10 Best Travelling Tips to Amsterdam

These Amsterdam-specific tips will help you make the most of your visit and avoid any mishaps that could ruin your stay.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

7 min read

10 Best Travelling Tips to Amsterdam

View of Amsterdam | ©Javier M

Amsterdam is a charming city that sometimes seems to be straight out of a fairy tale. However, knowing how to enjoy it is what will make your trip complete.

The main idea behind these tips is that you can save money, avoid making mistakes, eat well and increase the chances of everything going as expected- or better.

1. Get a tourist pass

Amsterdam Pass| ©HappyW
Amsterdam Pass| ©HappyW

Apart from accommodation costs, where do you think you will spend most of your money during your stay in Amsterdam? I'm sure you're thinking about local transport, canal cruises, museum tickets, food, and so on.

That's why I recommend you to book the Amsterdam All Inclusive Pass, with which you can save money on all those activities. It includes:

  • Free entry to most of Amsterdam's best museums.
  • Unlimited use of public transport (trams, buses and metros).
  • Free bicycle rentals and tours
  • Free or discounted canalcruises
  • Discounts at many restaurants

Interesting details

Depending on the length of your stay, you can get a card valid from 1 to 5 days. A 24-hour card costs 59 € and a 5-day card costs 124 €

If you want to know more about this and other Amsterdam sightseeing passes, I recommend you to read the article on The best Amsterdam sightseeing passes.

Book the Amsterdam All Inclusive Pass

2. Go to Amsterdam's coffeshops

Coffeeshops sign| ©Hellotickets
Coffeeshops sign| ©Hellotickets

A coffeeshop in Amsterdam is not the equivalent of a coffee shop, but means something completely different. I feel it is my duty to inform you so you won't be surprised.

I'm sure you already know that Amsterdam is one of those few places on earth where you can legally buy and consume marijuana for personal use. This doesn't happen on the streets, but in the coffeeshops where you can see various types of weed, hash and edibles.

In case you want to experience this part, and are a bit hesitant or unsure, maybe booking a tour of Amsterdam can clear up a few doubts.

Book a tour of Amsterdam

3. Don't take photos in the Red Light District

Amsterdam Red Light District| ©Julian Pan
Amsterdam Red Light District| ©Julian Pan

Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and the Red Light District comes alive as soon as night falls. If you walk through the Red Light District at night, you will see prostitutes poking their heads out of almost every glass window in the area.

If you are visiting Amsterdam's Red Light District, do not photograph sex workers, as it is disrespectful to them.

Not only is it frowned upon, but you can also get into serious trouble with the authorities, and even pay a hefty fine. You can also book tickets to the Red Light Secrets museum in Amsterdam to learn more about this area.

Book tickets to the Red Light Secrets Museum

4. Save money when eating out in Amsterdam

Food truck in Amsterdam| ©Tobias Niepel
Food truck in Amsterdam| ©Tobias Niepel

Street food is a lifesaver for those looking to save money on their trip. You'll find street vendors and food trucks with some Dutch favourites such as stroop waffles, kippers, frites, bitterballen, leidse kaas and poffertjes.

'Dagschotel' is like Amsterdam' s dish of the day and appears on most restaurant menus. It's the cheapest dish on the menu and will help you save a few euros.

Eating where the locals do is one of the most useful travel tips. The Dutch in Amsterdam spend their time in what they call 'bruin cafés' or brown cafés. These resemble pubs and serve authentic food at an affordable price. De Wetering, In 't Aepjen, Papeneiland and Het Molenpad are some of the best.

Discover the buffets

Amsterdam' s buffets are also a great way to save money. They serve food for less than €20, but mostly offer Chinese or Asian specialities. Some of the good restaurants of this type are:

And if you want to treat yourself on a particular day in Amsterdam at an affordable price, I recommend you book a table at the Hard Rock Café. For 22 euros you can be sure to get several courses of American food with live music.

Book a menu at the Hard Rock Café Amsterdam

5. Avoid Amsterdam's tourist traps

Visiting the Rijksmuseum| ©Becky Houtman
Visiting the Rijksmuseum| ©Becky Houtman

All famous cities tend to have 'tourist trap' areas and spaces. By this I mean places to eat that are expensive and of average quality, places that don't live up to the expectations they promise, and places that take advantage of tourists' illusions.

For example, Amsterdam has many fake museums. Some of them are shops claiming to be museums. To name a few, there is the vodka museum, the cheese museum, the tulip museum, etc. Instead of going to these places, I recommend you to visit a real museum like the Rijksmuseum or buy a ticket to the Van Gogh Museum.

If you want to ensure good value for money food, head to De Pijp, FoodHallen or Noord. I also recommend avoiding the "Tours and ticket" shops, they are in all the tourist areas and are very expensive. Instead I recommend you to buy tourist passes if you are looking for savings and comfort.

Book tickets for the Van Gogh Museum

6. Beware of cyclists

Bicycles are the most common mode of transport in the Netherlands.| ©Anneke Vermeulen
Bicycles are the most common mode of transport in the Netherlands.| ©Anneke Vermeulen

One of the first things you'll notice in Amsterdam are the roads dominated by bicycles. The city is full of them and the locals love to travel by bike. In case you didn't know, Amsterdam has been declared the most bicycle-friendly city in the world.

Note that bike lanes in Amsterdam are usually red. They are all marked with a bicycle icon at each entry point so that the bike lane cannot be mistaken for a walking lane. However, many tourists don't realise this and walk on them.

If you don't want to have an accident, keep an eye on these lanes. In some areas they are almost more dangerous than the roads. But if you dare to be a Dutchman, you can book a bike tour of Amsterdam and learn more about the customs.

Book a bike tour in Amsterdam

7. Always carry an umbrella with you

Person with an umbrella| ©Nayara Dinato
Person with an umbrella| ©Nayara Dinato

Amsterdam's weather is quite unpredictable and the city averages 200 rainy days a year, which means the chances of you getting caught in the rain are quite high.

So, whatever the weather app says, always have a mackintosh or umbrella handy!

The oceanic climate, influenced by the North Sea, is the main reason for the heavy rainfall. However, thanks to the multitude of museums, galleries, shops and an efficient public transport system, there is always something to do whatever the weather.

8. Bring a bottle and drink water from the tap

Tap water| ©Steve Johnson
Tap water| ©Steve Johnson

The Netherlands is one of those countries where the quality of tap water is regulated and it is completely safe to drink and tastes great.

Buying bottled water all the time is not environmentally friendly. If you think bottled water is cleaner, let me tell you that it depends on how it is stored and transported. These bottles are made of plastic and if they are kept in the sun for a long time, they are no longer as safe.

Also, bottled water is not cheap in Amsterdam and can cost up to €2.50 in some tourist areas. You'll rarely get free water in restaurants, so it's a good idea to bring a bottle from home and fill it up at some of the city's public drinking water points.

9. Park away from the centre

Gasper Camping| ©Nadine S
Gasper Camping| ©Nadine S

Parking in Amsterdam is expensive and can cost up to 10 euros per hour. So if you are driving to Amsterdam, I recommend parking your car away from the city centre to save money.

On the motorway leading to Amsterdam, pay attention to the "P + R" signs because this is where you should park your car. Parking here usually costs 1 euro per day and from these points you can easily take Amsterdam's public transport to wherever you want to go.

If you arrive in Amsterdam by motorhome, you'll be happy to know that there are plenty of places to park, albeit a bit far from the city centre. The best are Gasper Camping and Camping Zeeburg.

10. Bring your photo ID with you

Photo ID| ©Dom J
Photo ID| ©Dom J

Not only do you need a photo ID if you're visiting a museum or important site, but the police may stop you on the street and ask for identification. This usually happens mostly when people seem intoxicated by drug use.

Sometimes it may just be because you are tired, because of your gait or because you don't sleep at night. But if you want to avoid mishaps keep your ID with you at all times. If you're worried about losing your passport, it wouldn't be a bad idea to carry your driving licence with you.