5 Minute Guide to Amsterdam

pot of tulips

Amsterdam, Holland (or The Netherlands)


From the airport:

It’s super easy getting to the centre of Amsterdam from Schipol Airport.  Just take the train.  Look for the trains going to Amsterdam Central and you’re on your way.

The train station is under the airport, and you should buy your ticket before you head down there.  Trains to Amsterdam Central usually leave from platforms 1 or 2.  There are ticket machines near the train station entrances, or you can get your tickets from a ticket office nearby if you prefer.   A single ticket will cost you less than 6 euros, and it takes about 15-20 minutes to get to Central Station.

red tulips


We usually stay at the Easy Hotel in Amsterdam.   It’s really basic, really small rooms.  Don’t get a double room if you’re not intimate with the person you’re going with, the bathroom ‘walls’ are more or less transparent.  Accommodation is expensive in Amsterdam and the only places we could find cheaper (but don’t take our word for it, look around, you might find something better and cheaper) than Easy Hotel were old hotels with shared bathrooms and toilets, or hostels.  No thank you. 

amsterdam at night

Amsterdam on a rainy night

Getting around:

Amsterdam is quite big, but very easy to get around by foot.  It’s quite flat so you won’t have much trouble if you choose to travel like the locals and rent a bike to do your exploring on.

Make your way around town by bike like everyone else

Public transport, especially trams, is easy to use.  Just don’t forget to ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ when you get on and off.  You can buy tickets (chip cards) from machines at stations and in some shops.  You can find more detailed transport information here.

tram amsterdam
Trams are frequent and useful to get around Amsterdam

Oh, and be careful, bikes have right of way everywhere.  Cars and people have to give way to them.  Bikes rule in Holland!

Bikes are the king of the road here


I have a big problem with food in Amsterdam.  I never feel like I eat anything healthy when I’m there.  My 2 favourite things to eat there are Febo, a deep fried snack food with different fillings, and Chipsy – basically chips with ketchup and mayonnaise.  Febo shops sell these deep fried delights from little ‘cupboards’.  You put your money in the slot and open the little door and take your treat.  Yum, my kind of food!

Oh look! A Febo shop. Let’s stop for a snack
febo windows
Choose which one you want
febo food
Then open the little door and take your food
febo eating
The one on the left is some kind of mashed potato and meat filling, and on the right is cheese
chipsy before cooking
And if you’re still hungry after your Febo, try a Chipsy
Chipsy with ketchup and mayonnaise

There are also a lot of Argentinian steak restaurants in Amsterdam if deep fried isn’t your style.  But where ‘s the fun in that?

And of course we can find cheese in Amsterdam.  Lots and lots of cheese shops in Amsterdam.  I haven’t tried all the cheeses from Holland, in fact I’ve only tried about three.  But I’ve found the one I love.  It’s called Old Amsterdam.  Heavenly.  Check out some other ‘traditional’ foods here.

Old amsterdam cheese
My favourite cheese, Old Amsterdam


I haven’t done much shopping in Amsterdam, but there are all the usual brand name shops you can find in any big city.  If you’re a serious shopper, take a look here for locations. Otherwise just wander the streets and discover the shops as you go.

pinterest building

If you like shopping in markets then Amsterdam’s the place for you.  Visit any number of famous markets there, including Albert Cuypmarket, and Waterlooplein flea market to hunt for bargains.

And also there are millions of souvenir shops.  However, make sure you shop around before you buy that magnet for the fridge – there’s a better price just down the street, you can be sure of it.

clog magnet
Our souvenir from Amsterdam – a clog fridge magnet. It was cheaper down the street

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Where to start with sightseeing. There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam.  Let me give you a short list, then you can head over to this  site for more.

  • The Royal Palace – Koninklijk Paleis
  • De Wallen, Amsterdam’s infamous red-light district
  • Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market
  • The Canals!
  • The famous Heineken Experience
  • Too many museums to mention – you’ll find one or more to suit your interests
  • Coffee shops – a must, even if you don’t partake, just pop in for the experience
amsterdam canal
Beautiful Amsterdam


I think the whole of Amsterdam could fit comfortably under the ‘quirky’ category.  A city where everyone gets around on bicycles, marijuana is legal and tourists are encouraged to smoke it, the red-light district is a tourist attraction, and cheese is the national food!

Quirky cow superheroes
clog boat
Quirky clog boat

On the other hand, I did find some very disturbing architecture there.  I have no explanation for it because I didn’t do any research, but – SKULLS.  Not only do you have the Amsterdam Catacombs, you also have these.

St Olof Chapel
St Olof Chapel – from the first half of the 15th Century
St Olof Chapel
St Olof Chapel – ‘Hope for Another Life’
st olaf chapel
A close-up of a skull
And more skulls

And if that’s not enough to keep you busy during your time in Amsterdam, then take a look at this comprehensive list of things to do!  You probably won’t have time for everything, but take a look and see what you find most enticing.

Recommended for:

Everybody!  Who wouldn’t want to go to Amsterdam and experience the thrill of legally buying marijuana and smoking a joint in the sun on the bank of the canal?!

Only joking.

Ahem.  Recommended for everyone except young children.

Top tip:

It’s cold in winter.  Go in summer, or in spring when you have to opportunity to see the tulips in bloom – isn’t that why everybody goes to Amsterdam?


Oh, and avoid going there on the 27th April.  It’s Koningsdag (King’s Day) and it’s a mad house.  Here’s a couple of photos to show you what happens on King’s Day.  And the streets are worse than the canals!

canals on King's Day
The canals on King’s Day
King's Day
Celebrating on a boat on King’s Day

What’s your favourite thing about Amsterdam?  Tell me about it in the comments section below, or send me your ‘quirky’ Amsterdam photos cheryl@borninacar.com

If you missed my other 5 minute guides, you can also read about MoscowVilnius, Hanoi, Paris, Hue, Munich and Berlin.

~ Cheryl

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Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

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