Amsterdam has traditionally drawn a young crowd composed primarily of men. The city is world-renowned for its casual approach to certain activities that are less accepted in other Western countries. But these few dubious aspects obscure the city’s culture, history, and many splendid features. From leisurely and scenic cruises through Amsterdam’s network of canals to its museums, monuments, and parks, you’ll find the city to be at once beautiful, unique, and oftentimes educational.
Amsterdam serves as the official capital of the Netherlands. Despite attracting throngs of tourists each year and hosting a large metropolitan area, it has managed to retain its quaint, charming atmosphere. If you’re planning to visit, try to do so in May or October. The temperature, normally chilly throughout the year, hovers around the mid-40s during those months. The winter months are much colder. Plus, visiting in May or October allows you to avoid the crowds. Avoid the crowds at the airport, bus, or train station by visiting in June, as reported by this Kanetix article stating that June is the least popular month to holiday in.
Below, we’ll help you prepare for your trip by offering a few recommendations. We’ll provide suggestions on things to do in the city, restaurants to visit, and where to find some of the highest-rated hotels.
The guide below is merely that: a guide.
Use it as a starting point to plan your own unique Amsterdam adventure.
Things To Enjoy While You’re Exploring The City
There are lots of fun and educational things to do in Amsterdam. From shopping and sightseeing to visiting museums and the infamous Red Light District, there are plenty of attractions to add to your list. We recommend pulling yourself away from the charming canals and streets to enjoy the following activities.
#1 – Visit Anne Frank’s House
Assuming this is your first visit to the city, set aside a couple of hours to stop by the Anne Frank House. This is, of course, the home in which Frank stayed hidden for two years during which time she wrote her famous diary. A tour through the house offers an impression of the fear and loneliness Frank must have endured during that period. Opening hours vary by season, but the house is usually open by 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Cost of entry: approximately $12 for adults and $6 for children over the age of 10.
#2 – Visit De Pijp Quarters
Located south of the city’s center, De Pijp is a neighborhood that hosts one of the most popular street markets in Amsterdam: the Albert Cuyp Market. You’ll also find a variety of restaurants, cafés, and shops set amidst the area’s 19th-century architecture. De Pijp also hosts the former Heineken brewery, another popular attraction. Spend two or three hours to see the sights, explore the shops, and observe the locals. Cost of entry: free.
#3 – Visit The Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh became famous after taking his own life, and is now considered one of the masters. Many of his works of art now fetch millions of dollars. You can see hundreds of his paintings and other works on display in the Van Gogh Museum. The museum attracts a large number of people throughout the week, so be prepared to stand in line. It’s a good idea to order tickets through the facility’s official website. Cost of entry: approximately $18 per person.
These three activities will get you started. Also, make time to visit Leidseplein to experience Amsterdam’s nightlife as well as the gorgeous Vondelpark to enjoy the city’s beauty. Both are free. Lastly, take an evening stroll down one of the many streets lying adjacent to a canal. It’s a great time to reflect on your trip and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Best Spots To Grab A Meal In Amsterdam
The locals pride themselves on the variety of cuisines their city offers. You’ll find restaurants that specialize in French dishes, Italian fare, Asian food, and of course, Dutch cuisine. If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean food, visit Grekas Griekse Traiterie. For something with an African flair, stop by Kilimanjaro. With a little digging, you’ll also find restaurants serving Thai food, Mexican dishes, and Indian meals.
We recommend visiting Bolenius, a restaurant that prepares its dishes with local ingredients. In fact, many of the ingredients come from the establishment’s own garden. Try the sea bass served with fennel and black garlic. For something more straightforward, order the sirloin. It’s adorned with flavors taken from the restaurant’s garden. Finish the meal with a grilled pineapple coated with gingerbeer ice cream. Expect to pay approximately $75 per person.
For a meal that is easier on the pocketbook, stop by De Prins Café. It’s located in a house that sits at the side of a canal, giving the place an easygoing, friendly ambiance. The food (Dutch) is delicious and the servings are extremely generous. Start with a split pea soup to help keep the cold weather at bay and move on to a curry chicken wrap. Finish the meal with a slice of apple pie that you can enjoy while watching boats cruise by the canal. The entire meal will cost approximately $25.
We also suggest making a reservation for dinner at La Oliva. It is a bit higher-end, but the food and atmosphere are worth the price of admission. If you’re feeling adventurous, begin with a dish of razor clams flavored with lemon and olive oil. Or settle in with a plate of iberic sausages. For the main course, try the filet of beef soaked gently in red wine sauce and topped with mushrooms. Or, try the halibut with cava sauce (also served with mushrooms). For dessert, order the homemade tiramisu or chocolate mousse with a glass of dessert wine. Plan to pay $70 per person.
Top-Rated Hotels In Amsterdam
Amsterdam hosts a large number of hotels. You’ll find huge establishments and smaller boutique hotels, all of which strive to provide a pleasant experience for guests. Rates will vary by the season, but keep in mind that May is an especially good time to visit the city.
One of the highest-rated hotels in Amsterdam is the Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam. It’s a 5-star hotel located in the city’s center (Central Station is approximately 500 meters from its doors). It was built in 1912 and hosts more than 150 rooms. The facility includes the opulent Seven Seas Restaurant. There’s also a full spa and large pool available for guests. Each room offers satellite TV, minibar, espresso machine, and many other amenities. Rates in May usually range between $300 and $450 per night.
The Hilton is another top pick among travelers. It’s located a short walking distance from the Van Gogh Museum and Vondelpark. The hotel sits on the edge of a private marina and provides guests with cruises around the city. It also hosts an Italian restaurant (Roberto’s) and lounge (Half Moon), where you can relax and enjoy a drink while looking out across the water. Each room provides a flat-screen television, blackout curtains, minibar, and air conditioning. Rates at the Hilton during May drift between $300 and $400 per night.
For a luxurious experience, consider staying at the Sofitel Legend. It sits between two canals, giving guests a picturesque view of the water. The hotel offers a full spa complete with heated whirlpool along with a sauna and Turkish steam bath. You’ll also find the highly-rated Bridges restaurant. There are more than 170 rooms at the Sofitel, each of which offers classic furnishings, a satellite flat-panel TV, safe, minibar, and air conditioning among lots of other amenities. Room rates during May edge close to $500 per night.
As you can imagine for a city that attracts so many people each year, there are hundreds of hotels in Amsterdam. Many of them offer an experience that rivals those you’ll enjoy at the three we recommend above.
The Easiest Way To Get Around The City
The best way to move around Amsterdam, particularly during the day, is by bike. Not only does the riding offer a great way to get some exercise during your visit, it’s also more convenient than driving. Many locals tend to be impatient with tourists who have chosen to drive, but do so slowly and without direction. Riding a biking allows you to avoid their honks and stares.
The good news is that you won’t have any trouble finding a bike rental shop in Amsterdam. It’s one of most popular modes of transportation. Plan to spend approximately $25 a week on rental fees. You’ll also be asked to leave a sizable deposit, which will be returned to you when you turn in the bike.
During the evening, taking a taxi and walking are your best bets. It’s worth noting that the taxi service in the city can be expensive. It can also be difficult to find an available cab. To avoid the frustration, have your hotel concierge reserve one for you.
Another option is to take the bus. It’s a convenient way to reach distant parts of Amsterdam without the high cost of a taxi or the effort of riding a bike.
How Much To Budget For The Flight To Amsterdam
Flying to Amsterdam is not cheap, though it is certainly less costly than flying to Indonesia, Africa, and other faraway travel destinations. You’ll find there is no shortage of flights leaving the major hubs in Canada. That means there’s more competition among airlines, which tends to push down the price of airfare. If you want more money-saving tips for your travels to Amsterdam from Canada, consider going online to compare quotes on travel insurance at Kanetix.ca. You can read more about the importance of having travel coverage and get started with the online quoting service on Kanetix.
A round-trip ticket from Toronto in May will cost approximately $1,200. That price usually includes a single stop along the way. There are occasional nonstop flights, but they are uncommon, especially from the larger carriers (Delta, Alaska, etc.).
Leaving from Vancouver is a bit more expensive, as is usually the case with most travel destinations. A round-trip flight will cost between $1,400 and $1,600. You may have to endure two stops en route to Amsterdam.
Airfare is less costly – though only slightly – when leaving Montreal. A round-trip ticket during May will cost between $1,200 and $1,400.
Amsterdam is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. It has changed significantly over the years, but still retains its charm and beauty. Whether you’re traveling with your family or significant other, a week or two spent exploring the city is sure to provide a memorable and rewarding experience.