Frequently Asked Questions
One Of The Most Beautiful Cities In The World
Amsterdam works its fairy-tale magic in various ways: through the gabled Golden Age architecture, the dazzling boat-filled canals, and specifically the cosy, centuries-old crown bars, where candles burn low and Dutch beers froth high. And this Dutch mystique brings a lot of frequently asked questions with it. We’ll answer them on this page of our website.
Art lovers will be agitated to gawk a more masterpiece-packed city, thanks to amazing collections at the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum, Stedelijk museum and the Hermitage museum.
Music lovers can experience great concert halls booked solid with entertainment from all over the world.
The Red Light District
Amsterdam’s Red Light District is a must-see! It offers the oldest streets, the oldest buildings and the oldest profession in the world. It’s the only place in the world where you’ll find a church surrounded by window brothels, cannabis shops, a daycare, restaurants and bars. Moreover, it contains a Buddhistic Temple, Chinatown, museums, clubs, fashion stores, art galleries and chocolate stores.
Amsterdam is very intimate and accessible, its compact core is perfect for walking. You never know what you’ll find among the atmospheric streets: a 17th- century distillery, a hidden garden, an antique book market, where nothing ever seems the same twice.
There is so much you can do in Amsterdam in three days. You can join our interesting walking tours and learn more about Amsterdam from our licensed guides. They can also give you great to-do-tips. Some must visit highlights are the 17th century canal rings (preferably by boat), the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District, the Vondel Park, the Flower Market, Hermitage, the National Maritime Museum, the A’dam Tower with Europe’s highest swing, the Begijnhof and the NDSM Wharf.
See the famous canal ring by boat
Join one of our interesting walking tours! Get to know Amsterdam, learn more about the Dutch culture and find the needle in haystack with our local guides. We accept reservations up to two hours before the start of the tour. Check out our city tours here.
If you are a fan of old Dutch windmills (who isn’t) then you can’t miss out on a visit to the Zaanse Schans! Besides the beautiful windmills you also get to experience the industrial history of the Netherlands up-close.
Keukenhof (Kitchen garden) is known as Europe’s garden. It is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. De Keukenhof is located in Lisse, in the province of South Holland. According to the Keukenhof’s webbsite, around 7 million flower bulbs are planted each year in the park. The park covers a total area of 32 hectares (79 acres).
Haarlem is a nice beautiful small city that actually predates Amsterdam, and it’s just a 20-minute train ride away. Some consider it a welcome break from bustling Amsterdam. If you plan to visit Amsterdam for more than just 2 days you should definitely consider also visiting this beautiful old city.
Major cities that are close to Amsterdam include Haarlem, Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam.
The Hague: the city of international law, is just a 47-minute train ride from Amsterdam.
Rotterdam: Europe’s largest port and filled with modern architecture, is just a 40- minute train ride from Amsterdam.
Utrecht: also know as little Amsterdam, is just a 26-minute train ride from Amsterdam.
We often get frequently asked questions on Rotterdam and it is definitely worth a visit! It’s the second largest city in the Netherlands and is Europe’s largest and most important logistics hub.
The port of Rotterdam
Rotterdam’s port is one of the most important ports in the world. Rotterdam is located on De Nieuwe Maas river and is characterised by modern architecture. This is mainly due to the bombing of the Rotterdam by Nazi Germany on the 14th May, 1941. The historic city centre was almost completely levelled. Because of the partly lack of a historic centre, Rotterdam is different from the common Western European city, but it is certainly no less worthwhile to make a visit. The forced new start of Rotterdam after W.O. II ensured that modern architecture was given ample space within the heart of the city. This has led to a city full of beautiful modern buildings that many other European cities lack.
Beside the architecture other hightlights include:
- Museum van Boijmans Beuningen
- Witte de With
- Centre for Contemporary Art
- A flourishing food scene
- Vibrant nightlife.
Depending on your taste visit the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. Take a canal boat trip and do a quality walking tour through Amsterdam’s center to get an understanding of the history of one the world’s prettiest cities. We’d recommend seeing the oldest part of the city, like the Red Light District and the Jordaan area.
Yes, Amsterdam Central Station, the main train station, is located right in the heart of the old medieval center of Amsterdam.
There is no direct GVB line to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Tickets for the GVB can already be purchased at airport ticket machines though. In the future the GVB metro North South line might be extended all the way to Schiphol Airport.
According to one theory the answer to this frequently asked questions is; the crosses symbolise the three disasters that hit Amsterdam, namely water, fire and the plague. This symbolism is supposedly confirmed by the colour: red is fire, white the water and black the plague. However this theory has no historical foundation.
Amsterdam | XXX
An old source that might give the definitive explanation is the description of Olfert Dapper, who in his Historical Description of the City of Amsterdam (1663) mentions that the 3 crosses represent windmills. You’ll find these three crosses on all kinds of buildings in Amsterdam, in many logos and also on the many spur-posts along the roads.
Besides our ranking as the tallest people in the world, the Dutch are also better at English than any other non-native speaking country. According to a recent study between 90% and 93% of the Dutch population claims to be able to hold a conversation in English. Amsterdam probably even has an even higher rating than the Dutch average due to its international population.
The answer to this frequently asked questions is of course like the locals, by bike. If you think that you don’t have sufficient bicycling skills for a city like Amsterdam there are plenty of other options. Amsterdam’s historic city center can easily be traversed on foot. If you want to go farther out, there are tram, bus, ferry and subway connections for you to use. Amsterdam’s public transport company is called “GVB” and they offer day tickets so that you can easily explore the city.
The best way to get around
Depending on who you ask Amsterdam is famous for its beautiful canals, houses, its tolerance towards soft drugs and prostitution, its many museums and its rich history.
A recent Survey done by The Economist ranked Amsterdam as the safest city in Europe. The rating was based on several indicators. When it came to personal security only Stockholm scored higher in Europe. You can read the report here. Traveling alone in Amsterdam is safe, however we do advise all tourists to look out for pickpockets in crowded places.
We can’t give a full answer to this frequently asked questions. There aren’t any numbers on the total number of people who fall into Amsterdam’s canal each year. We do have numbers one how many people drown in the canals. In the last three years going back from 2018 at least 51 people have died because they fell into the water. Most of the victims are males who fall into water whilst they’re urinating. Only one case was due to a criminal offense.
The average depth of Amsterdam’s canals is 2.6 meters (8.5 feet).
It’s not recommended to swim in the canals except for at certain designated locations. There are health risks associated with swimming in the canals. The first risk is in all those boats that do not see you as a swimmer. The second risk is in all bicycles, shopping carts and the like that are just below the surface. However, the water in the Amsterdam canals has never been so clean as it is today.
Sunbathing besides the Amstel river
A frequently asked questions during our walking tours is where the best place to swim is. If you want to swim in the waters of Amsterdam, then we’d recommend going to De Omval – in the southern part of the city. At De Omval you can swim safely in the Amstel river.
Amsterdam got its wealth from trading via the oceans. By building the canals, goods from across the globe could be delivered at the doorsteps of the many merchants and traders that lived in the city.
The canals in Amsterdam don’t freeze that often. On average once every 5 years the city gets lucky.
Amsterdam’s public transport company (GVB) gives you the option to buy both
hourly tickets and day tickets. An hourly ticket costs € 3,20 and will give you an hour of unlimited transfers within the Amsterdam region for the Metro, tram and bus. Don’t forget to checkout and check-in again when you change between modes of public transport. A day pass (24 hours) costs € 19,50 a two day pass € 28,- and a 3 day pass € 36,50.
More information and answers to related frequently asked questions on public transport in Amsterdam can be found here.
For the city center the best form of transportation (for longer distances) is the tram.
Tap water in Amsterdam is of the highest quality.
In few countries the standards and controls for tap water are as strict as in the Netherlands. In addition, all ten drinking water companies often have even stricter threshold values to ensure that they remain well within those legal requirements. Tap water is more controlled than food in the Netherlands. It must meet hundreds of requirements, many times more than for example bottled water. A comparative study in the leading academic journal Science showed that the drinking water quality in the Netherlands is much better than in Great Britain and the United States.
Yes, you can ask for tap water in most restaurants in Amsterdam. But be sure to check out the prices before ordering.
The average price for a coffee is around 3 euro.
BTW stands for VAT (value added tax) and has to be paid for almost all products and services in the Netherlands. BTW is stated in the price, so no surprises during checkout.
A frequently asked questions that is easy to answer; the Red Light District is not dangerous at all! In the 1980’s, this was when the area was dangerous. But those days are long gone. There isn’t much street crime here, there are many police officers patrolling the streets and the streets are quite clean. This website offers a lot of useful information about the Red Light District, including maps, prices, local laws, news, FAQ’s and much more.
The Red Light District during the daytime
Certain soft drugs – like cannabis – are legal (tolerated) in Amsterdam. You can easily buy marijuana, hash or hallucinogenic truffles. We often also get this frequently asked questions about the harder drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and speed. Please note that these are all illegal in the Netherlands.
Cannabis is tolerated in The Netherlands
October to March is the off-season in Amsterdam. If you are looking for cheaper flight tickets or hotel stays we advice you to plan within these 5 months.
Amsterdam is probably one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. The majority of Amsterdammers have cycled their entire lives. Amsterdam’s infrastructure has been designed with the cyclist in mind. The answer of this frequently asked questions however does not apply to those who have zero experience in riding a bicycle. if you have little to no experience on a bicycle we’d probably advice you to skip renting your own bicycle in Amsterdam as the traffic can get quit hectic.
You can’t get everywhere on a bicycle 😉
The average cost for renting a bicycle in Amsterdam is around 10,- euro per day. Things get cheaper per day the more days that you rent the bicycle.
No. Trams do always have the right of way so keep that in mind. In the Netherlands you always give way to traffic coming from right. Traffic from the left should give you the right of way, but don’t count on it. You are on a bicycle so don’t take these rules for granted. Tip: lookout for the tram lines, crashing your
bicycle because your tire gets stuck in the tracks has happened to every Amsterdammer. For more tips on biking through Amsterdam read this article.
The best thing to do is use the large keychain lock to connect your bicycle to something that is tethered to the ground. This isn’t a guarantee that your bicycle won’t get stolen but it reduces the chance by about 99%. If you are planning to cycle through Amsterdam you can find some more tips here.
Cheese, fries with mayonnaise, bitterballen,
The best streets for shopping in Amsterdam per city area.
Kalverstraat, Dam Square, Leidsestraat, Haarlemmerstraat, Utrechtsestraat, Czaar Peterstraat.
Amsterdam Zuid (South)
Beethovenstraat, P.C. Hooftstraat (luxury)
Almost all Typical Dutch breakfast options contain bread. With bread topped off with fried eggs (add ham, bacon or chees to your liking) being the most popular.
In holland we love our cheese
If people are more in a hurry some bread with butter and hagelslag (small chocolate sprinkles that look like hail) will do. We eat so called Wentelteefjes when we have plenty of time to make a breakfast. Wentelteefjes are made from sliced bread that is dipped in a mixture of egg and milk, perhaps with a bit of cinnamon added, and fried in a pan and then topped off with some sugar or jam.
Like most countries we celebrate New Years Eve. Because of the Netherland’s Christian heritage Christmas, Ascension Day and easter are also celebrated. Other holidays include Kingsday (the King’s birthday), liberation day (the end of the Second World War for the Netherlands) and Sinterklaas; the Dutch, and original version of Santa Claus.
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage back in 2001. One can expect it’s capital to be LGBT friendly in comparison to most other places in the world. A 2012 EU wide survey showed that the Dutch had the highest European percentage (93 percent) of people who believe that homosexuals should be allowed to live as they wish. The number of Dutch people who reject homosexuality also fell from 15 percent in 2006 to just 4 percent in 2012. This doesn’t mean that discrimination or even violence against homosexuals doesn’t happen in the Netherlands or Amsterdam. But Amsterdam is clearly one of the most LGBT friendly places in the world.
The Gay Pride Parade or Amsterdam Pride as they call it is a multi week event these days. It usually takes place between the last week of July and the first week of August. For more information on the dates and the famous canal pride check out this website.
Yes, it’s safe! The Red Light District is an entertainment area but also a residential area with lots of social control. Moreover, police officers and local enforces control the streets here too. Just like in other parts of Amsterdam. The Police Station is located 450 meters away from the Red light District. The area also has dozens of police camera’s that monitor 24/7. During your visit you’ll be surprised how safe the Red Light District actually is.
Everyone can freely enter Amsterdam’s Red Light District because it’s a public and residential area. We also get frequently asked questions about the prices that prostitutes charge. There are no fixed prices for prostitutes in the Red Light District because these depends on the requested service. Prostitutes in the Red Light District usually charge 50 to 70 euro for 15/20 minutes of sex. However prices are negotiated at the door of the window brothels.