10 Tips for Planning a Trip to Amsterdam

I’m in the middle of planning a short trip to Amsterdam and thought I’d share some helpful planning and preparation tips I’ve learned.

  1. Plan for at least three days to hit the major sights in Amsterdam, and at least 4 more days if you want to see some of the rest of the Netherlands.
  1. Avoid visiting in the summer or the weekends around public holidays. Overtourism is an issue that Amsterdam has been actively working on to make the city more liveable for the locals. For example, they’ve introduced strict rules for people renting private properties to tourists (think Airbnb), and they’ve forbidden tours of the Red Light District (but tourists can still visit on their own or do the Rick Steves audio tour).
  1. Carry a mix of cash or cards. In Amsterdam, there is a growing movement of cafes and restaurants going cashless, while some of the more traditional places like brown cafes may not take cards at all. You may also need some pocket change to pay for public toilets.
  1. Plan in advance. Online reservations are required for the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House and should be booked at least six weeks in advance. Ticketed time slots are also available and recommended for Rijksmuseum.
  1. Get the Rijksmuseum app for an audio tour of the museum.
  1. Use public transit. Get a day pass valid for 1-7 days rather than individual tickets for each ride. You can get a pass on the GVB travel app. Use the GVB app or Google Maps to plan your routes.
  1. Don’t miss Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market.
  1. Hang out in a coffeeshop, where you can buy cannabis. You can’t visit Amsterdam without at least poking your head in! Coffeeshops are not to be confused with coffee shops or cafes, where you go to get a coffee.
  1. Do a canal tour. Ideally in the evening. I’ve heard you can hire a small private boat to do this rather than one of the bigger cruises but I haven’t figured out where yet.
  1. Ever wonder why Dutch sporting teams wear orange even though their flag is boring red, white, and blue? It’s sort of a long story, but orange is the royal family’s traditional colour. So wear orange to make friends.

Since I’m still planning and haven’t yet been, I’d appreciate any additional tips you might have?

* Featured image by Nikolai Karaneschev, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52475982