#Innsider’s guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam. Famous for its picture-perfect canals and laid-back coffeeshops, it’s a city teeming with rich artistic and architectural heritage that pushes boundaries with its vibrant party scene and illicit alter-ego. A true Jekyll and Hyde city, it’s a top global destination that revels in its high and low culture.

Getting about

Experience the city as the locals do; by bike. Cycling is quintessentially Dutch and is the best and most efficient way to see the city. Cycle on over to the picturesque Jordaan district; this neighbourhood near the Anne Frank House is full of quaint streets and historic canal houses. Mac Bike has outlets all over the city with hire prices from less than €10 a day. Just remember a couple of golden rules: lock your bike up securely, use your lights at night and never be afraid to use your bell.

Bike Amsterdam

© Dennis van de Water / shutterstock.com

For those who prefer exploring by foot, the Sandemans Free Walking Tour departs twice daily (11:15 and 13:15) from the National Monument in Dam Square. It’s a whistle-stop tour that covers all the major sights. Also offering paid tours to the infamous Red Light District, for €12 or €10 for students, your guide will take you to the lesser-known ‘elite street’ and explain the thinking behind the impressive array of colourful goods available at the ‘Condomerie’ condom store. See newamsterdamtours.com

If you want to see the city from the water without parting with a cent, catch one of the regular free ferries from behind Centraal Station.

Take in the culture

Catering to the cultural connoisseurs amongst you, Amsterdam is full of world-class museums. The Museumkaart offers one year’s unlimited entry to the majority, which is available to purchase from the museums. For a weekend-only alternative, the I Amsterdam card also combines free tram travel. Competing with art gallery heavyweights such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum, some smaller museums are not to be missed. The intriguing hidden church Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic) and the preserved 19th-century affluent canal house Museum Van Loon are both highly recommended.  Also take in the impressive view from the famous Dutch Golden Age painter, Rembrandt’s front room and marvel at how small his bed is at the Rembrandthuis Museum.

Amsterdam Museum

 © S-F / shutterstock.com

The I Amsterdam City Card might be also quite interesting. You can visit world-class museums, take a cruise through the charming canals and sample the local delicacies. All for free – or with a significant discount! In addition, the City Card gives you unlimited access to Amsterdam’s public transport system for 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours.

Retail therapy

Amsterdam’s shopping scene is nothing if not eclectic. There’s something for everyone along the busy Kalverstraat, but for a more upmarket experience head to P.C. Hooftstraat in the museum district. Hidden away in the Jordaan district is the ‘9 Straatjes’ (9 little streets), which is full of specialist boutiques and independent second-hand stores. It’s also dotted with some really cool cafés and chilled out spots to grab lunch. Vintage lovers shouldn’t miss the Monday morning market held weekly at the Noordermarkt. There’s always a great selection of vintage leather, so don’t forget your haggling skills and you could pick up a bargain.

Amsterdam Shopping

© Ivan V. Lebedev / shutterstock.com

Thirsty work? Follow that with a trip to the nearby café Winkel 43 for a coffee and what is widely renowned as the best traditional apple pie in the city.

A place to stay

Our Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel is ideally situated just minutes from the Schiphol rail station taking you straight to Amsterdam City Centre within 15 minutes. 

What are your favourite Amsterdam hang out spots? Let’s hear your Innsider tips to help others when planning a visit.