Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) - The largest airport in the Netherlands, Schiphol is located 9km southwest of the city in Haarlemmermeer. It is a major European hub and one of the busiest airports in the world. Despite being such a large airport, Schiphol essentially has just one terminal. Gates are grouped by different lettered piers and the signage makes it easy to get around. Since layovers here are common, there are many facilities such as shopping at Schiphol Plaza, a mid-sized supermarket and over 50 places to eat and drink.
The GVB is Amsterdam’s public transportation company that operate tram, metro, bus and ferry services. Single-use ticket can be purchased for €3.20 (approx $3.60) that is good for one hour, and can be purchased from automated vending machines that take cash or credit cards. If you know you will be using public transport a lot, buy an OV-chipkaart to pay for public transportation. This works whether you are using the bus, tram or Metro. A 24-hour use will cost €8 (approx $9), 48-hours is €13.50 (approx $15.25) and 72 hours is €19 (approx $21.50). You can buy longer uses if you like, simply reload your chipkaart.
An I Amsterdam City Card grants unlimited access to all forms of public transport (as well as entrance to the top museums and attractions). Always remember to use the card to check in and check out at each bus or train station by holding your card next to the reader.
Trams - Trams rumble through most of the major streets. There are 14 routes, 9 of which begin and end at Centraal Station. This is a great way to relax and take in the scenery. Remember to hold your card against the reader as you get on and off. A day use ticket or OV-chipkaart works here.
Metro - Though not as elaborate as the Paris or London Metros, Amsterdam has 5 lines that snake through the city. Again, your day use ticket or OV-chipkaart is used.
Bus - Buses complement the Metro, but it’s generally quicker to get around using the Metro or the trams. Transport cards are used here also which can be purchased from the driver. The network of buses, trams, and Metro start their services at 6am and go until 12:30am. Night buses run between 3am - 7am and tickets for those are €5.50 (approx $6.20).
Ferry - The ferry is a great way to see the sights in a different way. GVB ferries are free and connects city center with Amsterdam-Noord, across the IJ waterway. Ferries run every few minutes, around the clock.
Bike Taxis - These rickshaws are easy to hail all over the city; they are clean, comfortable and quick. Charges start at €10 (approx $11.30) per ride, and half-hour tours are €25 (approx $28).
Bike - Arguably the best way to see the city and get some exercise whilst doing so, you can rent your own bike for about €10 (approx $11.30) a day.
Jan-Mar - January is a relatively dry month averaging 8 rainy days, compared to 11 in February. February is the coldest month with expected lows at freezing point, 0°C (32°F). Temperatures slowly start to thaw thereafter with March seeing a slightly higher 6°C (43°F) average.
Apr-Jun - The famous tulips and daffodils are in bloom in the early Spring months. Average temperatures gently increase from 8°C (46°F) in April, 12°C (54°F) in May to 15°C (59°F) in June. Expect on average 12 rainy days a month, typically just light rain and drizzle.
Jul-Sep - July & August are the hottest months of the year and peak visitor season. Expect daytime highs of 21°C (70°F) and night time lows of 13°C (55°F). Similar to the Spring months, rain is common so an umbrella is a good idea year round.
Oct-Dec - October is a relatively mild month with average highs of 15°C (59°F) but weather conditions gradually slide during the following months. Chilly conditions are the norm during these months with average temperatures hovering around 2°C (36°F). Snow, fog and freezing temperatures are not uncommon.
The standard voltage is 220-240V/50Hz. The Netherlands use Type F plugs which are two round pins, the same as used across mainland Europe so if you are travelling from the U.S. or outside of mainland Europe you will need a Type F plug adapter.
The Netherlands use the Euro, in partnership with 18 other European countries. ATMs are plentiful all over the city, and most work with Visa and MasterCard. Debit card with Cirrus and Maestro systems will work. Be sure to have some cash on hand, as many restaurants, shops and other services still do not take credit cards.
The official language is Dutch, however, several languages are spoken and English is widely used and understood. The Dutch pride themselves on being multi-lingual, and many locals can speak more than two languages. However, it’s always good to know a few Dutch phrases to impress your hosts.
Canals - A network of 1,500 bridges spanning 100km of canals is what gives Amsterdam its distinctive look and feel. The canal rings that date back to the 17th century are today a UNESCO World Heritage site. Taking a stroll along the canals is a great, budget friendly way to spend time. Numerous boat tours let you get out on the water and see the city from a different perspective, you can even stay the night in a houseboat if you simply can't get enough of life on the water.
Red Light District - The red light district is a tourist attraction in its own right nowadays with a variety of visitors such as couples and even families wanting to see the slightly surreal sights for themselves. Prostitution is legal and tolerated in the Netherlands and so, unlike many other red light districts in the world, it is a regulated business that aims to protect the workers. It is a polarising topic which you can make up your own mind about.
Anne Frank’s House - The Anne Frank House is located in the trendy Jordaan district. You’ve no doubt heard or even read The Diary of Anne Frank. Take a tour of her home to learn the history of what Miss Frank lived through for two years as a young Jewish girl hidden away from the Nazis during the Second World War. It is a moving experience that will live with you for some time. Tickets are only available online and due to its popularity can sell out months in advance so book early to avoid disappointment.
Van Gogh Museum - Considered a must-see when in Amsterdam. The museum is all things Van Gogh, and is indeed the largest collection of his works in the world. As with all popular attractions in Amsterdam, it's advised to reserve your tickets in advance. Tickets are available to purchase online in advance for €19 (approx $21.50).
Bon voyage 👋
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