Amsterdam Travel Guide
Iconic canals, centuries-old townhomes, cobblestone lanes and flower-adorned bridges. Amsterdam is as pretty as a postcard with charm in spades. It's also one of the rare places that attracts history buffs, luxury-minded travelers, couples seeking romance and backpackers alike.
Besides its cultural attractions, such as the Anne Frank House and The Concertgebouw, the Dutch capital has leafy parks, hip shops and an enduring sense of the past that thankfully never fades. With world-class museums, bicycle tours, and a thriving arts scene, it's really just a matter of culling it down to a select few activities. Though wandering around the quaint streets and sitting outside at the sidewalk cafes is so appealing, we wouldn't try to cram too much into your daytime itinerary.
On the F&B front, this burgeoning culinary mecca boasts world-class restaurants that make every meal a gourmet adventure. When the sun goes down, there's no shortage of things to do either. Think: cozy speakeasies, bustling bars, and plenty of nightclubs. Lastly, you can't talk about Amsterdam without mentioning "coffee shops" (and not the kind that strictly brew espresso).
Simply put: whatever your idealized version of a European getaway entails, Amsterdam won't disappoint.
Central European Time (CET)
Best Time to Go
Late spring is arguably the best season to visit Amsterdam. The forecast of mild temperatures couldn't be more perfect for biking around the city and exploring the surrounding countryside. Starting in early April, the legendary tulips begin to bloom, which lures travelers from around the world. The famous King's Day carnival, held on April 27, is another major draw.
Because the aptly nicknamed "Venice of the North" enjoys an oceanic climate, it never gets super hot. While the rest of Europe flocks to the beaches of Santorini and Saint-Tropez, we love the idea of a summer city break in Amsterdam. You might have to contend with a few more fellow travelers, but it's certainly not going to be an impediment to a fantastic trip.
Early fall is marked by pleasant temperatures and plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors. Don't write off wintertime. Sure, the days are short and there's a frosty chill in the air, however, the sparkling frozen canals, holiday spirit, and lack of crowds make it a really special time. You can also score great deals on airfare and hotels.
Things to Know
(Check the current exchange rate)
(The vast majority of residents also speak fluent English)
Calling Code: +31
How to Get Around
Trams: Amsterdam's iconic blue-and-white trams remain a reliable and economical way to get around the city center ($3.80/hour or $9.50/day). There are 14 lines convening at Amsterdam Central Station, the city's main transportation hub.
Buses: The bus system is quite extensive and efficient with a total of 35 lines. Catching a flight? Hop aboard the shuttle, which runs between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the city center every 15 minutes. Planning an evening out on the town? Whereas the trams and metros operate between 6 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., night buses come in clutch for after-dark transport needs.
Ferries: Like the trams, buses and metros, Amsterdam's ferries are also operated by GVB. Connections across the Noordzeekanaal (North Sea Canal) cost $1.50/trip. While boats crossing the IJ river are free of charge for pedestrians, cyclists, and moped riders.
Metros: The metro system comprises five routes and serves 39 stations, making it best for accessing the outlying suburbs.
Rideshare: If you're sticking to Centrum, driving isn't really necessary. However, it's easy to hail an Uber to take you to some of the outer boroughs.
Trains: The Netherlands has an impressive national railway network. For day trips to the countryside and neighboring cities, trains from Amsterdam Central Station are a convenient and easy-to-navigate option.
Bicycles: OK, cycling technically falls outside the definition of public transportation. But when in Amsterdam, do as the locals do. In terms of getting around that means hiring a bike (download Donkey Republic or pop into a local rental shop). It's a great mode of seeing the city and working off all those pannenkoek.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Grachtengordel (Canal Belt): Postcards of Amsterdam typically showcase Grachtengordel. Encircled by the city's main canals — Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht—this winsome zone is known for its colorful townhomes, waterfront eateries, upmarket hotels and attractions like the Anne Frank House.
Jordaan: Arguably the most in-demand neighborhood in Centrum — or, more accurately, all of Amsterdam — Jordaan is an irresistibly beautiful maze of narrow lanes, canals, high-end boutiques, and cozy cafes.
Museumkwartier: Located in the borough of Oud-Zuid, Museumkwartier offers a wide range of museums (the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum to name a few) as well as The Royal Concertgebouw. It's also home to many fine jewelry stores and designer outposts.
De Pijp: Just south of Amsterdam's city centre lies De Pijp. This former working class neighbourhood turned hipster haven has an urban industrial edge and bohemian flair. Go to savor the flavors of Albert Cuyp Markt, stay for the cool brunch spots, retro pubs, and contemporary ateliers.
De Wallen: If walls, err cobblestones, could talk… De Wallen would have tales to tell. Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District entices travelers with the promise of peep shows, sex shops, cannabis cafes, and nightclubs.
Spring brings with it rising temperatures and clear skies. Summer days are long and warm. You might experience a bit of humidity, but it never gets too hot. Fall starts out mild and ends with a brisk chill in the air. Winter is cold, dark and damp with the highest chance of precipitation.
The following are average highs and lows by month.
January: 33°F to 42°F
February: 33°F to 43°F
March: 36°F to 49°F
April: 40°F to 56°F
May: 47°F to 63°F
June: 52°F to 68°F
July: 55°F to 71°F
August: 55°F to 71°F
September: 51°F to 66°F
October: 45°F to 58°F
November: 40°F to 49°F
December: 35°F to 44°F