Welcome to our Amsterdam Guide
Let our Amsterdam guide give you all the information you could possibly need to explore this fascinating city. From architecture and cuisine, culture to history, Amsterdam’s eclectic style has something for everyone. Whether you’ve been to Amsterdam before and want to know of some unique and hidden gems, or this is your first visit and you’d like to know where are the best place to discover, our guide to Amsterdam has everything you need to find your way around and enjoy the best that the popular city has to offer.
Amsterdam is well-known for great beer and interesting pastimes, however there’s a lot more to the city than meets the eye and our Amsterdam guide will help you find it. Exploring the city is easy via a very reliable and frequent tram system, or for a more scenic trip take a canal cruise along the many waterways. Speciality shops are in abundance from cheese to chocolate and some more entertaining examples, and traditional Dutch street food is definitely something not to miss – especially the delicious spicy fries! There are plenty of attractions in Amsterdam to keep visitors busy, such as the spooky Amsterdam Dungeons and the ever-popular Madame Tussauds. Bars and restaurants in Amsterdam are aplenty with everything from traditional Belgian pubs to trendy bars catering for the more contemporary visitor. With a highly diverse community and a whole host of experiences waiting to be discovered, Amsterdam is definitely a place worth visiting.
Must do's by day
Enjoy a guided bus tour through the city
Visit the very first Heineken Brewery
Head to Dam square for lots of fun attractions
Must do's by night
Discover the history behind the infamous Red Light District
Enjoy some jazz music in Bourbon Street
Visit the Boom Chicago for an evening of Comedy
Travelling to Amsterdam
Due to its location across the North Sea, travelling by ferry has become incredibly fashionable thanks to low prices and the ability to take your car. Schiphol ferry port and the airport are less than two hours away from Amsterdam by road, leaving the rest of the day to explore. Travelling by train and road are also possibilities.
Thanks to the Eurostar, travelling by rail is an easy way to get to Amsterdam. Services run from London St. Pancras and takes 2 hours to get to Brussels. From there, the Thalys connecting train will be in Amsterdam Central Station in less than 2 hours.
Frequent flights run from all London airports and Leeds/Bradford airport amongst others, and take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes to arrive at Schiphol Airport. From there trains and buses run to the Centre of Amsterdam in under 2 hours.
Getting Around in Amsterdam
From central station where most visitors will arrive or be dropped off, Dam Square with the likes of Madame Tussauds is a gentle five minute walk away. Trams are the most popular form of transport but you will also find a strong cycling culture.
Although not as frequent as the trams, buses in Amsterdam are a great way to see as much of the city as you can without having to spend a lot of money. Again, a longer route will allow you to see more of Amsterdam.
Frequent, efficient and reliable, Amsterdam’s tram links are the best way to travel further afield around Amsterdam. 10 tram lines run from Central Station meaning wherever you’re staying or wish to visit, it’s easy to get there. Why not take the longest route so you can see more of the city?
As soon as you arrive in Amsterdam, the amount of cyclists around is likely to surprise you. Don’t worry though as there’s plenty of dedicated bike lanes. It’s a quick and easy way to go wherever you want in Amsterdam
Getting to Amsterdam
As one of the most popular destinations for European short breaks, Amsterdam has numerous ways and means by which to get there. Settled just off the North Sea, ferry travel is the easiest and most common way to travel. Although not the quickest, the journey allows guests to begin their holiday as soon as they step onboard, and not simply wait to get to Amsterdam. With great restaurants, evening entertainment and some fabulous views, travelling by ferry is a great way to get there. Eurostar is the quickest way to travel, taking two hours to reach Brussels from London St. Pancras and a further two to get to Amsterdam Central. Flying to Schiphol is another option, and travelling by road through France and Belgium is also popular.
Top 3 Travel Tips
- When travelling by ferry, be sure to take sea-sickness tablets with you as the journey across the North Sea can sometimes be rough.
- If arriving by train, Amsterdam Central provides lockers for a deposit where you can leave any luggage to save you carrying it around with you all day.
- Book your ferry meals in advance as you can save money and won’t be disappointed if you can’t get a table.
By RailEurostar travel has become incredibly popular when heading to France, Holland, Germany and Belgium. It’s one of the quickest ways to get there, with travelling time being around four hours and the connecting train taking you directly into Amsterdam Central Station. Guests can set off at lunchtime in London and arrive in Amsterdam for their evening meal, giving them plenty of time to settle into their hotel ready for the next day. When booking in advance, Eurostar short breaks cost around £200pp based on a two night stay.
By AirFlying to Amsterdam is not the most common way to travel but it is definitely the quickest. Flying only takes just over an hour from London, and arrives at Schiphol airport ready for the same transfers as the ferry would receive. Three hours from start to finish and you can be in the city centre.
By FerryAs the most popular way to travel, ferries leave from both Newcastle and Hull ports very frequently. Due to the length of the trip, ferries will usually depart early evening and travel overnight, allowing guests the chance to enjoy the onboard facilities, sleep and arrive in Amsterdam early the next morning with the whole day to explore. Once guests arrive at Schiphol ferry port, the coach transfer takes around 2 hours to reach Amsterdam Central Station, just a short walk from all the major attractions.
Getting Around Amsterdam
With most of the main attractions and hotspots in the centre, getting around Amsterdam is easy. Walking is the most common way to move around as you can enjoy the sights sounds and smells of the city whilst you make your way to your destination. To move a little further afield or to make your way to and from your hotel, the frequent and reliable tram system is an easy way to do so, and at a low cost too. Cycling in Amsterdam is part of the culture. Dedicated cycle lanes are heavily used by locals and visitors alike. Hire a bike and spend the day cycling around this scenic city to see what you can discover.
Top 3 Travel Tips
- Bikes do not stop! If you’re crossing the road or wandering around be careful near the cycle lanes
- If you’re using the tram, why not take the longest route so you get to see as much of Amsterdam as possible?
- Make sure you keep your map on you while you’re walking around. It’s easy to get lost among the similar looking streets and canals
On FootAll of the main attractions are in the centre of Amsterdam, all within an easy walk of Amsterdam Central Station which is where most visitors will arrive and be dropped off. Once you leave the station, straight in front of you are the streets that lead to Dam Square, lined with museums, speciality shops, bus tours and street food stalls. Walking around means you don’t miss any of the little hidden gems that are tucked in the side streets and you can really enjoy authentic Amsterdam
By TramFor travelling further afield to a hotel or perhaps to take a look around the windmills, using the tram is a quick and efficient way of moving around. With ten different routes leaving from Central Station, there’s nowhere that you can’t get to, and with an all day ticket costing as little as 22 Euros it’s a great value way to explore. If you have luggage with you that you don’t want to carry around all day, there are lockers inside Central Station where you can lock away your things and travel freely, all for the lowly price of 7 Euros for 24 hours use of a large locker. Some of the machines only accept card payments so make sure you have everything prepared.
By BikeWith a nice flat landscape and dedicated cycling lanes, hiring a bike in Amsterdam is a great way to get around – and it’s more fun than walking. You can find bike rental outlets throughout the city such as MacBike and Amsterbike, as it’s a really popular way to explore. As long as you listen to the rules that the vendor tells you, and follow the cycling codes correctly, it’ll be a great addition to your memories of Amsterdam. Prices vary but on average it costs 7 Euros a day to hire a bike.
Shopping in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is full of variety when it comes to shopping. With everything from huge department stores to vintage boutiques and bustling flea markets, shopping in Amsterdam is a great experience. ‘The Nine Streets’ is the busiest shopping district and is right in the city centre. Intersecting the main canals, nine streets within the Leidsestraat and the Jordaan districts are lined with jewelers, museums, boutiques, cafes and art galleries, and have an exceptional array of style, trends and prices. The P.C. Hooftstraat is Amsterdam’s most luxurious shopping streets, selling brands such as Louis Vuitton and DKNY, and for traditional department store products, De Bijenkorf is located right in Dam Square.
PGC Hajenius – The Art Deco Tobacco Shop
Opened in 1826, this tobacco shop became the leading seller to many European countries. Exactly the same as it was, this art deco haven is lined with Delft tobacco jars and no paint on the walls – it would have interfered with the tobacco smell.
Top 5 Specialty Shops in Amsterdam
Concerto, Utrechtsestraat 52-60
For over 50 years, Concerto has been selling and educating people on music from around the world. Knowledgeable and passionate, this store sells every style of music from electronica to classical, pop to rock.
Choclatl, Hazenstraat 25-A
A speciality chocolate shop with an eclectic mix of products - the store considers itself a 'gallery for chocolate'.
Charlie + Mary, Gerard Doustraat 84, 1072 VW
On trend and well priced, this cool sustainable fashion store is definitely worth exploring. 100% eco friendly, Charlie + Mary believe in the story of fashion and strive to continue this philosophy.
Wini Vintage, Haarlemmerstraat 29
Although there are a fair few vintage shops scattered around Amsterdam, Wini offers the highest-quality women’s garments at the lowest prices. There's also an abundance of men's suits, retro kids' clothing, jewellery and even some rainbow-coloured ski wear from the 1960s.
Recycled Bicycles, Spuistraat 84a
In a bid to curb the selling of stolen bikes to tourists, the team at Recycled Bicycles rescue, renovate and sell old, broken bikes at a bargain price, and occasionally hire them out to tourists.
Top 5 Markets in Amsterdam
Oudemanhuispoort Book Market, Oudemanhuispoort
Filled with some of the greatest books of all time, these market sellers take pride in their product and only sell the best. No beaten paper-backs here.
De Looier Arts & Antiques, Elandsgracht 109
Inconspicuous and easily passed, this Aladdin’s cave of antiques is filled with pieces of history and memorabilia. Expect everything and anything - furniture, religious art, vintage jewellery and silverware, as well as old wooden toys and even war artefacts from decades past.
Waterlooplein Markt, Waterlooplein
The most famous flea market in Amsterdam, Waterlooplein is well worth the visit. Tourists snap up flares, Hawaiian shirts and occasionally amusing T-shirts and upcoming designers make good use of the footfall to establish themselves.
In the pretty Jordaan Disctrict this open-air market is a great place for vintage bargains and good eats. Farmers from around the country come here to sell their fresh, local produce every Saturday.
Albert Cuyp Markt, Albert Cuypstraat
Named after the Dutch painter, this is far from a traditional market and its stalls carry treasures from around the world; here you can find North African, Turkish and Indonesian goods on offer.
Top 5 High-End Shops in Amsterdam
Droog, Staalstraat 7b
These Dutch masters of pragmatic, funny design use their Amsterdam flagship store (they also own a store in Las Vegas) to showcase their greatest and latest (re)inventions.
Maison de Bonneterie, Rokin 140-142
Started by 19th-century entrepreneurs from Amsterdam's then-flourishing Jewish community, this gorgeously skylit building presents a luxurious alternative to other more mainstream department stores. The Bonneterie has served the preppier sections of Dutch society since 1911.
LockStock & Barrel, Hartenstraat 26
LockStock & Barrel is the place to go for eclectic but well-curated clothing and accessories sourced from as far away as Japan, Finland and the US. In the heart of The Nine Streets shopping district it’s surrounded by trendy outlets.
Moooi, Westerstraat 187
Moooi boasts 700 stark white square metres of joyous design products from world-class design fairs. Aside from modern classics or high-concept lighting, the space beautifully showcases the work of Dutch star designers.
Ennu Cornelis, Schuytstraat 15
Amsterdam's "Old South", just below the Vondelpark, is home to the city's richest property developers and inside-traders; a natural luxury shopping destination. Its smoky glass window hides the shop's moody, stark interior, but here you will find Michelle Obama favourite, Rick Owens products.
Eating out in Amsterdam
Generally speaking Dutch food is simple, hearty, meat-and-potatoes type fare. Favourites include erwtensoep (pea soup with ham and smoked sausage), stamppot (mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables, served with meat and gravy) and suddervlees (slowly braised meat). Thanks to its proximity to the sea, fish and seafood also feature heavily on Dutch menus, especially plaice, mackerel, eel, mussels and shrimp. The Dutch are also crazy for their friet (chips/fries)! Even upscale restaurants often serve their meals with a side of friet and mayonnaise. Restaurants also cater for the many tourists that visit by providing the best of international food, as well as the usual chain restaurants you find throughout Europe.
NEW! Izakaya Restuarant
Located inthe vibrant area ‘De Pijp’, Sir Albert’s luxury boutique hotel home featuresupper class Japanese dining thanks to IZAKAYA Asian Kitchen & Bar. Those whocrave a Japanese “moment” can head out and ask for house infused tonics based onthe ancient Japanese spirit Shochu or a “Tokyo Rose” from the cocktail menu.
Top 5 Traditional Dutch Restaurants in Amsterdam
Hap-Hmm, 15 Helmersstraat 33
Hap-Hmm serves old-fashioned Dutch food at really reasonable prices. Dinners start at just 7.50 Euros and is very popular with the locals, so if traditional food is what you want, you’re likely to get it here.
Moeders, Rozengracht 251
Translated as ‘Mothers’, the walls of the restaurant are filled with photos of mothers, and the menu features all the Dutch classics. You can even order a dinner sampler with a variety of typical dishes on one plate.
Haesje Claes, Spuistraat 273-275
Extended over six different interconnecting buildings, all exquisitely decorated, the menu is exclusively old-fashioned Dutch food, offering pea soup, fish stew, chicken livers and everything in between.
Loetje Johannes, Vermeerstraat 52
Home to Amsterdam’s best traditional biefstuk and friet (steak and chips), this restaurant is no place for vegetarians. The menu also has a few fish items it’s predominantly a carnivore’s paradise.
Greetje, Peperstraat 23-25
It’s the closest you can get to a home-cooked Dutch meal in a restaurant. They often get high marks for their welcoming atmosphere and friendly service and use fresh, organic products wherever possible.
Top 5 International Restaurants in Amsterdam
Blauw aan de Wal Oudezijds Achterburgwal 99
If you want to get away from the Dutch style of food, this restaurant’s French and Italian menus will provide a tasty escape with big portions and knowledgeable staff to help visitors out.
Gare de Lâ Est, Cruquiusweg 9
Located in a former rail station, this quirky restaurant offers a set menu of food from North Africa, the Mediterranean and Asia. There’s also a lovely terrace garden to sit out on and enjoy your meal.
Fifteen, Jollemanhof 9
Jamie Oliver has taken his world famous restaurant over to Holland. With delicious food from all over the world, there’ll be something to suit everyone’s tastes, and not as expensive as you may think.
Restaurant PS, Planciusstraat 49
For a range of foods from around the world, Restaurant PS is a great choice. With a small army of fans already hooked on the tasty food, it’s a very popular eatery with locals and visitors alike.
Sawaddee Ka, Overtoom 49
Thai food is very popular in Amsterdam, and this is one of the best examples of it. Close to the museum district it’s a delicious and easy place to head after a busy day of exploring.
Top 5 Budget Restaurants in Amsterdam
De Zotte Raamstraat 29
With the homely feel of a local pub, this small restaurant specialises in Dutch and Swiss cuisine, but its main selling point is its huge variety of beers.
Singel 404, 1016 AK
Main courses here begin from only 6 Euros making for a very cheap meal. Selling a whole range of international foods, you’re guaranteed to find something you like.
Poco Loco, Nieuwmarkt 24
Situated right in the middle of a busy shopping street, Poco Loco is ideal for a quiet lunch, afternoon drink or a cosy dinner in the evening.
Yam Yam, Frederik Hendrikstraat 88-90
A welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff await visitors at this trendy pizzeria. Great pizzas at low prices make for an easy choice after a busy day.
Restaurant Azmarino, 2e Sweelinckstraat 6
Specialising in East African cuisine, main courses begin from only 6 Euros. Big portions of meat and vegetables, all prepared in a very traditional manner.
As one of the most popular cities in Europe to visit for a short break, evening entertainment in Amsterdam is diverse and exciting. Although bars and clubs may be at the forefront of most visitors’ minds, there are actually a huge variety of activities and destinations to keep you busy at night. From theatres to cinemas, cruises to jazz cafes, the varied culture of the city means you can do something completely different on each night of your stay.
Top 10 Amsterdam Nightlife
Concertgebouw, 2 â 6, Museum Quarter
Thanks to its wonderful acoustics, this concert hall is widely regarded as one of the finest of its kind in the world.
Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8, 1017
Renowned for its cosy and informal atmosphere, this jazz café is the place to be for some of the finest artists around.
Boom Chicago, Leidseplein 12
Nightly comedy performances that have had the audiences in stitches since 1993. If you go early you can also have a nice dinner before the show.
Brouwerij ât, IJ Funenkade 7
Located in a former bath house, this unique brewery creates only 100% organic beers of every kind. Why not take a tour?
Bourbon Street, Leidsekruisstraat 6-8
A great live music bar with a warm and friendly atmosphere, Bourbon Street is one of the most popular places to go.
The Movies, Haarlemmerdijk 161
Instead of heading to a regular cinema, why not head here and see some of Holland’s greatest art films of the moment.
ABE Club & Lounge, Amstelstraat 30, 1017 DA
Inspired by the nightlife of New York, this luxurious and cosmopolitain bar offers an experience you'll never forget
Sugar Factory, Lijnbaansgracht 238
For something a little different, head to the Sugar Factory, a cutting edge multi-disciplinary night theatre in one of the busiest parts of the city.
Red Light District Tour, Red Light District
Explore the darker side of Amsterdam with a guide, discovering the secrets behind the Red Light District and the history behind it all.
Evening Candlelit Cruise, City Centre
Cruise for two hours through the illuminated buildings and under the stunning bridges, accompanied by some champagne and delicious Dutch cheeses.
Amsterdam’s bar scene is one of the most popular parts of the city for visitors. Full of charisma and diversity, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. From proper beer pubs to more contemporary cocktail bars, Amsterdam’s long history with beer and it’s forward thinking communities have created a brilliant place to enjoy the nightlife. Friendly locals and jazz bars with a warm atmosphere make you feel at home, or for a special occasion visitors can escape the crowds and head to sophisticated wine bars with top-end prices. Whatever your choice of drink, Amsterdam has somewhere for you.
Top 10 Amsterdam Bars
Cafe Belgique, Gravenstraat 2
A small, atmospheric café bar that serves Belgian beer; 8 on draught and 30 bottled kinds, all detailed with the best information to help you choose your tipple.
Pollux Prins, Hendrikkade 121
Name deriving from an old navy ship that used to be anchored beside the bar, Pollux’s neon-lit 50s style jukebox is packed with classic rock and soul, making for some interesting moves on the dance floor.
't Smalle, Egelantiersgracht 12
Originally a Hoppe distillery, time has stood still in this vintage bar. Beautiful waterside seats make this place a real winner.
Whiskycafe L&B Korte, Leidsedwarsstraat 82-84
With over 1400 different types of whiskey and bourbon from all over the world, the hardest thing to do here is decide what you want to drink.
Cafe Brecht, Weteringschans 157
Designed in the style of an old Berlin living room, this place is very popular with literary types and those who wish to escape the crowds. Vintage and unique, this is a great alternative bar.
Vesper Bar, Vinkenstraat 57
Kitsch and sophisticated, this delightful cocktail bar is tucked away on one of the busiest shopping streets in Amsterdam. A real hidden gem.
Proeflokaal Arendsnest, Herengracht 90, 1015 BS
With 100 different bottles of beer available, plus every brewed beer you can imagine, it's a great place to relax in the evening.
Cafe Sound Garden, Marnixstraat 164-166
A unique grunge bar that should not be discounted, this place is welcoming and friendly with the most stunning sun terrace overlooking the canal.
Okura Hotel Ferdinand, Bolstraat 333
High-end drinks at high-end prices, this bar may hurt your wallet but the unparalleled quality of the drink, service and surroundings is worth it.
In de Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3
Situated in an old distillery, this fantastic bar has a great range of Dutch, Belgian, German and British beers available.
Amsterdam attractions are well-known and all vary from one-another, making exploring them all the more exciting. From historical gems like the Anne Frank House to a completely different experience in the Heineken Museum, whether you like culture or humour, fun days out or educational days in, there’s definitely something to keep you entertained. As well as the attractions, there are also some beautiful parks that visitors can enjoy and make their own entertainment. The Vondelpark is a great place to take the family on a sunny day.
Top 10 Amsterdam Attractions
Prinsengracht, City Centre
Along with the Herengracht and Keizersgracht, this is one of the three major canals that shape the city. Take a cruise along and admire the stunning scenery.
Tuschinski Theatre, 26 - 34 Reguliersbreestraat
Probably Amsterdam's most famous theatre for cinema, it was built in 1921 as a "movie palace" in Art Deco style and continues to bring in hoards of visitors each week.
Anne Frank House, Prinsengracht 267
A museum with a moving story. Visit the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her diary during the Second World War.
This is charming neighbourhood is Amsterdam's finest area, with its narrow alleys, leafy canals lined with 17th-century houses and quirky specialty stores.
Van Gogh Museum, Paulus Potterstraat 7
The world's largest collection from the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) features more than 200 paintings and 600 drawings.
Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms, Singel 182-Huis
A tasting centre for some of the finest Dutch cheeses. The historic ripening process of the Reypenaer cheeses is unique in the Netherlands.
Vondelpark, Stadhouderskade, Museum Quarter
Amsterdam's most famous park was designed and built in 1850 and today is a popular place for tourists and residents who can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.
Rijksmuseum, Jan Luijkenstraat 1
The Rijksmuseum shows the very best of the Dutch Golden Age. Over 400 masterpieces give an impressive picture of the miracle of Dutch artistry.
Artis Zoo, Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
Whether you’re old or young, the great collection of animals at this city zoo will keep you entertained all day.
Heineken Experience, Stadhouderskade 78
The Heineken Experience is of course all about Heineken, from the history of the Heineken family, to the full process of beer making and trying out some samples.