Photo by Elizabeth Rubio via Trover.com
Known as the “Venice of the North” because of the beautiful canals that run through the city, Amsterdam provides many attractions, not only from the canals but because of the breathtaking architecture, history, and thriving art community.
Planning a trip to Amsterdam can make you feel anxious due to the different culture and surroundings, but if you know what to look for you can find peace of mind in the city.
Here are my 7 tips for planning your vacation to Amsterdam.
Bikes are Everywhere
Bicycles dominate the streets with commuters, tour groups, and locals the way that cars dominate Los Angeles. Be mindful when renting a bike that parking is tough. However, enjoy the “omafiet” or granny style bikes that flood the city — just don’t get in their way.
There are Four Types of Transportation
The trams are the most useful for seasonal tourists, while night buses cover some of the routes when the trams close. The buses and metro are useful, but only if you’re heading somewhere outside of the touristy areas. Buy a disposable OV-Chipcard ticket if you’re hopping on and off the tram often, as it will save you money in the end.
Take Advantage of the Free Walking Tour
Yes, there’s a free walking tour! The three-hour tour starts twice a day in Dam Square and leads you through the Red Light District as well as through other historic neighborhoods on your way out to the Jordaan near the Anne Frank House. Although this tour is free, it’s always nice to give the guides a tip for their guidance and friendliness.
Know Your Travel Personality When Choosing a Hotel
Not everyone’s the same when it comes to accommodations and that’s why you should know what you want when choosing a hotel in Amsterdam. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, look into Rembrandt square. If you want to stay in the thick of things, consider a hotel on Damrak. There’s something for everyone in in this vibrant corner of the world.
You Can Speak English Comfortably in Amsterdam
In most European countries, it’s considered polite to start a conversation by asking if your correspondent speaks English. In Amsterdam, however, you don’t have to worry about that because the Dutch are proud of the fact that they speak many languages, including English.
Cannabis is Legal in Amsterdam
If you walk into a coffee shop and smell something leafy, don’t be surprised. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are known as a place to purchase coffee, treats and cannabis. You don’t have to buy any legal drugs while patronizing the coffee shops, but if you give in to temptation, know that purchasing cannabis can lead to jail time when it is purchased outside a coffee shop. I suggest trying the french fries with mayonnaise if you do smoke.
The Red Light District
Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam. If you decide to walk through the Red Light District, don’t be shocked to see women flashing their goods through the windows, but know that taking pictures is strictly prohibited.
This piece is part of the #HipmunkCityLove Campaign and sponsored by Hipmunk.com