Park here to visit Amsterdam - an all day parking ticket costs 8 euros and includes an unlimited day of tram, train or bus travel for all travellers. Great for families - you can fit in Nemo, Madame Tussauds and Anne Frank's House all in one day!
P+R Sloterdijk, Piarcoplein 1, 1043 DW Amsterdam, at Sloterdijk train station, capacity: 200; freeway A10 exit S102; communication with the centre of Amsterdam: train from the Sloterdijk station, metro 50, bus 48, tram 12; this parking lot has also free bicycles to lend (up to two bikes per car – your ID will be required).
Google map: bit.ly/lr8IBq
Just about the smartest thing you can do on arrival is to head to the central ticket office on the Leidseplein. So well signposted you can't miss it. They sell tickets for all the major museums (so you can sail past the queues at the van Gogh), concert halls and have a handy whiteboard of the day's events so you can see what's on. They also sell travel tickets and will answer almost any touristy question with a smile.
Google map: bit.ly/eNZ2O6
The "OV Chipkaart" ticket system (similar to London's Oyster) is now mandatory in Amsterdam for trams, the metro and city buses. Unfortunately the handy "strippenkaart" strip tickets are no longer valid in Amsterdam.
Useful explanation (in English) of the OV chipkaart at:
There have been news stories in the local press about a practice of the Dutch rail company whereby they 'encourage' Schiphol users to buy a 1st class (comfort ticket) instead of the normal 2nd class ticket, this based on the argument that people with luggage 'prefer' more space. It is always possible to change the default back to 2nd but people in airports tend to be tired and stressed so often choose the easiest way.
The story (in Dutch) is on www.volkskrant.nl/economie/article1351992.ece/NS-automaat_stuurt_toerist_de_dure_eerste_klasse_in?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+laatstenieuws+%28Volkskrant+Laatste+Nieuws%29
Many visitors arriving at Schiphol Airport might get a bad first impression of the country, because of unfriendly taxi drivers that might also overcharge. I use taxis a lot when I travel to and from the airport and I can give you this tip: use Ambassador Taxis. They have very helpful and friendly drivers and their rates are very good.
tel +31 65 4747470
As far as I'm concerned the most civilised, cheap and time-efficient way to get to the Netherlands is overnight on the ferry. I left home at 7.15pm and was at Amsterdam Centraal by 10am the following morning. No queuing - I walked straight onto the ferry, enjoyed some food, a bottle of wine and had breakfast the following morning after a good night's sleep in an en-suite cabin.
If you get a rail/sail ticket, you can travel from the Hook of Holland to any Dutch station for just over £100 for two of you, which is excellent value.
Because of this ferry service, the Netherlands have now become my place for a quick getaway. Much easier than travelling there by Eurostar.
This is a blue multi-strip ticket which can be used on trams, metros and buses in Amsterdam and all over Holland. Works out about half the price of buying a ticket on board.
See www.gvb.nl (Amsterdam Transport organisation, mainly in Dutch)
Good English explanation of the Strippenkaart at
Because of a deregulation of the taxi branch there are a lot of bad taxi drivers around. Although the city of Amsterdam is working on making things better there are a few things you can do to avoid getting a taxi that will charge you a high fare price.
Pre-book your transportation from and to the airport through the internet with either TCA (the largest taxi organisation in Amsterdam) or Ambassador Services (a smaller taxi company). Also beware of hotel porters who sell your transportation to the airport for a commission (guess who will be paying this commission in the end?). You can book this yourself in advance at a set rate. The companies mentioned will give you a quote if you ask them.
In the streets of Amsterdam don't just hail a taxi, but ask your restaurant, bar or shop to call one for you. This way you always can trace the taxi that transported you and you're not just taking one of the 'cowboy-taxis'.
You pay upfront to have free entrance to key museums and art galleries and free tram, bus, metro transport. I bought one for 48 hours and found it very good value for money. I certainly got more than 43 Euros worth of museum, canal trip and transport from it.
You can buy it from Holland Tourist Information at Schipol by credit card and it makes it easier to work out a budget for the rest of your stay and you can hop on and off the fantastic trams without having to worry about buying and stamping tickets.
Get yourself an "I love Amsterdam Card" when you arrive, they come in one, two, and three-day versions.
With this you get free travel for the duration of your card, on trams, buses and metro, and you get free admission to most of the city's historic attractions, including many museums and other historic sites.
You also get two free canal boat trips and reductions and offers in restaurents.
Even if you only use a fraction of the offers included it will be great value.
After checking in, and whilst waiting to board the train, pop into the duty free shop and choose a nice bottle of champagne. The Eurostar staff seem more than happy for passengers to 'bring their own' and it makes the journey feel especially luxurious!
If possible, avoid using taxis and take trams or walk instead. Due to deregulation, a large percentage of the taxi drivers genuinely don't know where they're going. This can work out a bit pricey for a tourist as there's a fair chance you won't know either.
The best bar in Amsterdam is the Bastille Bar near the Leidseplein, which is very popular with the locals. The downside of this is that when they're busy they take the 'members only' attitude and the doormen will turn tourists away.
It's not a bad idea to tip doormen on the way in to a club. The Dutch tend to tip doormen when they're leaving but foreigners don't, so if you want to get onside with these guys offer a few euros on the way in.
Getting around Amsterdam by tram is a great and easy way of exploring the city for about two euros a ticket. Tickets can be purchased on board and you can cover most of the city.
Alternatively, try spending the day exploring on foot and getting the tram back at night - but remember they stop running after 2am, so dont get stuck anywere. Amsterdam is a fantastic city with something for everyone; you cant fail to have a great time!
Never ever choose to hire a car in Amsterdam as walkers, cyclists and trams rule and it would ruin your break! The canal roads are often blocked with delivery or removal vehicles and you will inevitably get lost in the narrow, labyrinthine roads.
There are two good ways of amusing everybody, from singles to large families, once arriving in Amsterdam's well-organised station.
First, you could hire a bike from a Rijwiel shop, which usually costs about 5-10 euros per day and simply involves showing your passport and paying a small deposit. Remember which side of the road to ride and watch out for roundabouts; vehicles appproaching the traffic have the right of way. All Dutch bikes have built-in locks which are easy to use - which is lucky, as second-hand bike trade is very lucrative in Holland. Travelling by road is a fantastic way of seeing the city.
Alternatively, on arriving in Amsterdam, cross the road in front of the station and jump on a canal boat - they run throughout the day and night all summer. Tours go through all parts of the city. Study gables on residential homes; until 1875, they were the only form of identification for a house. Find the 'spout', the 'step', the 'neck' and the 'bell'. Trips go right round the city, to the harbour, with good guides on board. There are left luggage lockers at the station.
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