Amsterdam

Inside a Train in Amsterdam – tips for traveling to Amsterdam

There’s a train every ten minutes to the Amsterdam city centre except between 1 am to 5 am. Between 1 am to 5 am, the trains run every hour. Buy a ticket at one of the yellow vending machines that says “tickets” on top. A ticket will cost you 4.50 euros. 

There is also a bus service from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Museumplein, Rijksmuseum, and Leidseplein. It is called Amsterdam Airport Express and is surprisingly more expensive than the train. The bus costs EUR 6.50 for one way.

 

27) Arriving in Amsterdam by Train or by Bus

Amsterdam Sloterdijk - arriving in Amsterdam on bus

Amsterdam Sloterdijk – arriving in Amsterdam on bus

If you’re reaching in Amsterdam by train, then most likely your train will arrive at Amsterdam Centraal Station, which is in the middle of everything. From here, you can literally walk to everywhere (if you don’t have a lot of luggage). 

Flixbus has the best international bus service within Europe and it arrives in Amsterdam at Sloterdijk station. From there, you can hop on to a train to Amsterdam Centraal which costs just EUR 3.50. Other buses normally arrive in Duivendrecht station.

28) Where to stay in Amsterdam Close to Everything?

Many people would say Dam Square. I disagree. Yes, that’s close to everything but it is also the most crowded area in Amsterdam. If you want to stay in the historical centre, see canals from your window, and be a little away from the most crowded areas but yet within the walk-able distance, pick Jordaan instead. 

If your Amsterdam visit is mostly about the museums, then book a place in the South and close that’s to the Vondelpark. My website also has a post about places to stay in Amsterdam’s different neighborhoods.

I have said this before and I will say it over and over again, Amsterdam is not a cheap travel destination. There aren’t any cheap hotels in Amsterdam, but if you find one then please book it before it sells out. Not just the hotels in Amsterdam, but even the hostels are super expensive.

If you want to save a little money, then why not stay in Noord? It is Amsterdam’s hipster neighborhood with amazing artwork, crazy buildings and a lovely vibe. Don’t worry, you can still take the free ferry from Noord to Amsterdam Centraal, which is where everything is. 

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 friend once paid 20 euros for just two hours in a hostel, which is usually a nightly cost in hostels all over Europe.

Hotels in Amsterdam - Amsterdam Travel Info

Hotels in Amsterdam – Amsterdam Travel Info

If you’re looking for some great options, check out my post about suggested places to stay in Amsterdam for every budget. It also has options for renting a houseboat, tent or caravans.

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 the luxurious NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, which is in Dam square – the center of Amsterdam.

Is Amsterdam Too Touristy?

Yes and no. Amsterdam’s Dam Square and all the area around the centre (Amsterdam Centraal) is extremely touristy and crowded. I’d say 90% of the travelers only stay in this part and don’t even venture out. Honestly, Amsterdam is more than just the Dam Square, Red Light District, museums and Coffeeshops. Get out and check out some amazing places such as the Eastern side (Weesperbuurt en Plantage), Jordaan, Noord, Oud-West, etc.

Is Amsterdam Easy to Walk Around?

Yes it is! You can easily reach from one part of Amsterdam to another by just walking. Just be careful of the cyclists because you will feel as if the city belongs to them. It kind of does.

The bicycle lanes are normally red and at first you may end up mistaking the bike lanes for walking lanes. Check out my Amsterdam Itinerary – it has walking maps that will help you explore this city on foot and take you from one awesome spot to another.

Why is Amsterdam so Popular?

Because it is AWESOME. Haha, well it is a historical city that was once an important port and connected many parts of Europe to other parts of the world.

Amsterdam’s beautiful canals have attracted travelers from all over the world since many years and it continues to do so.

It also has a distinctive art scene, many famous artists were born here or lived here and it has most famous museums in the world. Moreover, it is famous for its free spirited culture where prostitution is legal and one can buy and smoke weed in coffeeshops.

How Safe is Amsterdam Red Light District?

Amsterdam’s Red Light district is extremely safe. Amsterdam city has a very low crime rate and is safe. Yes, there can be pickpockets, so be careful of your belongings. 

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.

Disclosure: we collaborated with the I Amsterdam (Amsterdam city tourism board) for a part of our trip in 2017 and 2021. However, all opinions expressed in this articles are definitely our own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Superbude – the best place to stay in Hamburg, Germany

Superbude – the best place to stay in Hamburg, Germany

A few days back, San and I spent a few days in Hamburg to celebrate my birthday. It turned out to be one of the most interesting cities that we have seen in Europe and our trip was made even more special because of our unique rooms. We stayed in two places while we were in Hamburg – Superbude St Pauli and Superbude St Georg.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you must have noticed that we hardly ever post about hotels or hostels. We’re making an exception to post about Superbude hostel and hotel chain because our experience was like no other. Apart from being awesome, they also offer some of the most affordable private rooms in Hamburg.

So what exactly is Superbude all about? In short, it is a hostel, hotel and lounge with décor that is fun, industrial and has a bit of color. We have stayed in many hostels all over the world and most of them are surely interesting, but Superbude has got to be the coolest hostel that we have ever seen.

Superbude St Georg Hamburg, Germany

Superbude St Georg Hamburg, Germany

No, it not only a place for young travelers but we met many families that were staying in private rooms here. In fact, I cannot think of any kind of traveler that would not enjoy staying in a place like this.

Superbude Location in Hamburg

The area outside Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

The area outside Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Superbude St Pauli

Superbude St Pauli is in Hamburg’s trendiest neighborhood. St. Pauli is artsy, hip and has Hamburg’s best street art. It is the hub of Hamburg’s awesome nightlife. The streets are dotted with cute cafes with tables that are lined up on the sidewalk. St. Pauli is where the Beatles spent most of their time and the “Beatles mania” hit this place first before the rest of the world. 

The location is awesome if you want to explore Hamburg on foot or public transport.   Whether you take a bus or train (U-Bahn), you will not need to walk for more than 3 minutes. Moreover, Superbude St. Pauli is right next to Hamburg’s famous Red Light District – Reeperbahn and Hamburg’s famous nightlife spot – Schanzenviertel.

Superbude St. Georg

Superbude St. Georg is near Hamburg’s Berliner Tor train station, which is a direct airport line. This hostel is also close to the city center and if you walk for 10 minutes, you will reach it. The city center has pretty much all the major historical Hamburg attractions and points of interest.

Superbude St. Georg is also close to Hamburg’s artificial lake Außenalster where you can spend an evening watching the sunset next to the swansThis area also has a few LGBT centric clubs and bars. Personally, I like the St. Pauli area better than St. Georg but I will leave it for you to decide.

Our Private Room at Superbude Hamburg

Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Our rooms in Superbude St. Pauli and Superbude St. Georg were slightly different. They were both furnished in a bizarre fashion and yet were comfortable. The design was unique with things like flip-flop for magazine holder, plungers for coat hangers and newspaper cuttings about Hamburg as wallpaper.

Our private room in Superbude St. Georg, Hamburg

Our private room in Superbude St. Georg, Hamburg

It was good to see a USB charging socket near the bed, a feature that surely many other travelers will appreciate. Our bed was soft and the pillow made us feel as if we were sleeping on a cloud.

The private bathrooms had everything we needed – rain shower, hair dryer, towels, toiletries, etc. Our toilet in Superbude St. Georg had a funny singing fish that we had a lot of fun playing with. Both the bathrooms had a “Moin” soap, which is a typical way Hamburgers greet each other.

Our spacious bathroom in Superbude St. Georg, Hamburg

Our spacious bathroom in Superbude St. Georg, Hamburg

 

Buffet Breakfast at Superbude, Hamburg

My second helping of Breakfast at Superbude, Hamburg

My second helping of Breakfast at Superbude, Hamburg

German breakfasts are awesome and our breakfast at Superbude St Pauli and St Georg was out of the world. We had a variety of fresh fruits, juices, muesli, yogurt, typical German breakfast buns, sauces, cold meat, freshly cut veggies, herbs, salad dressings and coffees.

Muesli bowl with yoghurt, fried bananas, nuts, maple syrup, honey and more

Muesli bowl with yoghurt, fried bananas, nuts, maple syrup, honey and more

As a result, we made our own muesli meal with yoghurt and honey, followed by salad, sandwich, juices and coffee. The highlight of the breakfast was waffles because we could make our own! Yes, we often spent more than an hour eating and enjoying our breakfast

Other Amenities in at Superbude, Hamburg

Travelers often need Internet and one of the best things about Superbude was the availability of workstations in each lounge. We could also print our stuff for free, which really helped us when we had to print our Hamburg card.

Free to use computers and printer at Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Free to use computers and printer at Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

I was happy to see a free water refilling station in the kitchen area along with bits of lemon, orange and mandarin slices that we could put in our water jars.

Both the hostels feature a “take what you fancy fridge”, and an honesty bar which runs on the principle of trustworthiness. As the name suggests, you can take what you want and add it to your bill.

Superbude St. Pauli also features an Astra Rockstar suite, which is the perfect place for 4 – 6 friends to stay. This suite has everything to make a party trip epic – dance floor, massive projector TV, guitar, PlayStation, speakers, stripping pole, 6 beds and what not! We did not stay in the rockstar suite, because we were just two. However, we got an opportunity to check it out when we landed on the wrong floor. We would love to go back to Hamburg to celebrate a special occasion and to stay in this room.

The main lobby of Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

The main lobby of Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Above all of this, the service standards in both the Superbude hotels are exceptional. The staff was always extremely friendly and spoke good English. On many occasions, they helped us with directions and local transport suggestions.

Final Thoughts About Superbude, Hamburg

Rooms in Hamburg are not cheap but Superbude is one of the most affordable places to stay in the city. It is definitely loved by people who stay here and for this reason is very highly rated on TripAdvisor.

Superbude St. Pauli

Read reviews on TripAdvisor 

Compare and find the best prices here

Price range: $80 – $120

Book Now (deals): Booking.com

Superbude St. Georg

Read reviews on TripAdvisor 

Compare and find the best prices here

Price range: $70 – $100

Book Now (deals): Booking.com

Click here to visit Superbude’s official website.

BTW: Our trip to Hamburg was sponsored by Come to Hamburg and our stay at Superbude was complimentary. All opinions expressed in this article are definitely our own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

11 Interesting Things about Hamburg, Germany [that you probably didn’t know]

11 Interesting Things about Hamburg, Germany [that you probably didn’t know]

Hamburg was on my wish list for a long time, mainly because of the name. If you love Hamburgers (like I do), then I’m sure you’ll understand my sentiment here.

A little research told me that this city is painfully pretty and has a lot to offer (apart from just Hamburgers). That’s all the information I needed before I told San that we’re going to Hamburg to celebrate my birthday.

Now that I have officially moved to Germany and have traveled around, I can confidently say that Hamburg is unlike the rest of the country. It’s vibrant, colorful, interesting, livable.. and the party scene is awesome.

There are so many things to do in Hamburg that we hardly spent any time in our quirky private room in Superbude Hostel. Before I publish my travel guide for this city, I feel it’s important for you to know the things that make Hamburg so interesting for me. Here are 11 interesting things you should know about Hamburg:

Interesting Things about Hamburg –

1) The People of Hamburg are Hamburgers

"Ich bin ein Hamburger" - it means I am a Hamburger - Hamburg, Germany

“Ich bin ein Hamburger” – it means I am a Hamburger – Hamburg, Germany

The people of Hamburg are actually called Hamburgers. How awesome is that! I’d love to live in Hamburg just so that I can be a Hamburger. It sounds way cooler than being a Londoner, or a New Yorker or a Delhi-ite. The only thing that comes close to being as cool as this is living in Frankfurt and being a Frankfurter.

 

2) Moin Moin!

"Moin" in Hamburg

“Moin” in Hamburg

Say “Moin” when you’re in Hamburg instead of “Hello” because the Hamburgers “Moin” at each other when they meet. It’s simple and means more than just a simple hello. It literally means, “Have a good day”.

 

3) Hamburg’s Art Scene is Cool AF

Germany has no shortage of artists, especially on the streets but Hamburg is the icing on the cake. Hamburg has some of the most interesting street art that I have seen in Germany.

A typical sight in St Pauli, Hamburg

A typical sight in St Pauli, Hamburg

The graffiti in Hamburg is more than just street art; it’s also about retelling stories about Hamburg’s pirate legends, political and community protests, urban art movements and so much more.

Many Germans say that Hamburg’s street art scene is even better than Berlin’s – but I’ll leave that for you to decide. You can check out my post about Berlin’s street art here and tell me what you think. 

St Pauli Street Art, Hamburg

Apart from graffiti, Hamburg has plenty of interesting stores where you can buy random (but unique) things to put in your room. The city’s art scene gives it it’s unique character that’s lovable.

4) Hamburg’s Buses Have Mini Libraries!

Book lovers will absolutely love traveling in Hamburg’s buses because many of them have bookshelves. To make things better, these buses are very cute and comfy.

The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books

The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books

These mini libraries are on Hamburg’s VHH buses and run on the principle of honesty. If you can’t finish the book, then you can just borrow it when your ride ends and return it back to Stilbruch. It’s the second-hand department store that provides books in these buses.

5) Hamburg has MORE bridges than Amsterdam or Venice COMBINED

Bridges and canals in Hamburg, Germany-001

Bridges and canals in Hamburg, Germany-001

Talking about Europe’s canal cities, Hamburg seldom ever tops the list. It’s usually either Venice or Amsterdam that get all the attention but I was shocked to discover that Hamburg has over 2300 bridges. That’s more bridges than Amsterdam or Venice combined!

As a result, Hamburg has some amazing photo spots. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite Insta spots in Hamburg.

6) Hamburg has the Largest Warehouse District in the World

Speicherstadt - Warehouse district in Hamburg, Germany

Speicherstadt – Warehouse district in Hamburg, Germany

Believe it or not, Hamburg has the largest warehouse district in the world. Here the buildings stand on oak legs and are used as warehouses.

This warehouse area is Speicherstadt and was built in the 1800s as a “free zone” to transfer commodities without paying a custom fee. This warehouse district is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well!

Speicherstadt has many interesting buildings. There’s the highly photographed “Water Castle”, the Speicherstadtrathaus and many other places that I mention in my Hamburg photo spots blog post.

7) The Beatles Kinda Started Their Career Here

John Lennon once said, “I might have been born in Liverpool – but I grew up in Hamburg”. 

You may not know this but I’m a huge fan of the Beatles. I wish I was born in the Beatles’ era and attended their shows. A very big reason why this city was on my wish list the Beatles pretty much began their career in Hamburg.

The Beatles regularly performed in many clubs and bars in Reeperbahn and St. Pauli. This is where the place where the famous “Beatle haircut” originated.

If you’re a Beatles fan like me and want to take your madness to the next level, then you should check out a Beatles tour of Hamburg.

Book your Beatles Themed Tour of Hamburg Now

8) Biggest Red Light District in Europe [and Women Aren’t Allowed unless..]

No, it’s not Amsterdam but it’s Hamburg that has the biggest Red Light District in Europe. The city’s red light district is on a street called Reeperbahn, which is sleazy as fuck.

Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn - Hamburg's Red Light area

Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn – Hamburg’s Red Light area

In German, this street is also called “die sündigste Meile”, which means the most sinful mile. Honestly, the red light district is bigger than just this street because there are many side streets. This entire area is full of brothels, strip clubs, sex shops, and many bars.

Here’s the crazy thing – women aren’t allowed to enter Hamburg’s red light district street UNLESS they work there as prostitutes. How strange is that? I have walked through the red light district of Amsterdam and women were definitely allowed there.

9) World’s Biggest Model Railway

Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland has world’s biggest model railway with detailing that will wow you over. It has more than 1300 trains and over 100,000 vehicles. That’s not it, the numbers keep increasing because more details are added on to the exhibit periodically. 

More than just the model railway, there are landscapes that are so intricately created that you will stare at them for a long time. There are model airports, the alps, Harz mountains, Scandinavian landscapes, and many other interesting things. 

Since it rains in Hamburg pretty often, Miniatur Wunderland is a good place to visit at that time because it is completely indoors.

10) Hamburg is so Hipster that..

Hamburg is so hipster that literally everyone has a man bun (and a beard). Seriously, the city is full of hipsters and you can’t outhipster a Hamburger.

Fake Beard in a store in Hamburg, Germany

Beard here, beard there, beard everywhere in Hamburg, Germany

On a serious note, don’t let my (attempted) joke about man buns and beards confuse you. Being hipster is not about wearing a particular style of clothes but is a way of life.

11) You can party here on a Sunday morning at the fish market

Hamburg’s red light district is massive but it’s not the only thing that attracts visitors. One of the biggest visitor attractions in Hamburg is its fish market (or Der Fischmarkt in German) and it occurs on every Sunday morning from 6 am to 9:30 am.

Der Fischmarkt - Hamburg Fish Market

Der Fischmarkt – Hamburg Fish Market by Uformat [CC0 Public] via Pixabay

Der Fischmarkt is not your typical fish market but it’s a place where the locals and visitors get a little drunk and buy not just fish but also a variety of fruit. The atmosphere is lively and unlike any other fish market in the world. THIS is where they go after their Saturday night party finishes!

Sounds good? You may want to also check out my Hamburg nightlife post.

BONUS: Hamburg’s Beer – Astra Beer

Hamburg's Astra beer

Hamburg’s Astra beer

Hamburg’s local brew is Astra beer and I couldn’t get enough of it. This beer is also called the heart of Hamburg and can be found literally in every single bar. Astra beer posters are one of a kind and I wanted to take them home.

The glass bottles of Astra beer are very cute and kind of remind me of Goa’s King’s beer. Each bottle cap has a little heart that stands for love, life, and parties.

Super Bonus: Hamburg is absolutely GORGEOUS

Hamburg at night looks even better

Just a random spot in Hamburg – gorgeous like other random spots

How can a city not be pretty when it has so many canals, lakes, old architecture and harbor? To make things even better, this city is very green and has many parks. The side streets and old houses are painfully adorable. The city has so much history and you will get a sense of it as you walk around the streets.

Suggested: 20 Amazing Things to do in Hamburg for every kind of traveler

Suggested: Check out this list of things to do in Berlin

Friends around the world – please don’t skip Hamburg when you visit Europe. Start your Euro trip from Germany and let Hamburg be one of your first destinations in Europe.

Have you visited Hamburg already and have a few points to add? Let us know in the comments.

BTW: Our trip to Hamburg was sponsored by Come to Hamburg. All opinions expressed in this article are definitely our own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

Why Visit Lisbon? 11 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon, Portugal

Why Visit Lisbon? 11 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon, Portugal

Ola Lisbon, I am hopelessly in love with you! Can I be yours forever?

There are two kinds of people in this world – those who have never been to Lisbon and those who are in love with Lisbon. I belong to the latter group.

My love affair with Lisbon started in August 2016, when I spent a few days being swept off my feet in this charming city. I revisited Portugal a few years after and realized I am still in love with it. I am not a big fan of metropolitans but Lisbon will always hold a special place in my heart, and that’s why I decided to share my favorite things about the city.

Quick Introduction about Lisbon – Portugal’s Capital City

If you’ve been living in a cave and don’t know about Lisbon, then let me introduce this place to you so that you know what is Lisbon like. Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal.

If you see the map of Europe, you will notice that Lisbon is actually quite close to the African continent. Also, it is one of the Westernmost cities of Europe. (The actual westernmost point of Europe is Cabo da Roca in Portugal)

The locals call is Lisboa, Lisbon city is built on seven hills, so expect many stunning viewpoints here. There are white buildings that are intricately decorated with tiles and charming narrow alleys. As if the above wasn’t all, there’s more – this stunning city faces the Atlantic Ocean so if you visit, be sure to enjoy Lisbon’s beaches too!

Check Car Rental Prices in Portugal

Lisbon is unlike any other European city in so many different ways and even more so in terms of weather. Lisbon is warm and comfortable, lively and colorful, fun and happy. It is a city where I can see myself living too.

If you are on this web page, then most likely you are considering traveling to Lisbon and wondering if Portugal is worth visiting? I’d say Hell Yeah – in fact  why just visit Lisbon, if you’re there then take some time out to travel further and explore Portugal’s old towns and coastal areas (like Algarve).

There are so many more interesting things about Lisbon that you should know. As per Condé Nast Traveler, Lisbon is the most underrated city in Europe because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Anyway, here is why I fell in love with Lisbon, and you will too:

Here’s Why You Should Visit Lisbon, Portugal

1) Everything is Beautiful in Lisbon, even the dustbins

View of old town Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal

Just a random corner in Lisbon with an amazing view – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Believe it or not, every spot in Lisbon is worth a picture. From metro stations to cobbled streets, everything is a delight to the eye. You will find viewpoints after viewpoints and historical landmarks. The city has a lot of history, which is evident in pretty much every corner here.

Most of the buildings look very old, well kept and loved. Not just walls, but also ceilings are adorned with patterns of beautifully painted ceramic tiles called azulejos. By the way, the azulejos are one of the many things that Portugal is famous for. Of course, the city has many museums but in my opinion, the entire city of Lisbon is like one big museum in itself. 

Check out this guide for spending one day in Lisbon.

Suggested: Achill Island, Ireland – the coolest Island in Europe with mind-blowing viewpoints 

 

2) Lisbon’s Weather is Sunny and Warm

Me enjoying Lisbon's warm weather - Falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Me enjoying Lisbon’s warm weather – Falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

No matter how beautiful a place is, but a visit when the weather is bad can limit your options. I have traveled to many places in Europe and there have been days when I couldn’t explore as much as I wanted because of too much rain.

Lisbon is one of the very few destinations in Europe and the world where the weather is pleasant throughout the year. In fact, Visit Lisboa introduces this city as “where the sun shines 290 days a year”, which was an important factor for me to enjoy its beauty. 

Yes, Lisbon is the Sunshine capital of Europe. After traveling around for a few months in Europe, I finally got a chance to comfortably wear flip-flops and shorts without a worry in Lisbon’s warm weather. By the way, be sure to check out these amazing places to visit near Lisbon where you can make a day trip and enjoy Portugal’s sunny weather.

3) Lisbon Has a Happy Vibe

Just some happy people in Lisbon - in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Just some happy people in Lisbon – in love with Lisbon, Portugal

There are many reasons why I love Lisbon but one of the first ones that hit me was how happy everyone around me was.

It started at the the Aeroporto da Portela (that’s the name of Lisbon’s airport) where I met world’s most cheerful immigration officer who made us smile. As soon as we got out, a smiling local helped us with Metropolitano de Lisboa, the internal rail.

Perhaps it was the warm weather but Lisbon is where I met the happiest people in Europe, if not the world! Their smiles were contagious and I felt happier than I had felt in the last few months of traveling while I was here. So if you’re nursing a broken heart, or are generally felling sad then visiting Lisbon will surely lift your spirits up. 

If you’re traveling to this lovely city for a short time, be sure to check out this amazing guide that will tell you how to spend 72 hours in Lisbon. Alternatively, you can also check out this post which will tell you what to do in Lisbon in 3 days.

Suggested: Amsterdam Travel Tips to help you save money 

 

4) Public Transport is Adorable, especially Tram 28

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal - falling in love with Lisbon

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal – falling in love with Lisbon

It is very easy to get around in Lisbon because of its network of metro trains and trams. Yes, these metro trains and trams are beautiful but are very convenient too! My favorite is the iconic bright yellow Tram 28, which goes through Lisbon’s old towns of Alfama, Graça, and Baixa.

You can use tram 28 as a cheap hop on, hop off alternative because it moves through the city’s famous and interesting sites. Even though this tram is usually very crowded with tourists, a ride on it is worth it.

Most likely you won’t get a seat on Tram 28 during the peak vacation months but don’t worry, traveling in Lisbon is super simple by metro or buses. Use Google Maps and select the public transport option. Rent a cycle or walk around, or even catch a ferry. By the way, check out this post for ways to explore Lisbon for free.

5) Lisbon’s Pretty Streets + Street Art

One of the many pretty streets in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

One of the many pretty streets in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Of course, I have mentioned how beautiful Lisbon is in the first point, but I feel the streets deserve an extra mention. Even if you don’t go to the famous landmarks in Lisbon, walking down its pretty streets is sure to win your heart.

For me, the most enjoyable part of being in Lisbon was exploring these streets that were lined with pretty buildings and roadside cafes with chairs on the pavements.

Lisbon Street Art - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Street Art – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

A lot of streets in Lisbon are hilly because of which you can see the view of many other streets that are further up ahead. Also, Lisbon’s streets have a cobbled floor, which gives the city a very weathered down and old look. If things couldn’t get better, there’s street art everywhere! Some of the artwork and murals were so big that they stretched to the entire lengths of buildings.

Suggested: Hamburg – Germany’s Hipster City with Lovely Canals and a Vibrant Party Scene 

 

6) Old Town Alfama is Seriously Stunning

A beautiful street Old town Alfama in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

A beautiful street Old town Alfama in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re wondering what is Lisbon known for, then this point is the answer. There are many things to do in Lisbon but no travel article about this city is complete without mentioning Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. With Tejo River on one side and São Jorge Castle on the other, Alfama is the icing on the cake of Lisbon’s beauty. You don’t really need a city guide for Lisbon or research about where to go, just visit Alfama.

Here you will some of Lisbon’s most beautiful streets, museums and cathedrals. In earlier times, mostly the fishermen and Lisbon’s poorest families lived here, which is evident in the small houses here. Oh and also, Lisbon Cathedral, which is the city’s oldest church, is in Alfama.

7) Lisbon Has Many Spectacular Viewpoints

View of Lisbon from Christo Rei - Falling in love with Lison, Portugal

View of Lisbon from Christo Rei – Falling in love with Lison, Portugal

Do you remember me mentioning that Lisbon is built on seven hills? The fact that Lisbon is a hilly city, adds another dimension to the beauty and charm of the city because these hills provide extraordinary viewpoints. These viewpoints and the atmosphere truly make Lisbon one of the best cities to visit in Portugal.

I found many viewpoints here but my favorite one was on top of Cristo Rei, which overlooks Lisbon’s red-roofed houses, sea, and the famous Vasco de Gama Bridge. Another interesting viewpoint was from Castle of São Jorge, which overlooks the old town of Alfama.

I do mention a few other viewpoints in my Lisbon itinerary post along with map coordinates.

8) Lisbon is Full of Color

Colors of Old Town Alfama - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Colors of Old Town Alfama – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal – photo by skitterphoto

I will be honest; Lisbon appeared to be mostly red and white at first glance because of the houses. However, as I explored the city further, it turned out to be one of the most vibrant European cities because of the brightly colored tiles, street art, and trams. Many houses and buildings are painted in pastel shades of yellow or blue and a few of them in pink. These pastel tones are soothing to the eye in Lisbon’s warm weather and accentuate the happy vibe of this city.

 

9) Lisbon’s Egg tarts (Pastel de nata) are Legendary (YUM)

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

“If you go to Lisbon, do eat the egg tarts”.

What is Lisbon known for? Definitely this delicious snack.

As soon as we announced our Lisbon trip on social media, not one, but at least 10 different people suggested we try the famous egg tarts here. I’m glad they did because these little mildly sweet pastries are heavenly! Eating these custard and egg tarts was one of my my favorite things to do in Lisbon.

These custard tarts are sold literally everywhere for usually €1 or €2 and are perfect for a light breakfast with coffee.

Little did I know that these egg tarts that are locally called Pastel de nata, have a little history of their own! Catholic Monks created them before the 18th century using the leftover egg yolks. While a lot of monasteries closed down after the Liberal Revolution in 1820, the monks for a little income sold these. A few years later, the secret recipe was sold to a sugar refinery, that in turn opened the famous Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém which still exists in Lisbon today.

10) Lisbon has an Amazing Nightlife

If things couldn’t get better, Lisbon has an amazing nightlife. During my visit here, I visited Bairro Alto district, where there was a nightclub after every few steps.

It’s amazing meeting locals as well as other travelers in these clubs where there is a party every day. I may not have a picture of this, but it was enough to make me fall in love with Lisbon even more.

11) Lisbon is Surprisingly Affordable

Traveling in Europe is expensive but Lisbon is an exception. In my experience, the accommodation was affordable as compared to other cities in Europe. This is a big deal because accommodation cost is a huge chunk of traveling cost. We found a few bakeries and cafes where snacks were as low as 1 or 2 Euros.

This kebab burger was only for a euro and a half - Lisbon, Portugal

This kebab burger was only for a euro and a half – Lisbon, Portugal

This little burger styled chicken kebab sandwich was for 1.5 Euro. Moreover, we often found shops that were owned by Indian, Nepalese and Chinese families that were selling everyday things for as cheap as 1 Euro. I bought a pair of flip-flops, headlight and hand fan in one of these one Euro shops.

History, culture, food, art, beaches and nightlife – Lisbon has it all. The city has so much beauty, love, and happiness that I just did not want to leave. I’d love to go back, especially these top photo spots in Lisbon.

Want to know more?

I will also share a guide with things to do in Lisbon, which will come in handy if you’re visiting my favorite European destination anytime soon.

So, are you ready to fall in love with Lisbon?

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

Explore Almería (Spain) Like a Local

Explore Almería (Spain) Like a Local

Explore Almería (Spain) Like a Local

This guest post about Almería, Spain has been written by Sonja Thomson as a part of “Explore Like a Local” series. It’s where many scenes of Game of Thrones season 6 were shot for Dorne & Dothraki Sea! Explore Like a Local is an initiative by Drifter Planet to help you get insider tips about destinations all over the world. Want to write about your hometown? Contact me!

Introducing Almería, Spain

The statue of San Cristóbal, The Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

The statue of San Cristóbal, The Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

Almería is in the South East corner of Spain, and it’s a city than can be forgotten amongst the abundance of places to see in Andalusia. It has way too much to see to be at the bottom of the list though. The Alcazaba, an ancient fortress, watches over the winding streets of the old town, and there are countless restaurants to enjoy proper tapas in the sun.

 

Playa Zapillo – Beach in Almería, Spain

Playa Zapillo – Beach in Almería, Spain

The city itself has a beach, but if you have the time and means to get out of town, then you can explore the gorgeous bays in Cabo de Gata National Park, or take in the other worldly landscape of the Tabernas Desert, the only one in Europe and the location of countless film sets since the 1960s. A little further away (4-5 hours drive) is Valencia, another famous beach destination in Spain. Check this post for information about what to do in Valencia.

Suggested: Italy Tour Packages

Where to stay in Almería on a budget

View from the Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

View from the Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

There are more private rooms and hotels to be found around the city, rather than dorm room hostels. Living in Almería is fairly cheap, and my friend and I can afford a 3 bedroom house for the two of us so we have friends and family stay with us. It means many people have spare rooms they let out too, so Airbnb is great option, or couchsurfing!

Things to do in Almería

Charming Almería, Spain

Charming Almería, Spain

The obvious things to visit in Almería are the Alcazaba, the Cathedral and the beach. My favorite thing to do is find a great cafe or bar and relax and chat with friends. No one’s in a rush in Spain, and they don’t mind if you send hours sitting there! You can check out my top ten things to do in Almería for more ideas.

Cabo de Gata Beach, Spain

Cabo de Gata Beach, Spain

For something a bit different, under the streets of Almería there are tunnels and rooms that were built to shelter the residents in the Spanish Civil war. In the late 1930s the city of Almería was subject to a number of bombings. Now you can visit part of these tunnels on a small tour. Although the tour is only in Spanish, it’s worth reading up on beforehand and experiencing anyway. Plus it’s only €3! Just be sure to book in advance.

What to eat in Almería (and Where)

In southern Spain you can’t really go past the tapas. I hardly ever eat a full meal out, because the tapas here come free with your drink and you can choose extras for a cheaper price than a full meal! The beauty of tapas in Almería is that you choose from a list, unlike in some other cities where you get what you’re given. Since Almería is near the sea there are a lot of fresh seafood options, and the Jamon Iberico (ham) is really delicious too.

Delicious Tapas at La Consentida, Almería, Spain

Delicious Tapas at La Consentida, Almería, Spain

My favourite places are Cyrano, La Mala, and El Vino en un Barco, which are all located within the central city. They all serve great tapas with great service. Cyrano is more of a European style cafe with meals, some fusion style tapas and delicious cakes. They also have Jazz and movie evenings.

La Mala is a funky small corner bar with some of my favorite tapas in Almería with different flavors and a bit of spice, something hard to find in Spain! Their specialty is all kinds of tortillas and if you order of the menu you can also sit in the upstairs space.

Food market in Almería, Spain

Food market in Almería, Spain

El Vino en un Barco has more traditional meat and cheese tapas with a few other tempting options like an apple empanada, or falafel tapa. They also have amazing carrot cake and an extensive cocktail list. Ask for something not on the list and the staff are happy to make it up for you!

One thing to remember in Spain is that eating times differ from what many of us are used to. Lunch is usually a late affair around 2-4 pm, and then kitchens close before opening again from around 8.30 pm.

What NOT to do in Almería

There’s not really anything to avoid here, it’s all up to personal preference! Some areas of the city are not as nice as others, but it’s a small city and you don’t need to be as hyper aware of your belongings as in Madrid and Barcelona.

The main thing to be aware of is siesta time. Many stores close between 2 and 5 or sometimes even 6 pm. In the summer it’s so hot at this time you’ll probably want to take a siesta too, but if you have plans it’s best to check the opening times of the places you want to go so you’re not disappointed!

Best way to get around in Almería

All of the main sites in Almería city are within walking distance which makes things very easy. I’d recommend staying in the central city for closer dining and shopping options, although the beach isn’t far and has some lovely restaurants along the promenade. If you’re not up to walking, taking a cab between top sites is very cheap, around 5 Euros.

To get out of Almería to the Tabernas or Cabo de Gata it’s best to hire a car from the bus station or airport. It’s not too expensive and usually at least one company will have a deal on. There’s so much to see within a couple of hours of the city that you can go out for a day and return, or spend a few days driving around Almería province.

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Cabo de Gata Beach, Almería, Spain - Explore Like a Local
Explore Almería, Spain Like a Local
Delicious Tapas at La Consentida, Almería, Spain - Explore Like a Local

Sonja is a perpetual expat who has lived in numerous countries including the US, Canada, UK, Australia and has based herself in Spain since January 2016. Originally from New Zealand, but with many “second homes”, she blogs about her adventures, experiences, and misadventures while travelling and living abroad.

Follow her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Sonja

Travel Blogger, Migrating Miss

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