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All you need to know before travelling to Amsterdam

April 29, 2024
Freya Harding

Amsterdam is one of the most popular destinations in the world and is famous for its bikes, bridges, and canals. From the fascinating history of World War II, to being the first country to legalist same-sex marriages in 2001, the Dutch capital is part of the reason why it is on so many bucket lists. It is full of surprises in every corner that are perfect for all types of travellers. Arguably, the best time to go is during the spring so that you can see all the glory during the tulip season in Amsterdam. Having visited myself, here’s everything you should tick off your Amsterdam bucket list in a long weekend.

Get a feel for Amsterdam without getting lost

With surprisingly more canals than Venice, a visit to Amsterdam is not complete without a canal cruise where you can watch the scenery glide past. The city is intimately connected to water, and its canal ring was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010.

Bikes rule the city

In a city with more bikes than people, stay out of Amsterdam bike lanes and beware when crossing the roads, as bikes have the right of way over cars and people! Unfortunately, there are no longer free bikes in Amsterdam, so they have to be rented, but are most definitely worth it.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was riding through the famous Vondelpark, situated west of Leidsplein, which is a famous nightlife spot. Biking in Amsterdam is the primary way to travel. However, if you choose to travel by tram, metro, or bus, it’s important to note that there are local laws in Amsterdam, such as public transport no longer accepting cash payments for tickets.

Tulip season

As I mentioned earlier, I can’t help but argue that April/May is the best time to go to the Netherlands for its famous tulip period. A bus ride less than 40 minutes away from Amsterdam city centre, you can spend a few hours at Keukenhof tulip fields. As one of the world’s largest flower gardens, it is truly not one to miss. 7 million tulip bulbs of all different colors are planted every year, and is a stunning addition to your Netherlands trip.

Drugs in the Netherlands

We know the Netherlands' drug policy. It has a reputation for tolerating so-called ‘soft drugs’, however, it’s important not to take advantage of this. Keep in mind, and also read on the FCDO Travel Advice website that in reality, drugs are prohibited and this tolerance exists only for designated premises in the major cities. There are specifically designated cafés where the use of cannabis is tolerated. Note that you can’t get your Starbucks order at a coffee shop, and the place you’re looking for would be a Koffiehuis

Food and bar recommendation!

Of course, you can’t have a Dutch trip and not try their famous Stroopwafels! The most popular place is Van Wonderer, where you can choose from lots of different sauces and toppings made fresh.

My favorite Dutch cuisine during the trip was in the Foodhallen, an indoor food market with 21 different international stands. You can sit anywhere in a hall where flavors take the center stage and order from the various kitchens.

Lastly, the Hannekes Boom Bar was a lovely location for a drink under the trees overlooking the waterfront. It’s a great meeting point for young people with pub-style dishes.

Something also to note is that Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is the central hub in Europe and the world’s fifth busiest international airport, so ensure you have plenty of time to get through security. That being said, the FCDO have to issue many emergency passports for British people on their trips in Amsterdam. You can also find out what to do if your passport gets lost or stolen abroad on their website.
There’s no doubt that Amsterdam has something for everyone, whether you’re an adrenaline junky and are up for the A’DAM Lookout Swing with incredible views of the city (a big recommendation of mine!) or a lover of museums. The city has so much to offer, and as per my advice if you check the FCDO Travel page you’ll be sure to have a smooth and well-prepared trip!

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Written by

Freya Harding
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