[Updated 20 February 2020]
Listening to amazing stories of the land famous for its tulips, cheese and windmills have geared you up to plan a trip there! But where do you begin planning?
Set a budget. And stick to it - Europe can be a pricey place to travel, so it's best to make sure you know the correct prices for any attractions you want to visit, or transport tickets you intend to book. If you're travelling on a shoestring budget, make use of free public facilities such as the Wifi access at the Rijksmuseum. For more budgeting tips, check out our budget-friendly Amsterdam guide!
Start stalking all the airlines. Try to get a ticket during the promotion season, or use websites such as Google Flights and Skyscanner to look for cheap deals. You don’t have to get a direct flight, sometimes connecting flights are cheaper if you don’t mind the extra flight hour added - and if your layover is long enough, you can even explore the transit destination a little!
Find accommodation that suits you. If you have a big budget, you can opt for hotels for extra comfort. If your budget is a bit tighter, try looking at hostels, backpackers lodges, or Beds & Breakfasts (Bnbs). Don't be surprised if your hostel is near a marijuana establishment or soliciting houses, as these are both legal trades in the Netherlands - make sure to use Google maps beforehand to check out the neighbourhood before you book a room!
Research before changing your currency. Not all money changers offer the same rate so look around, ask around. Sometimes places like malls offer better rates. Try to avoid changing money at the airport!
Public transport is convenient in the city. When you get there, train and trams are great ways to get around. You can buy a 1-, 2-, or 3-day transport pass from the airport that will cover public transport all around Amsterdam. If you're staying a little longer, the reloadable OV-chipkaart may be more useful. Just remember to top it up once it runs low! Bicycles are also an efficient way to see the city especially if you're not making any day trips to nearby towns. Just a warning that locals love to ride bicycles so make sure to look left and right before crossing the road. You do not want to get run down by them!
Prepare to cook your own meals. Cooking locally is a great way to taste the local produce as well as save on costs. Pop by any Lidl, Aldi, or Jumbo supermarket to help manage your food expenses - they're located all over the city! Some Muslim-friendly products are not labelled with the Halal-certified logo, but are still safe for consumption so make sure to check the ingredients list and research beforehand. If you're unsure, you can always ask the members of the HHWT Facebook Community to help you out ? (P.S. Remember to bring along your own shopping bag, as the supermarket may not provide one!)
#HHWT Tip: Get an I Amsterdam City Card to enjoy discounts and sometimes free rides and entry to museums and other places. You can buy it online and collect it as soon as you arrive in Amsterdam.
Things to do in Amsterdam
1. Snap an iconic photo with the I amsterdam sign at Schiphol Airport
Take a photo with this iconic sign once you touch down! There used to be another set of letters in front of the Rijksmuseum, but those were removed in late 2018 due to overcrowding. So get your shot here as you may not be able to do so in the city itself!
2. Take an Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr
For an interesting perspective on the streets, hop on a boat and get the lay of the city from the water. The cruise is about an hour ride around the protected canal ring and you’ll be able to jot down interesting places to visit on foot later along the way. Check out cruise operators such as Holland International, Canal, Blue Boat and Rederij Kooij.
#HHWT Tip: Buy the tickets online ahead of time for a discounted price. There’s also a hop-on-hop-off service offered if you prefer to do some sightseeing too ?
3. Go on a Museum and Gallery tour
It is definitely not possible to finish visiting all the museums as there are over 400 of them in Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum are among the top 3 picks. Head over to the Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter and you’ll be able to dash in and out of museums after museums. If art is your thing, get the Amsterdam Holland Pass which offers you huge savings and fast-track entry to museums and attractions in Amsterdam.
P.S. The I amsterdam letters are no longer outside the Rijksmuseum, but the display sometimes travels around the city! Do your research beforehand to see where they'll be during your trip.
Getting there: Tram 2 and 5 from Amsterdam Central Station
4. Visit the Anne Frank House Museum
Remember reading Anne Frank's famous diary from World War II? Well, now you get to visit the place where the late Anne Frank lived in hiding with her family for more than 2 years. Oh, and the original diary is on display! It’s an eye-opening and somewhat contemplative experience but be prepared to wait a bit as the queue can get pretty long.
#HHWT Tip: Try visiting either early in the morning or towards the end of the day to avoid the long line. There are also several steep stairs within the museum, which are not wheelchair- or stroller-friendly.
Prices: (Tickets are only available online for specific pre-booked time slots)
Adults: Euro 10.50
Youth (Ages 10-17): Euro 5.50
Children (Ages 0-9): Euro 0.50
Opening Hours: (Do check this page for any exceptions to these hours)
1 Nov-1 April: 9AM - 7PM (Sun-Fri), 9AM - 10PM (Sat)
1 Apr-1 Nov: Open daily; 9AM - 10PM
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267 (Entrance at Westermarkt 20)
Getting there: 20 minutes walk from Amsterdam Central Station or take Trams 13, 14 and 17 and buses 170, 172 and 174 stop nearby, at the ‘Westermarkt’ stop.
5. Meet famous celebrities at Madame Tussauds
Meet famous people all in one place in the amazing world of Madame Tussauds. Located on Dam Square in Amsterdam, Madame Tussauds is quite close by to the Anne Frank House Museum so you can visit them both in one day. Go crazy snapping pictures with famous performers, royalty, film stars, artists...you name it!
#HHWT Tip: Buy the tickets online and save a few euros. You also get into the fast-track queue.
Prices: From Euros 18.50 (Adult) and Euros 14.50 (Child) if bought online. From Euros 24.50 (Adult) and Euros 20.5o (Child) if bought at the building. Click here for more details and ticket bundle options.
Opening Hours: Generally open between 10AM - 8PM but the timings change seasonally. Click here for a full calendar!
Address: Dam Square, Dam 20, 1012 NP
Getting there: A 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station or take Tram 2, 11, 12, 13, or 17 and stop at Magna Plaza/Dam stop or Tram 4, 14, or 24 and stop at Bijenkorf/Dam stop
6. Stop at the Albert Cuypstraat Street Market
Spend a day with the locals at Amsterdam’s biggest street market, Albert Cuypstraat. You’ll see stalls selling stuff like leather goods, clothes, flowers, organic produce, waffles and fresh stroopwafles!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re planning to buy souvenirs, this place has plenty and the price is cheaper than other places in the rest of the city.
Opening Hours: 9AM - 5PM (Mon-Sat), closed on Sundays
Address: Albert Cuypstraat, 1073BD Amsterdam
Getting there: From Amsterdam Central Station, take either tram 16 or 24 and get off "Albertcuypstraat" station. You can also walk from Dam Square down Rokin and Vijzelstraat, it's a 20-minute walk.
7. Country Sightseeing at Zaanse Schans
Venture just a little out of Amsterdam city to see the Dutch countryside. A short 15 to 20 minutes’ train ride from Amsterdam Central Station will get you to Zaanse Schans. It’s a little town with beautiful houses and canals. There are also big old-school windmills, a traditional wooden shoe workshop and a cheese factory! Plus, the view there is spectacular if you ask me. You can also stir your own hot chocolate in a local chocolate shop there! Yummy! Click here to find out how you can work a day out in Zaanse Schans into a 9D8N London-Amsterdam-Paris adventure!
Delicious food to find in Amsterdam
8. Restaurant Bazaar Amsterdam
One of the most popular halal restaurants is located at the Albert Cuypstraat and you can get there from Amsterdam Central Station. Their menu is a mix of North African and Middle Eastern dishes, with classics such as braised Lamb Shank, grilled kebabs, and Royal Persian Lamb that are sure to fill you up. There's even a child-friendly option of chicken kebab and falafel!
Halal Status: Only halal meat used, with seafood and vegetarian options available. Do note that they do serve alcoholic beverages. We recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Average Price: Euros 14 (Mains)
Opening Hours: 12PM - 11PM (Sun-Thurs, kitchen closes at 10.30PM), 12PM - 12AM (Fri-Sat, kitchen closes at 11PM)
Address: Albert Cuypstraat 182, 1073 BL Amsterdam
Contact: +31 20 675 0544
Iboenda serves authentic Indonesian cuisine right in the heart of Amsterdam! Owned by an Indonesian who has been living in The Netherlands for 24 years, Iboenda provides East Javanese classics such as Bami Goreng, Sate, Nasi Kuning and Soto Ayam at affordable prices. Also try their Rijsttafel (Dutch for rice table) for two, which comes with a variety of side dishes to accompany your rice or fried noodle staple.
Halal Status: Muslim-owned.
Average Price: Euros 11
Outlets 1 and 2: 2PM - 9PM (Mon-Sat), 3PM - 9PM (Sun)
Outlet 3: 11AM - 9PM (Mon-Sat), 3PM - 9PM (Sun)
Outlet 1: De Clercqstraat 65, 1053 AD Amsterdam
Outlet 2: Vijzelgracht 47, 1017 HP Amsterdam
Outlet 3: Tussenmeer 73, 1068 EZ Amsterdam
Outlet 1: +31 020 489 78 98
Outlet 2: +31 020 775 31 18
Outlet 3: +31 020 334 83 51
10. Wau Maleis Sate Restaurant
It’s a bit pricey here but they serve really delicious food in relatively huge portions - enough for a large family gathering. They serve Malaysian food like fried rice and fried noodles - and of course the classic Nasi Lemak! The restaurant is just a couple of minutes on foot from Amsterdam Central Station.
Halal Status: Only halal ingredients used. Do note that alcoholic beverages are served. We recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Average Price: Euros 17
Opening Hours: 12.30PM - 10PM (Wed-Mon), closed on Tuesdays
Address: Zeedijk 35, 1012 AR, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contact: +31 020 421 2487
So there you go, folks! A bit of information to get you around Amsterdam. There are tons of great places to go to in Amsterdam and this article won't be able to cover it all but at least you get an idea of places to go to. And you’ll also find interesting places to visit along the way, so be flexible and enjoy the trip. Be as adventurous as you can.