Put down the doobie, stop ogling the prostitutes, and check out these tips for making your experience in Amsterdam more indie.
- There are tons of world class museums in Amsterdam, and just because something is popular and touristy doesn’t mean you should skip them. They are popular for a reason. But if you’re sick of all the high prices and crowds, consider heading to one of these lesser-known and less crowded museums:
- The Jewish History Museum
- The Tulip Museum
- The Houseboat Museum
- Foam Photography Museum
- Just a little ways outside of the city center is the Jordaan, a great area to just wander, hit up a cafe (not one of those cafes), eat, and shop.
- Just wander – There aren’t many better cities for simply wandering than Amsterdam. The canals and small streets make for a maze-like city, and you never know what you’re going to find around the next corner. Sometimes the best experiences happen by complete accident when you have nothing planned.
Why you should add Amsterdam to your RTW travel list
- Take your pick: beer, art, history, hash…
- Big-city stuff to do, friendly feel of a small town
- Have fun figuring out how to get around a circular city
- From city-center Dam Square, it’s easy to explore town on foot
- If you’re brave enough, rent a bike and follow the locals lead.
- Take in all those Van Goghs at the Rijksmuseum
- Sail the lovely canals
- The prettiest red-light district you’ll ever see
- Ice-skate (when the canals freeze), bike, sail, even windsurf
- Can anyone make beer better than monks do?
- Visit one of the many beautiful parks around the city.
Why you should not add Amsterdam to your RTW travel list
- The high expense is one of the only negatives to visiting a city like Amsterdam.
- The super touristy areas – coffee shops and the Red Light District – can get annoying and tiresome after a while.
Visit our full Amsteram Travel Guide for in-depth Amsterdam travel information.
Amsterdam is a fabulous blend of old and new, sophisticated and naive, highbrow and lowbrow… It’s a beautiful city with something for everyone from the culture vulture to the party-goer.
What to do
Amsterdam’s treasures range from the art contained in the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, where you can see the works of Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt and (obviously) Van Gogh, to the Anne Frank House, where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. There is also a rich architectural heritage in Amsterdam, which has roughly 7,000 registered historic buildings.
But Amsterdam is about more than the past – it’s a vibrant city today full of friendly people (most of whom speak excellent English) and bicycles. In nice weather, a few hours in Vondelpark or Rembrandtpark might be just what the doctor ordered.
Of course, Amsterdam is also well-known for what some might call its counter-culture. Prostitution being legal, there is an active and public Red Light District, which, while it’s clearly going to draw a certain element of the tourist population, is not the place you want to be whipping out your camera to snap pictures. One reason the city is so popular on the backpacker circuit is the Amsterdam coffeeshops, where you can freely buy and use soft drugs like marijuana and hash.
You can book a flight into Amsterdam’s famously nice Schiphol Airport (code: AMS), which is a 20-minute ride away from Centraal Station on the train beneath the airport. Airfares tend to be rather low because Schiphol is a major hub and competion is high among all the major carriers.
Once you’re there, the best way to get around is by train. You can get a Eurail Pass that will be suited perfectly to your trip, no matter what countries or how many countries you’ll visit.
Where to stay
And if you’re looking for what other visitors have said about the city, you can read Amsterdam travel stories that have been submitted to us by real travelers, just like you.