Amsterdam is a famous travel destination always on the bucket list for many travelers and globe trotters. Every year, the city features tourists worldwide, be it adventure lovers, those who want to learn Dutch culture, and tulip chasers to weekend tourists. It is a tourist-friendly city with an excellent infrastructure to enjoy. But, like any other big city, it is not easy navigating the city if you are new or have visited for the first time. So, while you book a flight to Amsterdam, take some time to learn a few things about the city that will help you explore better and enjoy your stay.
The best time to travel to Amsterdam
There is always the best time to visit Amsterdam. It is a good time during the spring (April to May) since Amsterdam’s tulip season. Many tulip chasers flock to the city during this time since tulips bloom from around mid-March to mid-May. Amsterdam is famous for tulips, and almost every stock photo of the city features them. Therefore, it is the peak season for tourists who come to witness the tulips blooming in their wondrous colorful glory. However, plan your trip early enough, so you don’t miss the season. The best place to witness them is the Keukenhof gardens, located 40kms from Amsterdam. A cheap way to get there and back is through a group event, and afterward, you can rent a bike, explore the nearby beautiful flower gardens, or a boat ride through the canal.
September to November is also a suitable time to visit Amsterdam as the weather is usually idyllic making it ideal to see the countryside and enjoy canal trips. From June to August during summer, you will enjoy great festivals and summer concerts, so it’s always a fun time. Finally, in winter, the city is always cold, but you can have a peaceful time exploring the city’s indoor attractions unperturbed by tourist crowds.
Be careful when crossing the streets.
Amsterdam is a cycling city, and you will notice many people cycling and biking around the streets. Before crossing a street, look right, left, and right repeatedly. Why? Firstly, it is a traffic rule for your safety, and secondly, bikers have their right of way here, like riding up in one street and back in the blink of an eye. Do not wander and expect them to give you the way, so be careful as you walk through the streets.
An important hack: keep off the bikers’ dark red bike lanes. Bikers here ride on the road, side lanes, bike lanes, everything. The confusing thing is that the sidewalks look like bike lanes. So if you would like to take photos, step to the side of the walking lane, check your surroundings for any bikes and do your thing.
Always carry cash
Many places take cash in the city, so you should always have some cash on you. Some will accept credit cards, and you will rarely find debit card services unless you are using a local Dutch debit card. The currency used there is in euros and always carries some euro change since they charge you a small fee to use a public restroom (it’s the only way to keep them clean). You will find ATMs all over the city, and surprisingly they don’t charge a fee. The only place you will be required to use a credit card or your credit card pin is when purchasing a tram ticket directly from the tram but not at the machine.
You can use English
Unless you are fluent in speaking Dutch, English is your best friend while in the city. Everyone speaks some English except for a few people here and there. But it can be exhilarating to learn some essential Dutch words and have some fun with the locals. You will surely enjoy a good laugh as you struggle to speak some Dutch phrases properly.
You don’t have to tip
Unlike in America, you don’t always have to tip in Amsterdam. Remember that 15% of the bill includes the tip and tax at your restaurant, taxi, or hotel room, so do not worry about tipping. However, if you receive off-the-chain services, you can round off your bill to the next dollar and leave the change as a tip.
Be prepared for the weather.
The city can go from sunshine to rain in just a matter of minutes. So be prepared for the weather at all times. Always carry a wind-resistant umbrella since the wind here is strong, a sweater or shawl to use when raindrops start falling. You can also use an app to determine whether it will rain in the next couple of hours before leaving your hotel room.
Tap water is safe
You can have a sip of tap water in Amsterdam since it is clean and safe. However, when you visit restaurants, they will ask to serve you sparkling or still water, and by that, you will have to pay for it. However, you can ask them to serve you tap water, which you don’t have to pay for. But note that some of the restaurants will charge even tap water, especially the Chinese ones.
You can walk into a regular store and treat yourself to some ‘herb.’
Unlike in America, where you need a license to purchase medical marijuana, you will smell it everywhere as you walk through Amsterdam. However, you will rarely see people smoking unless they are tourists. But you can treat yourself whenever you want by walking in into a regular store and getting yourself a pre-rolled j. You can also smoke while on a bench at a park, coffee shop, or away from the public if you are in neighborhood areas.
Rent a bike and cycle
Biking is the fastest way to get around Amsterdam, so you can always rent a bike and cycle around. Stick to the biking lane and if you want to take a photo, step aside and do so. Do not cycle on footpaths and the road.
The final words
Amsterdam enjoys much to enjoy, from cycling, summer festivals, coffee shops, picturesque countrysides to sights and scents. The above tips will help you explore the city with ease and have fun.