Amsterdam first visit is expected to be fun and if you go well prepared and know what to expect the experience will be one to remember. Although gorgeous, it can end up being an expensive destination if you don’t research enough. The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is also known as the “Venice of the North” and one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe. Besides the pretty canals, the narrow houses, flowers and bicycles, they have an extremely liberal culture. The city of Amsterdam is built on water, traversed by bikes and loved by many.

Best Time to Visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam First Visit

For Sightseeing

To enjoy the sights of Amsterdam in a more peaceful experience with fewer crowds –late autumn and winter months. The worst time for sight-seeing is in summer. The most popular attractions have long queues where you can wait for hours.

For Tulips

Tulips are in their colourful peak in mid-April. This month usually brings the most prolific blossoms.

For Shopping

The big discounts in Amsterdam are in January and July with the ‘clearance sale’ up to 70%. For that true taste of Amsterdam, the 9 Streets (9 Straatjes Shopping Amsterdam) located in the Canal belt are nine picturesque little streets full of boutiques, quirky shops and amazing eateries. (Open also on Sundays)

Amsterdam First Visit

Popular Festivals

Amsterdam First Visit

  • April 27, -the King’s Day, the all-orange street party after King Willem-Alexander’s birthday.
  • June 15-17 the Garden Weekend. The grand courtyards concealed behind the canal houses are opened to the public.
  • August 4 the Canal Parade that is the highlight of Pride Amsterdam. The whole town comes out to cheer on the elaborate floats and their costumed LGBTQ crew.

Exploring Popular Neighborhoods in Amsterdam

Amsterdam First Visit

There is a myriad of charming neighbourhoods and streets in Amsterdam for you to peruse. Part of the charm is just walking and biking around. You’ll find idyllic canal streets and 17th-century architecture throughout.

Amsterdam First Visit


Amsterdam First Visit

The Anne Frank House is located in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam and lies on the pretty, houseboat-lined Prinsengracht canal right next to the Westerkerk, the church Anne mentions in her diary whose bells would ring throughout the day. A House rather nondescript, you could walk by and not even notice it if it weren’t for the hordes of people waiting in line to get in.

The New East is the coolest neighbourhood in Amsterdam. It is buzzing with some of the most exciting bars, restaurants and places to hang out. It is the old dockland area on the River IJ that runs alongside Amsterdam.

Amsterdam First Visit

Wander around the old Jewish quarter, to come to the Waterlooplein Flea market which is open daily. Another one, the Albert Cuyp Market is also a must! You will come to Rembrandt’s House here, the Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue and the Jewish Historical Museum.

Amsterdam First Visit

Amsterdam Markets

Amsterdam First Visit

With 12 outdoor markets, 15 that open one or two days a week and several markets that open seasonally, there is much to see, bargain and buy while in Amsterdam. Because such places are a paradise to pick-pocketers, always keep your eye on your belongings.

Flower Market

Situated on barges on the Singel Canal, the Bloemenmarkt is a floating flower market filled with an impressive array of plants and flowers, including the Dutch tulips.

Flea Market

Waterlooplein Flea market is traditionally the oldest market in Amsterdam. It is a big outdoor bazaar best for second-hand clothing and the usual bric-a-brac.

Sunday Market

Every 1st Sunday of the month, ‘Westergasfabriek’ in the Westerpark Area turns into a big market. Besides free food and drink tastings, these markets are perfect places to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Enjoy your stroll, browse the stands, do some bargain if you feel like it and buy yourself one or two souvenirs to bring back home.

A Canal Cruise

Finally, if you’re looking for an entirely different view on the city, perhaps you might consider taking a city canal cruise. Lasting around 75 minutes, this meander along Amsterdam’s waterways allows for you to enjoy the city’s history through its many canals. From the historical centre to the skinny bridge, it’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon or morning.

Amsterdam First Visit

Street Food Traditional Delicacies

Amsterdam First Visit

The cuisine of the Netherlands does not stand out to be fabulous, contrary, to their snacks. So, you are through by now with the canals, the museums and sight-seeing. How about tasting some traditional delicacies! The Dutch have some fabulous street food.

Stroopwafels & Poffertjes

Stroopwafels, are waffles filled with syrup and are the most famous and popular pastry in the Netherlands. You can find them in cafes to accompany your coffee, get them from street vendors, or buy them in grocery shops.

Amsterdam First Visit

For divine fresh Stroopwafels, get to the ‘Landskroom’ Bakery (Singel 385) or the original stand in the Albert Cuyp Market. Poffertjes are also worth trying, a bite-sized buttery pancakes covered in powdered sugar. You can find them in the same market and they are super yummy.

Amsterdam Coffee Shops

Amsterdam First Visit

Coffee shops and cafes in Amsterdam are very different from the usual ones, those serving bakery goods and a cup of coffee. A licensed seller of cannabis here is called a ‘Coffeeshop’. Coffee shops in Amsterdam also, do not sell alcohol. A shop may sell either alcohol or cannabis products but never both. Don’t step inside unless you see a green and white sticker to assure that you are in the right cafe.

Amsterdam First Visit

Amsterdam Places to Eat

Best French fries at Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx

Best Apple cake with whipped cream at Café Winkel 43

For Organic, healthy dishes with an emphasis on fresh produce get to De Kas, an enormous greenhouse.

For Traditional Indonesian cuisine in a trendy setting get to Blauw.

For the best sandwiches get to Singel 40. A definite winner, the smoked chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, avocado and melted brie.

Tours, Sightseeing & Passes – Viator

Amsterdam First Visit

When it comes to Amsterdam tours, activities, tickets and passes, Viator is the industry leader. Check their Hop-on-Hop-off Tours and things to do.

Purchase an I Amsterdam City Card

Besides the expenses of your accommodation, you need to move around. If you’re planning on visiting many museums, consider getting an I Amsterdam Card. It gives you access to many museums for free and a ticket for transportation. An I Amsterdam card includes internal local transport, boat ride, museum entry, food, etc. It is advisable to buy one such card if you love visiting many attractions in a single day.

Amsterdam First Visit

You can buy the I Amsterdam City Card online, or upon landing in Amsterdam, and they are valid until 2020.  There’s 24 hours’ a 48, a 72 and a 96 hour’s card. You can also ask for them from the Central Train Station -the store is located right by the main entrance. You cannot miss it. With the purchasing of your card, you will receive an interactive digital map with information on the various offers.

Benefits & Limits

  • Attractions and Restaurants offer discounts as well as all GVB public transportation.
  • The I Amsterdam City Card is for individual use.
  • It offers no discounts for families or groups.
  • You cannot pay the same museum a second visit, neither enjoy a canal cruise more than once. You can though, visit the Rijksmuseum for free.
  • If for one or another reason the trip is cancelled, there is no refund.
  • The card is valid until 2010, so you could either keep and use it later or give it to another person.

GVB Public Transportation

Amsterdam First Visit

The trams run all over Amsterdam from central station, good value for money with a 24-hour card at 8 euros per person, can get on and off as many times as you like.

Map very clear to follow, easy to get on and off and scan your card.

The use of all GVB public transportation is free, which is usually white and blue and includes buses, trams and a couple of trains. Trains though are run by the NS so if you plan to use them you need a separate ticket. Don’t miss to validate your ticket!

Trams are popular but equally convenient are buses. To provide yourselves with the Amsterdam Travel Ticket click on the link. The cost is €22.5 for a 2-day ticket.

Amsterdam First Visit

About Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – Bus 197

Amsterdam First Visit

The Airport is spacious with easy signage in both Dutch and English. Depending on where you are heading to, the Amsterdam Airport Express, Bus 197, is a great option to get into the city quickly.

From the Airport to the City-Center

From Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to the City-Centre you need the Public transport tickets, such as the Amsterdam Travel Ticket, or the Amsterdam Region Travel Ticket that includes train travel within the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Depending on the traffic during peak times, public transport may get you there faster. The purchasing of tickets though is possible only through credit cards.

Amsterdam First Visit

Airport Taxis

If on a strict time program, taxis are preferable and can be handy when getting to and from the Airport late at night when the trams have stopped running, or when in a hurry to catch a flight.

Bicycles in Amsterdam

If you love cycling, it is by far the most popular form of discovering the city. Around 35% of all trips within the city are by bike, compared with 22% by car. Locals use their bicycles even when it snows. Cycling is an essential Amsterdam experience you should not miss. You can either rent a bike or take a guided cycle tour. Imagine that the total length of bike paths in Amsterdam is about 400 kilometres.

Bottom Line

It is not easy to stop yourself from taking photos when in Amsterdam as the place is impressive, but what makes it distinct is that it is hard not to find something exciting to do that fits your likes.

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