Go Where Locals Go in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a crowd pleaser. Not only does it provide affordable entertainment for the masses, but also excellent multicultural cuisine, world-renowned museums and trendy shopping opportunities. Home to a major international airport, the city is easily accessible from most European destinations and many further afield. Guide books will give you a lot of useful information on what to do and see in Amsterdam, but here is what a local might tell you.
Amsterdam has a reliable public transport network consisting of a metro, trams, buses and ferries. A single ticket will set you back €2.60, and a 24 hour pass costs around €7. Locals will argue, however, that the best way to get around is by bicycle. Cycle paths snake throughout the city getting users quickly from point A to B avoiding traffic jams. Look into renting a bicycle or find out whether anyone you know in the city has a spare to lend you. Make sure the bike is equipped with front and back lights and do not attempt to cycle after a few too many local beers. Rules of the road apply to cyclists too, and police make regular appearances to ensure public safety.
Eating and drinking
Whatever your budget, in Amsterdam you will be able to savour a variety of international meals. If you are looking to save some pennies, head to the De Pijp area for affordable food outlets serving up authentic fare from Surinam, a former Dutch colony, and other countries. From Monday to Saturday people flock to the area for the Albert Cuyp market selling foods, homeware, clothing and other useful goods. There are a few pop-up stalls offering fresh Flemish fries and local hit stroopwafels or syrup-filled waffles.
If you are planning to spend a bit more, you will find restaurants in most parts of town to suit any palette. De Pijp is again an increasingly popular choice, as is the Jordaan area closer to the Central Station. Neighbourhood restaurants are tried and tested by locals who generally tend to avoid the city centre for going out. Bazar is a favourite serving up Middle Eastern fare.
Pubs are everywhere but the city centre is dominated by loud tourist traps, many centred on an Irish pub theme. For a freshly brewed beer and a low-key atmosphere off the beaten track, try Brouwerij t’IJ, an old mill converted into a brewery. Choose a snack to accompany your tipple. The cheese is made from milk produced by animals fed with the brewery’s malt and hops.
For a unique shopping experience, head to the area around The Nine Streets. Home to vintage and local designer boutiques as well as cute gift and homeware shops, you will be spoilt for choice.
Twice a month head to the north of Amsterdam for the IJ-Hallen flea market. Prized as the largest of its kind in The Netherlands, for an entrance fee of €4, you can browse seemingly endless (over 1500) stalls brimming with both the good and bad kinds of junk. The market is accessible by a free ferry from the Central Station that adds to the fun of the experience.
In Amsterdam, hotels and hostels are everywhere. Choose a central location but avoid the loudest streets around Dam Square and the Town Hall where you are not guaranteed a good night’s sleep. With so much touring to do, do not underestimate the importance of quality rest and recuperation and choose a hotel in Amsterdam with a solid reputation.