This post is in reference to my post on Three Days in Amsterdam. Refer to that post for more detailed information and a three day itinerary for Amsterdam.
Amsterdam began as a city of fishermen and later boomed as a center of trade and industry. The small city was unable to hold all its inhabitants so in 1612 construction started to build three canals around the city in order to expand. This created the layout we see in Amsterdam today. The center of the city is called the Old Centre and is surrounded by three major canals – Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. It’s important to understand this layout because it makes directions in the city much easier.
(If you are interested in learning more about Amsterdam’s fascinating history, you can read more here.)
Getting to Amsterdam
You have the option of arriving in Amsterdam via train, ferry or plane (depending on where you are coming from). If you are leaving from London, check out the very helpful post from the Man in Seat 61. KLM is the major Dutch airline and has direct flights from many global airports. Note: one way flights on KLM are actually more expensive than round trip flights – something to think of if you are booking one way flights within Europe.
From Amsterdam Schiphol to the city :
Depending on where your hotel is, you can take either the train, bus or taxi.
The Intercity Direct trains depart from the airport and only take 15 minutes to reach the city center (Amsterdam Centraal Station). You can buy tickets at the yellow ticket machines in the airport or at the ticket desk. The cost is 4.20 euro plus a 1 euro fee for the disposable ticket. If you want to waive the 1 euro fee, you will have to purchase a 7.50 euro plastic card (so this option probably won’t even out). From Centraal station you can hop on a bus or tram to your hotel.
The 197 bus (also called the Amsterdam Airport Express) leaves from Schiphol Plaza (the bus stop right outside the airport doors) and makes multiple stops in Amsterdam. The ride to the city of Amsterdam is around 30 minutes and costs 5 euro. There is an “airport express” booth at the stop where you can buy tickets. This bus is ideal if you are staying closer to Leidseplein than Centraal station. For a complete list of stops, check out this website.
A taxi ride averages around 50 euro.
Amsterdam Tips has a super helpful section on airport transportation if you need more info.
Transportation within the city
I found that walking was the easiest way to get around the city. Amsterdam is relatively small and many of the tourist attractions are close to each other. If you need to reach somewhere farther within the city, trams are the easiest form of transportation. The cost is 2.90 euro for an hour or 7.50 euro for a day and can be purchased at a machine or on the tram (check your card in and out when entering/exiting). For tram maps, check out the GVB website.
Where to stay
Although it may seem smart to stay near the city center, I would not recommend this. The quaint and quieter side of Amsterdam is farther out along the canals (and is closer to the tourist spots). The Jordaan neighborhood seems to be a popular area because of its location and its charm. I stayed in the Canal Ring area and loved it there. The Traveling Dutchman does a good job at detailing out the best areas to stay.
Addresses and hours of attractions
Van Gogh Museum: Booking tickets ahead of time will let you skip the long ticket line and will let you stand in a much shorter line. Tickets are 17 euro and multimedia guide (recommended) is 5 euro. Hours are generally 9am-5pm except Fridays when it’s open until 10pm. For exact times check their site. Either walk or take tram 2 or 5 to Van Baerlestraat or bus 170 or 172 to either Rijksmuseum or Museumplein. Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum: Booking tickets ahead of time will let you skip the ticket counter at the museum. Tickets are 17.50 euro and the multimedia guide is 5 euro or is free on the app. Hours are 9am-5pm and they are open every day of the year. It is easy to find because it is the biggest building in the square and has the famous Amsterdam sign out front. Either walk or take trams 2 or 5 to Rijksmuseum, tram 12 to Museumplein or bus 145, 170, 172, 174 or 197 to Rijksmuseum. Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
Anne Frank House: Since the annex is so small, only a certain number of people are allowed in at one time. This creates a long line around the block. (The Anne Frank House is actually known for its long line.) If you don’t want to wait for hours in line, you can pre book a time slot. Be aware: these tour times book months in advance so I would suggest booking as soon as possible. Time slots are released about two months out. If you are unable to snag an online ticket, continue to check the website. I noticed when I was planning that some tickets would be released the day before. I was able to book tour times the day before I was planning on going to the Anne Frank House. Prebook your tickets here. Ticket cost is 9.50 euro and the hours are 9am-7pm during the low season and 9am-10pm during the high season. Double check the hours of operation here. Walk or take trams 13, 14 or 17 to Westermarkt or buses 170, 172 or 174 to Westermarkt. The house looks like a normal house from the outside, but it’s easy to spot because of the line out front. If you have tickets ahead of time you can skip the line and walk straight to the front of the house. Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam
Bloemenmarkt: is along Singel between between Muntplein and Koningsplein. If you need an exact address for your GPS, you can use: Singel 600, 1017 AZ Amsterdam
Vondelpark: is easy to spot on any map – just look west of the museums. Vondelpark hosts a variety of concerts over the summer in their open air theater. An exact address within the park is Vondelpark 5a, 1071 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands.