Planning on going to Amsterdam? Well here are some of my top tips on how to get around, what you can see and the various coffee shops to which you might want to pay a visit; amongst other things.
We already knew we wanted to go on a canal tour (come on, it’s Amsterdam), but all of the canal tour tickets near our hostel were upwards of 20 euros which seemed a little pricey. The further from hostels and hotels you get, the cheaper the tours get, and so we ended up getting one from near the centre for about 10 euros. And they even took our photos as we got on and made it into an adorable postcard that you could buy for just an extra euro.
Some canal tours are fancier, with wine and cheese or candlelit, but if you just want a bog-standard hour on a boat looking at the beautiful sights, then you really don’t need to spend a lot.
There are 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam – that’s more than the population of Amsterdam. There are trams everywhere but really, you can just walk to anywhere in the city pretty easily. If you do want to get a tram pass, it’s around 5 euros for the day.
Eating out… and eating in!
Amsterdam is as expensive as any other main city, but you can find some pretty cheap restaurants if you know where to look. Right next to the station is pricey, but unsurprisingly, the further away from the centre the cheaper it is. My friends and I stumbled across this tiny street full of restaurants, and it was ridiculously cheap! If you don’t want to eat out for every meal then a lot of hostels will have a kitchen. Or there are Lidls everywhere so you can do a food shop if you want to eat a little cheaper. The hostel we stayed at (StayOkay Vondelpark) had a free breakfast, and a bar downstairs which served food at cheaper prices than restaurants – would recommend.
What to see/do
An IAmsterdam card is good if you’re planning on hitting as many museums as possible, but I would say for one or two then it’s way too expensive and not worth the money. I went for five days and didn’t get around to doing half of what I wanted to do – you’re in a beautiful city, you don’t want to be rushing around, getting all worked up trying and make the most of the money you’ve spent and not actually taking in and enjoying the city! Predictably, the most popular places have the biggest queues. I know that goes without saying, but we thought we could turn up to the Anne Frank House and wait for maybe 20 minutes before going in, but the queue would have taken about three hours! So just because you can get in for free, it doesn’t mean you’ll get in quicker and you’ll probably have to dedicate an entire day just to just waiting for one thing. If you go when the weather is nice you could go simple and just make a picnic and go to the 47 acre Vondelpark; which includes bars, restaurants and an outdoor theatre with live concerts in the summer.
When it comes to the famous coffee shops, it isn’t true that anything goes. Being drunk and rowdy in public, and getting high in public places is actually frowned upon. Also, if you’re a tourist you can’t carry drugs with you anyway. Do your research into coffee shops; they should offer their menus to you when you go in and online reviews matter a lot when it comes to this!
Whatever you choose to do in Amsterdam, it’s a beautiful city and you’ll have a wonderful time and be spoiled for choice.