AMSTERDAM FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Amsterdam`s Schiphol Airport is located approximately 8 miles southwest of the city center. If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. Netherlands Railways (Schiphol Station is beneath Schiphol Plaza) operates between the airport and the city 24 hours a day, with service to Amsterdam Centraal Station and to stations in the south of the city. There are up to six trains each hour to Centraal station during peak times and one train every hour at night. The trip takes about 20 minutes and costs €4.50. The Gemeentevervoerbedrijf (GVB) Amsterdam Municipal Transport booths found in front of Centraal Station can provide directions, fare information, and schedules for tram and bus routes. From Centraal Station, trams 1, 2, and 5 go to Leidseplein and the Museum Quarter.

The Connexxion Hotel Shuttle runs daily every 30 minutes from 6:30am to 9pm between the airport and most of the city`s major hotels. Reservations aren`t necessary and tickets can be purchased from the Connexxion desk inside Schiphol Plaza or on board from the driver. Buses depart from in front of Schiphol Plaza. The fare is about €16 one way and €26 round trip; children ages 4 to 14 pay half the adult fare.

Taxis are expensive, but they are the best choice if you have a lot of luggage. There is a taxi stand directly in front of the arrival hall at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. All taxis from the airport are metered and you can expect to pay around €40 to €50 to the center of Amsterdam. A service charge is included, but small additional tips are not unwelcome.

UberBlack rides to/from the airport cost a fixed rate of €45.

Car rental companies are located at the airport. Typical opening hours are 6am-11pm daily. The car rental desk can be found in Schiphol Plaza, on the same level as the arrival halls.

Bicycling to/from the airport is also possible; there is a 15km sign-posted bike route from the airport to Amsterdam. Turn right as you leave the airport terminal: the cycle path starts about 200m down the road. There is a map of the cycle paths around Schiphol available on this PDF (green lines are cycle paths).

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Dutch trains are modern and the quickest way to travel between city centers. Amsterdam Schiphol railway station is a major passenger station located directly beneath the terminal complex of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. There are several trains an hour to the Amsterdam Centraal Station and frequent service to the rest of the country as well. From Centraal Station there is an extensive tram and bus network; and you can use Metro trains to reach both Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein in the central zone.

Note: You cannot buy domestic train tickets in the Netherlands with credit cards. Currency exchange desks and/or ATM machines can be found at most stations. The yellow touch-screen ticket machines, located in every railway station, accept debit cards with a four-digit PIN code, but not credit cards. Fares are slightly lower than if you purchase from a ticket window. Also note - you can`t buy tickets aboard the trains, and you risk a hefty fine if you board and travel without one!

How do I get around using the Metro?

Amsterdam has its own Metro system, operating between 6:00am and midnight daily, but travelers will usually find trams and buses more convenient for getting around, as most metro stops are geared for city residents traveling to the outer suburbs. However, the Amsterdam metro, consisting of five lines that run partly over ground, can get you from point A to point B much faster than a tram, which makes many stops along the way. From Centraal Station, you can use Metro trains to reach both Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein in the old city center. You`ll need an OV-chipkaart, used the same way as for other public transport.

Note: There are always ongoing roadworks along the route of the metro line. Underground metro stations are still being build or finished often causing pars of roads to be blocked off to cars, buses and trams for an extended time. Usually you can pass on foot or bicycle.

How do I get around the city using other public transportation?

Amsterdam offers an extensive network of trams (14 lines) and buses that operate from about 6:00am to midnight daily. Night buses operate a limited service thereafter, usually on an hourly schedule. The tram routes, with a network of 80 miles of track, make this characteristic form of transport more useful than the bus for most tourists. The newer fleets of buses are clean and nice; and bus lanes (shared only with taxis) are not congested, ensuring that you travel more quickly than the rest of traffic during rush hour. To avoid rush hour, don`t travel between 7:30 and 9 in the morning or between 4 and 6 in the afternoon. As with all public transportation systems, keep an eye out for pickpockets!

Most tram and bus stops and all Metro stations display maps showing the entire urban transit network. All stops have signs listing the main stops yet to be made by trams or buses at that location. Detailed maps of the network are available free from the GVB Tickets & Info office. The central information and ticket sales point for GVB Amsterdam, the city`s public transportation company, is Stationsplein (tel. 0900/9292 for timetable and fare information, tel. 0900/8011 for other customer services), in front of Centraal Station, open Monday to Friday from 7:00am to 9:00pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00am to 9:00pm.

All public transportation in the Netherlands uses an electronic payment card called the OV-chipkaart. The best bet for short-term visitors who plan to use public transportation a lot is a 1-day or a multi-day card: 24 hours (€7.50), 48 hours (€12.50), 72 hours (€17), 96 hours (€22). Note that the cards are valid for use throughout the Netherlands, no matter where you purchase them. But there is a fine for riding without a valid card.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis in Amsterdam have rooftop signs and blue license tags and are metered. It is possible to hail a taxi in the street, but the better option is to find one of the taxi stands located throughout the city, usually near luxury hotels or at major squares. Taxi Centrale Amsterdam (tel. 020/777-7777) offers reliable service.

Amsterdam city center is a myriad of roads, lanes and footpaths. Because space in the city center is limited, taxis cannot stop anywhere they like. To keep traffic flowing in the city at peak efficiency, stopping is not allowed at various places. This is also one of the reasons why there are so many fixed taxi ranks.

Unlicensed, illegal, cabbies operate mainly in Amsterdam Zuidoost, Leidseplein crossing Prinsengracht and at the Rembrandt Square. These aren`t easily recognized as such, and most certainly don`t drive Mercedes cars. They are known as snorders and most easily reached by mobile phone. Rides within Amsterdam Zuidoost (the Bijlmer) range from €2.50 to €5, whereas Zuidoost-Centre can run up to €12.50. Snorders have a bad reputation, so never consider their services.

Since you`re in the city of canals, consider splurging on a water taxi. You move more quickly than on land and you get your very own boat tour. For reservations, call VIP Watertaxi Amsterdam (tel. 020/535-6363) or hail one from the dock outside Centraal Station, close to the VVV office. Travel within the city center for one to eight passengers costs about €20 per half hour; for travel outside the city center, the rate is about €50 per half hour.

I will have a car in Amsterdam, where can I park?

Our best advice on driving in Amsterdam would be: don`t. The city is a maze of one-way streets, narrow bridges, and no-parking zones; and you`ll find the ease and efficiency of public transportation to good to pass up. If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses. However, if you must have a car while you are in the city then there are parking garages throughout town; most cost €3 to €6 an hour and €25 to €50 a day depending on the location. The largest lots are at Centraal Station, Damrak, Marnixstraat, under Waterlooplein and adjacent to Leidseplein. Additionally your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee).

Warning: Don`t leave anything in a parked car! Luggage, cameras and laptops are commonly stolen from parked cars and are easy money for drug addicts.

Is Amsterdam a walking city?

The best way to see Amsterdam is by bike or on foot. Central Amsterdam is very small and its concentrically circular layout makes it easy to navigate (or get lost in). We strongly advise you to do your exploring with map in hand as it is quite common to find yourself walking in the opposite direction from the one you thought you were heading. For safety sake, always watch out for bikes and trams. Keep off the bike paths, which are well paved and often mistaken for sidewalks. Bikers have the right-of-way, so if you hear a bell, move quickly. Trams function in the same manner, and will ring their bell before they move. Always look both ways before crossing streets.

Is Amsterdam a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Although Amsterdam has had certain problems with crime, including abuse of legalized prostitution and drugs, the violent crime rate is exceptionally low. Having your bike stolen is probably the worst thing that will happen to you. Nevertheless, it is always best to be street-smart and take safety precautions. Be wary of pickpockets in crowds and on trams, buses, Metro trains and in train and Metro stations. And use common sense when going out at night as muggings do occasionally occur. There are some risky areas, especially in and around the Red Light District and Vondelpark so keep to well lit areas and the main thoroughfares and take a taxi if you are going a long distance. Distribute your cash, credit cards, passports/IDs, and other valuables between an inside jacket pocket or hidden money pouch.

Groups of women visiting the Red Light District at night might feel harassed in the aggressive environment, though this is said to be the safest area because of the police presence. Keep to main streets and groups. If you do choose to visit the Red Light District, do not take photographs of prostitutes! You will be yelled at, or worse. There are even signs displayed there telling you not to take photographs.

Although not really dangerous, women especially might want to avoid the narrow lane north of the Oude Kerk (Old Church) after dark as the atmosphere can be quite intimidating. If you would like to see the nightlife in action, visit as part of a guided tour; that way you will be much safer than if you were to visit alone. Holland`s emergency phone number for the police, the fire department and the ambulance service is tel. 112.

Are there long lines at the museums? Does it make sense to buy a museum pass?

The electronic I amsterdam Card is the `official` city pass. It is a pre-paid pass and discount card allowing free access on many top museums. Furthermore it gives you discounts on attractions and activities in Amsterdam. A separate free public transport ticket is included to use the public transport ticket is included to use the public transport system in Amsterdam. The card is available in three package deals with discounts valid for 24 hours (€60), 48 hours (€80), 72 hours (€95) and 96 hours (€105). Major museums, such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum are included. The I Amsterdam Card is available at:

-Amsterdam Tourist Offices (VVV): Amsterdam Tourist Office, Stationsplein 10 (opposite the main station entrance)
-Schiphol Airport: Arrivals Hall 2 - Holland Tourist Information
-Several shops and newsagents across Amsterdam
-Some hotels

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of the Netherlands is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATM`s can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I don`t speak Dutch. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When is the best time to see the tulips in bloom?

The single most important event in the Netherlands is the flowering of the bulb fields each spring from March to mid-May. Two-thirds of all the cut flowers sold in the world come from the Netherlands. The best areas to view the flowers are between Haarlem and Leiden and between Haarlem and Den Helder. The bulb fields near Amsterdam absolutely burst with color from April to mid-May.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Amsterdam is a city with a long history of trading so the shopping opportunities are plentiful, from traditional antiques to contemporary art to downright funky finds. Mornings are the times for markets in Amsterdam, with locals finding flea market bargains at Waterlooplein while bunches of vibrant tulips and potted plants can be found at the floating Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). Jordaan`s short, maze-like streets are where you`ll stumble upon a number of tiny boutiques, jewelers and cafés.

International designers line the posh PC Hooftstraat, Amsterdam`s priciest street, while crowded Kalverstraat is home to all the high end names. Even if shopping the P.C. is beyond your budget, you might indulge in some people watching over a pricey glass of wine at one of the trendy outdoor terraces. Amsterdam`s best buys include antiques, authentic Delft Blue ceramics, diamonds and Makkum. The Dutch flower and plant industry is a booming business to be sure, but foreign visitors can only take home certain certified bulbs.

How do I get around by bicylcle and where can I rent a one in Amsterdam?

A pleasant way to cover a lot of ground is to rent a bicycle and is an essential Amsterdam experience. There is at least one bike for every one of the 800,000 people living in Amsterdam. The city is very, very bike-friendly, and there are separate bike lanes on most major streets. In the city center, however, there is often not enough space for a bike lane, so cars and cyclists share narrow streets.

Renting a bike or taking a guided cycle tour is a great way to discover the city and can be quite an adventure. Exploring the city on a bike lets you see more in a day, while blending in with the locals at the same time. It is important to know that cyclist do not have the right of way even though it might appear so when observing the typical cycling behavior. Be aware as well that cycling in Amsterdam does take a significant amount of skill (the locals have been riding bikes from the moment they could walk and this informs their behavior). If you don`t feel entirely comfortable on a bike, it may be a stressful affair rather than the smooth ride you may imagine it to be.

Bicycles can be taken on all metros and tram 26 using the bike supplement fee on the OV chipcard. Use the special bike racks, locations indicated by a bicycle sign on the outside of the carriage. Make sure to get a good lock, and to use it. Amsterdam has one of the highest bicycle theft rates in the world.

There are plenty of places to rent a bike and you will find many rental shops at stations, and several others in and around the city center. Bikes typically cost about €9 to €20 per day.

What is the best advice if traveling with a disability in Amsterdam?

The old center of Amsterdam is filled with narrow cobbled streets, steep humpback bridges, little barrier pillars called Amsterdammertjes, and bicycles parked all over the place making it hard going if you are a person with mobility difficulties. But many hotels and restaurants provide easy access for people with disabilities, and some display the international wheelchair symbol in their brochures. It`s always a good idea to call ahead to find out about accommodations before you book; bear in mind that many older hotels have steep, narrow stairways and no elevators. Many, but not all, museums and other sites are wheelchair accessible, wholly or partly, and some have adapted toilets. Call ahead to check on accessibility at sites you wish to visit.

Schiphol Airport has a service to help travelers with disabilities through the airport. Not all trams in Amsterdam are easily accessible for wheelchairs, but newer trams have low doors that are accessible, and most buses are accessible. The Metro system is fully accessible, but that`s not as good as it sounds because few Metro stations are near places where visitors want to go. Taxis are also difficult, but the new minivan taxis are an improvement. Call ahead to book a wheelchair-accessible cab from Taxi Centrale Amsterdam (tel. 020/677-7777).

There`s comprehensive assistance for travelers on Netherlands Railways trains and in stations. Call tel. 030/235-7822 for information, or visit www.ns.nl. Give this organization a day`s notice of your journey (by visiting a station or calling ahead) and they`ll arrange for assistance along the way. A good source of travel-related information in the Netherlands is the ANWB Disabled Department (tel. 070/314-1420; www.anwb.nl).

What are the business hours in Amsterdam?

Stores typically open from 9:30am to 6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Many are closed on Monday morning, opening at 1pm, and most shops outside the center close all day Sunday. Some stay open until 8 or 9pm on Thursday. Most museums close 1 day a week (mostly on Monday), but open some holidays, except for Koningsdag (King`s Day on Apr 27th), Christmas, and New Year`s Day. (Even then, the Rijksmuseum is open every day of the year, regardless of public holidays.)

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

If you need medical assistance, the hotel staff can usually get in touch with a reliable doctor. You can also contact the Central Doctors Service (tel. 020-592-3434) or go to the emergency room at one of the local hospitals. Most Amsterdam hospitals have walk-in clinics for emergency cases that are not life-threatening.

For any emergency (fire, police, ambulance), dial 112 from any land line or cellphone. For 24-hour urgent but nonemergency medical or dental services, call tel 088/0030-600; the operator will connect you to an appropriate doctor or dentist.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change at any time without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.