Amsterdam | Travel Guide
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Update July 19: If you're fully vaccinated and returning to England from an amber country you won't need to self-isolate when you get back.
You'll need to take a PCR test 3 days before you travel and a PCR test on or before day 2 after you return.
Children under 18 won't need to self-isolate but will still need to take the precautionary tests. Those aged 5-10 only need to take the day 2 test and those under 4 are exempt from any testing or self-isolation.
Negative PCR test 24 hours before arrival. Or 72 hours before arrival if accompanied by a 24-hour rapid antigen test.
If you're fully vaccinated you'll need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus one on day 2 once you return.
If you aren't fully vaccinated you'll need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus ones on day 2 and day 8 while you self-isolate on your return.
When you're there:
Outdoor seating is allowed for bars, restaurants and cafes from 6am to 8pm. Essential shops are open, and non-essential shops can open with restrictions. Travel by public transport is only recommended if the journey is essential, and travellers are advised to avoid peak times.
Traffic light status:
The Netherlands is on England's amber list but is currently closed to UK residents unless they have exceptional circumstances.
Amsterdam Travel Guide
Hello and welcome to our Amsterdam travel guide – the best place to find out everything you need to know before you go.
Why visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is one of the most popular destinations in Europe as millions of people are drawn to the laid-back culture, hundreds of museums, galleries and the famous Red Light District.
But before you head off and enjoy all that Amsterdam has to offer, here's the lowdown on all the city's hidden gems, like where to get the best food and proper bicycle etiquette.
In our Amsterdam Travel Guide, we'll cover:
How to get to Amsterdam
Getting to Amsterdam from London is a breeze. You can hop on the Eurostar and be in the city in about four and a half hours, or you can catch a flight to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which will take less than an hour from London.
If you decide to fly, be sure to check out an airport lounge – a great place to indulge in some peace and quiet before you fly.
How to get to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport
There's plenty of options for getting to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport to suit all budgets and transport needs.
How to get to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport by train
From Schiphol, we recommend getting the NS train from just outside the arrivals lounge. Single tickets cost €4.20, taking roughly 18 minutes to reach Amsterdam Centraal. From there, you're right in the middle of the city, near most of the major hotels and the city's attractions.
How to get to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport by bus
To get to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport by bus, take the Amsterdam Airport Express on Line 197 from just outside the airport to the city centre. The bus departs every 15 minutes and costs €9 for a return, but in our experience it can get very busy, which isn't ideal if you're lugging around a heavy suitcase.
How to get to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport by taxi
If you're looking to get a taxi from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam it's worth remembering that they can be very expensive and can cost up to €50 for a single journey. Make sure to only use official taxis as anyone offering taxis inside the airport could be trying to scam you. Alternatively why not get about in style and book a hire car to explore the city's surrounding area.
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What are the best ways to travel around Amsterdam?
Now it's time to start exploring all the amazing things to do in Amsterdam (and avoid taking an unexpected dip in a canal). Here's some of our picks for the best ways to get about the city.
Amsterdam on foot
Like most city destinations, one of the best way to truly experience Amsterdam is on foot. Almost everything is within comfortable walking distance, and we stumbled upon some our favourite parts of the city by just getting lost while having a wander, so taking it slow is definitely worth it. For example, by walking away from Amsterdam's high street, we found The 9 Streets (De 9 Straatjes) district, which houses some of the best independent, boutique shopping opportunities in the city.
Amsterdam by bike
If you're feeling brave, the most authentically Dutch way to get around Amsterdam is to hire a bike. It'll cost you about €15 a day, and it's worth remembering that helmets aren't often worn by locals – so make sure to request one before renting the bike. Also bear in mind that the Dutch ride hard and fast, so our best advice is to treat riding a bike in Amsterdam like driving a car; stick to the designated cycle lanes, signal at junctions and remember that the Dutch drive on the right.
Amsterdam by public transport
If you're in a hurry, there's plenty of options for getting around the city quickly. You can get about via the metro or tram, but we'd recommend the latter as it stops more frequently, and you get to see the sights as you go.
How to use the tram in Amsterdam
There are two main tram stops at Amsterdam Centraal station, in the east and in the west. Most locals use the OV-Chipkaart (look out for the logo), which works just like an Oyster card in London. Load it up with credit, and don't forget to tap in and tap out every time.
However, for tourists, we recommend getting an iAmsterdam card. It gives you unlimited use of all public transport for as long as you need, as well as entry into many of the city's hundreds of museums and attractions. You can order the card online before you travel or pick one up once you arrive.
Where to eat in Amsterdam
There's no shortage of places to eat and drink in Amsterdam, and here's our top picks for Dutch dining:
Amsterdam Oost, or East, is a bit of a hidden gem, as you'll find it's less touristy than some other parts of the city. The district houses the Dappermarkt, where you can find some of the best street food in the city, much of which has an Asian or African twist, due to many immigrants choosing to settle in this part of the city. For some exotic eating, there's nowhere better in the city.
While you're sampling the culinary delights of Amsterdam Oost, why not wet your whistle at the local brewery (Brewerij het IJ), which runs regular tours.
Located near the southern end of the city, De Pijp has the widest variety of restaurants and bars in Amsterdam. One of our favourite places to visit is the Albert Cuypmarkt for some stroopwafels, a traditional Dutch dessert of waffles and caramel syrup. You'll also find the Marie Heinekenplein is here, home to lots of bars and the Heineken brewery.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Let's take a look at all the awesome things to do in Amsterdam. There's too many to list them all here, but here are some our favourite things to see and do in this incredible city.
If your looking to add a dash of culture to your Amsterdam holiday, then we recommend heading to the world renowned Rijksmuseum. You'll find a huge assortment of displays and exhibitions, but the museum is most famous for its collection of Rembrandt paintings, including his most iconic masterpiece, The Night Watch.
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam and queues can get really long. To beat the lines, you can book an e-ticket before you arrive.
A trip to Amsterdam isn't complete without a trip along the city's canals. We booked with Grey Line, which you can board from Damrak (near Amsterdam Centraal), however there are plenty of providers offering tours around the station, catering for all budgets and desired routes. Our tour lasted an hour and took us all around the city, with earphones for the audio commentary included.
Our top tip would be to get a seat near a window as it can get pretty hot inside the boats, particularly in summer.
Anne Frank Huis
Anne Frank Huis is on Prisengracht, in central Amsterdam, and is where the teenager wrote her famous diary while hiding from the Nazis during World War Two. Many of the exhibits here are particularly emotional and poignant, but it's an important site of remembrance and well worth a visit.
It's also worth noting that from 9.30am to 3.30pm, entry is only available to those who have booked an online time slot. After this it's a queueing system, with people often queuing for hours before doors open. Our tip would be to book online as early as possible.
If you time your Dutch holiday just right, the tulip fields in Keukenhof are not to be missed.
Only open for 8 weeks a year, the tulip fields bloom between late March and early May and they're worth a visit just for the photo opportunities. It's also a great place to take smaller children if you're planning a family trip to the Netherlands, with plenty of parks and playgrounds to tire out even the most active kids.
For something altogether more adult, why not spend an evening trying some jenever – the Netherlands' signature take on gin.
Tucked away down Pijlsteeg, just off Dam Square, is Wynand Fockink, a traditional jenever tasting tavern. You can try from more than 70 different varieties and you're encouraged to try the traditional way, hands-free, from a tulip-shaped glass. Trust us, there's an art to it, we just haven't figured it out yet.
The Red Light District
Finally, what visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the red right district – known locally as De Wallen. It's home to coffee shops, peep shows, sex shops and just about anything in between.
Millions of tourists flock here every year and, even if you're not into what the De Wallen has to offer, we still recommend doing what we did and booking yourself onto a walking tour. We booked with AmsterdamRedLightDistrictTour.com, who were friendly and informative, talking us through some of the district's highlights.
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
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