Amsterdam Travel Guide: Getting Around, City Tours, Part 2

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Railway Station Amsterdam

Amsterdam Travel Guide And Tips.

Amsterdam travel links are particularly good, and this has helped to put the city firmly on the tourist map of Europe. Airlines offer regular and cheap flights to nearby Schiphol airport and rail links are especially good from the surrounding countries such as France, Germany, and Belgium. The Netherlands itself is a small country and journey times to other major cities are relatively short.

Most visitors arrive at the award-winning Schiphol airport, a mere 18km from the city center. More than 100 airlines have direct flights there, including many cheap flight carriers. Its shopping arcades are renowned and passengers have voted it one of the easiest of airports to get around. Trains, buses, and taxis whisk visitors into the city every few minutes, with many hotels running their own shuttle services.

On arrival in the city center, you will find that Amsterdam is very much a place for walking. You can cross the old city in a 30min stroll and much of the city center area is traffic free. Most of the locals ride bikes and there are thousands of cycles in the city – an estimated 600,000 bicycles for the 750,000 Amsterdamers.

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There are plenty of car rental firms too, but driving restrictions and parking can make hiring a car a problem. Amsterdam tram and bus services are also excellent and, of course, there are the canal boats which circle the city on cruises to all the popular tourist spots. There is also a metro service for the outer suburbs, but visitors will rarely find the use for this. Taxis are everywhere, but they are expensive and the drivers are not always sure of routes.

Getting out of the city is no problem either. Trains are frequent, sometimes serving other city destinations every 15min. Beware the rush hours though, as the queues can be considerable. There are very good rail connections to other major European cities both from Amsterdam’s own Centraal Station or from Schiphol airport.

The Netherlands’ road network too, is well maintained and well signposted, so you should have no problems in finding your way around. If you do drive, remember that trams and bikes have right of way.

Getting There:

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s top travel destinations and easily reached by air, land or sea. The international airport is at Schiphol, about 18km (12m) south of the city. The railway station at Amsterdam Centraal has travel links to all the major European cities.

Amsterdam Flights:

Cheap flights within Europe and direct flights from outside Europe land at Schiphol Airport. KLM is the Dutch national travel airline and KLM, EasyJet, BMI Baby, Ryanair and Transavia all operate budget travel flights from the UK. There are always cheap flights on deals on offer and it’s worth trawling the cheap flight websites for any last minute deals. The flight from London takes about 45min.

Manchester To Amsterdam Flights Schedule

Schiphol is Europe’s fourth largest airport and a big hit with holidaymakers. A single terminal building is split into three halls, aptly named 1, 2 and 3. On the ground floor are the Arrivals halls opening onto a huge shopping complex – the Schiphol Plaza – that includes cafes, restaurants, a supermarket, and a rail station. On the first floor are the departure halls and more shops.
Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam city center: There are several ways to get to the city center from Schiphol. Buses are the cheapest, trains are the quickest and taxis the most convenient.

Train Travel: Rail platforms are next to Schiphol Plaza where trains leave for Amsterdam Centraal every 15 min at peak times with a travel time of 15 – 20min. Trains run hourly through the night. Train travel fares are €4 – €6 one way and €6 – €10 return. Local, national and international trains stop here – get details at the Dutch Railways’ desk in Schiphol Plaza or from the Netherlands Railways website.

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Car Travel: Schiphol Airport is on the A4 (E10) autoroute from Rotterdam and The Hague and the city center is well signposted. The journey time to Amsterdam city center is 25 – 30min. Airport parking is good with two short stay car parks – P1 and P2 – a short walk from Schiphol Plaza. Short-stay airport parking is expensive though at €2.50 for one hour, to a maximum €22.50 for 24 hours. The long stay car park P3 is on the airport access road and costs €45 for the first three days then €5 a day. A free transfer bus leaves every 10min day and night.

Taxi Travel: Taxis wait outside the Arrivals hall and cost €30 – €40 to the city, depending on the postal zone. It takes 25 to 30min. You can pre-book a taxi on the Schiphol Airport website. Amsterdam Airport Shuttle also has chauffeur-driven cars to city hotels for €13 – €20 per person.

Bus Travel: Buses pick up from the bus station in front of Schiphol Plaza. KLM also operates a half hourly shuttle bus service to the main hotels 6 am – 11 pm for about €7.

Amsterdam by Train:

A Eurostar high-speed train runs from London to Brussels through the Channel Tunnel in 2hrs 15min. There are InterCity trains or Thalys trains from Brussels to Amsterdam with a travel time of about 3hrs. At £70 – £150 it expensive but fast and there is a wide choice of departures times so it’s well worth checking out online.

Amsterdam by Bus or Coach:

Main UK coach services to Amsterdam are operated by Eurolines, often in deals with other national companies. The coach/ferry option can be a good deal with departures from many UK cities so it is worth considering online offers. International buses arrive at Amstel Station, about 10km south of the city, with a 10min metro hop to Centraal Station where you will find the main terminus for all bus, tram and coach services across Amsterdam.

Amsterdam by Ferry:

Overnight ferries maybe slow but on the upside, you get a luxurious cabin, a good night’s sleep, arrive first thing and it can be cheap. Rail/ferry deals to Amsterdam can be as low as £25 so it’s well worth checking out sites for the keenest prices.

There are several ferry travel crossings to Holland from the UK. From London, the cheapest is the train-ferry travel option sailing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. Stena Lines operate four-car ferry crossings daily with a sailing time of 6hrs. The Hook of Holland is about 77km from Amsterdam and a connecting train takes about 2hrs (via Rotterdam).

There are other ferries from the north of England. Newcastle to Ijmuiden – DFDS has one overnight ferry crossing of 16hrs. Ijmuiden is about 20km and a coach meets the ferry.
Hull to Zeebrugge – P&O has one ferry crossing daily of 11hrs and there are rail links to Amsterdam.
Hull to Rotterdam – P&O has one ferry crossing daily to Rotterdam Europort of 11hrs with rail and bus connections to Amsterdam.
Rosyth (Scotland) to Zeebrugge – Superfast Ferries has one overnight sailing of 17hrs with rail links to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam by Road:

The Netherlands has an excellent highway system of fast autoroutes and slower two-lane national highways. The E231 from the south, the E231 from the southeast, the E19 from the southwest, and the E22 from the north all converge on Amsterdam, with most connecting to the A10 ring road with circles the city.

Getting Around:

Amsterdam is an ideal walking city, compact and quiet with little traffic and public transport is excellent. But a bicycle is the preferred Dutch way to get about – and remember there are no hills to climb. Car driving is strongly discouraged within the city’s central canal ring and parking can be a nightmare. The GVB company runs an integrated metro, tram and bus service throughout Amsterdam and the surrounding areas.

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Short break or weekend break visitors should pick up a one, two or three-day I Amsterdam Card which gives free unlimited travel on all public transport and free entry to most Amsterdam museums and attractions. You can get cards from GVB ticket offices, train stations, hotels, tourist offices anywhere, or from tram and bus drivers or conductors.

Amsterdam by Bike:

Most local people get around the city on cycles. The city is crisscrossed with dedicated red-colored bike lanes and there is any number of bike rental firms and city bicycle tours. To hire a bike you must stump up a deposit and have some identification. It costs about €10-a-day. Dutch bicycles often have no hand brake but use back-pedal brakes and you must take care when crossing tram lines. Remember also to use a good cycle lock and lock both frame and front wheel as bicycle theft is a major city-wide problem. See tourist offices for details of cycle tours.

Amsterdam by Tram:

Trams are one of the handiest ways to get around the city. Trams leave every few minutes from Amsterdam Centraal until 12.15am You can get tram tickets from the driver, conductor or a machine, depending on the tram, but this is a relatively expensive option. Strippekkaarts or tram ticket strips are cheaper and available in shops in strips of eight, 15 and 45. You are charged by the city zones passed through on each trip. Don’t travel by tram without a ticket – the fine is €60.

Using a tram is easy. Hail it to stop it and open the door by pressing the button. Inside the tram press the red button to stop it and another door button to get off. A free map of Amsterdam’s tram and bus routes is available from tourist offices.

Amsterdam by Bus:

City buses are mainly used to reach outlying suburbs or when the trams have stopped running. Night buses run from midnight to 7 am with most bus routes connecting Centraal Station, Rembrandtplein, and Leidseplein.

Amsterdam by Metro:

The metro is fast but only really useful for traveling outside the city center or for getting to and from the Amsterdam Arena.

Amsterdam by Canal Boat:

Canal boat trips are aimed exclusively at the tourist trade. The Canal Bus runs every 40min from 9.50am to 7.25pm with 14 stops along three different routes. All the major attractions are on the canal routes and you also get a commentary thrown in. A one-day canal tour pass costs €16 and is valid until noon the following day.

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The Museumboot (Museum Boat) runs a similar daily tour for €14.25 with stops at Centraal Station, Prinsengracht, Leidseplein, Herengracht, Muziektheater and the East Dock. Tickets include half-price entry into most museums. It’s a good deal if you decide not to buy an I Amsterdam Card.

Amsterdam By Taxi:

Taxi stands are found at most tourist hubs, including Leidseplein, Dam Square, and Centraal Station. Hailing a taxi in the street is not easy and just about impossible at weekends. If you need a taxi you can call 0900 677 7777. Taxi fares are €1.80 per km at any time and cabbies expect a 5-10% tip, though this is not mandatory. For a nice Dutch twist, try a bicycle taxi. The pedal-powered cabs carry up to two, are cheaper and more fun.

Amsterdam by Car:

There are plenty of car rentals available at Schiphol Airport and in the city center, mainly along Overtoomstraat near Vondelpark. All major car rental agencies are here though many visitors prefer to book online before they go and there is some very good website offers about. But be warned – driving in the city is not easy, with lots of traffic free areas and entry restrictions.

Parking is difficult and parking regulations are strictly enforced. It costs €67 to get a clamp removed and the car is towed away after 24hrs. Away from the city center, it’s a good idea to use the Amsterdam Arena car park (follow P+R signs). It costs about €6 a day with a free tram ticket into the city.

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Amsterdam On Foot:

Amsterdam is a great city for walking as so much of it is traffic free. The tourist offices have booklets on interesting Amsterdam city walks at prices from €2.25 to €4.50. Favorite city walking routes include the Rembrandt trail, a walk through the former Jewish Quarter and city walks in the Jordaan area.

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City Tours:

If you have one, two, three days or more, Amsterdam has plenty of tours on offer and more than enough to keep you entertained. Below are some recommended itineraries which we hope will give you a good overview of the city.

One day In Amsterdam:

If you have only one day, start by taking a canal boat cruise then take a walking tour along the historic canal ring to soak up the atmosphere and architecture of the city’s Golden Age. Stop along the way to grab a bite at one of the many Dutch styled Brown Cafes or try that famous Dutch specialty, French fries with mayonnaise.
After lunch head to Museumplein to visit the Van Gogh Museum or Rijksmuseum, two of the best in the world. Take a break in nearby Vondelpark or have a leisurely drink in Leidseplein square. If you still have the energy, go shopping along the main shopping strip from Leidsstraat to Kalverstraat. For dinner head to Chinatown and a Thai or Indonesian restaurant. After dinner, wander through the Red Light District then head for Rembrandtplein to party the night away.

Two Days In Amsterdam:

Get up early to avoid the queues at the Anne Frank House. If the queues are too long check out the Amsterdam Historic Museum nearby then make your way to the Begijnhof, a tranquil religious compound.

After lunch, rent a bike and tour the Jordaan district. If a bike is not for you, head for Waterlooplein to see the Jewish Museum, Rembrandt’s House or the Canal House Museum. For dinner try De Pijp for an ethnic experience. If culture is your thing try the Concertgebouw at Museumplein and the Muziektheater at Waterlooplein.

Amsterdam Walking Tours:

This is a great city to explore on foot. Nearly all tourist attractions are within easy walking distance from each other. The tourist offices have a number of interesting walking routes through various quarters of the city with handy maps. The most popular are:
In Rembrandt’s footsteps: This gives two routes, one walks the other cycling. It takes you to the Rembrandt House Museum, the Waag, Dam Square, Westerkerk, Begijnhof, and Munt Tower.

Amsterdam old and new: Rembrandt features again with some illustrations of the route through old and new parts of the city. Contemporary photos are also included so you can compare the modern and 17th century Amsterdam.

The Jewish quarter: The city has had a major Jewish quarter from the 17th century and this walk gives a fascinating glimpse into its past including a look at the Jewish Historical Museum.

The Jordaan: This walk takes you along the canals of the Jordaan, once the neighborhood of Rembrandt, now full of quirky shops and galleries. This is also where you’ll find some of the best Brown Cafes.

Tours Around Amsterdam:

If you are there for more than a few days you will want to explore the areas around the city. Haarlem is Amsterdam on a smaller scale with the most impressive cathedral in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is amazing for its modern architecture, as well as being the largest port in Europe.

The museums and palaces of The Hague will attract those with an interest in history, while Utrecht is a warm university town with quaint canals. For that real touch of Dutch village quaintness though head for Alkmaar, with its cheese market, and Zaanse Schans for the famous windmills. All are a short train journey away and make an easy day trip.

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