So you’ve just touched down in Amsterdam, but where do you go from there? This beginner’s guide will give you some basic knowledge of Amsterdam to help you through your day. We’ll also provide you with a few suggestions that we think will help any tourist, backpacker or even flashpacker to have an amazing first day in one of the greatest cities in the world!
Getting from the Airport to ClinkNOORD
Amsterdam Schiphol is the fifth busiest airport in Europe, so it can become confusing at peak times when there are lots of people about. There are also many attractive-looking little shops to check out, which can become quite distracting. Ignore these, as most of the stuff they sell you can buy elsewhere for cheaper! If you’re going to buy stuff on this trip, we suggest you save your pennies for better-priced goods! However, there is a handy corner shop straight outside the arrivals gate, directly in front of you, so hit that if you’re feeling peckish and need snacks or a drink for the first part of your journey.
Follow the signs down the main pathway from arrivals to Schiphol station. There are several transport options from here, but the train is by far the cheapest and quickest. A single second-class ticket will cost just €4.10 if you can use the yellow ticket machines. However, if the technology doesn’t agree with you, use the ticket office instead at an extra cost of €0.50. Make sure you definitely buy a ticket, because if you’re caught on a train without a valid ticket you WILL be fined!
Follow the main escalators down to platforms 1 and 2, where there are trains to Central Station every 10 minutes. If you have bought a second-class ticket, make sure you sit in the blue-seated areas, as the red-seated areas are for the fat cats who have bought first-class tickets, and you will likely be asked to move! The train takes just under 20 minutes to get to Central Station, so don’t worry too much about paying for comfort levels at this point!
When you alight from the train, follow the signs to the West Exit, then those that say ‘Noord’. To get to Noord, where our Clink hostel is situated, you have to take a short ferry trip to Veer Buiksloterweg. This is completely free and runs day and night! There are ferries every seven minutes crossing either side, so you’ll never be stuck waiting too long in the daytime. However, ferries are less frequent at night, so we recommend you use this website to download timetables http://www.ilovenoord.com/ferry/
Good news! You’re almost there, just a quick two-minute walk to the hostel now! Once you’ve disembarked the ferry, walk straight along the road opposite you, passing the cafés on your left until you reach the car park (also on the left). From here you will see a left turn off the main road; keep walking across the bridge and over the canal. After crossing the bridge, turn left and walk down the side of the large brown building until you reach a door on your right. Well done, you’ve found the entrance to ClinkNOORD! That wasn’t too hard was it?
So you’ve ditched your bags and checked in at ClinkNOORD, you must be feeling pretty thirsty by now right? Luckily, at ClinkNOORD we have a bar right here in the hostel that will cater to all your boozy needs, for cheaper than anywhere else in Amsterdam. Alternatively, if you fancy going straight out for a pint, we recommend Café Ot en Sien. This quaint little place is one of Noord’s oldest and most famous pubs. It has a pretty relaxed vibe, so you can grab a beer and even have a nice chat with the friendly owner.
Nature in the City
If the weather is nice and you fancy getting some fresh air, there are several parks nearby to wander round. You can rent bikes from ClinkNOORD, as these parks are great for a cycle. Oeverpark is the closest. It’s quite small, but has breathtaking views of the IJ River, and the grass is soft, so you can chill out and enjoy a picnic in the sun. The WH Vliegenbos is slightly further out, but is a much larger park and worth discovering if you want a proper day out cycling and enjoying nature in the city.
Getting around Central Amsterdam
To get back to Amsterdam Central, simply follow the same route as you did to get to Noord. Being a buzzing metropolitan city with tourists coming in and out every day, it’s only natural for Amsterdam to have several reliable modes of transport. It might be worth getting hold of a travel card to make your stay easier and cheaper, especially if you’re going to want to go outside the main strip.
- OV Chipkaart
An OV Chipkaart is handy if you’re going to make more than one journey on public transport during your visit. They cost €7.50, work just like Oyster Cards in London and can be topped up as required at GBV Offices and GBV and NS ticket machines, supermarkets and newsagents.
- 24-Hour Tickets
If you just want a one-day travel pass, these also cost €7.50 and can be bought from the driver of your tram/bus. These work on all trams, metros and buses.
Here’s a little fun fact, apparently there are over 600,000 bicycles in Amsterdam! Locals love to cycle, and most are pretty experienced cyclists. It may be tempting to rent a bike to get around the city, but please be careful and make sure you are comfortable cycling on the busy roads, as there are trams, buses, cars, pedestrians and other cyclists to watch out for. Also, if you’ve already rented a bicycle from ClinkNOORD, you are allowed to bring bikes on the ferry, so there’s no need to rent a second bike when you venture into the city.
Amsterdam’s main strip can be found by taking a short walk directly opposite the station. It’s fairly easy to find if you just follow the crowd. The strip, Damrak and Dam Square is generally a tourist area, and the bars and shops are almost always busy (and quite expensive). Like any big city, Amsterdam has its share of crime and pickpockets can be rife, especially in the busy tourist areas. Make sure you keep anything of value in a safe place, i.e. no keeping your wallet hanging out of your back pocket!
Where to Eat
By now you must be getting pretty hungry. In the touristy areas it can be quite expensive to eat, but if you look hard enough it can be fairly easy to find places that won’t break your wallet. Here are some of our favourites for you to try:
- Getto: Just off the main Damrak strip, Getto sells burgers and cocktails and has a relaxed atmosphere. You can get a main course from around €10.
- Maoz Falafel: Sells inexpensive but gloriously delicious vegan/vegetarian falafel pitas and salad boxes. Conveniently located on Damrak and en route to the Sex Museum!
- FEBO: There are loads of these about; FEBO is essentially fast food from a vending machine. It’s ideal if you want something cheap and quick, but won’t be the best thing you eat in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has loads of pubs and clubs to choose from; mainly in Rembrandtplein Square just off Damrak and Leidseplein. Some that you may consider popping into include:
- Studio 80: Considered one of the coolest underground techno clubs in Amsterdam, this intimate club is tucked away inconspicuously behind black doors in Rembrandtplein Square.
- Café Belgique: This tiny bar is located just off Dam Square and is definitely one for the beer connoisseurs, with over 40 different beers on offer!
- Dan Murphy’s: Only a 15-minute walk from Dam Square, Dan Murphy’s is a popular little Irish bar in Leidseplein that is especially buzzing when there are gigs on at the Melkweg music venue, just round the corner.