[Updated 13 Feb 2019]
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. 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. That will save you tons of money. You don’t have to get a direct flight, sometimes connecting flights are cheaper if you don’t mind the extra flight hour added.
Accommodation. If you have a big budget, you can opt for hotels. If your budget is a bit tight, try looking at hostels, backpackers lodges, or Breakfast & Beds. 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!
Change the 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!
Transportation. 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!
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 Albert Hejin 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 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.
Warning! Amsterdam 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!
*Do note that not all restaurants listed in the article are halal certified. Readers are advised to dine at your own discretion.
Things to do there
1. Iconic photo spot – I amsterdam sign at Schiphol Airport
Credit: @azonechou on Instagram
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. Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr
For an interesting perspective on the streets, HHop 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 like Holland International, Canal, Blue Boat and Rederij Kooij.
#HHWT Tip: Buy the tickets online ahead of time for a discount price. There’s also a hop-on-hop-off service offered if you prefer to do some sightseeing too 😄
3. Museum and Gallery tour
Credit: @rfernweh on Instagram
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. Anne Frank House Museum
Credit: @emmamills_design on Instagram
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 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.
Adults: euro 10
Age 10-17: euro 5
Age 0-9: free
European Youth Card: euro 4.50
Online ticket: + € 0.50
Opening hours: Open daily from 9 am to 7 pm from 1 November to 1 April, 9am to 10pm on Saturdays. 9 am to 10 pm from 1 April to 1 November
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. Wax on Wax Off – Madame Tussauds
Credit: Antonio Manfredonio on Flickr
Meet famous people all in one place at the amazing world of Madame Tussauds. Located on Dam Square in Amsterdam and quite close by to Anne Franks House. Go crazy snapping pictures with famous performers, royalty, film stars, artists…you name it! Open daily from 10am to 8 pm (depends on the season, do check the official opening hours on their website!).
#HHWT Tip: Buy the tickets online and save a few euros. You also get into the fast-track queue.
Getting there: A 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station or take Tram 1, 2, 5, 17 and 20 and stop at Magna Plaza/Dam stop or Tram 4, 9, 16, 20, 24, 25 and stop at Bijenkorf/Dam stop
6. Street Market at Albert Cuypstraat
Credit: Franklin Heijnen on Flickr
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: Open daily except Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Getting there: From Amsterdam Central Station, either take tram 16 or 24 and get off at Stadhouderskade or Albert Cuyp Straat. You can also walk from Dam Square down Rokin and Vijzelstraat, it’s a 20-minute walk.
7. Country Sightseeing at Zaanse Schans
Credit: Mario Sanchez Prada on Flickr
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!
8. Bazaar Amsterdam
Credit: @ddeja21 on Instagram
One of the most popular halal restaurants is located at the Albert Cuypstraat and you can get there from Amsterdam Central Station. You can choose light meals like salads and sandwiches or if you feel hungry then go for the large lunches and main dishes.
Address: Albert Cuypstraat 182, 1073 BL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 675 0544
Opening Hours: Open daily from 10 am to 12 pm
9. Warung Spang Makandra
Credit: @aimandagreat on Instagram
This small (yet efficient) restaurant serves delicious Javanese meals. What to try here? The deep fried banana with peanut sauce and their homemade ginger juice!
Getting there: From Amsterdam Central Station, either take tram 16 or 24 and get off at Stadhouderskade or Albert Cuyp Straat. From there, it’s a 2-minute walk to the restaurant.
Address: Gerard Doustraat 39, 1072 VK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 670 5081
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 11 pm – 10 pm, Sunday 1 pm – 10 pm
10. Wau Maleis Sate Restaurant
Credit: @nadiaimie on Instagram
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. Just a couple of minutes on foot from Amsterdam Central Station. Give it a try!
*Do note that alcohol is served in the establishment. Readers are advised to dine at their own discretion.
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.