A Local’s Guide to Amsterdam
Hello, my name is Sam, I am an Amsterdam-based travel blogger on the hunt for the new and unknown. I write about all things Amsterdam and Europe with some other beautiful destinations sprinkled in.
Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most beautiful and magical cities to visit. It is full of surprises and has many different sides to it so that every traveler can find something they like!
Despite its shady reputation, Amsterdam is a historic city full of culture that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. As a resident of Amsterdam for the last 4 years I have been able to discover the best things to do, see, eat and discover in the city.
Here’s my local’s guide to visiting Amsterdam!
Where to Stay
Amsterdam is made up of quite a few different areas and neighborhoods all with their own unique offerings. There are some that are better than others and will offer a more authentic local experience.
The Jordaan is located in the heart of Amsterdam and is the nicest and most expensive area of the city. This small neighborhood is where you will find the most beautiful canals, trendy shops, and a plethora of restaurants and cafes.
The Jordaan is the best place to wake up in Amsterdam and look out your window to the invoice streets and canals.
Where to Stay in The Jordaan:
- Pulitzer Amsterdam: Beautiful hotel located on the most expensive street in Amsterdam in an 18th-century canal house.
- The Hoxton: A high-end hotel located within walking distance to all the biggest attractions in the city.
- The Dylan Amsterdam: A beautiful authentic hotel with a modern design that is centrally located.
De Pijp is a trendy and hip area of Amsterdam located near some of the cities hottest attractions. This area doesn’t have any canals but the streets are made up of authentic Amsterdam houses and you can find a ton of restaurants and cafes to make this area home.
Where to Stay in De Pijp:
Surprisingly, Amsterdam is a pretty small city which makes it super accessible! There are a ton of ways to get around which make exploring fun and exciting:
Biking is the most popular mode of transportation in Amsterdam and renting a bike to cruise around is the best way to immerse yourself in the locals’ ways!
Renting a bike costs around €8-€10 and you can usually either rent through your accommodation or find a bike rental shop in the city and with this, you can zip around to all the best attractions.
Since Amsterdam is such a small city getting around on foot is very easy. You will be tired after walking all day but if you aren’t comfortable biking but want to save money with transportation this is a good option!
By Public Transportation
Amsterdam has a really good public transportation system made up of busses, trams and even an underground metro.
If you plan on getting around with public transportation your best bet is to get a GVB unlimited travel card. With this, you get unlimited access to trams, busses, and the metro for a set amount. Just note this card does not count for train usage.
Getting around by car is one of the least popular ways to get around Amsterdam. If you rent a car you will end up spending €25 + a day in parking alone. While Ubers are available in the city, they tend to cost quite a bit.
Top Things To See and Do in Amsterdam
Visit a Museum
Amsterdam is a museum lover’s heaven. The city is packed with museums of all kinds ranging from art to photography, to history and more! Some of the top options that you must visit are The Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, and Moco Museum.
*Local Tip: Go to a museum first thing in the morning as this is when they are least busy and you can enjoy the experience with fewer people*
Go to a Street Market
Going to a street market is something Amsterdam locals love to do. Street markets are the perfect place to find fresh local foods, handmade jewelry, flowers, art, and more!
Most locals visit the markets for fresh meat, cheese, and vegetables — making them the perfect place to grab something to eat. They are also the best place to pick up fresh bouquets of flowers!
You will find Amsterdam street markets are always buzzing with activity and a visit here will show you what local life in Amsterdam looks like. The most popular street market in Amsterdam is Albert Cupy Market. However, this one is super touristy.
A great local alternative is Westerstraat Market.
Go on a Day Trip
If you have enough time venturing to other cities in the Netherlands is a great way to broaden your horizons and see more of the country than just Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is a stunning country and since it is so small you can go on a train ride and be in an entirely new city within 20 minutes!
You will likely find Amsterdam to be very touristy so going to a new city will allow you to see the Dutch beauty without all the people.
Some of the best day trips from Amsterdam are:
- Zaanse Schans
Walk Through the Red Light District
The Red Light District is one of Amsterdam’s most polarizing points of interest. This area is a place of legal prostitution where women stand in windows surrounded by red lights and people can walk by and enter for their services.
You will likely find the Red Light District feels more like a tourist attraction than anything else. The area is all neon lights and bars with groups of men visiting for parties and events.
Visiting the Red Light District before 11 PM is best. After this time the area becomes a little bit seedy and it is no longer tourists wandering around.
There are many other great things to do in Amsterdam after 6 PM so spending your time here isn’t needed.
Explore the 9 Streets
The 9 streets are a famous set of 9 streets in Amsterdam that are home to the cutest cafes, trendiest shops, and prettiest streets.
It is undoubtedly the most Instagrammable area of Amsterdam and the perfect place to see some of the best offerings of the city.
The 9 streets are a great place to explore if you want to buy some new clothes from Amsterdam, get a new piece of jewelry, or try some beautiful food you see on Instagram.
Visit a Local Park
Amsterdam locals love to spend a day in the park on a warm summer day in Amsterdam. There are parks all throughout the city with nice paths for walking and a ton of green space for sitting out.
It is super popular to grab some drinks and food from a nearby grocery store and head to a park with a blanket for a little picnic! The best parks in Amsterdam are Vondelpark, Westerpark, and Oosterpark.
Go to the Tulip Fields
From late March to early May the fields of the Netherlands become full of vibrant tulips!
Tulips are the Dutch National flower and people from around the world come to the Netherlands in the spring to see the rows upon rows of this flower. It is super magical and if you are visiting during this season a trip to the fields is a must.
Avoid the Tourist Traps
Amsterdam is one of the most touristy cities in Europe. The city welcomes over 10 million tourists a year which means the most popular tourist attractions are packed with people.
It is best to avoid these as the crowds of people often lead to an unpleasant experience. Some of the big tourist attractions I suggest you avoid (or just walk by to say you’ve seen it are): Dam Square, Central Station, Rembrandtplein, and Kalverstraat.
Best Places to Eat in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is packed with amazing restaurants. It truly is a food lover’s paradise! Here is a list of the top places you must eat in during your stay in Amsterdam.
Pluk is a girly and cute cafe/restaurant located on the famous 9 streets. Here you can get healthy eats in a beyond beautiful atmosphere.
Bam Boa is a new restaurant located on the Amstel River. It has the perfect bohemian/coastal feeling and serves tasty luxurious feeling dishes.
This is a vegan restaurant with the best pancakes you can get in the whole city!
Vegan Junk Food Bar
If you are a vegan and looking for delicious junk food, this is the place for you.
Bulls and Dogs
Craving something sweet and totally unhealthy? Bulls and Dogs have the best freakshakes in Amsterdam with flavors like Stroopwafel, pistachio, marshmallow, and more.
Helpful Tips When Visiting Amsterdam
- Keep an eye out for pickpockets, in the touristy areas this is quite common.
- If you are walking keep an eye out for cyclists. If you hear a bell it means to watch out.
- If you take public transport you have to check-in and check out.
- Drugs are not legal. Some are tolerated but they are not legal.
- Respect the locals. You may see a beautiful house and want to look inside or take a photo, but remember people live here and respecting their privacy is a must.
I hope you enjoyed this local guide to Amsterdam! Here are some more of my Amsterdam posts: