Amsterdam is a city bustling with life and possibilities. For the unfamiliar tourist, these possibilities can seem overwhelming. But with a little information, finding the best restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions becomes just another part of the adventure. Check out these tips and tricks to get the most out of your time in this wonderful city.
What to See and Do in Amsterdam
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One of the best parts about visiting Amsterdam is that all kinds of travelers can find worthwhile and exciting activities. Whether you’re a history buff, a romantic, or a food connoisseur, Amsterdam offers a travel niche for everyone. Visitors that are excited by museums, sculptures, and art history should head over to the museum district, aptly known to the Dutch as Museumkwartier. Here you can enjoy fantastic and interactive museums, like the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, or the world famous Rijksmuseum.
If history is more your thing, head over to the eastern portion of the canal rings, known as Plantage to the locals. This area offers the Jewish Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) and the fantastic Resistance Museum. You can find more information and an interactive guide to the Dutch Resistance on their website. Though not on your typical list of tourist sites, both museums have been extremely well assembled and will impress any history buff. For more traditional historical sites, head to Dam Square where you can see the Royal Palace or visit the famous Anne Frank House in the Jordaan district.
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If shopping is a great pastime of yours, check out the famous Nine-Streets area (just inside the canal rings), where you can find major European stores and some fantastic boutiques. You can check out the shopping guide for more information. Also head over to the Flower Market where you can see the gorgeous buds that made the Dutch flower-famous. In this market you can also find a few cheese shops selling delicious, local Gouda cheese (that’s ‘how-da’ as opposed to ‘goo-da’). Fill up on free samples and sneak out while the shopkeepers are distracted.
How to Find a Great Hotel
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Amsterdam offers a wide range of hotels and hostels for travelers on every kind of budget. The key to enjoying Amsterdam, though, is to find a hotel with a great location. From personal experience, staying too far from the city center can ruin a trip and rack up transportation costs. Your best bet is to look for hotels located within the districts of Jordaan, the Olde Center, the Plantage, and Canal Ring districts. This will put you within walking distance of most major sites and if you need to hop on the tram for a bit, there are multiple lines crisscrossing these areas.
If you’re on a tight budget, Amsterdam offers myriad backpacker hostels and guest houses in fantastic locations that will keep your wallet happy. If you’ve got money to spend and are looking for top amenities, check out the Mercure Hotel Amsterdam or De L’Europe Amsterdam. For more hotels, visit Hipmunk’s Amsterdam hotels page.
Where to Find the Best Restaurants
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Amsterdam can be very overwhelming in terms of food options. Not only is there an array of local eateries, but international cuisine has become hugely popular in the last few decades with steakhouses springing up like tulips in the city. For good, local eats that don’t raise their prices for tourists, check out the Jordaan area, just outside of the Olde Center. International cuisine that is cheap and tasty can be found in the Nieuwmarkt area (for Asian cuisine) and Damstraat (for Chinese and Middle Eastern cuisine).
Places to avoid include the steakhouses and Italian restaurants offering dirt-cheap meals. You may save a few bucks, but the food quality in these places is very poor. Also, if you’re feeling wallet-conscious, avoid the restaurants near Dam Square. The food quality is good but the prices can be sky high. Look carefully at the menu before entering any restaurant in Amsterdam so you know what to expect.