Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands. With a population of 747,290, it is the 6th-largest metropolitan area in Europe.
Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds.
Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, its red-light district and its many cannabis coffee shops, draw 4.2 million tourists annually.
Amsterdam time in the summer is two hours ahead of GMT, one hour in winter; when daylight saving time is in operation the sun is at its highest point at around 13:40 (which makes for long evenings: since Amsterdam is very far West in its time zone, in mid-Summer the sky is still light as late as 11 in the evening).
In the dead of winter, the sun rises at 8:40 and sets at 16:30; in the height of summer it rises at 5:20 and sets at 22:05
Amsterdam is a late city: many shops don't open until 10 in the morning, and bars and cafés stay open till 1 or 2 in the morning.
Typical weather ranges from a little below freezing in the winter, with little snow, to pleasant sunny days of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius in the summer. Spring and autumn are very pleasant, but wet (100+ mm of rain per month).
Just about everyone speaks English in Amsterdam. Many speak German and French as well.
The currency used in the Netherlands is the Euro expressed as EUR or €. There are 11 other countries apart from the Netherlands that form the Euro Zone: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain. You can use the Euro in all these countries.
Euros are divided into 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.
The Dutch Guilder is no longer usable. You have to exchange old coins and notes in a bank.
There are many places to change money in town. Post offices usually give the best rates.
Credit cards are not as widely accepted in the Netherlands. Always enquire first if you intend to pay by credit card.
If you have an ATM card it will most likely work in the Netherlands, however, check with your bank before leaving.
All prices in the Netherlands by law include tax and tips: the price you see is the price you pay. Normal Dutch practice in restaurants is to round up to some whole number of euros, so that the tip is about 5%.
Dutch Electricity runs at the European standard 230 volts. The plugs are standard European two-pin.
Amsterdam has superb public transport facilities. There are many trams, and good facilities for cyclists, special bike lanes, and traffic lights for cyclists.
The best way to travel is by tram. You can buy a ticket from the driver, the conductor at the back of the tram, or a machine in the middle of the tram, depending on the sort of tram it is.
One, two and three-day passes are also available.
Passes and strippencards are valid on all trams, buses and metros, and also on trains within the city boundaries
The trams run until just after midnight (the last trams leave Central Station at 12.15). After that there is an hourly service of night buses from Central Station.
The fastest way to travel is by bike. There are several addresses around town where you can rent a bike, for reasonable prices. Dutch bikes have no hand-brakes, but back-pedal brakes.
Taxis are not hailed in the Netherlands, but taken from a taxi rank, of which there are many around the city.
Driving in Amsterdam is not recommended. Even for longer distances it is far better to take a train.
Trains in the Netherlands are very dependable. Many stations have a taxi-sharing program called "Train Taxis" which cost only €4.20. You may purchases a Train Taxi ticket when you buy your train ticket.
You can look train times up online at the Dutch National Railways (NS) site.
Central Amsterdam is very small: most distances are walkable, giving the best chance to appreciate the Amsterdam architecture. Beware of walking on bike paths, which are distinguished by their reddish color.
Transport to the Airport
Schiphol airport is very close to Amsterdam centre. There are trains day and night, seven times an hour through the day, hourly in the dead of night, and which take about 15-20 minutes. One way costs €3.60.
Taxis take 10-15 minutes. Some taxis charge a fixed price of €35 to the airport rather than running the meter.
Shops and markets are closed all day Sunday and Monday mornings. Normal shopping hours are 09:00 - 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (5:00 pm on Saturday). There is late-night shopping on Thursdays until 9:00 pm, when most shops are open.
To make an international call, dial 00 followed by your country code, then the national area code, and then the local number.