DISCOVER AMSTERDAM

World-class museums, music venues, an abundance of green spaces and beautiful architecture, you’ll never be bored in Amsterdam, although its beauty and laidback atmosphere may leave you content to sit around and admire the beauty of your natural surroundings.

Whether coming by plane, train, or bus, you most likely start your journey at Schiphol. Holland’s efficient and trustworthy public transportation system makes getting from Schiphol to your destination stress free. There are multiple options to choose from depending on your schedule and needs:

Uber: if you are pressed for time, go ahead and spend the 30ish Euros to get to and from Schiphol in 30 minutes. If you arrive at Schiphol, you will need to go up top to the departure halls and exit the airport to find your uber.

Train: The train is great is you aren’t in a rush. It is economically friendly and fairly simple once you’ve used it once or twice. For first time riders, we suggest skipping the electronic kiosks and spending the time to wait in line at the ticketing booth to speak to an attendant. Believe us, this will make your life easier. Just take the 5-10 minutes to stand in line to talk to a human being. Tell them where you are going and they will get you the appropriate ticket and explain things to you. Don’t be shy to ask questions. That is why they are there—to help you. The electronic kiosks are good for people who already know the ropes. Sometimes the booths are finicky with credit cards and you will need change.

Bus: The bus is also a solid option if you are not in a rush or going straight to an event from the airport. Like the train, you pick up a bus ticket at the ticketing booth.

There is never a “bad” time to go to Amsterdam.  The city changes as the seasons change. October is an exciting time to visit because of Amsterdam Dance Event. April is a month of beauty and celebration being peak Tulip season and the annual Kings Day extravaganza. June welcomes Awakenings Festival every year. The list goes on. These are just a few options. You’ll never be disappointed.

Airbnb: If you are a solo traveler or two people, we’d suggest staying with Lorenz. Heather had an amazing stay here on her own. Lorenz was extremely helpful and his flat was clean and centrally located.

Hotels: As in any major city, there are plenty of hotel options in Amsterdam. Depending on the season, you may need to book in advance to secure accommodation at a reasonable cost. There are plenty of budget friendly hotels. Since transportation is convenient and easy in the city, you don’t really need to worry about location.  We prefer staying near the museum district because we enjoy spending time in this area.

Ibis Styles Amsterdam Amstel: Centrally located, the location of the hotel is perfect for exploring the city center at ease. Within 5 minutes you can be in the charming and trendy neighborhood of De Pijp or on Rembrandtplein.  It is a 15-minute walk to the museum district. 15 to 20-minute tram ride to Westerpark.  This hotel also has an option for 3 beds in case you are traveling in a group of three!

To search more hotels, check Bookings.com

Hostels: 

The Flying Pig Downtown: Dorms & privates, Wi-Fi, kitchen, bar. Prices range from €17-52 per night. Great location and cool vibe.

St. Christopher’s Inns: Dorms & privates, free breakfast, bar, restaurant, Wi-Fi. Prices start at around €36 per night. With multiple hostels around Europe, St. Christopher’s Inn is well known for quality and service.

The Bulldog Hotel: Dorms, Privates, Apartments, Wi-Fi. Prices start at around €18 per night.  Basic accommodation and is centrally located in the Red Light District.

World-class museums, music venues, an abundance of green spaces and beautiful architecture, you’ll never be bored in Amsterdam, although its beauty and laidback atmosphere may leave you content to sit around and admire the beauty of your natural surroundings.

Amsterdam is a pedestrian-friendly city, but it’d be a shame not to explore it as the locals do— by bicycle (you can rent one from AmsterBike, or take a guided tour). What to do in Amsterdam between museums and tours? At the 120-acre Vondelpark, located near the Rijksmuseum, you can take in the gorgeous lawns, paths, and an open-air theater, as well as a Picasso statue.

The list of things to do is endless. Below we’ve broken down some of our favorite museums and parks.  There’s always a music event going on in the city, but if you are in Amsterdam between April and July you should check out a major festival!

Museums we love:

Moco Museum

Rembrandt House Museum

Rijksmuseum

Stedelijk Museum

Van Gogh Museum

Anne Frank House

Parks to visit:

Vondelpark

Westerpark

Bitterballen

Stroopwafel

Thick Dutch fries

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Visa: Generally not required for stays less than 90 days (three months). U.S. citizens must have a passport valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date you plan to depart Netherlands. Some nationalities require a Schengen visa. All details about visa information can be found here.

Currency: Euro (€)

Credit Cards and Banks: Credit cards accepted in most restaurants, shops, and hotels.  Non-European credit cards are sometimes rejected. We suggest carrying a MasterCard with a chip. ATMs widely available. Be sure to carry plenty of cash for small purchases, bars, clubs, events and public transportation.

Currency Exchange: There are multiple exchanges at Schipol airport, but always ask about the rates and fees. From our experience, the exchange right after you pick up your luggage and exit the arrival halls is the best. This exchange does not charge fees if you exchange a certain amount of money. If you know you will be traveling through Europe for a while, go ahead and get your money here. Plus, it is convenient!

Tipping: The Dutch do tip, but modestly.

ElectricityType C two-prong

Staying Connected: We suggest picking up your SIM card at Schiphol airport.  The stall we purchase from is outside the arrival halls and baggage claim. You won’t miss it. This way you are connected from the beginning of your trip. Lycamobile is the service provider we use. It will cost you between 30 and 40 USD, but well worth it!

WIFI is available in most hotels, restaurants, and many public spaces; however it is much more convenient to just get the SIM card.

TransportationPublic transportation is excellent and easy to use throughout Holland. Rail, bus, ferry, taxis, and Uber are all reliable sources of public transport. Walking and cycling in cities like Amsterdam are always an option too!

LanguageDutch is the official language, but nearly everyone speaks English.

Grocery Stores: Albert Heijn is one of the major grocery stores you will find in Amsterdam. The logo is AH in blue lettering. This is where you can pick up pretty much anything you may need food and drink wise. We suggest picking up bottled water and snacks here. For health nuts, you can find prepared healthy meals like quinoa bowls here. For budget travelers, this is your best bet in terms of food.

Things to remember: The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in Europe, but you should still use big-city street sense in larger cities. Bicycle theft is common; always use two locks. Bicycles can be quite a challenge to pedestrians. Remember when crossing the street to look for speeding bikes as well as cars; straying into a bike lane without looking both ways can cause serious accidents. When cycling yourself, take care with skidding on tram tracks or getting your wheels caught.

WHY WE LOVE CALGARY