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Plan Your Trip to Amsterdam: Best of Amsterdam Tourism

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands

From its picturesque canals and bridges to its historic homes, Amsterdam could be considered straight out of a fairytale (and the brightly-colored bicycles and tulip stands around town don’t hurt either). Must-see sights include the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the world's only floating flower market. Rent a bike and join thousands of locals peddling around. Other visitors might want to linger in the local coffee shops, which is just a normal part of the city's landscape. Check out more recs below to make the most of your trip.

Travel Advice

Essential Amsterdam

How to do Amsterdam in 3 days

From canal walks and flower markets to museums of brown-café beers
Read on

8 best day trips from Amsterdam

From grand castles and picturesque windmills to charming canals (without the crowds!) and eclectic markets, the towns just beyond Amsterdam deserve a special visit. Although Amsterdam is worthy of its accolades, after exploring the Netherlands, I’ve found that I’m equally impressed by the slice of Dutch life that exists in these underrated destinations. Ready to explore? Here are my favorite detours from Amsterdam.
  • Utrecht
    In quaint Utrecht, 30 minutes south of Amsterdam, kids kayak on Oudegracht canal, bikes lean on flower-covered bridges, and cafes line the waterways. The walkable city center (a 10-minute radius) is also a foodie favorite; it’s perfect for a food crawl of treats like De Ontdekking’s Dutch baby pancakes and Kaasbar’s conveyor-belt charcuterie. Rent a bicycle for the 20-minute ride to Rhijnauwen estate’s teahouse and De Veldkeuken restaurant serving vegan dishes straight from the garden.
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  • World Heritage Kinderdijk
    To get to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s an hour’s train to Rotterdam, then a half-hour ferry (a pretty journey in its own right). The scene is straight out of a Dutch landscape painting—green fields, grazing sheep, and a bucolic waterway studded by 19 authentic windmills. Grab an apple turnover at the visitor center before biking or strolling around the 18th-century windmills. Tip: Visit in the late afternoon to avoid big tour groups.
  • Rotterdam
    Rebuilt after WWII, Rotterdam draws travelers with its cutting-edge architecture (particularly Markthal’s Cube Houses) and trendy neighborhoods. In Oude Noorden (Old North), Zwaanshals street is lined with galleries, shops, and restaurants. I swooned over Bistro LOEVetDIE’s French fare (the ratatouille is sublime) and Mecca’s Middle Eastern meals (order egg labneh or white babka). The old harbor, Delfshaven, is a mix of historic architecture and modern amusements, including 4,000-foot rooftop Dakpark and Keilecafe open-air club.
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  • Delft
    Delft is the source of my favorite souvenir: pottery. This storybook village—and Vermeer’s hometown—is known for its blue-and-white Delftware. You can buy custom pieces at Heinen Delfts Blauw, antiques at Léon-Paul, and unique crafts at Droom. To watch the artists in action, head to Blue Tulip, located across from the medieval church in the market square. For lunch, TAZZ is a convivial café that encompasses the Dutch term gezellig (cozy and friendly).
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  • Kasteel de Haar
    At Castle De Haar, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. This fairytale fortress, originally constructed in 1391, was rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire, and fully restored from 1892 to 1912. Today, the 200-room castle is the largest in the Netherlands, and its 135 acres of manicured grounds and romantic gardens are perfect for a picnic. Tip: It’s best to drive (30 minutes) or book a tour as public transit is time-consuming.
  • The Hague
    If you’re a history buff, like me, you’ll love The Hague. As the country’s political center, it’s home to Noordeinde Palace—a royal residence—and Binnenhof, the 13th century castle that’s the home of parliament. Next door, the Mauritshuis museum displays works by Dutch Masters like Rembrant and Vermeer in a 17th-century mansion. (Tip: Visit late in the day; on a recent visit 30 minutes before closing, I had “Girl with a Pearl Earring” all to myself.)
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  • Haarlem
    Haarlem, just a 20 minute train ride from Amsterdam, is my go-to spot for unique shopping. Some favorites include The James for homegoods, Callysta for jewelry, Vind for vintage clothes, and 't Kaaswinkeltje for local cheese—all within a five-minute walk of the train. While you’re here, get lunch at By Lima, which specializes in healthy bowls, or, for something sweet, the decadent French toast with clotted cream at Toast.
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  • Edam
    Bus 316 takes you 30 minutes north to the lakeside “Waterlands'' of tourist-favorite Volendam (think: clog shops, costume photos) or my favorite, Edam, a sleepy hamlet of tranquil canals, leafy walking paths, and a striking bell tower, just a 7-minute bus ride. Sample the town’s namesake cheese at Kaasspeciaalzaak, but save room for dinner at De Fortuna, particularly the sourdough bread board and pecan pie with crispy hops from the Hague.
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Amsterdam Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Amsterdam


Before you go, obtain the "I amsterdam" card or the "Holland Pass". Both will save you money and queuing for tickets.


Decide on what you would like to see and do before you go and allow for some time in between sites as you will need to this for time to relax in many of the café bars.

Jan S

Rent a bike. There are many rental companies, with different color bikes, standing out between the black or grey bikes of the locals … Avoid taxis. They are expensive.


Amsterdam is a wonderful city with helpful citizens who all seem to speak perfect English. It is small and compact — easily navigated on foot and when needed, an efficient public transportation system. Combine this with great museums, interesting neighborhoods and LOTS of places to eat and drink.


Everyone loves Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Amsterdam has something for everyone. From the most Discriminating Foodies to Low Brow Art Lovers and all the wonderful people in between.


Amsterdam is filled with history and great art. The architecture is pretty unique and has a very simple elegance.

What is the best way to get there?


The primary international airport serving the Netherlands is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Many smaller airlines also fly to regional airports such as Rotterdam or Eindhoven, or airports near the Dutch border.


Amsterdam Centraal station is the city's major international railway hub, with services to destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


Eurolines operates international coach services from Amsterdam Amstel railway station, while IDBUS, Megabus, and Flixbus operate international routes from Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station.

Find more information on getting to Amsterdam.

Do I need a visa?

The Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area with many other European countries. This means tourists from certain countries don’t require a visa for trips less than 90 days — as long as your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned departure date.

Find more information about the Schengen Visa and what countries are exempt.

When is the best time to visit?

Spring (March to May) and Summer (June to August): The spring tulip season — when Keukenhof Gardens opens up and the city is taken over by colorful blooms for the Tulip Festival — is one of the most popular times to visit Amsterdam. Average daytime temperatures in spring reach 55 Fahrenheit (13 Celsius) and lows of 41 Fahrenheit (5 Celsius).

Summertime is also inevitably crowded, but it’s the most atmospheric time to experience Dutch culture, with dozens of festivals, urban beaches, and open-air cinemas springing up around the capital. Average daytime temperatures in summer reach highs of 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) and lows of 54 Fahrenheit (12 Celsius).

Get around


Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Bike-hire companies are located all over the city. Find more information about where to hire a bike.

train, tram and bus

Public transport operator Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (GVB) operates tram, bus and metro services starting at 6 a.m. and running until 12:30 a.m. Between 12:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., you can travel on night buses.

The I amsterdam City Card gives tourists unlimited access to public transport in the city combined with free entry to many attractions.

Find more information on schedules, fares, and routes.


Amsterdam’s taxis are easily spotted with their blue license plates and official sign on the roof. Taxis are metered and can be caught from one of many taxi stands, hailed on the street, or booked via telephone.

Find more information about fares, who to call and where to find a taxi stand.


Uber is available in Amsterdam on your smartphone.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Central European Time Zone

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in the Netherlands is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. Wall outlets typically accommodate plugs with two round pins.

What is the currency?

The Euro

Are ATMs readily accessible?


Are credit cards widely accepted?


Is it easy to find a bank?


How much do I tip?

Tipping isn't obligatory, but people usually round the bill up to the nearest whole Euro or leave 5-10% if they are satisfied with the service.

Are there local customs I should know?


The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old.


Drugs are illegal in the Netherlands, however, the Dutch Narcotics Act distinguishes between hard drugs and soft drugs. A tolerance policy is applied to soft drugs, which includes marijuana and hash. This means that selling, producing, dealing or possession is still illegal on the street, but the law will apply leniency in coffee shops for sales of cannabis under a maximum amount of five grams. To enter a coffee shop, you must be 18 years of age. Visitors should, however, keep in mind that most venues other than coffee shops do not allow soft drugs to be consumed on their premises.


The common greeting in the Netherlands is a firm handshake or a double or triple cheek kiss.


Do not walk in bike lanes and always look both ways before crossing a bike lane.

Personal space

Respect a Dutch person’s personal space — many value their physical and personal privacy.

Be on time

Punctuality is highly valued in Dutch culture. It is considered rude to keep people waiting.

Frequently Asked Questions about Amsterdam

We recommend staying at one of the most popular hotels in Amsterdam, which include:

Some of the most popular restaurants in Amsterdam include:

Amsterdam is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:

If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Amsterdam between December and February, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between March and May.