Ultimate Travel Guide to the Best of Amsterdam

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Best of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A wealth of Golden Age canals, uncountable bridges, treasure filled museums, vintage-packed shops, hyper-creative drinking scenes and historical sites is the backdrop to this romantic and liberal city of Amsterdam.”

Whilst we work hard to provide accurate and the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.

Quick facts on Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam on world map
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52° 22′ 40.6416” N and 4° 53′ 49.4520” E
Amsterdam flag
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Amsterdam flag
Amsterdam Coat of Arms
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Amsterdam Coat of Arms

City: Capital of Netherlands

Population: 1,149,000

Mayor: Femke Halsema (since 2018)

Zone: Central European Time Zone | Central European Summer Time

Elevation: -2m (-7ft) – Dam Square

Nearest Airport: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)

Train Station: Amsterdam Centraal Station

Travel advice Netherlands

Travelling from UK to Netherlands

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital city of Netherlands. The city was founded as a small fishing village at the mouth of River Amstel in the late 12th century. Its name comes from the creation of dams in the River Amstel to control flooding, known in Dutch as ‘Amstelredam’ which literally means ‘Dam in the Amstel’. Amsterdam was one of the most important ports in the world during the 17th century, the Golden Age era.

Canals of Amsterdam

The Canals of Amsterdam were born during this Golden Age and further canals were built in the 19th and early 20th century. The network of canals is now home to some ninety ‘islands’, fifteen hundred bridges and viaducts. The 17th century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht are protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hundreds of houseboats that line the canals continues to be one of the city’s main attraction – literally one of the best of Amsterdam.

City’s landscape

The city’s landscape is flat, low-lying with some parts of the city being below sea-level, on land reclaimed from the sea or from marshes or lakes. Amsterdam sits on IJsselmeer, a fresh water lake connected by canal with the North Sea. The Amstel River flows through the city, from south to north, toward the IJ.

Popular destination

Amsterdam is a popular tourist attraction primarily for its historical attractions, collections of great art, and the distinctive flavours of the old architecture in Old Amsterdam which have been so well preserved.

However, Amsterdam is a crowded metropolis that is over seven hundred years old. Some may easily describe the city as a living museum of a bygone age while praising the beauty of centuries-old canal, the preserved ancient architecture and the atmosphere of freedom. Having said that, the best of Amsterdam’s warm character is best reflected in the narrow bustling streets of the old town where much of the Amsterdammers go about their business. It is here that you will find reminders of the city’s glorious past, gabled houses, richly decorated cornices, towers and churches amidst the sounds of barrel organs and carillons.

So, keep reading and discover the Best of Amsterdam…

Best of Amsterdam in Urban Amsterdam

Amsterdam Urban
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The capital of Netherlands is diverse, multifaceted, cosmopolitan hub with free spirited atmosphere, opulence of museums and aesthetically unusual architecture that complements the low-lying canal landscape. Its open skyline, rich history, laced with atmospheric narrow-lanes, beckons a visit to a hidden garden, a boutique selling Dutch designed witty fashion, a flower stall filled with tulips in a rainbow of hues or a niche dining experience. Exploring urban Amsterdam is an experience that must be had than read.

Art in Best of Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
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Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The treasure-trove of museums are aplenty in this historic city and you can’t walk very far without bumping into one. The Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of the infamous artist, Vincent, while a couple of blocks away is the glorious Rijksmuseum, home to Vermeers, Rembrandts and other Golden Age treasures.

The ‘here-and-now’ kind of experience in Amsterdam | Best of Amsterdam

Amsterdam exudes an air of freedom, the easy-going culture where no eye-brows are raised or your actions frowned upon.

Popularly known as the city of sin in Europe where you could buy everything ‘weed’ in its many ‘coffee shops’ to legalised prostitution in the Red Light District where some sex brothels are owned by prostitutes themselves. Some say it is a city of freedom, that by being liberal, one is allowed to experience what you could not otherwise do – allowing you the ‘here-and-now’ experience.

Although, there are other urban areas across the world that caters for various vices as well – may it be legal or illegal activities that are tolerated such as in Berlin , Germany for its notorious nightclubs and Tijuana, Mexico where tequila, sex and marijuana is the best description for this Mexican city, but in Amsterdam, it is different. It all seems weaved into its rich culture of traditions and acceptance.

Recommended read: 48 hours in Amsterdam

Best Things to do in Amsterdam

Spring/early summer in Amsterdam
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Early Summer in Amsterdam

There are a myriad of things to do in Amsterdam where you will be planning your next visit before you leave! From the must visit highlights to discovering the hidden secrets through tiny gates between medieval houses, from the many parks around the city to the world renowned museums and canal belt…really, you will have so much to see, do and experience that you will not be bored in this relatively small, compact and liberal city.

Read: Unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam

Places to Stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Amstel Hotel
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Amstel Hotel | Amsterdam

A modern, cosmopolitan city and one of the most visited cultural cities in the world, Amsterdam has no end to its accommodation options. From cheap and cheerful hostels to quirky, unique and exceptional listings – there is one to suit every budget. However, the city truly shines through its high-end top hotels with grand opulence and luxury with reasonable pricing. For a selection of the very best in Amsterdam hotels, take a look at Beautiful places to Stay in Amsterdam before you book elsewhere.

Money in Amsterdam

bank notes - Euro
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Bank notes – Euro

The Netherlands is part of the European Union and has been from the very start. The single currency throughout the EU is the Euro (€). As a Member state of the European Union, Netherlands’ currency is the Euro. This is a great advantage if you are also visiting neighbouring countries in Europe where Euro is accepted.

Cash and Card are widely accepted in Amsterdam and you will have no problems using Visa and Mastercard. Some places do not accept American Express, so best to check prior to travel. ATMs are also widely available throughout the city.


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Transport in Amsterdam

Amsterdam bike
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The best of Amsterdam awaits those who can pedal! A two-wheeler is the most popular mode of transport here. In fact, it is the way of life of the Amsterdammers – they go to work, go shopping, or go for dinner. There are many bike-hire shops where you could hire one for a self-guided exploration or you could join a guided bike-tour of the city. When not on a bike, the boat is the best alternative for the locals and tourists alike. You could hop onboard a canal boat, or the free ferries from behind Centraal Station, or better still, hire your own boat and go for a spin on Amsterdam’s historic canals.

Amsterdam Tram
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Amsterdam Tram

Alternatively, hop onto the Amsterdam Tram when you need to or explore this compact city easily on foot.

Whichever mode you use to explore, do remember to purchase your great value for money I Amsterdam city card – includes free rides and discounts to some museums and attractions.

Best time to visit Amsterdam for the Best of Amsterdam

Keukenhof.tulip.amsterdam
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Tulips in Keukenhof Amsterdam

The weather in Netherlands is generally mild throughout the year though with regular rainfall which means Amsterdam is a city that has no extremes in weather conditions. Perfect for all-year-round visits, Amsterdam begins to come alive in spring.

March through to May sees the city come to bloom with rainbows of hues, while cafes and restaurants begin seating outdoors and in the terraces. The flower markets are in full swing at this time as are the tulip fields which makes for perfect day trips from Amsterdam. March through to May are the best time to visit Amsterdam.

Amsterdam sees the highest in temperatures during the summer months of July and August when there is also a surge in tourists exploring the city. This is also the time of year when the best in accommodations are sold out or you may pay a premium for stays that would not cost so much during spring or fall. If you like crowd, then this is the best time for you, but plan ahead to secure your place to stay, day trips from Amsterdam and city tours.

September through to November are also a cool time to visit this awesome city. With the crowds out of the way, the city begins to settle to a calmer pace of life before the next buzz in activities – Christmas markets which Amsterdam is famous for.

How to get to Amsterdam to experience the Best of Amsterdam

Travel to Amsterdam to experience the best of Amsterdam has never been easier. Whether you are travelling from within the continent or beyond oceans, Amsterdam is well connected by road, rail and air.

Grab a great deal on flights and accommodation with Opodo.

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By Air to Schiphol Airport

If you are travelling to Amsterdam by air, then the nearest airport is Schiphol Airport which is located approximately 22 km (13.6 miles). Trains connect the airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station – there are six trains every hour. The journey itself is only 20 minutes and costs under €6.00.

Read – Complete guide to best ways to travel from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam city centre.

The fastest route to Amsterdam city centre is by an airport taxi and this journey takes about 15 to 20 minutes depending on traffic. Costs around €39.00.

You could hop onto a bus at the airport – services are provided by Connexxion’s 397 Amsterdam Airport Express bus service – departs every 15 minutes with a journey time of 35 minutes and costs €5.00 for a single journey and €10.00 for a return journey.

By Train to Amsterdam Centraal Station

Amsterdam Central Station
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Amsterdam Central Station | Image: Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

If you are travelling to Amsterdam by train from any of the countries in Europe, then your final stop is highly likely is Amsterdam Central Station. Once you arrive at the Central Station, you could take a taxi, bus, tram or simply walk to your hotel, depending on how far it is.

Read: Best Value Public Transport Ticket for Amsterdam

Plan your journey by train to Amsterdam using Eurail for best value.

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Why visit Amsterdam?

bridges and canals in Amsterdam
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Bridges and canals – the serene beauty of Amsterdam

You may already know and have your reasons for wanting to visit Amsterdam, however if you are still debating on the decision, then do not deliberate any further. The best of Amsterdam is an unmissable European experience worth exploring.

The beauty of the canals criss-crossing the city, the unique architecture of the historic homes, the welcoming nature of Amsterdammers, the art and museums, the parks, the cafe culture, the international feel of the city, the growing entrepreneurial opportunities, the ever increasing good beer bars, …. the list goes on. Above all, it is a city where you will feel very much a ‘local’ than an outsider.

Moreover, Amsterdam is an ever changing city (although the canals are never changing!) featuring innovative, modern architectural designs. These intriguing structural designs veer away from the traditional architectural forms, creating an incredible, modern cityscape that is unmatched to the rest of Netherlands.

How many days are enough to experience the best of Amsterdam?

There are so many things to do in Amsterdam and as one of the cultural cities in the world, Amsterdam offers so much more than for just a quick city visit. To truly experience the best of Amsterdam, and the surrounds, the trip is deserving of a few days. However, if a weekend is all you have, then the guide on 18 experiences in 48 hours is a great starting point to curate your itinerary. If more time is available on your schedule, then the Unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam might be the kind of activities you may be looking to indulge in.

In any case, you could always mix-and-match and create your own flexible itinerary to suit the number of days you may have at Amsterdam City to experience the best of Amsterdam.

TTS suggests: Go on a city walking tour or a city bike tour to get an overview of the city. It will set you in good stead to explore Amsterdam at your own pace for an immersive and timeless experience. In addition, sign-up to a foodie tour where you can try a wide selection of comforting dishes and get the feel of the cultural fusion that marks this extraordinary city.

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Georgina

Hello there! Welcome to Timeless Travel Steps, a space where Georgina happily shares her love of travel, culture and history – bringing you only the best in travel to add value to your vacation. Learn more in About Georgina.

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Inspiration and in-depth guide at your fingertips for an amazing timeless visit to Amsterdam

Here are all articles relating to Amsterdam – peruse, plan ahead and book your vacation without further ado.

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Practical travel information

Inspiration

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Things to do

Food that Must be tried

Tours to Experience

Where to Stay

Transportation in Amsterdam


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Ultimate Travel Guide to the Best of Amsterdam first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

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Inspiration and in-depth guide at your fingertips for an amazing timeless visit to experience the best of Amsterdam Netherlands. Your ultimate one stop travel guide via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/
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