I recently returned from a very enjoyable solo holiday to Amsterdam. However, there were several things I wish I had known before I went. Here are some top Amsterdam travel tips that I hope will help you when you book your trip…
Many places do not take cash at all in Amsterdam, including bars, restaurants and trams. Not everywhere takes American Express either. Luckily I had a back up visa debit card with me. This was accepted everywhere I went.
2. Bank charges
When I paid by visa debit card, I was asked whether I wanted to pay in Euros or Sterling. I chose Sterling but I then incurred bank charges of 2.99% per transaction when I returned home. I wasn’t aware this would happen. Check charges with your bank before you go so there are no surprises and make sure you do not rely too heavily on cash.
3. Inform your bank of your holiday
Inform your bank of your trip before you go. They will mark a ‘holiday flag’ on your account. Otherwise you are in danger of your card being stopped while you are away. You could be stuck if cash is not accepted and your card is declined.
4. When selecting a hotel, research its location too, before booking
I originally booked a hotel, West Side Inn, Slotervaat, outside the city centre to save some money. The hotel was very nice, modern, clean and comfortable. However it was in an area which felt quite remote. I didn’t research the local area before I booked. There were a few characters lurking around the front of the hotel who made me feel uncomfortable. I therefore didnt want to walk to the tram in the dark alone even though it was only a 5 minute walk away and the area I wanted to be close to cost Euros 30-35 each way by taxi. I went with my gut instinct and moved to a hotel close to the city centre where it was always busy and I felt safe.
5. Check opening times and days
I wanted to visit the floating cat sanctuary. On arrival I was disappointed to find it was closed. It was not open on Wednesdays or Sundays and opening hours on other days are reduced, between 1pm-3pm only. If there is somewhere you particularly want to visit, check opening days and times online, before you book accommodation and flights to avoid disappointment.
A restaurant I was very keen to go to had restricted opening times as well. It was fortunate that I happened to go along for lunch rather than dinner as I hadnt realised it was only open for dinner Thursday-Saturday.
6. Anne Frank Museum
Tickets can only be purchased online. No tickets are available to purchase on the door. I turned up at 11am on my last day to be told this. I tried to purchase tickets online for later that day using their wifi but they were fully booked, so I was unable to visit.
7. Riverboat Cruise
This is a super solo activity to do. I booked an audio tour and listened to interesting facts and was shown points of interest throughout the 90 minute cruise. Unfortunately, all of the 3 sets of earbuds I was issued with only had 1 earbud working. They were also made from very hard plastic which hurt my ears. Far better to take your own to use if you have them.
Another of my Amsterdam travel tips is to go to one of the Tours and Tickets shops dotted around the city centre. They offer discounted tours and tickets and provide you with a free booklet with money off coupons on various attractions.
9. Schipol Airport – can be a long walk to the gates!
Schipol Airport is large with lots of great shops for souvenirs so allow plenty of time for last minute souvenir shopping. Also be aware that it can be quite a long walk to the gates. I was returning to London Gatwick and it was a 13 minute walk to my gate. I just about made it before the gate closed!
10. Taxis at London Gatwick
My local taxi company made a mistake and hadnt booked my return car. Rather than wait for them to send me a car, I decided I would check out the prices of ‘Airport Cars Gatwick‘ which is located inside the airport. Staff were incredibly friendly, the taxi was £9 cheaper than my local one and I only had to wait for 5 minutes. The driver was very friendly and chatty. I would definitely recommend checking their prices and see how they compare to your local firm.
I hope my Amsterdam travel tips have been helpful to you. For further information on recommend hotels, solo activities and restaurants, click on the following links…
Hotels I recommend for a solo holiday to Amsterdam
Activities I enjoyed by myself
Restaurants I enjoyed dining solo at