Let’s explore amsterdam

Amsterdam travel guide

Being so accessible from London via the Eurostar, Amsterdam is a city you can’t keep me away from! I have many fond memories of adventures in this city and I know you’re going to love it too.

With so much to see, I find that every visit offers the chance to discover something new, whether it’s a hidden restaurant or a fascinating museum. But what always remains a constant for me are my ambles along the canals, conversing with the friendly locals and tucking into delicious food.

About the author

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Where rich history and deep-rooted culture meets bohemian chic, Amsterdam is an eclectic city like no other. Liberal with a vibrant nightlife scene, the city comes alive as the sun fades. With over 100km of world-famous canals, the ‘Venice of the North’ brings people form all walks of life together into one cosmopolitan city.

Charming neighbourhoods welcome visitors with authentic Dutch cuisine, stunning architecture, and world-class (and sometimes whacky) museums. I love that the city is bursting with incredible things to see and do – just make sure you know your coffeeshop from your café!

What was home to one of the most famous painters of all time, Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam has culture and art to spare. From the beautifully vivid Amsterdam tulip fields to the ever-popular Heineken Experience, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

A relatively small city, my preferred mode of transport is to cycle from place to place like a local. Plus, with a whole host of Michelin-starred restaurants, the city is a foodie’s dream – whether that be plant-based, home-grown, traditional Dutch or international cuisine.


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How to get to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an incredibly accessible city to reach, as it’s well-connected to the rest of the world. It’s particularly easy to reach from within Europe due to the excellent transport links.

By plane: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is the main airport serving the city, located just 11 km southwest of the city centre. It’s one of the busiest airports in Europe, with flights to and from major cities around the world.

From the airport, you can take a train, bus, or taxi to the city centre. I’d recommend the train as the fastest and most convenient option, taking only 15-20 minutes to reach Amsterdam Central Station.

The bus is a cheaper option, but it takes longer and can be more crowded. Taxis are also available, but they are more expensive, so I’d advise booking a transfer in advance.

By train: Amsterdam is well-connected to other cities in Europe by rail, with direct trains to the city available from the likes of Paris, Brussels and Berlin. The city has several train stations, with Amsterdam Central Station being the main one.

If you are travelling from the UK, you can take the Eurostar train from London to Amsterdam in just under four hours.

Amsterdam Travel Guide
Amsterdam Guide

By car: If you’re travelling to the city from within the Netherlands or from a neighbouring country, such as Belgium or Germany, driving to Amsterdam is an option. However, keep in mind that parking in the city can be expensive and difficult to find.

There are several car rental companies at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, as well as in the city centre. Renting a car is only really necessary if you plan to explore outside of the city, as it can give you the freedom to explore on your own terms.

If you do decide to rent a car, make sure to familiarise yourself with the Dutch traffic rules and regulations. Find cars to rent in Amsterdam.

By Bus: Several bus companies operate services to and from the city, including Flixbus and Eurolines. Taking the bus can be a cheaper option than flying to Amsterdam or taking the train, but it can also take longer and be less comfortable.


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How to get around Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city that is easy to explore on foot, but if you want to cover more ground, there are several other transportation options available.

By public transport: The most convenient and cost-effective way to get around Amsterdam is by using the city’s public transport system. The Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf (GVB) operates a network of buses, trams, and metro lines that cover the entire city.

You can purchase a single-use ticket or use OVpay, where you check in and out with your contactless debit card, credit card, or the app. Buy a GVB Public Transport Ticket.

By bike: Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Amsterdam – and my personal favourite way of getting around. There are plenty of bike rental shops located throughout the city, and renting a bike is an excellent way to explore Amsterdam’s picturesque streets and canals.

However, be aware that cycling in Amsterdam can be challenging, especially if you are not used to the city’s busy streets and bike lanes. Book a Guided Bike Tour of Central Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Canal
Amsterdam Sunset

By taxi: Taxis are readily available in Amsterdam, but I do think they can be quite expensive. If you do decide to take a taxi, make sure you use a licensed taxi company and ask for an estimated fare before you get in, especially if you’re travelling solo.

By foot: In my opinion, walking is the best way to explore Amsterdam’s charming streets and canals. Most of the city’s major attractions are within walking distance of each other, and you can easily get lost in the city’s picturesque neighbourhoods and cafés.

Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather – comfort is always key!

By canal: An absolute must-see is Amsterdam from the canals. There are several companies that offer guided tours of the city’s canals and canal cruises, and it’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective.

Prices vary depending on the length of the tour and the company you choose. I’d recommend booking a Classic Boat Cruise with Cheese & Wine Option.

Best time to visit Amsterdam

I think Amsterdam is an incredible city to visit all year round, but the best time to go really depends on what you’re looking for.


In my opinion, spring is a lovely time to visit Amsterdam, with the city coming to life after the winter months. The weather is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 9°C to 15°C.

The famous Amsterdam tulips are also in bloom during this time, making it the perfect time to visit the Keukenhof Gardens or take a bike ride through the tulip fields.


Summer is peak tourist season in Amsterdam, with many visitors flocking to the city to enjoy the warmer weather and longer days.

The average temperature during this time is around 20°C, making it perfect for exploring the city’s outdoor attractions like Vondelpark or taking a canal boat tour. However, be prepared for crowds and higher prices.


Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Amsterdam, with the leaves turning to hues of gold and orange. Though I do find that the weather can be a bit unpredictable – ranging from mild to chilly – with average temperatures between 8°C to 13°C.

It’s also a great time to sample some of the city’s famous seasonal treats like stroopwafels and oliebollen.


With average temperatures ranging from 3°C to 7°C, winter in Amsterdam can be cold and damp. However, the city is beautifully lit up with Christmas lights and there are plenty of festive events to enjoy.

For example, I’d recommend ice skating in Museumplein or visiting the Christmas markets. But wrap up warm and pack an umbrella!

Browse and book the best activities and attractions in Amsterdam:

Visiting Amsterdam: top tips

Be wary of cyclists

A word of warning for when you’re strolling around the city, minding your own business. Make sure you’re not walking in a bike lane and be aware of cyclists at all times. Unless you want to get knocked down – because believe me, they will knock you down!

For the locals, I’d imagine it’s a similar kind of fury to what Londoners experience when a tourist happily hops onto a London tube before everyone has got off, or stands on the left on an escalator…

Don’t miss the cheese shops

There are a number of cheese shops dotted around Amsterdam and I highly recommended exploring these to their full potential. These shops are packed with different cheeses of varying flavours; some normal, some slightly questionable (Prosecco flavoured cheese anyone?).

The best bit? They all offer free samples. Hop from shop to shop hoovering up all the cheese testers. I challenge you to find a better way to spend an afternoon.

Cafés vs coffeeshops

Amsterdam is well-known for the fact that smoking cannabis is legal. Note that you can now only smoke cannabis in the coffeeshops – and smoking it in public could land you with a €100 fine.

This is where coffeeshops come in. A coffeeshop is where you can buy and smoke cannabis. While a café or Koffie Huis (“coffee house”) is somewhere to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

Bring an umbrella

It rains a lot in Amsterdam – even in the warmer months – so make sure you pack accordingly. As a Brit, I am very much used to this, but the unpredictable weather may be a shock if you’re not prepared for it.


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Frequently asked questions

How long to spend in Amsterdam?

The amount of time you should spend in Amsterdam varies according to what you want to see and do in the city. However, I recommend staying in Amsterdam for at least three days to explore the city’s top attractions.

If you want to explore the city’s vibrant nightlife, then you might want to extend your stay an extra night or two to four or five days.

There are also a number of amazing day trips from Amsterdam to consider too.

Is Amsterdam good for solo travellers?

Yes, I consider Amsterdam to be a great city for solo travellers to explore. It is a safe city, and there are plenty of things to see and do that don’t require a travel companion, such as visiting museums, taking a canal cruise, or exploring the city’s parks.

Moreover, Amsterdam is known for its friendly locals, so strike up a conversation and you won’t have a hard time making new friends.

Is Amsterdam expensive?

I find that Amsterdam can be an expensive city to visit, especially during peak tourist season. However, there are ways to save money on your travels, such as staying in budget accommodation, dining at local cafés and street food stalls, and taking advantage of free attractions.

Good to know: You can also save money by purchasing an official I Amsterdam City Card, which provides discounts on attractions and public transportation.

How many Michelin-star restaurants in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam has several Michelin-star restaurants to whet your appetite, with a total of 21 stars spread across 16 establishments.

Some of the most famous Michelin-star restaurants in Amsterdam include: Ciel Bleu, Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam, and Spectrum.

Amsterdam highlights

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam is synonymous with the picture-perfect canals that cover the city. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Amsterdam’s canal district draws visitors from near and far. 

Whether you prefer to stroll down the canal or ride a bike, I think meandering along the canals is a great way to see the city through the eyes of a local.

Instead of just riding alongside the canals, why not ride on the canals? Offering a new and unique perspective on the city and giving you some time to relax, a canal boat tour shows you the very best that Amsterdam has to offer.

One of the most famous canals in the city has to be Prinsengracht, which is lined with beautiful houses to admire and picturesque bridges. You can also explore the smaller, quieter canals, which are often less crowded and just as charming (and Insta-worthy).

Book a canal boat tour with cheese and wine.

Amsterdam museums

With museums galore, Amsterdam is the place to be for art enthusiasts and history aficionados alike. World-famous exhibitions across the city celebrate the rich and diverse cultural history of Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum houses awe-inspiring pieces by famous Dutch artists including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh – with Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” being displayed in a specially designed gallery.

While Van Gogh features at the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch painter has his own dedicated museum in the city featuring works such as “Sunflowers”, “The Bedroom”, and “The Potato Eaters”.

If you’re more of a fan of modern and contemporary art, I’d recommend glimpsing pieces by Mondrian, Malevich, and Warhol at the Stedelijk Museum.

Similar to Van Gogh, Rembrandt also has a dedicated museum, located where he lived and worked for over 20 years. My personal favourite museum was the Moco Museum of contemporary art.

Read my guide to the best museums in Amsterdam.

Moco Museum Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum

Anne Frank House

There’s no doubt that a trip to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Anne Frank House. Visiting this museum may not be particularly uplifting, but it does show an important aspect of our shared history that should never be forgotten.

This museum is located in the house where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II. Providing a moving and informative experience, the museum takes you through the life of Anne Frank and her family, as well as the history of the Holocaust.

You will see the rooms where the family hid, including the famous secret annex where Anne wrote her diary.

Powerful and thought-provoking, the Anne Frank House pays tribute to the stories of the past and is a must-see for anyone interested in history or the Second World War. 

Good to know: As the most popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam, I recommend booking your tickets several weeks in advance.

Note that the Anne Frank House is not suitable for young children, as the subject matter can be quite intense.

Book a Life of Anne Frank and World War II Walking Tour.

Watch my Amsterdam travel vlog!

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Want to save up to 25% on hotels?

Subscribe to the Pocket Wanderings newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.

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Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.