Amsterdam Destination Guide

Amsterdam Destination Guide

Amsterdam is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, famous for its beautiful canals, top art museum, cycling culture, and Red Light District. It is the capital and most populous city in the Netherlands and often referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its expansive system of bridges and canals. Here are some of the key points to remember as you plan your trip to Amsterdam.

Peak SeasonPopulationLanguage(s)CurrencyJanuary ClimateJuly Climate
May to October813,562DutchEuroAverage high:  5.8 °CAverage high: 22.0 °C

Must-See Attractions
Most visitors begin their Amsterdam adventure in the Old Centre, which is full of traditional architecture, shopping centers, and coffee shops. Don’t miss the Dam Square and the areas around Spui and Nieuwmarkt. The infamous Red Light District is also in this area, and definitely worth a visit to see what the hype is about. You’ll also want to check out Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter in the South District, which is great for shopping at the Albert Cuyp Market and having a picnic in the Vondelpark. The top museums to visit are the Rijksmusuem, the Ann Frank House, and the Van Gogh Museum.
If You Have Time
There are several other unique districts in Amsterdam, and you should try to explore as many of them as time allows. The Canal Ring is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was originally built to attract wealthy home owners and is a hub for celebrity spotting and nightlife today. The Plantage area has most of the city’s museums, including the Jewish Historical Museum, the Scheepvaart Museum, and the botanical gardens.
Free Things to Do
  • Have a picnic and bring a bottle of wine to relax and people-watch in Vondelpark
  • Soak up some sun at one of the city’s beaches
  • Take a stroll along the canals, smell the flowers, and browse markets along the way
  • Hop on one of several free ferry services across the IJ River for lovely city views
Travelers should be aware that Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is one of the busiest airports in the world. This airport is located about 15 kilometers southwest of city center. You can catch a train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Central Station, which has many connecting routes. It’s typically not a good idea to drive a car to the city center because traffic is congested and parking is difficult to find. Cycling is incredibly popular here, and it’s easy to find cheap bike rentals around town.  Amsterdam has a flat terrain and is a great city to explore on foot.
Recommended Restaurants
Amsterdam is a top destination for foodies, so it can incredibly difficult to narrow down your dining choices. Here are a couple of our favorites.
FoodismMediterraneanNassaukade 122, 1052 ECBudget-moderate  – dishes from €20Portions are tapas-style so order 2-3 dishes per person
Ciel BleuFrenchHotel Okura. Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LHExtravagant – set-price menus from €110 for dinnerMake advance reservations and ask for a table by the window

Money Saving Tips
  • Unless you really want to see the tulips blooming, avoid booking between mid-March and mid-May. This is when hotel and flight prices surge.
  • Look for accommodations in Amsterdam’s South District, where rates are generally cheaper than in the city center.
  • Buy train tickets at the machine instead of the counter to save a bit of money
  • Instead of hiring a tour guide, hop on a canal boat. They’re inexpensive and will give you a unique point of view of the city.
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