Get the Finder app 🥳

Track your credit score

Free

Amsterdam | The Ultimate Travel Guide

From its tranquil canals and brilliant tulip fields to a thriving nightlife scene and red light district, here's what you need to know about Amsterdam.

Updated

Fact checked
Amsterdam canals on a sunny day

We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder.

With its historical canal houses, World Heritage Listed canal system and artistic atmosphere, Amsterdam is the kind of destination that lets you drink up history while letting your hair down. International flights and European river cruises work year-round to deliver you to its banks, while a rich bicycle network allows you to explore by ground, discovering they city's gems, including historical windmills, flower markets, art museums, coffee shops and the famous red light district.

If you've timed your trip for spring, don't pass up the chance for a day trip to one of Holland's iconic tulip fields. Though to be frank, whichever season you arrive, they'll always be entertainment to delight - from traditional Christmas markets in winter to outdoor festivals in summer.


Getting around and things to do

How do I get around Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is relatively small with its attractions close together in the city centre. It's easy to walk from one place to another and it's a great way to discover the city charms on offer.

Another option is to cycle. There are bicycles everywhere in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands. Bikes can be rented at various locations, and locks are provided as well.

There is also the option of public transportation, and Amsterdam's system is very good with frequent trams, buses and trains.

Taxis in Amsterdam can be of great convenience if you have an honest driver.

Amsterdam public transport

Types of transport: GVB (Public Transport Services of Amsterdam) services Amsterdam by train, tram, metro, bus and ferry.

Paying for transport: One-hour tickets can be purchased from tram or bus drivers. GVB offers single- to seven-day passes that start at €7.50. They are valid on trams, buses and the metro. Passes can be bought throughout the city at GVB ticket and info spots, service points and metro stations. The OV-chipkaart can also be purchased but is more suitable for longer periods. Ferries are free to use.

Getting to and from the airport: The airport train will take you directly to Amsterdam Central Station which is located in the city centre. They leave every 10–15 minutes and the journey is 15–20 minutes. Buses depart from outside the main arrivals entrance and leave every 30 minutes. Take the Amsterdam Airport Express, line 197 to the city centre. It departs every 15 minutes.

Amsterdam bike hire: Bike hire shops are available throughout the city. The most prominent shop with multiple locations is MacBike.

Best apps for getting around: The GVB app is the official app for Amsterdam public transport. It gives travel advice based on where you are and where you want to go.

How do I buy tram tickets in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam has an OV-chip smart card system that is in use on all public transport modes including the airport train/bus journey. Amsterdam travel tickets are available as below:

  • 1-day card EUR16 ($24)
  • 2-day card EUR21 ($31.50)
  • 3-day card EUR26 ($39)

They are valid on a day-to-day basis, not a 24-hour period.

There is also the option to buy a one-hour travel ticket for EUR2.90 ($4.50) which is available to purchase onboard any of the transportation modes.

The day tickets can be purchased at GVB ticket and info offices, or from GVB ticket vending machines.

Does Amsterdam have Uber?

Yes, and there are three types available in Amsterdam: UberBLACK, UberLUX (more up-market than UberBLACK) and UberPOP, which is most similar to what we call UberX in Australia. UberPOP isn't legal in Amsterdam, but still exists, so use it at your own risk.

Airport transfers in Amsterdam

Forget the hassle of getting to and from the airport by booking a shared or private transfer straight to your the doorstep of your accommodation.

Private departure transfer in Amsterdam City
Private departure transfer in Amsterdam City

Viator

Which Amsterdam attractions pass is best?

With a huge variety of Amsterdam attractions cards on offer, the question remains – which should I choose?

There is one that is consistently considered the best on offer: the Amsterdam City Pass.

This card allows you to skip-the-line to either the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum. It also gives you tickets for a 1-hour canal cruise, and a 20% discount on attractions, museums, excursions and bike tours available throughout the city.

The added bonus of this pass is that, unlike the others on offer that have to be used within 24 or 48 hours, there is no time limit which leaves you free to take in the city sites at your own pace.

What souvenirs should I buy in Amsterdam?

If you're thinking about what souvenirs and trinkets to purchase for your friends, family or for your personal travel collection, take a peek at our suggestions below:

  • Ajax memorabilia – Ajax football souvenirs can be found at shops throughout the city.
  • Birthday calendar – If you want to adopt Dutch custom you can buy a limitless variety of calendars in almost every tourist shop near the Dam.
  • Cheese – Like cheese, or have a friend who does? Go for Oude Amsterdam Kas (Old Amsterdam Cheese) sold at all local cheese shops.
  • Clogs and wooden shoes – Buy a pair of traditional wooden shoes as a reminiscent token of your stay in Amsterdam.

Keep in mind if you're buying wooden products or cheese whether you can bring it back into Australia due to customs restrictions.

Does Amsterdam have a Christmas market?

There aren't any Christmas markets in Amsterdam per se. However, during the latter half of December, Amsterdam's Museum Square (Museumplein) becomes the heart of Christmas in Amsterdam.

The large square turns into the Amsterdam Christmas Village and the pond turns into a spectacular ice rink. You can rent ice skates and try out the most popular local winter sport for yourself. Or just indulge in some hot wine, hot chocolate and other traditional Dutch food and drinks.

Frequently asked questions about Amsterdam

Amsterdam's diverse museums, quirky festivals, relaxed bars and delectable dining are just some of the qualities that put Amsterdam high on the list of places to visit.

With so much to do and see in the Dutch city, you've probably got a few questions before you commit to visit.

What is Amsterdam known for?

Amsterdam is famed for its sophisticated and substantial canal system, its red light district and, of course, its marijuana-dispensing coffee shops.

The city is famous for being tolerant and dynamic and offering a diverse culture and a vibrant nightlife.

Is Amsterdam expensive?

While certain aspects of Amsterdam are expensive, even by European standards, you can live within your means while you're there.

Hotels vary in price dramatically so to get the best deal, you should shop around and compare prices before you book.

Then there's eating. A meal in a basic restaurant will cost approximately EUR20, or approximately $30. On the opposite end of the scale, there is the option for fine dining, which you'd struggle to get for less than EUR50, or $75.

When it comes to drinks, a pint will range anywhere between EUR5 ($7.50) and EUR8 ($12).

How much spending money do I need for Amsterdam?

We would say that EUR100 ($150) per person per day, providing you've already paid for your flights and hotel, would cover an average well-rounded experience of Amsterdam.

How many days should I spend in Amsterdam?

The general consensus seems to be that you can fully appreciate and experience the city within 3–5 days. Some say longer, some say less.

We'd recommend doing your research and finding out exactly what you'd like to see and do whilst there, and then make an educated guess as to how many things you could, or would want to get done each day.

Which airport is closest to the city?

The closest airport to Amsterdam is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). The distance from the airport to the city is approximately 11.2km. There's an airport train connecting the city's central station to the airport that departs every 10 minutes.

Top Amsterdam travel deals

Trafalgar Tours Trafalgar Tours

Up to 15% off last-minute trips

Otel.com Otel.com

Extra 9% off hotel bookings

Kayak Kayak

Up to 35% off flights worldwide

Omio Omio

Europe train tickets from €10

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site