Visiting Amsterdam : Getting around and other useful tips

15:30

Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands and home to almost a million citizens and over five million tourists who visit it annually.

In the middle of March I flew for the first time ever and traveled on my own to a foreign country that doesn't border with Croatia. Amsterdam is on the bucket list of most of us because of it's beautiful architecture and liberal views. Being in a new country for the first time can be stressful, specially if you're on your own and not prepared. Before leaving I wrote down all information I though I'd need. I made a list of places I wanna visit, their working hours, how to get there and first of all how to get from the airport to the center and eventually to the place I was staying at. 

To make all of that easier for you and to answer most of my friends questions after I returned I decided to write this post.


View on the canals by moonshinefaerie


GETTING AROUND

FROM SCHIPHOL AIRPORT TO THE CENTER 

The easiest way is by the train.
You'll see the ticket machines (they're blue and yellow) by the exit of the baggage reclaim area and at the plaza before going underground to hop on the train. You can get a one way or 1 day ticket. The ticket costs depending on where you're going, but from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal it costs 6.30 € ( 5.30€ + 1€ surcharge for the disposable ticket). From Amsterdam Centraal you can get anywhere you want. 

When I first got there I was so confused and didn't know which way to go and ended up taking the train in the wrong direction (towards Amsterdam Centraal instead of RAI station) but you can get anywhere from the center or wherever you end up cos it's very well connected so it didn't matter much. 


METRO

Getting from one part of the city to the other, is super easy and fast by taking the metro.
Before purchasing a ticket ask yourself : How much do you plan to use it?

If you plan to ride couple times a day for a longer period of time the most profitable thing would be to get an Anonymous card which is your e-purse and put the amount of money you need for now on it. You can always top it up with 5, 10 or 20€ at the ticket machine. The rate per travel then is € 0.90 +  € 0.155 per km.
Other options are:  
1 day  - €7.50
2 days - €12.50
3 days - € 17.50
4 days - €22.50
5 days -  €27.50
6 days -  €31.50
7 days -  €34.50

There's also one way ticket but if you plan to use it at least twice in a day it's better to get a 1 day ticket.

I've spent there 10days and spent 25€ on transport + 7.50€ for the anonymous card.
The card lasts for 5 years and I plan to go back so it's a good investment. 
Since the card is anonymous you can give it to a friend who might go there. 


TRAM / BUS

Metro, tram and bus are all connected so the card for one works for all. 
If you decide to make the OV-chipkaart (public transport card) you're good to go. Just hold the card at the spot to read it on every entry and exit. If you need more money on it top it up at ticket machines. If you decide to take a one way ticket or any other disposable tickets you can get them at the ticket machine and then also put them on the "scanner" on your entry and exit. Keep in mind you pay 1€ extra for every disposable ticket.




BICYCLE

I personally haven't rented a bike but there are many places that offer you that. I've searched online and when renting you need to leave a 50€ deposit + some sort of identification ( passport or ID ). If you rented a bike while in Amsterdam feel free to leave a comment down below.


If you're staying for longer there is a subscription option with Swapfiets. You sign up for it online, they deliver the bike to where ever you want to have it delivered and if it needs fixing they take care of it. So if you don't plan to buy a bike this is the best option. Also all of their bikes have a signature blue front tire and the cutest retro look. Best of all it's just 15€ per month. Right now they have a waiting line so it's best to contact them two weeks in advance. 

If you want to buy a used bicycle there are many facebook groups for it. Just watch out for stolen bikes. You can check if a bike is stolen by checking it's frame number in the national stolen bike registry.


BY FOOT

Honestly there's no better way to get to know a city than to walk through it. You're on vacation. You have all the time in the world so get out on the street and start walking. You'll probably end up in the same street five times in a row but that's the part of exploring and getting to know the city. 


UBER

In case you need to go from one side of the city to the other the easiest and fastest way is to call an uber.




IN CASE OF EMERGENCY 

The European emergency number is 112. If you are a EU/EEA citizen make the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and take it with you. It may not help you but it's still better to have it with you than not. 

And even if you're not prone to getting ill take some travel insurance that will cover hospital expenses cos they aren't cheap. The minimum you'll pay is 125€ (for checkup at the hospital) and to that you can add +20€ for antibiotics if you get them. I had to learn that the hard way. You might get reimbursement at your home country but don't be too sure in it. I will try when I get back and will let you know how it goes.

In case you need to go to the hospital be sure to go to a public one.  I've been to OLVG East for the checkup and to OLVG West to get the pills cos that was the only working pharmacy in the middle of the night. Those two hospitals are pretty, modern, clean and with high security standard.

Over the counter pills like ibuprofen and paracetamol are pretty cheap and you can get them at supermarkets, for others there are pharmacies.




COMMUNICATING WITH LOCALS

Pretty much everyone I've encountered spoke some english. Majority of people speak english really well so it's easy to get around. But it's never bad to know some basic expressions out of respect for their culture.


BASIC PHRASES

Hello - Hallo / Goededag
Yes - Ja
No - Nee
Good morning - Goedemorgen
Good afternoon - Goedemiddag
Good evening -Goedenavond
Goodbye - Tot ziens /  Doei
Thank you - Dank u (formal) / Dank je (informal)
You're welcome / Please - Alstublieft 
Sorry - Sorry
Do you speak English? - Spreekt u engels?

*G is pronounced like H




SHOPPING

Magna Plaza is a shopping center near the center station but honestly it's not worth a visit. It has only couple pricey stores and that's it. The rest is somewhere on the street. Go to Dam square and from there whichever direction you take you'll end up in a street full of life. Full of stores or little restaurants and bars. If you go down Kalverstraat you'll come across stores like Urban Outfitters, River Island, Pull & Bear, Zara, Primark, Bershka, Levi's , Monki, Vans, Superdry, America Today...

If you're more into thrifting there are many thrift stores but they are far from cheap and affordable at most times. I've heard stories of my friend who used to live in Berlin that he'd find there stuff for a euro. Here you won't spend less than 20€ for a skirt/dress but you'll find lots of vintage Levi's for a good price. Let's say +45€ for a denim jacket. And there was a store that had bunch of shorts made out of Levi's jeans. They didn't have a price tag but I bet they weren't under 20, 25€. So if you're into that I guess you'll be satisfied?
I went to the Kilo shop, the flea market and couple other places but didn't find anything or found some items but didn't want to give 40, 50€ for it. The best one is somewhere in De Pijp. I know it's on the left side of the street and quite small but with lot's of Levi's and cute dresses,skirts and shoes.


COFFEESHOPS

One you'll come across a lot while roaming the center will be the Bulldog which is a chain of coffee shops. The Bulldog No. 90 (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 88) was the first coffee shop in Amsterdam but I've never been inside. They are on the main streets and mostly crowded. I'm not a fan of hectic places. If you aren't either then just walk a little further and get away from the main streets and you'll find a nice one. Some places want to rip off tourists so watch out for that. If a gram or 2 of weed are over 20€ it's too much.

One of the two places I've been to and that have good stuff at reasonable prices is The Dolphins Coffeeshop ( Kerkstraat 39 ). Guy from a smartshop recommended us this place and we didn't regret it. The other one was Reefer (Sint Antoniesbreestraat 77).




That would be all for now. I hope this post will help you and make you feel calmer before you reach the destination. Have fun on your trip and thank you for reading!  
If you have any more questions or suggestions leave them below and I'd be glad to answer them. 

For more photos from Amsterdam check out my 500px profile and follow me on instagram!

PS. I'm having some trouble with editing the text here on blogger, so sorry for the different font and sizes. I tried to fix it but it won't accept changes and mixes it all up on it's own.



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