I was 19 years old when I went to Amsterdam the first time and I fell in love with it, from its architecture to it’s open minded culture. When we move to Germany we lived on the border with Holland, so we didn’t hesitate to visit several times.
The city has changed a lot since the first time I had visited and every time I go I learn something new about it. This is the best thing about travelling, always being able to discover new things and having new experiences even though you have been there before.
It’s very important to take cash with you since in the Netherlands they use Maestro cards and many businesses won’t accept Visa or Mastercard. Amsterdam is one of the world capitals and maybe you might not have too many problems with this situation but if you go visit some of the surrounding cities, we recommend you keep this in mind.
If you go in autumn or winter, take an umbrella or a rain jacket in your suitcase also don’t forget waterproof shoes. In the summer the weather is usually quite nice, not cold but not as warm as Spain or Italy, so you can visit the city more relaxed and enjoy the parks better.
SAVING MONEY IN AMSTERDAM
If you want to visit the museums or at least the main ones, buying the “I Amsterdam Card” is essential. Also museum tickets include an infinity of varieties of activities like for example a trip to visit windmills or a boat ride on the canals of Amsterdam.
The card for 24 hours is 65€ and for 48 hours it is for 85€.
Before buying it investigate well the activities that you would like and calculate what would be better buying it for one day or for two. If you buy it for one day, by doing 3 activities it will be already worth it. In the web page you can buy the card and see all the activities that are included.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam is a very small city and from my experience the best way is walking. If you only want to visit the city and see museums you can see it in 3 days. On the other hand, if you want to visit more things like windmills, Utrecht and the Castle of Haar, Edam, Keukenhof and more, with 6 days you’ll do well. It all depends which places you would like to visit.
Despite its fame, renting a bicycle in Amsterdam is not an essential activity, especially in the winter when it’s raining. Like I said before, by walking you can reach most places. On the other hand, if the weather is nice and you have extra days and you want to enjoy more calmly the city, by renting a bicycle you can enjoy the parks better. This is very typical in Netherland when the weather is nice, the parks get filled up. As well I think I should warn you that going around with a bicycle in the city is not always the best choice since there are so many bikers which can make it a bit treacherous.
If you are going to rent a car for travelling around in the country, next to the central train station there is a parking where the price is 20€ for 5 hours up to 24 hours. After travelling all over Netherland, I call tell you that this parking is one of the cheapest I have found and best located.
WHAT TO VISIT IN AMSTERDAM
In the historic center of Amsterdam you can find the train station that is just a few minutes walking from the famous Dam Square. This is one of the most famous and busiest of the city. From here you can set course to the red-light district, to the Jordaan neighborhood or to the Vondelpark.
This is one of the most visited neighborhoods and most beautiful of Amsterdam. Here you will find the most amazing flouting houses of the city and the Ana Frank museum. As well, the Noordermarkt square is indispensable, especially on Saturdays because there is a market with fresh products and organic food. If you like cheese, this is a good opportunity to taste some of the best Dutch delights.
Ana Frank’s House
I visited the house of Anne Frank the first time I was in Amsterdam and it is fascinating. I would have liked to visit again but nowadays getting a ticket is very difficult. 80% of the tickets are sold online and 20% are sold in spots of the city that are sold on the same day from 9 A.M. It is also, not possible to buy them at the entrance of the museum. On its web page, there is more demand than offer. If you are very interested in visiting it, we recommend you buy them online way in advance on their web page because this museum is also not included in the “I Amsterdam card”. The ticket for an adult is for 10,50€, for between the age of 10 and 17 it is 5,50€.
5 minutes walking from Dam Square, you will find Begijnhof, it is an interior garden surrounded by houses in which one of these houses is the oldest wooden house of Amsterdam. These houses were from a Christian Woman’s brotherhood but currently only single woman live there. To visit this garden I recommend you respect not taking photos of the houses and to respect the silence, since they are private property and religious place. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance is free.
Flower Market Bloemenmarkt
In the Netherlands tulips are quintessential and its market is an essential location in Amsterdam. Here you can buy flowers, even their bulbs and different souvenirs. You will find it on the canal of Single, just a few minutes walk from the inner garden Begijnhof. The market opens every day of the week but if you are not fully satisfied with this and love flowers, you should go visit the Keukenhof garden.
The Red District
The red-light district is one of the places that grabs more attention in the city. You won’t find any guided tour that won’t include this visit to this neighborhood because it’s impossible to avoid it. If it’s your first time in Amsterdam, we recommend you visit this place at sunset to see the illuminated windows and try to avoid being there at late hours. Don’t think about taking a picture to the girls in the show windows since it’s prohibited. If you want to do something different you can attend a live show. The most famous show is Casa Rosso and the price is 42€ without a drink, buying it at the entrance is more expensive.
Next to the red-light district you will find Chinatown, it’s one of the oldest parts of the city. In this zone it is full of restaurants, bars and coffeeshops. You will recognize it because some streets have hanging lanterns and because it’s where the Buddhist temple is located. Lose yourself in its streets and let the architecture of their buildings and decorations make you fall in love.
This is the biggest park and most visited of Amsterdam. It is located a few minutes walk from the museums area and in my opinion, an essential place to visit. You can go through on bicycle and it’s a great area to rest or to spend the afternoon if the weather is good. There is a very good environment and there are usually artists singing or playing instruments. If you go in summer, it’s possible that at night there will be concerts.
Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum
If you are a passionate of art and you like cultural tourism, you can’t miss these two museums. They are the most important and best known in the city.
In the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) you will be able to see an impressive collection of Dutch artist. This museum is quite big so if you want to see it completely, you will need several hours.
In the Van Gogh Museum, you will find many of his art collection. Not all of them since some of the pieces of art are changed constantly and lent out to other museums. Definitely a visit well worth the while.
Both of these museums are in the same area and both of them are include in the “I Amsterdam card”. Out of curiosity, here there used to be the famous letters with the name of Amsterdam, but due to the massification of tourism they have remove them.
This museum is found between Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. It is a museum of contemporary art and they have different exhibitions throughout the year. One of the times that I was there, there was an exhibition of Banksy and it was fascinating. Come to see what they have because they could have things that might interest you and it’s also included in the “I Amsterdam card”.
This museum was the oldest beer factory of Hollands best beer and it’s found minutes walking from the museums of before. The experience of this museum has been changed over the years. Is it worth it? No. The most interesting thing to see is the old machinery where they used to produce beer. Years before they used to let you taste the beer in each of its brewing stages, but not anymore. But what you will see are a lot of their commercials and they will give you two beers included in your ticket. This is also included with the “I Amsterdam card”.
10 minutes away from the museums area you will find this square. This is one of the most animated location of the city since there are many bars, restaurants and clubs. If you want to go out to party this is one of the best places in the old area of the town. As a fun anecdote, the first time I went to Amsterdam when I was just 19 years old I felt super short next to the Dutch and I didn’t want to go back. The Dutch are one of the tallest people in the world! After living near this country for over 2 years, I almost got used to it.
The coffeeshops are one of the main attractions for tourist to come visit the city. Due to this, Amsterdam is overcrowded. In the coffeeshops you can buy many different types of marijuana or hashish, even cakes or cookies made with marijuana, but you must consume it on the premises or at your home. However, the consumption of alcohol is not permitted.
For reducing the consumption of soft drugs, Netherland has been changing the law over the past years. It’s only allowed to sell marijuana to residents or in many cases you would have to become a member of the coffeeshop to buy. Nonetheless, this rule does not affect the city of Amsterdam and other cities usually turn a blind eye.
If you want to consume you have to take into account that you have to be over 18 or 21 years old, depending on the establishment and you will always have to have with you an identity card. Also take cash because some coffeeshops do not accept payment with credit cards.
Like marijuana, it is also legal to buy magic mushrooms or hallucinogenic in Netherland. If you want to consume, you have to look for them in smartshops or even in souvenir shops. The coffeeshops can’t sell them. If you can’t find them in the shop ask the employee because it could be that it’s not in plain sight. Like the cannabis, they will offer you a selection of mushrooms and its effects. The price is in between 13€ and 25€ depending on its type.
Visiting this view is an interesting plan to do in Amsterdam. To reach there you will have to get a boat that is free that you can find behind the train station. It may surprise you to see a lot of locals getting on the boat with their bicycles and motorbikes. On the top of this building there is a restaurant and a bar with a 360º look out and if you are not afraid of the views you can get on the swings that dangle from the top floor. This attraction is also included in the “I Amsterdam card”.
The Netherland is also known for the huge amount of churches that they have. There are so many of them that some have been converted into libraries, bookstores, or even clubs.
The most well known in Amsterdam are Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk.
Here you can check the location of all the places mentioned before:
Tours from Amsterdam
If you also want to use this trip to Amsterdam to visit other places here is a list of these places that might interest you:
Castle “De Haar”
Edam and Volendam
Here you can check the location of the tours you can assist from Amsterdam:
Castle "De Haar"
Windmills Zaanse Schans
Conclusions and Budget
Amsterdam is a city that you should visit at least once in your life. Its characteristic architecture and canals make it a unique city. Also, it could be said that the contrasts you see in their streets might make you reflect on the liberty and the restrictions that other countries impose. You might be able to understand that the liberty of consumption of marijuana and the liberty of people doing whatever they want with their bodies in a regulated way, can live together with the lives of people and their religious beliefs.
The Dutch speak perfect English and it doesn’t matter where you go since you shouldn’t have any problems communicating with them. The Dutch are very open minded, and they won’t hesitate to help you if you need it.
Here you can find approximate expenses for two people for 4 days:
- Flights from Madrid to Amsterdam round trip 120€ (per person)
- I Amsterdam Card for 48 hour is 85€ (per person)
- 3 nights hotel is 500€ for 2
- Lunch and dinner and going out in bars is 260€ (per person)
The total is around 715€ per person.
I Hope this information helps you. If you have any doubts don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.
Hope to see you soon!