Essential Travel Guide to Amsterdam [Updated for 2024]

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Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands – a huge city with more than one million inhabitants, filled with incredible architecture, museums, food, and culture. It is often referred to as the Venice of the North, because of the many canals that crisscross the city and the 1,281 bridges that can be found along those canals.

If you’re thinking about a trip to Amsterdam, check out our essential travel guide to Amsterdam for the best hotels, neighborhoods, things to do, and places to eat and drink in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Amsterdam waterway and buildings
Travel guide to Amsterdam

Whether you prefer culture and history, poking around in museums, doing some serious partying, or just enjoying the relaxing charm of an old European city, there are many distinct neighborhoods (or districts) to explore within Amsterdam.

Of European cities, Amsterdam is most likely to surprise, excite, and intrigue its visitors in a most unexpected fashion. Travel to Amsterdam to enjoy the perfect balance of open spaces, a lively urban pulse and a gracefully multi-ethnic ambiance.

Before you plan your trip, we suggest reading up on the best time to go to Amsterdam. You can choose your best time based on the activities you most want to enjoy while you’re there, but really there isn’t just one best time to go.

When to Go to Amsterdam

Any time of the year is good to travel to Amsterdam, although it is advisable to bring rain gear because it can rain at any time. July to August is considered the peak season for travel. So you can find the best rates for hotels and flights outside of those times.


To avoid crazy crowds while still enjoying good weather, we recommend visiting Amsterdam in April, May, September, or even as late in the year as early October.

As far as weather, it never really gets too hot or too cold in Amsterdam. Clouds and some rain are really the extent of the weather patterns.

What to Do in Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum houses the world’s largest collection of the work of Vincent van Gogh. From his early work, the museum contains 700 artistic works and 850 letters.

Who hasn’t read the intense diary of Anne Frank? Hiding from the Nazis, she and her family lived in an annexed section of an apartment in Amsterdam for two years. In 1957, the house was donated to the Anne Frank Foundation and turned into a museum.

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House

For a break from the more serious exhibits, it can be fun to taste and try the food and drinks of Amsterdam. There are a lot of craft breweries and pubs around the city for beer sampling. We also indulged in a cheese and wine tasting that was super fun.

One of my favorite things to do in the city is a canal cruise. The long boats chug through the canals day and night, offering a drinks cruise or even an evening pizza cruise.

canal cruise in Amsterdam

Want to build an itinerary with the activities listed in our shortcut guide (below)? Here are a few links to our favorite tours and activities in Amsterdam so you can purchase your tickets in advance. 

⇒ Eat like a local in Amsterdam with Eating Europe Food Tours – there are 5 tours available:

» Here are 20 more fun things to do in Amsterdam to fill your itinerary.

Tours to Book:

Where and What to Eat in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Frites
Amsterdam Frites

On to the most important topic… what to eat! First we need to know what foods we absolutely must try in Amsterdam. Here is an infographic of 10 Dutch foods you must try in Amsterdam. The list is long, so check out TimeOut’s list of the best restaurants in Amsterdam, where you can find the aforementioned foods.

Amsterdam is well known for its fries (frites) served in a paper cup with curry ketchup and mayo slathered on top. The one pictured below is from a popular place called Vleminckx, but here are six more places to find the best frites in Amsterdam.

I like to visit at least one Michelin-starred restaurant in every city we go to (if possible) just to see how the high-end food scene matches up to others around the world.

In Amsterdam, some choices are the one-star La Rive in the Intercontinental Hotel and Restaurant Vermeer, or the two-star Ciel Bleu on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura. Check out this list of the 8 Best Restaurants in Amsterdam for more luxury dining choices.

Where to Drink in Amsterdam

Bier Fabriek
Bier Fabriek

First thing, we need to know how to say “Cheers!”. When raising a glass in Amsterdam, “the cheers for a toast is ‘Proost‘. Most of the time this is accompanied by eye contact and the clinking of glasses, usually only with beer and soft drinks.

When drinking wine, the Dutch tend to say ‘Santé‘.” Now we’re prepared to find the best drinks in Amsterdam.

If you’re well-traveled you probably already know that Heineken is found on tap in almost every bar in the world. It’s brewed nearby and you can join the Heineken Experience tour and tasting at the old brewery to learn more about this Dutch beer. There are many other great beer bars and breweries to visit.

At House of Bols, you can learn to make your own cocktail using their liquors, or just tour the facility and allow their bartenders to mix you up something good.

How to Get to Amsterdam

The fastest way to get to the city center from the airport is by taking a taxi. It costs around 39€ and takes 15-20 minutes.

You can book a private transfer with Welcome Pickups for the same price as getting a taxi from the line. The price above for a taxi is the same as for Welcome Pickups, but the driver will meet you at arrivals and help with luggage. The drivers are skilled, English-speaking and will monitor your flight for delays. It’s the clear winner. Book your transfer in advance here.

You can also catch the train to the city center. Train tickets cost 5.40€ and it takes around 20 minutes to reach the center.

amsterdam city center

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Heading to Amsterdam soon? We like staying near Dam Square in central Amsterdam. It’s fun and lively, close to or within easy walking distance of many of the top attractions, and easily accessible by public transportation. Below are the hotels we recommend. You can read reviews or book directly through the links below (they are affiliate links from which we receive a small commission).

Banks Mansion

4-star hotel near the Flower Market, with free wifi, breakfast and coffee/tea.

Read Reviews | Book a Stay

Radisson Blu

Nicely-decorated 4-star hotel located directly on a canal near Rembrandt Square.

Read Reviews | Book a Stay

The Toren

Glitzy 4-star hotel with a bar/lounge and free wifi, near Anne Frank House.

Read Reviews | Book a Stay

Essential Travel Guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam essential travel guide
Shortcut Guide to Amsterdam, Netherlands

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any day trips from Amsterdam worth taking?

Yes, popular day trips from Amsterdam include visiting the historic windmills of Zaanse Schans, exploring the picturesque town of Haarlem, or taking a trip to the charming village of Giethoorn.

What are the shopping options in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam offers a wide range of shopping experiences, from luxury boutiques along P.C. Hooftstraat to unique vintage finds in the Nine Streets district. Don’t forget to visit Albert Cuyp Market for local food and souvenirs.

What is the best time of year to visit Amsterdam?

The best time to visit Amsterdam is typically during the spring (April and May) and early autumn (September to mid-October) when the weather is mild, and the city is less crowded compared to the peak summer months.

You may also like these articles about Amsterdam:


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Essential Travel Guide to Amsterdam [Updated for 2024]

32 thoughts on “Essential Travel Guide to Amsterdam [Updated for 2024]

  1. Maaike - Travellous World says:

    I see bitterballen on the list, so this post is approved 😉 Fun infographic, thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Michele TravelwithMrsT says:

    I currently live in Utrecht in the Netherlands and love your infographic. I highly recommend a canal cruise too! I’ve taken two different types when friends and family have visited, and since you can take one from various places including right outside the train station, and also just north of museumplein, they are very flexible in terms of fitting into your day!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Michele, you’re very right about the canal tours. They’re running all the time, so you can definitely find one to fit your schedule. We went on a candlelight cruise in the evening and really loved it.

  3. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

    The food in Amsterdam blew me away. I didn’t know anything about Dutch food prior to visiting Amsterdam but was so pleasantly surprised. I loved the whole city – the parks, the canals, the bikes, the tulips. I could seriously see myself living there on a little house boat. 🙂

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Bethaney, I totally agree with you about the food. I didn’t know what to expect either, but we found some really great food. We loved the little house boats too. I could definitely live there.

  4. Mags says:

    I love Amsterdam. Last time I was in the Netherlands, I only got to spend a few hours there. It was such a tease! I really need to go back.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We were there for two days this time and really wanted to stay longer. There’s something really alluring about that city!

  5. Anda says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m planning to take a longer trip to Amsterdam, but I could use your information even if it’s for one day only. You can always spend more time in each of these places.

  6. Natasha Amar says:

    What a brilliant idea to have all this information in such an easy to use and handy format. I’m saving this for when I go to Amsterdam and also sending it to a friend who’s headed there in a few weeks.

  7. Natalie Deduck says:

    Great Guide!!
    Wish I had read it before, last month I visited Amsterdam with friends and we had a blast, but we had a hard time to find “the place” for meat and BBQ. Now I have a good and tasty reason to go back 😉
    Thanks for the info,

  8. kami says:

    what a neat idea! I haven’t been to Amsterdam for few years now but I guess it’s time to come back! I saved your guide just in case 🙂

  9. Meg Jerrard says:

    Thanks for this! Such a fab guide! Totally agree that taking a bike or canal tour is not to be missed – we loved both while we were in Amsterdam last year. Seems like everyone in the city rides their bikes! And OMG the fries! So glad there was info on this in the guide – you really can’t go past Danish fries!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      They double fry the fries there, which is why they’re so addictively good. I’m also a sucker for dipping sauce.

  10. Lindsay Nieminen says:

    mmmm fried Gravy Balls! will have to try those! this is such a great roundup! i will be checking out your other Shortcut guides for other cities as well!

  11. Brittany Bergman says:

    This is awesome!! You had me hooked at “fried gravy balls.” I’d love to visit Amsterdam someday, and this little guide will come in quite handy!

  12. Desiree says:

    Like N says, it’s Dutch, not Danish 🙂
    Danish is from Denmark, only 655 kilometers (to the border) from Amsterdam 🙂

    When you are in Amsterdam, don’t forget to stop at one of the many FEBO. There you can “eat from the wall”. There are all kinds of snacks which you can pull out of little boxes in the wall, like a huuuuge vending machine. You can choose from burgers, kroketten (fried gravy saucages) and frikadellen (sort of hotdog-saucages).


    • Laura Lynch says:

      Thanks for the tip, Desiree! I’d have a hard time passing up the opportunity to eat from the wall!

  13. Esther says:

    Hi Nick and Laura,

    I’m Esther and live in the Netherlands – (Zwolle). Thanks for following me on Pinterest. Nice to see that you went to the Amsterdam.

    Great website you have! Most of the time I read that visitors who come to the Netherlands are going to Amsterdam, which I totally understand. When you are going to the Netherlands and do have some spare time left, wanting some typically Dutch, visit for example the places: Hattem, Zwolle, Kampen, Giethoorn, Deventer. All these placese are in the same area and have a lovely a Charles Dickens/ Harry Potter atmosphere. One of the famous Dutch Painters ” Anton Pieck” has lived in Hattem. There is a Anton Pieck Museum. If you see his work, you think it is like a Fairytale – Christmas Carol Art.

  14. Ann Lynch says:

    Laura, my husband and I arrive this Sunday from Boston. I did r know you had to purchase Anne Frank Museum tickets 2 months ahead. Can we just go there Monday morning at 8 am to buy tickets or do we have to buy them that morning on the internet?

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Ann. You do have to purchase tickets online in advance. They release 20% of tickets on the day of at 9am online. If you don’t get one you won’t be able to just show up and get in. Good luck!

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  21. Paras Arora says:

    This is such an informative article. These tips would surely gonna help me on my upcoming trip to amsterdam.

    That Stunning Guy

  22. Jenn says:

    Thank you for this! I’m making my first trip to Amsterdam next month. This is such great info to have.

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