Things to Know Before You Go to Amsterdam: Historic Canals and Art Museums

Discover essential insights for your next Euro adventure with these things to know before you go to Amsterdam— from picturesque canals to world-renowned art museums.

Early morning view of Amsterdam canals with traditional houses and bicycles.
Early morning view of Amsterdam canals with traditional houses and bicycles.

Did you know that Amsterdam‘s iconic canals and quaint narrow houses were crafted during the Dutch Golden Age as part of a grand urban plan? But this article isn’t just about the charm; it’s a tribute to a prosperous era deeply intertwined with art and culture. 

If you’re wondering what exactly makes Amsterdam a must-visit for travelers, these essential things to know before you go to Amsterdam will surely be an eye-opener!

Planning Your Visit

When you’re mapping out your Amsterdam adventure, time and budget will always be the largest keys in your keychain, as they can unlock for you the best possible experience. 

Here’s how you could make the most out of both:

When to Go and How to Budget

One of the first things to know before you go to Amsterdam is how the city is at its most vibrant from April to October. Imagine tulip season in spring and cultural festivals throughout the summer offering a spectacular backdrop for your visit. 

Now if you prefer fewer crowds amid still pleasant weather, aim for late spring or early autumn. 

Budget-wise, expect to spend around €150 per day on moderate indulgences, though dining and entertainment choices might adjust your expenses. And to further stretch your euros, look into city passes that provide discounts on attractions and public transport.

Where to Stay

Choosing the right neighborhood that goes with your sense of timing and spending power can truly define your experience in Amsterdam:

  • Budget-friendly: The lively Jordaan area, with its cozy cafes and bustling markets, is perfect if you’re looking to explore on foot without spending a fortune.
  • Midrange: Opt for the Museum District if you’re after a quieter vibe but still want to be close to major art hubs like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.
  • Upscale: For a touch of luxury, stay in the historic Canal Ring area where stunning views from your hotel room await.

How to Get Around

Thanks to its compact size, Amsterdam is very much ideal for walking and biking. 

Rent a bike to see the city through the eyes of a local or hop on the efficient trams, buses, and metros for sweeping views of the city. But for a more hassle-free travel experience sans the physical effort, download the GVB app for real-time public transport updates. And if you prefer to plan ahead, numerous transportation booking portals provide convenient travel options.

With these essential things to know before you go to Amsterdam, you’re all set for an unforgettable journey throughout the city.

Amsterdam bike rental shop with rows of bicycles for tourists.
Amsterdam bike rental shop with rows of bicycles for tourists.

Culture & Interaction

Getting to know the local customs and communication styles can deeply enrich your visit to Amsterdam

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Local Customs and Etiquette

For more things to know before you go to Amsterdam that concerns engaging with locals, remember that a casual greeting often involves a handshake, and among friends, three kisses on the cheek. 

Do dress appropriately when visiting religious sites, which means covering your shoulders and knees for the ladies. 

Tipping is also customary in restaurants and cafes, usually around 5-10% of the bill, provided service charge isn’t included. Always respect the well-maintained bike lanes to avoid mishaps.

Language Tips

While Dutch is the official language, most Amsterdammers speak English fluently, making it easy for tourists to communicate. 

Still, learning a few basic Dutch phrases like “Dank u” (Thank you) and “Goedemorgen” (Good morning) can endear you to locals. While you’re at it, consider using a translation app for navigating menus and signs,  to ensure much smoother interactions.

Exploring & Experiencing

Amsterdam is a treasure trove of experiences, from iconic museums to culinary delights. 

Here’s how to make the most of your exploration:

Must-Visit Attractions

Be sure not to miss the Anne Frank House to touch a poignant piece of World War II history, or the Van Gogh Museum to marvel at an extensive collection of his works. 

For more opportunities for quieter reflections, the Begijnhof offers a serene courtyard with a glimpse into medieval Amsterdam.

Interior of a cozy Dutch café in Amsterdam with customers enjoying coffee and stroopwafels.
Interior of a cozy Dutch café in Amsterdam with customers enjoying coffee and stroopwafels.

Food and Drink

Indulge in Dutch treats from the savory bitterballen to the sweet stroopwafels. Indulge in unique dining courtesy of The Pancake Bakery, which offers a local take on our beloved pancakes. On the other hand, De Kas serves dishes made from ingredients grown in their own greenhouse. Vegetarians will surely enjoy their innovative plant-based dishes as well as those served at the Meatless District.

Local Experiences

Take a canal cruise to see Amsterdam from its historic waterways, a definite must-do with the list of things to know before you go to Amsterdam. 

And for something different, join a beer-brewing workshop at the Heineken Experience. Be sure to set aside about €30 for these unique local activities.

Staying Safe & Healthy

While Amsterdam is generally safe, it’s always wise to stay vigilant in crowded tourist spots to avoid pickpockets. 

Tap water is safe to drink here, and considered one of the many perks of the city. As for health requirements, no special vaccinations are really needed for the Netherlands, but ensure your routine vaccinations are up to date. 

With that, always secure travel insurance that covers health emergencies to avoid unexpected medical expenses. Just another important thing to know before you go to Amsterdam.

Discover Amsterdam Before You Go

Amsterdam offers an enriching travel experience, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and bustling city life seamlessly blending into a traveler’s paradise. Whether you’re cruising through its historic canals, exploring world-class museums, or indulging in local culinary delights, every moment here promises a new discovery.

For those planning their next urban adventure, let ThisCityKnows guide you through the magical city of Amsterdam. 

Plan your travels with ThisCityKnows and ensure your journey is nothing short of extraordinary!

Author: Nine

Nine delves into cities with a thirst for the untold and the overlooked, weaving narratives that bring destinations alive. They spotlight the heartbeat of places—through the lens of locals and the whispers of streets less traveled. With Nine, every story is an invitation to see the world through eyes wide with wonder.

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