Amsterdam is the most popular travel destination in the Netherlands, and one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe, and each year it attracts millions of tourists. People come to this country eager to see the picturesque canals, unique buildings, cobblestone streets, and various attractions.
However, it is quite often that people come to Amsterdam and are shocked by what they discover. Amsterdam is quite different than most tourists believe it to be and the preconceived ideas and reputations that have been placed upon it are often wrong. The city of Amsterdam is more beautiful and cultural then you could even imagine, and its beauty and excitement reach far beyond the parties and other aspects.
If you are planning on travelling to Amsterdam there are some key things you need to know before going. These things are not as often talked about but important to know before you embark on a journey to the stunning capital city of the Netherlands.
#1) There is more to do at night than just party in Amsterdam
To be honest Amsterdam does have a party reputation. The city attracts a ton of young tourists looking to enjoy a night out at clubs, bars or coffee shops and this is a big part of Amsterdam’s culture and who the city is. But this is not everything. There is a ton more to do in Amsterdam at night beyond going to a club.
There are evening canal cruises that can bring you around the city afterhours to enjoy the city lit up. More so, there are unique movie theatres where you can watch films as well as various restaurants, live music venues, comedy clubs and more.
#2) Almost everyone speaks English in Amsterdam
The national language in Amsterdam is Dutch however you will quickly find that Amsterdam is a very English-speaking city. At almost every café, restaurant, and shop the people will speak English fluently and communicating will not be an issue. However, it is nice to learn a few words in the local language such as please and thank you to use as a token to show you are appreciating the culture.
Renting a bike in Amsterdam is a must
Amsterdam is the city of bikes. There are actually more bikes than people in Amsterdam with the amount totalling over 1 million. The hype for bikes makes renting one when you are visiting the city an absolute must. It is the best way to get around Amsterdam and the most exciting way to see the city in a typical Dutch way.
There are a ton of bike rental shops all around the city that can rent a bike for a few days at a very low cost. If you are nervous about renting a bike you don’t be. There are bike paths and lanes all around the city and you are always able to pull over onto the sidewalk if you’re feeling uncomfortable or you want to check your map to see where to go. Just be sure to mind the rules of the road because the bikers in Amsterdam don’t have very much patience for tourists on the bike path. Some general rules to follow are stick to the right side so you’re not in anyone’s way, if you hear a bell move to the right side and avoid going on your phone while biking because this is a legal.
#4) Watch out for cyclists in Amsterdam
If you are not going to brave renting a bike and you decide to walk around the city you need to still be aware of the cyclists. On every street and down every road there will most likely be a bike path or some bike lane for the bikers of the city and if you are on the path or get in the way there is the potential that you could get injured. You really need to stay aware of your surroundings and make sure you’re not on the bike path and on the sidewalk because if a cyclist comes and you step out onto the path you could get hit.
#5) The weather in Amsterdam is unpredictable
To be honest Dutch weather is not the best. Amsterdam is a very rainy city especially in the fall and winter months and rain can come out of nowhere. Even in the spring and summer the weather is quite unpredictable, and you can get rain out of nowhere or quite cold days suddenly. Plus, Amsterdam is known for being extremely windy, so windy that it almost feels like a tornado. Be sure to pack for all weather conditions and don’t trust the forecast. Make sure you always have some warmer clothes and an umbrella because the weather here is truly unpredictable.
#6) Coffee Shops and Cafes are very different
One of the things Amsterdam is famous for is it legalization of marijuana. You can find marijuana in shops all around the city and these are called coffee shops. Do not confuse coffee shops with a café because these are two very different things in Amsterdam that offer two very different products. If you are looking for a coffee and a croissant you will find this in a café.
#7) Find accommodation well in advance
Amsterdam is not a very big city and accommodations fill up well in advance. Especially now since Airbnb laws have changed in order to limit the number of tourists entering the city. Immediately after you book a trip you should book your accommodation right away in order to find a room and to get it at the best price.
#8) Amsterdam is full of culture
We all know about Amsterdam’s party reputation but the cultural side to the city is rarely talked about. However, Amsterdam is full of museums and historical monuments that date back thousands of years that are more than exciting to discover. Heading to a museum like van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, or the Anne Frank house is something that should be on everyone’s itinerary.
#9) There are local foods you must try
Dutch food is not as popular as Italian or French but the Dutch do have their own special foods. When visiting Amsterdam, you should go out and try some of the local dishes like Bitterballen, Stroopwafels and more!
#10) There is more to The Netherlands than just Amsterdam
Everyone who comes to the Netherlands always wants to visit Amsterdam, but there is so much more to this country than this one city. There are a ton of other beautiful towns and cities that are much less popular and touristy than Amsterdam that are well worth an exploration and a visit.