Before traveling from the US to Amsterdam, it’s advisable to find out as much as you can, prior to boarding your flight to Schiphol, especially if you are planning a short stay. For a long stay, you have more time to benefit from the advice of the folk on the ground—local residents and expats.
Passport and Visa
You do not need a Visa to visit the Netherlands if the length of your stay will be less than 90 days. Your passport must be valid for three months beyond your departure from the Netherlands. (Note that the Schengen area, in general, requests 6 months passport validity beyond departure from the region.) To stay longer that 90 days, make sure that the information you receive is correct and official.
Best time to visit Amsterdam
You may think that summer is the most favourable time to visit Amsterdam. However, there is one thing you will need to contend with then. You guessed it—the crowds. If sunny days and the beaches are important to you, then there are ways to circumvent long lines and heavy traffic. Start your day early, or, alternatively, start out late. Many visitors do find many advantages, however, in waiting till winter or spring.
Winter in Amsterdam
In winter, Amsterdam is refreshing both indoors and out. Between the museums, ice-skating rinks, and wonderful eateries, you won’t run out of activities. The Festival of Lights between November and January, is not to be missed.
Springtime in Amsterdam
Almost anything you do during the summer, can be enjoyed during spring. What you can only do during springtime, is to enjoy the tulip season, especially Keukenhof, which is closed during the other nine months of the year!
Where to stay in Amsterdam
There is no shortage of accommodation in Amsterdam. The trick is to find what you are looking for in terms of price range. The following is a list of sites that you can peruse:
- Luxury accommodation
- Where to stay when you’re on a tight budget
- Weird and wonderful accommodation
- A houseboat hotel at Hotelschip Gandalf
Getting around Amsterdam
Modes of transportation are many and varied.
1. If you can’t lick ’em, join them
We’re talking about bicycles. They seem to grow on trees in Amsterdam. There’s no need to defend yourself against the onslaught of bikes. Rent one yourself. Bike City is a company in the central Jordaan district. They rent bicycles that do not scream out, “I am a tourist!”. However, do learn the rules of the road before you set out. If you prefer touring with a group, look into bicycle tours of the city, for example, Mike’s Bike Tours.
2. Hop-on, hop-off canal bus
An excellent way of touring Amsterdam, with no time constraints, is to purchase a 24-hour ticket on the canal bus. Embark and disembark, between sightseeing and relaxing on a canal boat.
3. Trains, trams, and buses.
Amsterdam boasts a super-organised transportation system, making it very easy to get around without having to look for parking. It is not overly challenging to find out how to get from A to B. Various passes and discounts are available, and the 9292 site is a great source of help.
You won’t starve in Amsterdam
Whatever your taste in food or drinks, you’ll find it in Amsterdam. Many eateries have their own special ambiance, with their histories, décor, chef’s choices, international cuisine, locations, and entertainment. But one thing is clear. You must experience some Dutch cuisine while visiting. Don’t leave without tasting oliebollen, poffertjes, Dutch herring, and stroopwafel. Some of these delights can also be purchased at street stalls, bakeries, and specialty food stores.
Tip: If you’re looking for coffee, don’t head out to a coffeeshop (koffiehuis). Your cookies may be laced with cannabis. For coffee and beer, enjoy one of the many cafés in Amsterdam, many of which are on terraces, or alongside canals.