With news that the government is going to crack-down on tourists enjoying the city’s notorious coffee shops in 2012, it’s no wonder Amsterdam has stepped up as one of the top cities to visit this season! If it’s your first time, here are the basics.
Rent a bike.
It’s no secret that bikes are the preferred means of transportation in this city: they’re everywhere! Most just hire a bike for one day but you can save a lot of cash and time by using a rented bike for your entire stay. You’ll see a lot more of the city if you go around on two wheels just stay out of the way of the local riders, they’re ruthless when it comes to dawdling cyclists!
Similarly, DO NOT WALK IN THE BIKE LANES!!!! Unless you want to get cussed at in a language you don’t understand. Respect the red lanes and ALWAYS look both ways before you cross bike lanes.
Cash is king.
Many shops, cafes and especially market stalls only accept cash or Dutch bank cards. There are exceptions but to be on the safe side, always carry enough cash with you for the entire day so that you’re not left stranded with a bill you can’t pay. Because that’s just embarrassing.
Bring your umbrella.
If you thought London was rainy and grey in winter, Amsterdam is no different. The good thing though is that the showers pass quickly but nothing can put a damper on your day more than being caught in a downpour without an umbrella. September, October and November are the rainiest months of the year. The best months, at least for rainfall, are February through April.
Eat what the locals do: herring and pie.
Dutch cuisine revolves around flavourful produce, excellent cheese and fresh fish, particularly herring. It’s the best from May to July. You may see some eating it by dangling it up over their mouths but that’s the easiest way to spot the tourist. Locals eat it chopped up and fried with onions and sweet pickles. Alternatively, you can eat it in a roll (kind of like a Dutch burrito).
Another Dutch favourite is apple pie… and it’s to-die-for. It’s always served with a huge dollop of whipping cream and is the sweetest and tastiest thing you’ll ever taste.
On getting lost.
It will happen as least once during your trip to Amsterdam. The city centre is a tight network of bridges, water, small and narrow streets with names you cannot read. As fas as we’re concerned, getting lost is part of the fun of travelling! Wander around and if you really can’t get your bearings, pull out your map.
Shop the markets not the malls.
Built on canals, Amsterdam has always been a market city. The options are endless here. If you’re looking for a gourmet lunch without a gourmet price tag just head to the Albert Cuypmarkt for the freshest cheeses, breads, olives and other nibbles you can imagine. We call it a pot-pourri lunch and it’ll definitely leave you satisfied. As for souvenirs, the vintage and second-hand marketplaces are the best spots to pick up original and quaint treasures for your friends and family.
More inspiration for your upcoming trip to Amsterdam:
- Whirlwind tour: 24 hours in Amsterdam
- Hot deal to Amsterdam’s markets: Fly from London for £49
- Like a local: Amsterdam
Have you been to Amsterdam? What’s your favourite thing about this city?