Amsterdam is Netherlands’ capital and its largest city, known for its stunning architecture, its charming historic canals, great shopping, and a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere, with majority of its population able to speak English fluently. The city is also Netherland’s financial and cultural capital, where 7 of the world’s top 500 companies are headquartered. Amsterdam draws over 3.66 million international visitors yearly due to its diverse set of historic attractions such as museums like the Van Gogh Museum; the Anne Frank House as well as its historic canals.

If you plan to go on a trip to Amsterdam, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • You may want to think twice about going to Amsterdam in the winter, as the days are shorter, and the weather may be too cold to walk around the city.  January and February are the coldest months, while July and August are its warmest.
  • Several means of going around Amsterdam include riding the trains and taking the bus. Driving a car is not especially recommended since the roads may get congested, and parking is expensive.
  • The city center has plenty of tourist attractions and is best explored by foot, or by riding a bike.  Amsterdam is a bike friendly and has separate bike lanes on most major streets.  Remember to obtain a map for cycling routes, and buy locks for your bikes, since Amsterdam has one of the highest bicycle theft rates in the world.
  • Amsterdam’s terrain is geographically very flat, and there are hardly any skyscrapers built around its historic center, which makes it hard for visitors to get a good panoramic view of the city.
  • If you’re planning to tour Amsterdam’s museums, you might want to buy a Museum Card which costs around € 39.95. The card covers the cost of admission to over 400 museums across the Netherlands and can be bought at most major museums.
  • Although there are guided city tours, it is generally cheaper to tour the city by yourself.
  • If you want to sample authentic local Dutch cuisine, your best bet is to eat in a simple Dutch eetcafe. Some of the top restaurants in Amsterdam include Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, and La Rive at the Amstel.
  • No smoking laws are enforced in bars and restaurants, as well as all public buildings and workplaces throughout the Netherlands.
  • If you’re in the mood to do some shopping, you can go to Noordermarkt. The store sells antiques, fabrics and second-hand trinkets during Mondays, and turns into a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. If you live outside of the EU, you are entitled to a VAT refund and the Schiphol airport if your purchases go over 50 Euros.
  • If you plan to go the Anne Frank House, be sure to get there early, preferably at around 5 PM.  The museum often has long lines. If you want to skip the lines, you can reserve tickets from their official website.
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