Amsterdam tips and tricks

Well, it’s really happening: the WWPD 2014 Amsterdam meet up! As a local (well, someone who visits Amsterdam a couple of times a year) I’ve been asked to give you some tips, do’s and don’ts and general information. So, here we go!

Hotels
Hotels in Amsterdam are quite expensive, and a lot of the hotels in the city centre are fleabag tourist traps. If you want a decent hotel, you should check out these:
Best Western Delphi in the Oud-Zuid area: http://www.bestwestern.nl/hotels/best-western-delphi-hotel-amsterdam-92591
Spa Sport Hotel ZuiverAmsterdam:
http://www.zuiveramsterdam.nl/spa-en/
Qbic Hotel near the WTC: http://www.qbichotels.com/nl/
Backstage Hotel at the Leidsegracht: http://www.backstagehotel.com/en/home

You can also take a look on hostelworld.com, and look for hotels and b&B. It lists small hotels and B&Bs that aren’t listed on booking.com. Or try https://www.airbnb.nl/s/Amsterdam–Netherlands. Here you can rent a typical Amsterdam merchants house or a houseboat.

If you look for a hotel, make sure you stay away from these areas: Watergraafsmeer, Slotervaart, Slotermeer, Osdorp and Zuidoost. Other areas are fine.

Sightseeing
Amsterdam has many museums and a lot of them are worth a visit.
Rijksmuseum: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en (Art from the Dutch masters, Golden Age. If you want to go there, go early. It is very busy since it was recently re-opened.)
Stedelijk Museum: http://www.stedelijk.nl/en (Modern Art, Popart)
Van Goghmuseum: http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp (Recently re-opened)
Tattoo Museum: http://tattoomuseum.wordpress.com/ (I visited it at their old location. Interesting collection, great selection of books for sale, often international guest tattoo artists)
Rembrandthuis: http://www.rembrandthuis.nl/en/ (The house where Rembrandt lived and worked)
Joods Historisch Museum: http://www.jhm.nl/english (About the history of jews in Amsterdam, the Holocaust, etc.)
Anne Frankhuis: http://www.annefrank.org/en/ (The house where Anne Frank lived during WWII. Go early if you want to visit. There’s always a long qeue.)

Also worth a visit are the Jordaan area (small shops, restaurants, canals, beautiful merchants houses, etc.), the Red Light District, the Waterlooplein (flea market), FOAM (photomuseum), Begijnhof at Spui and the Artis Zoo.

Food and drinks
There are many restaurants with international cuisine. The best (and probably most expensive) restaurants can be found in the Jordaan area. It’s a trendy neighbourhood. Chinese food is best in the China Town area at the Zeedijk, Oudezijds Voorburgwal, etc. Go to a restaurant that is crowded. They are the best! The best pubfood is available at O’Reillys: http://oreillys.com/amsterdam/.

Nice cafes in Amsterdam are In de Wildeman (special beer cafe, http://www.indewildeman.nl/), de Olofspoort (jenever, liqueurs, http://www.olofspoort.com/), and most of the cafes at the Zeedijk (like Int Aepjen).

Try to stay away from Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein if you’re looking for food or drinks. They are real tourist traps with bad quality and high prices.

Shopping
The entire city center has shops of all kinds. I like to go shopping at Bijenkorf (a luxury department store), the Negen Straatjes (Nine streets: trendy little boutiques) and the Jordaan area (vintage stuff, boutiques, etc.). The main shopping street is the Kalverstraat, which is always crowded. It has some international shops like Waterstones and Marks and Spencers.

There are some shops selling film:
Studio Spui: http://www.camerawarehouse.eu/ (Also has one hour photo service and sells toy cameras)
Lomography Gallery Store: http://www.de9straatjes.nl/nl/winkels/?shopID=261538 (Film and cameras)

The Hema and Kruidvat shops sell 35mm colour film.

Public transport
Amsterdam has a good public transport network with busses, trams and the underground (metro). You can buy tickets at the central station and some larger stations. In busses and trams you can also buy tickets, but make sure you have some loose change.

For the people who arrive at Schiphol airport: the airport has a train station with a direct connection to the central station. You need to buy a ticket at one of the machines in the large hall at Schiphol. The tricky part is they will try to sell you an expensive ticket for the hispeed Intercity Direct train. Don’t do that, because it will not get you to the center faster….. Just buy a 2nd class ticket to Amsterdam Centraal Station. If you decide to buy a ticket at the ticket counter, they will charge you extra for the personal service.

Taxis in Amsterdam are a nightmare. Most taxi drivers will try to rip you off if they know you’re a tourist. Always ask for a price estimate. They are obligated to do short taxi drives, but most drivers will try to leave you standing if you only want to take a short ride, because they want to make money (especially at night time!). If that happens and there’s police nearby, tell the officer.

Other
If you visit the Red Light District, make sure you don’t photograph the prostitutes sitting in the windows, unless you want lots of trouble…. I guess it is ok to take pics of the street life in general, and also of the window displays of sex shops in the area, but that’s it.

Watch out for the traffic. Many people ride a bike in Amsterdam and they stop for no one. That also applies to cars, scooters, trams and other vehicles.

Beware of pickpockets. Amsterdam is a busy city and there are pickpockets everywhere.

Most people in shops and restaurants speak English and a menu in English is available almost everywhere.

This list is not at all complete. There’s so much to do. For general touristic information, you can always check this site: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/Experience

Enjoy Amsterdam!

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7 thoughts on “Amsterdam tips and tricks

  1. Wow Inge, this is so awesome…I love Indonesian food so will be looking for that when I visit, and of course I’ll be going to FOAM. As well as being a Pinholista I love raw denim and so can highly recommend Tenue de Nimes…its a great shop if you like that kind of thing. See you in Amsterdam.

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    1. Thanks! I’m a big fan of Indonesian food too, but I’ve never had it in Amsterdam. There are so many nice bars, shops and other locations, but I didn’t want to write a travel book… 😉 It could be the base for a city guide on your site though. See you in Amsterdam!

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