When traveling for the first time to the new place, you probably feel excited, but also nervous how your trip would be like. To make your trip as smooth as possible, it would be nice to know some information beforehand. Amsterdam is a great city to visit with a lot to offer. It offers a great choice of activities and great infrastructure. However, it is an expensive city and careful planning would be essential before travel. This is my essential travel guide for making the most out of your stay in Amsterdam and probably save you some time and budget.
Travel from Schiphol to Amsterdam Central
Once you arrive to Schiphol airport you need to decide how to get to Amsterdam. I would recommend taking a train since it only takes about 15 min to get to the heart of Amsterdam. The station is situated right under the airport. Next to the arrival hall you will find several yellow machines to buy your train ticket. English is available! By using the machines you will save your time as the lines .
Tip 1: Buy your ticket in advance from the Dutch railways website and print your ticket, or use NS app to get your digital ticket. This will not only save you time, but also save you 1 euro per ticket.
Tip2: You can purchase Amsterdam Travel Ticket, a combination ticket of train (includes only trains from Schiphol airport to other Amsterdam stations) and unlimited transportation run by GVB in Amsterdam. You can buy this all-in-one ticket at the airport. You can choose from 1, 2 or 3-day ticket.
If you have purchased the Amsterdam Travel Ticket you are all set. However, if you have not and would like to use a tram, metro or bus in Amsterdam, you would need to buy a 1-hour travel card. If you are planning to travel by these transportation means often, then 1-day or multi-day. Tickets are also available at the machines, for example, at Amsterdam Central Station or at a driver of a tram or a bus. Note: Only credit cards are accepted on trams and buses. To use your ticket you will need to activate your GVB ticket at the first bus, metro or tram.
Tip: Kids up to 4 years travel for free. Kids from 4 to 11 years can use unlimited 24-hour ticket for a bus, metro or tram at a discounted rate.
Biking is what makes Amsterdam so special. Locals bike everywhere and at any weather conditions. Biking can indeed save you time and money when getting around. It also gives you a possibility to discover off-beaten-track places easily. However, biking in Amsterdam for the first time can be challenging. I would recommend to choose biking if you are a confident biker or you adapt to different conditions easily. Biking in Amsterdan can become one of your best or worst experiences. Typical Dutch bikes normally only have pedal breaks. Bikes with hand breaks are also usually available at a bike’s rental. Dutch cargo bikes can be useful if you would like to bike together with your kids. You can find them at some bike rentals shops. Finally, if you have decided to bike in Amsterdam, learning some biking rules would be handy.
Amsterdam museums and I amsterdam card
The Netherlands and Amsterdam are just known about their great museums. If you are planning on visiting some or many museums, it might be worth investing in an I amsterdam card. The card does not only give you access to many of museums in Amsterdam. Moreover, with I amsterdam card would you give unlimited public transportation within Amsterdam on the day you decide to use the card. As a bonus, you will get a free Amsterdam canal tour of 1 hour. I amsterdam card is limited to certain number of hours – 24, 48 and up 120. Your counting of hours stars at the moment of the card’s validation. You can order your card online and pick it up or buy it in one of the locations. Note that museums like Van Gogh museum require a booking of a time slot with a ticket in advance. This happens at few other places, such as at a special exhibition at Rijksmuseum or Heineken experience. Anna’s Frank house visit should be planned long time in advance (about 2 months in advance). Only online tickets are available for this museum.
Tip 1: Admission to many of the museums for kids is free. Check according to a museum
Ti 2: You might be able to buy an online ticket to Anna’s Frank house on the same day of desired visit you may still be able to get a ticket. Check at 09:00 am of the day you would like to visit the museum.
Tip3 : If you are planning on staying in Amsterdam for a while, a yearly Museum Card would be probably your best choice. It provides a free access to most of the Dutch museums all over the Netherlands.
In case you encounter some health issues during your stay in Amsterdam or need to renew get your medication from a home country, you have few options. A newly offered service Hotel Doc could be one of the options in case you need medical help if you cannot travel to a doctor’s office or outside regulars doctor’s working hours. Hotel Doc will be able to provide an on-site primary help to travelers without Dutch insurance in a hotel room or an airbnb apartment 24/7. You will be able to get an invoice and reimbursed in your home country (if you have a travel insurance, for example). The other option would be Expat Medical service or Central Doctors. Located in Y hall next to the cyclist pad at Amsterdam Central station, they offer medical help to locals and travelers. Their staff is internationally oriented and a pharmacy is provided. Their working hours are longer than of a usual doctor, including weekends.
Albert Cuyp market
One of the things I love doing in my free time and I would recommend doing in Amsterdam is strolling around its markets. Definitely, one of a kind outdoor of Amsterdam is Alber Cuypmarket. Located in a vibrant Pijp neighborhood it offers a great street food scene. Another market I hear since the student days is the Waterlooplein market. Combination of food, souvenir, but mostly vintage clothing and antiques. You can certainly find there treasures. Saturday is good day to wander around the three markets (Organic Farmers market, Lindmarkt, Noordermarket), situated around the beautiful Noorderkerk (Nothern Church) in Jordaan neighborhood. Visit Organic Farmers market for fresh produce from the local farmers, Lindnmarket offers diverse food produce from local cheese producers to Italian and Greek food stalls. Noordermarkt specializes in antiques, vintage clothing etc. (also opened on Monday).
Quick and budget lunch options
What is Amsterdam is still missing is a variety of budget and tasty lunch options. Most of the times people would prefer eating something quick during the day and making a reservation at a restaurant in the evening. The two of my favorite places to grab a quick lunch are located in Chinese district of Amsterdam and are not Chinese. Vet on Zeedijk is small shop specializing in tasty sandwiches. Further down the street there is a Dutch fish shop Amsterdamsche Vischhandel where you can taste a sandwich with Dutch herring to kibbeling (fried cod). Other seafood options are possible. A little bit further away towards the Dam Square, on Spuistraat you will find an Italian sandwich and take-away place Caldi e freddi. First, you can have there a delicious vegetarian or non-vegetarian Italian style sandwich, but secondly you can take away any of the ready meals and desserts they offer. Eetsalon Van Dobben on Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat is a must-visit for trying traditional Dutch meatballs and croquet.
Convenience store and supermarkets
Once in a new city, you might need to buy practical things like a shampoos, douche gel, cream or some regular over-the-counter medicine. Kruidvat and Etos are Dutch convenience store chains situated all over the city. The staff speaks good English and you can ask them for any advice. Hema is another place where you can find useful things as gloves, rain coats, umbrellas, some beauty products and much more. Local grocery store are Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Dirk. Albert Heijn behind the Dam Square offers not only snacks, drinks and food, but also you can find there a great selection of Dutch cheese, stroopwaffles (Dutch think waffles) and some other edible souvenirs offered at a better price than in a typical tourist shop.
These were one of the most essential things you would be needing when you visit Amsterdam for the first time. I hope this Amsterdam travel guide will be useful to make your stay as smooth as possible. I will be sharing more articles about Amsterdam soon in my blog, so stay tuned.