Amsterdam Travel Tips
Official Language: Dutch
Time Zone: Central European Time (6 Hours ahead of EST)
Dates: written as Day/Month/Year
Metro Population: 2.5 Million
Passports are necessary for U.S. citizens.
If cold weather is an issue for you, visit Madrid during the spring and summer. If you want to save money and see fewer tourists, visit Amsterdam during the winter and fall.
Though Dutch is proudly the official language and English is widely spoken by many locals.
Hotels have the most expensive rates on phone calls, so purchase a phone card for your international calls, if you don’t have international service on your mobile phone.
Post office hours are 8:15am-7pm (Monday-Saturday).
Banks are open from 9am-5pm Monday-Friday. ATMs are plentiful and the most convenient way to get Euros.
Most large stores are open 9am-6pm Tuesday-Friday, 9am-5pm Saturday, 12pm-5pm Sunday and 1pm-6pm Monday.
If you love art, purchasing a museum pass is highly recommended.
Electricity is different than the U.S., so bring or purchase an adapter to re-charge your digital equipment.
Confirm that breakfast buffet is included in your room price before going to the breakfast room. If you need to cancel a hotel room, confirm the hotel’s cancellation policy and get the cancellation “in writing” in order to avoid cancellation fees.
The laws regarding liquor, drugs and prostitution are different than the U.S., so be prepared for a unique atmosphere.
The major holidays in Amsterdam are New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday, Queens Birthday, Liberation Day, Ascension, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day.
Pre-COVID, Amsterdam received 5.4 million tourists/year, with about 14% from America.
Pack good walking shoes, since Amsterdam is a great city for walking, bicycle rentals, Metro Rail and Tram rides.
Thanks to its numerous monuments, museums, sightseeings, landmarks and attractions, Amsterdam was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It consists of these distinctly Dutch districts:
Centrum = Center of Old Amsterdam
Noord = North
Zuid = South
Oost = East
West = West
Westport = Westport
Nieuw-West = New West
Zuidoost = Southeast
Safety & Handling Money
Don’t engage in conversation with hustlers at Metro stations.
Compared to major U.S. cities, Amsterdam is a safe city. But use common sense when walking around. Sisters traveling alone should assume they are traveling in a major U.S. city and take the necessary precautions.
Pickpockets don’t fit a profile and include children. Use care at major tourist attractions and on the Metro or public buses.
Seek help or information only from official personnel (train station agents, tourist office, tour bus drivers, airport information desk, airline employees, hotel desk clerks).
Don’t expect local Sisters and Brothers to greet you the same way that they do in the U.S. The U.S. custom of a head nod or “Hello” may not be familiar to them.
Handling Money & Valuables
If time permits, take a picture for your debit card before leaving the country.
The ATMs only accept PIN numbers with 4 digits, so check with your bank before going. Use the ATM card to purchase Euros, since they usually have a better rate than many currency exchange offices.
Locals don’t wear money belts. If you choose to wear a money belt, you stand out as a tourist. It is preferable to get one that you can wear inside a shirt or blouse. Otherwise, place money in hidden pockets or deep inside your bag, so that it’s hard for pickpockets.
When walking around or using the Metro, carry little cash, a debit card, a copy of your passport for identification. It’s easier to replace those items.
Store your original passport, extra money, plane ticket, list of credit card/ATM card customer service phone numbers and other valuables in the locked hotel safe.