Amsterdam is by far my favorite city in the world. People always ask me why and I can’t help but think, where do I start? It won’t be everyone’s favorite but I know Amsterdam fits me like a glove. So here’s the need to know information on this canal town in my first City Spotlight.
Location: The heart of the Netherlands, Amsterdam sits off the North Sea in Western Europe. Centrally located, it has been a hub of commerce for hundreds of years.
Recommended length of stay: If you are pressed for time, I would say minimum 2-3 nights. However, this is a great city to get an apartment for a couple weeks and really soak in the laid back culture.
Travel Speed/Style: Slower is better. It is a very young city, but it draws in people of all ages. Solo travelers, families, and couples will all find it perfect for their style. Also, it is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world, especially during the annual Gay Pride Festival.
Language: Dutch, English- if you are concerned about language barriers, this is a great starter city to get your feet wet, nearly everyone speaks English.
Culture: I would say mellow but it is also known for its young party scene. Famous for its relaxed stance on weed and prostitution, it is one of the most notoriously liberal cultures.
Seasons: Peak Season is June-September, Shoulder Season is March-May, and Off-Season is October-March. If you go in peak season expect long lines for Amsterdam’s many popular museums.
Festivals and Holidays: National Tulip Day- January 17th. Kings’s Day (previously Queen’s Day)- April 27th every year. Gay Pride- July 25th-August 2nd for 2015. Liberation Day May- 5th for 2015 (only occurs every 5 years).
Cost of Living: high. Average .5 liter beer: €5, converse I had to buy: €60, average inexpensive restaurant meal: €15
Average Accommodation types/prices: Hostels: $20-30/night, Low Budget Hotel: $75-150/night, Nice Hotel: $300+/night
Modes of Transportation: walking, bicycles for rent, and tram are best for the central area. This is a terrible city for a car.
Top Attractions: Anne Frank House, Rijks Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark, the large I Amsterdam and walking/boating the Jordaan
Things you can skip: Don’t drop any serious cash on a tour when there are tons of free walking tours! Sandeman’s Europe Tours is by far the best.
Tips and Tricks: Amsterdam is best experienced out and about. Walking tours, biking, boating the canal, and meandering are all perfect ways to experience the city.
Recommended hostels/bars: The Flying Pig is a famously awesome hostel. I’ve never stayed there (you need to reserve pretty far in advance) but I’ve heard great things. I’ve also heard the bar gets pretty rowdy.
Myths Dispelled: Weed is not legal! The police look the other way as long as the “cafes” are being discreet. So don’t light up right in front of a police station! Also, prostitution isn’t technically legal either.
I absolutely love Amsterdam. I hope to live there someday. What are your thoughts on Amsterdam? Overrated or is the hype warranted?