I went to Amsterdam in February. Oh, did I mention that already? What’s that? I haven’t shut up about it?
Whilst London was immersed in the first ‘proper snow’ to reach it in what feels like an age, I was off in icy ‘Dam (and no, I didn’t skate on the frozen canals).
I did have an amazing time in the Dutch capital, but there are some things I wish I’d known before heading off, which I figured I’d share! So, here are my top Amsterdam tips – I hope you find them helpful!
TAKE CASH OUT
You’ll need cash for a lot of places in ‘Dam – take it from someone who ended up waiting in an angry queue at the local supermarket for her boyfriend to run to the nearest ATM. Not fun. Maestro cards tend to be okay in most places, and a lot of tourist locations will take Mastercards, but local shops, restaurants, and cafes probably won’t. Better safe than sorry!
GET A TRAM PASS
The GVB day & multi-day tickets will cover you for tram travel for up to 96 hours (4 days, exactly, from when you first scan yours), whereas the Amsterdam Travel Ticket will cover all transport, including to and from the airport. Personally, I opted for the 48-hour GVB pass, as it only cost 12,50, and ended up working out cheaper even with the price of the airport shuttle, but it honestly depends on how long your trip is, and where you intend to visit. You can get more info on both types of ticket, here.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SMOKE
Yes, ‘Dam is pretty popular for its coffeeshops – and they have a constant influx of 18 year olds who are desperate to smoke weed legally…but if you’re anything like me, and couldn’t care less about marijuana, it’s pretty easy to avoid the fumes and still have an amazing time, as there’s so much else to do. If you do want to try it out though, make sure you’re careful, go to a reputable coffeeshop (it’s only legal to smoke in a licensed one), and don’t be afraid to tell the staff that it’s your first time – they’re used to it, and can give you advice on what to try, and how to do so.
If you’re a Londoner, you’re probably already a fan of CityMapper, but if not, download the app immediately – it will plan out the easiest journey for you from any location, and covers Amsterdam and its surrounding areas. If your roaming is turned on or you’re connected to wi-fi, it’ll also tell you the wait time for the next tram/bus/train, and highlight any traffic problems you might have. You can also use it to call a cab if you need to, so…win/win!
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR BIKES
…or they’ll have an eye out. Seriously. They are everywhere, they are fast, and they will not slow down. Look out for bike lanes, which get used a lot more than they do over here, and contain a near-constant flow of angry cyclists who do not have time for you wandering around their stretch of road.
BOOK WHAT YOU CAN ONLINE
Some of the most popular tourist sites, such as the Van Gogh Museum & Anne Frank House, end up with queues at the ticket booth lasting for hours, which can easily be avoided by booking online. Same goes for ferry trips and hop on/hop off bus tours, if those are your kind of thing – you’ll probably get a better deal, and waste less of your time stuck in a line, if you book your tickets in advance.
Some of the most beautiful places we came across on our trip were completely by chance: the skinny bridge at night, for example, Ree7 cafe, and some quirky little gift shops, all just through having a wander around and exploring. If you’re not sure where to start, try walking along the ‘Nine Streets’, which are full of gorgeous little cafes and shops, and work your way out from there: it’ll be worth it, promise!
THERE ARE CATS…EVERYWHERE
If you’re allergic to fur, take a serious dose of Clarityn with you, because there are cats everywhere in ‘Dam. Now, as well all know, I’m a big fan of felines, and so having the resident kitty at Mangia pizza sitting in my lap for the evening was a huge highlight for me, but if you’re not a fan, you might want to be wary…!
Have you been to Amsterdam? What tip do you wish someone had given you before you visited?
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