Travel Tips for Making the Most of Your Time in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is famous for its picturesque canals, quirky buildings, bicycles and laissez-faire attitude. As such, it is little wonder that both the young and the older choose the city for quick getaways and as a stop on longer trips. “Around 17 million people visited Amsterdam in 2017. Considering that the city only has approximately 830,000 residents, this is a huge number,” says travel expert Markus De Jong from Adviesjagers. This number is not surprising since Amsterdam offers something for everybody, from historic museums and verdant parks to a vibrant cafe scene. With this in mind, here are a few tips to make the most out of your next Amsterdam vacation.
Watch Out for Bicycles
When exploring the city be mindful of its bicycle lanes, most of which are painted in red and display the bike icon. Don’t be surprised to get dinged if you jaywalk or accidentally wander off the sidewalk into a bike lane. If you are traveling with children, make sure that you educate them about the city’s bicycle rules. If you decide to rent a bike while in the city, never cycle on the sidewalks, as you will be liable if you accidentally injure somebody.
Keep an Identification Card Handy
Although in many countries you may not be required to carry an identity card with you, this is not the case for the Netherlands. In fact, you can actually get fined for not having an identity card handy. If you are a non-EU citizen, it is a good idea to carry a copy of your passport with you at all times. Bar patrons don’t usually get asked for an ID unless they look younger than 18, which is the legal drinking age in the Netherlands.
Peak tourist season in the Netherlands runs from mid-April to mid-October. While this is a perfect time to visit the city due to the great weather and variety of festivals, it is also the time when hotels fill up with tourists. It pays to book your hotel or hostel as early as you can to get the best possible deal on accommodation. Hotel rates in Amsterdam are also generally higher on the weekends so book a room for mid-week if you are on a budget. Some people opt to stay outside Amsterdam, in nearby cities, such as Haarlem, to save on accommodation. If you do decide to do this, be mindful of the fact that getting into and out of Amsterdam can get quite expensive.
Don’t Mistake Coffee Shops for Cafes
While in the United States, both Cafe and Coffee Shop mean pretty much the same thing—a place where you stop for your morning latté and snack—this is not the case in Amsterdam. The city is one of the only places in the world where you can purchase and smoke marijuana, and coffee shops are where most of this activity takes place; Amsterdam’s coffee shops sell weed and hash per gram in pre-rolled joints. If you want to partake in the experience but don’t want to do so alone, consider booking a coffee shop tour—yes, those do exist.
For more info on Amsterdam, check out our articles on the 7 ways to save time when visiting Amsterdam.