Yes, Amsterdam has weed. Yes, Amsterdam has legal prostitution. Ok, glad we got that out of the way. But Amsterdam is so much more than all the vices that come to mind when people think of this amazing city.
In this Amsterdam Travel Guide we’ll cover many of the city’s highlights — including what to see, what to do, and what to eat. And, of course, we’ll give plenty of budget travel tips.
What You’ll Find In This Amsterdam Travel Guide:
- How Much to Budget to Visit Amsterdam
- How Long to Visit Amsterdam
- The Good and Not-So-Good Things About Amsterdam: A Quick Overview
- Amsterdam’s Must-See Sights and Attractions
- Amsterdam’s Best Neighborhoods
- Cheap Eats and Drinks
- Best Amsterdam Hostels
- Amsterdam Nightlife
- More Resources to Help You Plan Your Visit On a Budget
- Public Transportation
How Much to Budget to Visit Amsterdam
We recommend budgeting €45-€85/day if you’re on a backpacker’s budget. You can easily spend more, and you might be able to spend less, but this is a good range for planning purposes. You can view our Amsterdam Daily Price Guide for more in-depth cost details.
Amsterdam is a little on the expensive side compared to other cities. Accommodation and attractions both tend to be pricey, so you may want to spend only a few days here if you’re on a tight budget.
How Long to Visit Amsterdam: 3-4 Days
Amsterdam is a compact city so it only takes a few days to see the major sights. We recommend spending three or four full days in the city.
You could spend more time here and still have plenty to do but three or four will give you a good overview of the city.
Amsterdam does have a handful of nice day trip options, so you may want to extend your stay by a few days to experience those cities.
The Good and Not-So-Good Things About Amsterdam: A Quick Overview
We thought we’d share some positive and negative things about Amsterdam.
- Kamikaze Bikes: In Amsterdam, bikers rule the street and they are everywhere. Locals have zero patience when it comes to tourists standing in their bike lanes — they will run into you.
- The Riff Raff: Amsterdam is a popular destination for party-goers, so you’re going to have to deal with drunk and/or high people at some point.
- Not a Big Culinary Scene: While it’s getting better, Amsterdam isn’t exactly known for good food. Additionally, even not-so-great restaurants still tend to be expensive, so you’ll need to venture outside the tourist-heavy city center to find better deals.
- Annoying Weed Scene: We have nothing against smoking pot but lots of tourists take this overboard and end up being annoying.
- The Beauty of the City: The main part of Amsterdam and its canals is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site — so you know it’s going to be impressive. In fact, Amsterdam has more canals than Venice and has 1,500 bridges — so simply walking around these canals is a treat in and of itself.
- Solid Museums: Amsterdam has a handful of world-class museums that you’ll want to check out.
- Bikes: Rent a bike and explore this extremely bike-friendly city — it’s how all the locals navigate the city.
- Laid-back Attitudes: Amsterdam is a super chill city — and no, it’s not because of the weed. Its citizens know how to relax and enjoy life.
- Beautiful Locals: Not only are the Dutch are the tallest people, but they’re also some of the most attractive.
Amsterdam’s Best Museums and Cultural Attractions
Amsterdam has over 60 museums and a few of those are truly world-class. Below are our favorites that we think you should check out:
Rijksmuseum — Museum of the Netherlands
The Rijksmuseum is a beautiful museum that covers Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collection includes Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, and Steen, among other famous Dutch artists.
Van Gogh Museum
The next must-see museum is the always popular Van Gogh Museum. This always popular attraction features a huge collection of the artist’s most famous works and some other works from his contemporaries.
- Admission: €19
- This is a popular museum so booking a scheduled entry ticket in advance is highly recommended.
- Visit the Offical Website
- See on Google Maps
Local Tip: Check out Vincent on Friday — a special event held the last Friday of every month from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Each event has a different theme and is brought to life with the help of young, creative artists. There is usually a DJ, drinks, and you also have free time to explore the museum. This is very popular social event with the locals tickets sellout quickly.
Stedelijk Modern Art Museum
The Stedelijk Museum’s bathtub-shaped exterior is just as interesting as many of the works of modern art, contemporary art, and design that you’ll find inside.
The Moco Museum is a newly opened modern and contemporary art museum with works from Dalí, Banksy, Keith Haring, and other notable artists.
The Anne Frank House
A sight that’s on just about everyone’s list is the Anne Frank House. This museum takes you through the attic where the Frank family hid from the Nazis during World War II.
- Admission: €10.50
- Visit The Official Website (Tickets are only available online and sell out quickly).
- See on Google Maps
Dutch Resistance Museum
The Amsterdam Museum
Located in a former orphanage, the Amsterdam Museum is a fun interactive museum that covers the city’s history from the 1500s to the present time.
The National Maritime Museum – Het Scheepvaartmuseum
The National Maritime Museum is a bit of a hidden gem that gives a great look into the Netherlands’ long maritime history. A lot of the exhibits are kid-friendly so this is a nice place for the family. The highlight is the replica 18th-century merchant ship.
Museum Of Lord In The Attic
Here’s an interesting one… this beautiful Catholic church was secretly built in the attic of a 17th-century canal house right in the middle of the city’s Red Light District.
In the mood for something a bit different? Check out these interesting museums:
- Pianola Museum: A museum dedicated to automatic player pianos and thousands of rolls of music. The museum is run by volunteers and they love showing off these interesting machines. Visit Website // See On Google Maps
- Amsterdam Sexmuseum: Of course Amsterdam’s Red Light District has a sex museum. In fact, it is one of the most visited museums in the Netherlands. Yes, it is touristy but it’s good for a laugh. Visit Website // See On Google Maps
- Electric Ladyland: Opened in 1999, this is the first museum devoted to Fluorescent Art and other far-out stuff, dude. Visit Website // See On Google Maps
- Torture Museum: Fans of torture will love seeing all the ways people have been tortured throughout the ages. And fans of not being tortured will be relieved that they haven’t been tortured in all these terrible ways. Visit Website // See on Google Maps
The Best Parks in Amsterdam
One of the best places to soak in Amsterdam’s famous chilled out vibe is in one of its many excellent parks.
Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park is Vondelpark. This 110-acre park attracts millions of visitors to its large grassy lawns, manicured gardens, walking paths, ponds, canals playgrounds, and shady trees. It makes a prime place to relax and have a picnic on a nice day.
Museumplein (Museum Square)
Museumplein is park and city square that’s located in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum — so it makes a great place to take a load off while you’re checking out Amsterdam’s best museums.
Located next to Amsterdam’s largest street market (Albert Cuypmarkt), Sarphatipark is a great small park for relaxing after shopping. So pick up some goodies a the market and enjoy them while enjoying Sarphatipark’s fresh air.
Located in the eastern part of Amsterdam, Oosterpark is the first major park built by the city back in the 1890s. It features an English garden, ponds, streams, a children’s wading pool, and plenty of places to wander around.
This beautiful park isn’t as busy as Amsterdam’s other major parks but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area. It features trails, ponds, plenty of green space, two high-end restaurants, and a beautiful old mansion complete with a manicured garden in the back.
Amsterdam’s Best Food and Flea Markets
Here are a few of our favorite places to buy fresh/prepared goodies as well as all sorts of secondhand souvenirs.
Albert Cuyp Market
Put the Albert Cuyp Market on your must-visit list because this place has it all — from fresh produce and prepared foods to vintage clothing and boutiques selling various products. This market has been open since 1905 and it’s grown to be one of the largest in Europe so you’re sure to find something interesting among the many vendors.
The surrounding neighborhood is also full of interesting bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops.
- Hours: Mon-Sat; 9am-5pm
- See On Google Maps
IJ-Hallen Flea Market
IJ-Hallen flea market is the biggest flea market in Europe so it’s the best place to find unique treasures. Entry costs €5 and it’s only held one weekend a month.
Waterlooplein Flea Market
The oldest flea market in Holland and it features around 300 vendors selling lots of random stuff. The IJ-Hallen Flea Market is much better so check that out first if you have the chance.
- Hours: Monday to Saturday; 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
- See On Google Maps
Amsterdam Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt
First opened in 1862, the Amsterdam Flower Market is the only floating flower market in the world. It has flowers year-round (but a much bigger selection during the spring/summer) so it’s a great place to check out the country’s famous tulips and other flowers. This isn’t a huge market and it’s fairly touristy but it’s worth checking if you’re in the area.
- Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 to 19:00 & Sat-Sun 8:30 to 19:30
- See On Google Maps
This long-running open-air market sells all sorts of vintage knickknacks and doodads on Mondays and on Saturday it sells mostly organic produce.
Amsterdam’s Neighborhoods: Quick Overview
By the way, the image above is from Amsterdam’s official tourism website… usually tourism websites are terrible but Amsterdam’s is honestly excellent.
They have a great neighborhood guide for the city center and one for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Centraal Amsterdam & The Red Light District
You’ll undoubtedly spend a lot of your time in Amsterdam’s city center since that’s where a lot of the tourist action is located. And yes, the Red Light District is very touristy and safe — you’ll see tour groups of little ol’ ladies being led past the working ladies’ booths.
There are a large number of hostels and budget hotels in the center but they’re not exactly cheap — which is pretty standard the center of any European city.
But don’t forget that Amsterdam has a lot of great neighborhoods located a short distance from the center — which will give you a much more authentic sense of the city’s local vibe.
Plus, leaving the center will help you escape the crazy crowds, souvenir shops, and high prices.
Every article and guidebook about Amsterdam tells you to visit the trendy Jordaan neighborhood. So it’s obviously not some hidden “insider” secret but you honestly should visit as it has loads of charm.
The Jordaan used to be a working-class area but now it’s a haven for artists, students, and young professionals. It’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s most desired (i.e. expensive) real estate.
And while the Jordaan is still technically in “central” Amsterdam, it retains it’s laidback vibe thanks to its many independent bars, restaurants, pubs, farmers markets, cafes, old brown bars, flea markets, and shopping.
Accommodation tends to be fairly expensive in this area thanks to its desirability.
De Pijp Neighborhood
De Pijp is located just outside the southern edge of Amsterdam’s center, and it’s been a hub for artists and intellectuals for well over 100 years. Now, it’s a popular neighborhood for all ages, nationalities, and professions. It’s packed full of great restaurants, bars, pubs, boutique shops, and markets.
Albert Cuypmarkt, the best markets in Amsterdam/Europe, is located in De Pijp so that’s something you’ll want to check out. The neighborhood is well serviced by trams so you can get into the center of town easily. It’s only about a 20-30 minute walk to the center of town so you can easily walk or bike if you wish.
As another bonus, you can still find some affordable accommodation options in the De Pijp.
De Negen Straatjes Neighborhood
De Nergen Straatjes (which translates to The Nine Streets) is a small neighborhood made up of nine small side streets. It’s most famous for its cobbled streets lined with vintage and designer shopping, independent specialty stores, and cozy cafés.
De Nergen Straatjes may be located in the center of the city but it fights to protect its independent vibe so you won’t see many chain stores (which is a welcomed change).
Venture to the west of the city center and you’ll find the Oud-West neighborhood. This part of the city is residential but it still has plenty of energy, trendy cafes, fun restaurants, outdoor food markets, and the uber-popular and newly-opened De Hallen Cultural Center — which contains an excellent food hall, cinema, cafes, shopping, and more.
For a completely different view of Amsterdam, take the free 10-minute ferry ride to Amsterdam-Noord. This former industrial area often gets compared to Brooklyn so while it might not be pretty, it’s a nice area to find trendy cafes, bars, art galleries, cool street art, flea markets, beaches, craft breweries, dance clubs, and all the other things that hipsters love.
You can also find lots of affordable accommodation in Amsterdam-Noord.
What To Eat in Amsterdam
Food is one of my favorite ways to connect with the local culture and to truly get an insight into the vibe of a city. We’ll also be the first to admit that Amsterdam hasn’t exactly been a foodie’s dream destination but that trend has been changing over the past few years.
Here are a few of our favorite traditional Dutch things to eat while visiting Amsterdam:
The most famous sweet treat in Amsterdam is the lovely stroopwafel. This dessert consists of a layer of syrup (normally honey or caramel) sandwiched between two thin waffles.
Stroopwafels are sold in grocery stores but we highly suggest finding fresh ones as they’re extra delicious when still warm.
Where to get a solid stroopwafel:
- Albert Cuyp Market: Visit this famous market and head to one of the vendors selling freshly made stroopwafels. The most famous stand is Original Stroopwafels (Stand 134). See The Market Google Maps
- Lanskroon: Cozy little pastry shop that has some of the best stroopwafels in Amsterdam. Local favorite. See on Google Maps
- van Wonderen Stroopwafels: This pastry shop rose to fame thanks to their modern take in the classic stroopwafel so you’ll find them topped with all kinds of fun and colorful toppings. It’s undoubtedly more touristy and expensive than others on this list. See On Google Maps
- croissanterie Egstorf: Another lovely little bakery selling fresh stroopwafels, waffles, baguettes, croissants, and coffee. See on Google Maps
- Albert Heijn Supermarket: The locals love the Albert Heijn supermarket chain and inside you’ll find a large selection of stroopwafels. See Locations on Google Maps
Dutch Apple Pie
Who doesn’t love apple pie? Well, the Dutch know how to make some delicious pie so I make sure to get my grubby hands on a few slices whenever I travel to Amsterdam.
Where to get excellent apple pie in Amsterdam:
- Winkel 43: There is a reason that Winkel 43 is the most famous place to get apple pie in Amsterdam. Their pie is crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. Then it’s topped with fresh whipped cream. Try it. See on Google Maps
- Cafe Papeneiland: One of Amsterdam’s oldest cafes/pubs and they’re famous for their legendary apple pie. They lots of other things too. See on Google Maps
- De Koffieschenkerij: Built inside an old church, De Koffieschenkerij is a cafe that serves up a solid apple pie and a whole range of other goodies. It’s located in a very touristy part of the city but inside the cafe is nice and peaceful. See on Google Maps
- Back to Black: One of the best places to get coffee in Amsterdam and their apple pie top-notch as well. See on Google Maps
Poffertjes and Pancakes
Poffertjes are fluffy mini pancakes topped with powdered sugar and butter. They’re served all over the city so they’re easy to find.
On the other hand, regular ol’ pancakes are also popular. Beware that some places make monster-sized pancakes so one will usually be enough.
Note: Pancakes can be either sweet or savory (kind of like crepes).
Where to get your hands on some poffertjes and pancakes:
- De Carrousel: One of the most popular and kitschy pancake spots in Amsterdam and the interior looks like you’re eating in an old school carousel (i.e. lots of neon and bright colors). See on Google Maps
- Pancakehouse Upstairs: This quirky and tiny local favorite is housed in the upstairs of a house built in the 1530s. You might want to make reservations or arrive early as they only have four tables. See on Google Maps
- De Vier Pilaren: Pancake heaven and one of the many go-to places in Amsterdam for poffertjes. They also have a really nice outdoor seating area. See on Google Maps
- The Pancake Bakery: Another excellent spot to scarf down on tasty Dutch pancakes of all sizes. It’s housed in a former two-story warehouse and has excellent canal views. See on Google Maps
- The Happy Pig Pancake Shop: Exceptional little pancake house and they have vegan and gluten-free options!
- Pancakes Amsterdam: Basic name but excellent pancakes. It’s located right in the middle of the touristy part of the city but don’t let that scare you away. See on Google Maps
Oliebol, which literally translates to “oil balls”, is delicious deep-fried fluffy bread balls. It’s similar to a doughnut. Note: This is traditionally a Christmas goodie so it’s harder to find outside the holiday season.
Gouda is the most famous Dutch cheese and you can find all sorts of different types in Amsterdam. Of course, there are lots of other lesser-known Dutch cheeses to choose from as well.
You can find Gouda and other Dutch cheeses in any grocery store but head t a specialty cheese shop for a higher quality selection.
- Amsterdam Cheese Company (See Locations on Google Maps)
- Old Amsterdam Cheese Store (See Locations on Google Maps)
Thick-Cut Fries & Sauce
Another street food favorite is thick-cut fries served up in a cone for ultimate portability. These fry shops will have a huge selection of dipping sauces so try a few different options.
Where to get some of the best fries in Amsterdam:
- Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx: Takeaway joint with some of the best fries in the country. See on Google Maps
- Manneken Pis: This takeaway shop was voted the best street fries in Amsterdam. There are 20+ sauces to choose from. There is always a line but it moves quickly. See on Google Maps
Herring and Fried Cod
The humble herring has been an important part of Amsterdam’s history so it’s no surprise that it continues to be a local favorite. You can find it being sold throughout the city. It’s usually served brined (i.e. basically raw).
Personally, I’m a fan of deep-fried cod (Kibbeling) — which is also a popular dish served with mayonnaise-based garlic sauce or tartar sauce.
Here are some local favorites for herring and fried fish:
- Frens Haringhandel: One of the best fish shops in the city and it’s centrally located. See on Google Maps
- Rob Wigboldus Fishmonger: A very popular fishmonger. Local favorite and centrally located. See on Google Maps
- Fishmongers Albert Cuyp: A nice place for all kinds of fried fish in the Albert Cuyp market. See on Google Maps
- Vishandel Centrum: Neighborhood favorite. Great fried cod. See on Google Maps
- Volendammer Vishandel: Known for their fried cod but has a variety of seafood. See on Google Maps
- IJmuider Vishandel Amstelveenseweg: A popular fish shop. High quality. See on Google Maps
- Vishandel Kroon: Solid fish shop. Friendly staff. It’s a popular spot so it can get a bit busy. See on Google Maps
This tasty Dutch snack is basically cheese that has been breaded and deep-fried. I mean, it’s probably extra awesome after a few beers. You’ll find these at most pubs or FEBO.
Visit any pub and you’ll find these tasty deep fried crispy meatballs which are usually served with mustard. These taste great with a cold beer.
- Eetsalon Van Dobben: This old school cafeteria/diner has been serving up budget-friendly food since the 1940s. They sell a bit of everything. See on Google Maps
- De BallenBar: This stall in the Foodhallen food hall that serves up a variety of bitterballen. See on Google Maps
- Winkel 43: Famous for their apple pie but they also make all kinds of tasty Dutch goodies — including bitterballen. See on Google Maps
- Café de Tuin: Very chill cafe/pub with a nice beer selection and cafe fare (including bitterballen). See on Google Maps
- FEBO: The vending machine restaurant serves up all things deep-fried. See Locations on Google Maps
The quintessential Dutch comfort food — which is a combination of mashed potatoes and vegetables. It’s often topped with sausage. You can find it at any traditional Dutch restaurant.
Surinamese & Indonesian Cuisine
Indonesia and Suriname were former Dutch colonies for hundreds of years so you’ll find a lot of great restaurants from these parts of the world. They’re certainly worth seeking out.
Where To Eat Traditional Dutch Cuisine
Here are some local favorite restaurants to eat at when you’re exploring Amsterdam.
- Restaurant Moeders: Classic Dutch food in a fun and quirky setting. Excellent food and reasonable prices. See on Google Maps
- Haesje Claes Restaurant: Despite being located in the center of the city, this great restaurant is still a local favorite and it serves up traditional Dutch comfort food. See on Google Maps
- Restaurant ‘t Zwaantje: A cozy traditional Dutch restaurant with large portions. Friendly staff/owners and kitschy decorations. Reservations recommended. See on Google Maps
- De Blauwe Pan: A casual cafe/pub is another authentic joint popular with both locals and visitors. Solid food and good portions. See on Google Maps
Foodhallen Food Hall
Founded in 2014, this food hall has 21 trendy food vendors whipping up all kinds of interesting things to eat. Foodhallen is quickly becoming one of the most visited spots in Amsterdam by both locals and visitors.
Want More Places to Eat? The folks over at the Amsterdam Subreddit put together this Google Map of place to eat in Amsterdam so you might want to check that out.
Cheap Eats in Amsterdam
If you’re anything like us then you’re always searching for cheap places to grab a bite to eat. Luckily, Amsterdam has plenty of cheap eats.
Takeaway meals like Turkish kebabs with fries or similar dishes from a takeaway shop will cost about €5.
A cheap pizza will cost about €5.
If you’re under the influence, you might want to check out a unique restaurant called FEBO (or the VEBO for vegetarians). It’s basically a vending machine restaurant that serves cheap fried food — they have multiple locations.
Cheap Lunch Spots
- Omelegg: Omelets and sandwiches — most everything is €6-€10.
- Mister Meatball: Traditional Dutch meatballs and potatoes. Items range from €14-€19
- Jacketz: Baked potatoes with various toppings. Prices range from €9-€14
- Sir Hummus: Quick, tasty, and healthy hummus bowls. Prices start around €8
- Soup en Zo: Takeaway soup and salad place. Medium soup is around €6
- Ivy & Bros: Healthy brunch/lunch spot using locally sourced ingredients — lots of vegan/vegetarian options. Nice canal views.
- B&B Lunchroom Leidsestraat: Lots of burgers and sandwiches. Most things €6-€9
- Broodje Bert: Cafe serving salads, fried eggs omelets, and sandwiches. Prices range from €5.50-€8
- Sugo Amsterdam: Delicious Roman-style pizza by the slice. Slices start around €3.50
- Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx: Fries with a ton of sauces. Starts around €3
- Burger Bar: Tasty burgers starting around €6
- Benny’s Chicken: Food stall that serves very tasty chicken for very low prices. Most things under €4
- Leeman Döner: Tasty kebab and falafel for cheap. Kebabs are around €3.50. Often called the best kebabs in Amsterdam.
- Beste Doner: Delicious kebab for around €5.
Cheap Dinner Spots
- Bhatti Pasal: Authentic Nepalese Food and almost everything is under €10.
- Il Sogno Amsterdam: Nice pizza place serving up tasty pizzas for €6.50-€11
- Tijger & de Vis: Lovely restaurant serving up Dutch seafood. You can get a full combo meal for under €13
- Belushi’s: Pub serving up burgers ‘n things. Popular with the hostel crowd. Nice 2-for-1 drink deals during happy hour. Burgers range from €10-€13
- Burgerlijk Amsterdams: Another burger place serving up various burgers for around €9-€12
- Wok to Walk: Take away Asian noodle joint. Super tasty and generous portions. You choose your own ingredients but it’s easy to spend less than €10.
- Hasta La Pasta: Small Italian restaurant serving up fresh choose-your-own pasta at affordable prices. Most pasta options range from €6-€12.
- Maoz Vegetarian: Popular Mediterranean joint serving up falafel wraps, hummus, and other vegetarian/vegan options. Falafel is €5.50 and the meal is under €10.
- Pasta Pasta: A nice little spot serving up pasta dishes for €7-€12.
- Hap-Hmm: Popular family-owned traditional Dutch restaurant serving up hearty classic Dutch food for reasonable prices. Main courses range €10-€12
- Yu Family Kitchen: Small Chinese restaurant serving up quick and tasty meals for solid prices. Meals range from around €7- to €9.50.
We’ve also gathered a list of our favorite websites/articles to help you find a good budget meal: AmsterdamFoodie: Restaurant Finder, TimeOut: Best Cheap Eats in Amsterdam, EuroCheapo: Budget Restaurants That Locals Love, Your Little Black Book, and Awesome Amsterdam.
In general, you should explore the neighborhood outside the city center for less-expensive and high-quality dining options.
Coffee and Breakfast Spots
Need a caffeine boost and something to eat in the morning? Look no further!
- Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters: One of the best places to get coffee in Amsterdam. Very cool vibe and they roast their own beans on-site. See on Google Maps
- Coffee & Coconuts: A large, light, and breezy cafe that serves up high-end coffee and tasty food. See on Google Maps
- Back to Black: This trendy spot is a local favorite and they roast their own beans. See on Google Maps
- The Breakfast Club: All day breakfast place that makes everything with fresh ingredients. See Locations on Google Maps
- Bakers & Roasters: An excellent/popular brunch spot and also brews some quality coffee. See on Google Maps
- Bocca Coffee: A chilled out spot that also roasts their own beans. See on Google Maps
Beer, Bars, & Alcohol in Amsterdam
Heineken and Amstel both come from Amsterdam so you’ll find those being served in any bar. But there is so much more to Amsterdam’s beer scene than just those two huge breweries.
Local Craft and Micro Breweries
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ: The most famous craft brewery in Amsterdam. You’ll find their beers at bars throughout the city or you can visit their brew hall. See on Google Maps
- Brouwerij Troost: Local brewpub with a rotating selection of craft beers. See Locations on Google Maps
- Oedipus Brewing: Craft brewpub with a rotating series of 12 beers. See on Google Maps
Local Favorite Bars
- Wynand Fockink: Cosy old-school distillery dating back to the 17th-century. Super friendly and helpful bartenders. Try one of the drinks made from their onsite distillery. See on Google Maps
- Proeflokaal Arendsnest: Another cozy old school bar that serves more than 100 beers from Dutch breweries. See on Goole Maps
- Cafe Belgique: Ok, I love Belgian beers so that’s why I included this great graffiti-covered bar that stocks more than 50 beers from Belgium. See on Google Maps
Amsterdam’s Coffee Shops, Red Light District, & Nightlife
There is no escaping the fact that marijuana is a big tourist draw, but don’t let it be the only reason you visit. Anyway, here is the lowdown on pot. Places that sell pot are called “coffee shops.” You basically just walk in, look at the menu at the counter and place your order. If you have any questions, you just have to ask. It’s as easy as ordering a beer.
You can buy loose marijuana (you’ll need your own supplies) or get it pre-rolled for an extra charge. There are also plenty of edibles if you’re not into smoking. Fun fact, many of the edibles are weak because most tourists don’t know the right way to consume them.
For more information about marijuana in Amsterdam, check out this great Reddit post.
Don’t buy drugs from random dudes the street. That’s illegal. And the guys are super shady. You also shouldn’t walk around smoking in the streets. Stick to the coffee shops or private residences.
The Red Light District is actually a super popular tourist attraction and you’ll see plenty of tour groups making their ways through the streets — all-in-all, it’s pretty tame. It’s an interesting experience, so you should spend a little time walking around. Word of warning: Never take photos or videos of the girls — there are bouncers and pimps waiting around to confiscate (destroy) your camera.
Amsterdam also has a solid nightlife scene. Reddit has a good guide to Amsterdam’s nightlife that covers the best bars and clubs, how to dress, and the best neighborhoods.
Best Amsterdam Hostels
Hostels in Amsterdam tend to be expensive and there are only a handful of well-rated hostels. The cheaper hostels tend to be located a bit outside the city center but public transport is good so it isn’t much of an issue.
I’ve always used Hostelworld to book our hostels. Below is a list of the best options:
- STAYOKAY AMSTERDAM VONDELPARK
- FLYING PIG BEACH HOSTEL
- FLYING PIG DOWNTOWN
- FLYING PIG UPTOWN
- SHELTER CITY
- STAYOKAY AMSTERDAM ZEEBURG
- SHELTER JORDAN
Traveling Around Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a compact city, so most things are within walking distance. Furthermore, the city is gorgeous, so walking is a pleasure and you may never have to take public transport. Or do as the locals do and bike around the city!
Anyway, public transportation is easy to use, and the tickets for the bus and tram are the same.
- Single Ticket (valid for 1 hour): €3.20
- Unlimited Tickets:
- 24 hours (1 day) € 8.00
- 48 hours (2 days) € 13.50
- 72 hours (3 days) € 19.00
- 96 hours (4 days) € 24.50
- 120 hours (5 days) € 29.50
- 144 hours (6 days) € 33.50
- 168 hours (7 days) € 36.50
- OV Chipkaart (reloadable travel card): €7.50 (for the card) + €1.50 per ride
- Bike Rental: €3-€15/day
- Train between Airport and City Center: €5.40
Practical Amsterdam Travel Tips
- Prebook tickets to popular museums to avoid the lines. Consider buying an Amsterdam Pass if you plan on visiting multiple museums and sights — it also includes transportation, a canal cruise, and a few other perks.
- Skip the touristy canal boat tour and rent your own boat.
- Pay attention to bikes and bike lanes. They will run you down.
- Explore the city by bike. There are multiple bike rental companies, but Black Bike rents plain black bikes that don’t scream “Hey, I’m a tourist!”
- Many shops close around 5 pm or 6 pm during the week but stay open until 9 pm on Thursday.
- Don’t worry about not speaking Dutch. They speak English better than you do.
- Have a bit of extra cash? Rent a houseboat on Airbnb — there are quite a few for rent.
- Want great views of the city? Head to the top of the Amsterdam Public Library (Bibliotheek Amsterdam) — it’s free to visit, and there’s a nice cafe on the roof.
Best Day Trips From Amsterdam
Holland is a small country so most of its other cities and villages make great day trip options. Below are a few of our favorite places easily accessible va public transportation.
If you happen to be visiting Amsterdam between mid-March and mid-May we highly suggest heading to this huge 19th-century park/botanical garden to see one of the largest flower gardens in the world. There are frequent buses from Amsterdam to Keukenhof and the drive takes about 1 hour.
- Get Admission and Bus Tickets Here (We recommend booking early as these do sell out)
- See Keukenhof Gardens on Google Maps
Note: Keukenhof is only open for 8 weeks from mid-March to mid-May.
Get your fix of Holland’s iconic wooden windmills and green houses in the small town of Zaandam. Getting to Zaanse Schans is easy and it can be reached via bus (40 min), train (20 min), car, and even bicycle.
There are multiple tours of Zaanse Schans or you can wander at your leisure.
Haarlem makes an excellent and popular day trip from Amsterdam. It has a beautiful historic city center, an impressive church, lots of shopping, quaint coffee shops and restaurants, museums, and beautiful streets perfect for wandering.
Getting from Amsterdam to Haarlem takes 20 minutes by train and about 40 minutes by bus.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and is has of the largest ports in Europe. It was also completely destroyed in WWII and was rebuilt as a modern city… so don’t expect to see much “classic” Holland here.
But the city is still vibrant and offers visitors a different look at this dynamic country.
There are multiple trains that go between Amsterdam and Rotterdam — the trip takes between 45 min – 1h15.
Utrecht is another great pick for a relaxing and beautiful day trip from Amsterdam. Utrecht has a village-like feel thanks to its many medieval buildings — in fact, it has historically been one of the most important centers of Christianity since the 8th century. These days it’s a very youthful feel thanks to its large number of university students.
Utrecht is only about a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam.
We’re not sure how someone wouldn’t love the charming town of Leiden. It’s full of 17th-century architecture, beautiful canals, great museums, and plenty of hip cafes and restaurants.
Leiden is also home to Leiden University — which is Holland’s oldest university dating back to the 1570s. Leiden’s nearly 30,000 students ensure the city has a lively and active nightlife scene.
The train between Leiden and Amsterdam takes about 40 minutes.
If you want to truly get away from it all then head to Giethoorn. This village is full of centuries-old thatched-roof houses. The village is built on canals so people get around via small boats or bikes (in fact, cars are largely banned). Giethoorn does attract a lot of visitors in the summer but it’s still a nice place to check out.
There aren’t many easy public transportation options. You can take a few local trains but the easiest is renting a car. You can also book a tour and they’ll take care of it.
More Resources to Help You Plan Your Amsterdam Budget Travel
Do yourself a favor by doing a little research before you arrive in Amsterdam — it’s well worth the research.
We’ve listed a few of our favorite budget-minded guidebooks, websites, and expat blogs that you may want to check out.
- Rick Steves — Amsterdam (guide book)
- Lonely Planet — Amsterdam (guide book)
- Spotted By Locals: Amsterdam (blog and app)
- iAmsterdam Official Tourism Website – The city of Amsterdam has a damn good tourism website. It has a ton of quality information, so it’s a good place to start your research.
If you’re looking at this article, I’m going to bet you’re getting ready to travel. Check out these helpful articles that we wrote for tips and advice for packing for your trip.
- Backpacking Europe Packing List for Women
- Backpacking Europe Packing List for Men
- Best Travel Backpacks for Europe
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Thanks For Reading! — James