It is possible to have a boring weekend, but not deleted in Amsterdam. In the Dutch capital, you get a perfect long weekend if you want to experience the most exciting, and in the shortest possible time. Here is the guide you need before you book your next city break.
Amsterdam – much more than coffee shops
According to Abbreviation Finder, the Dutch capital Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination for many Europeans, and an attractive destination especially for young people. The country’s controversial laws regarding hashish and the city’s many “coffee shops” – and not least the famous Red Light District and the activities that take place there – are among the associations Norwegians most often have to the big city.
Amsterdam, however, offers so much more, and despite the city’s somewhat shabby reputation, is a city you will definitely thrive and feel safe in.
Small town – perfect for a long weekend
Amsterdam has almost 800,000 inhabitants, and is thus one of the smaller capitals in Europe . The city has a venerable history and an old-fashioned style, where modern high-rise buildings are close together with narrow and intimate pedestrian streets. Amsterdam is also very central in relation to Norway, and is a favorite destination for a long weekend. And you are hardly the only one planning a trip there, because every year over 11 million people visit the Dutch capital!
Travel to Amsterdam from Norway
The journey to Amsterdam takes just under two hours by plane from Oslo Airport. You can fly directly with KLM, SAS and Norwegian.
KLM also has direct flights from Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Kristiansand. The flight time is a bit longer from Trondheim, but shorter from Kristiansand, Bergen and Stavanger.
Of course, it is best and cheapest to fly directly, but the time spent with a stopover is not so bad. You can get to Amsterdam in well under 4 hours if you have to change planes, unless you are unlucky with the times.
By train to Amsterdam from Oslo, the trip will normally go via Copenhagen, Hamburg and Bremen, and then takes just over 20 hours.
Amsterdam Schipol Airport
Amsterdam Schipol is only 22 kilometers from the city center. If your hotel is close to the main train station, the train is the best option. It goes every ten minutes from platforms 1 and 2 in the train hall at Schipol, and you barely have time to sit down before you arrive (the trip takes between 10 and 15 minutes).
Note that it pays to buy the train ticket in advance. The alternative is the vending machines in the arrival hall and at the train station, and there are often long queues. It is also worthwhile to buy a return ticket between the airport and the main train station. You will then be sent an email with the ticket, and must present it on board the train. Print the ticket, or bring the email to your smartphone.
Taxis from Schipol are also fast (about 25 minutes), but cost significantly more. Expect to pay somewhere between 40 and 60 Euro each way. The taxis parked outside the arrival hall are licensed and are safe choices. Say no thanks to the offer of a taxi from people inside the arrival hall. These can be tricks that drive you to the city for many times the price.
You can also book a taxi in advance, including from Uber. This is normally somewhat cheaper, but then you must also make sure to get in touch with the driver when you arrive.
Some hotels have their own minibuses, and you can also book minibuses that take you to the specific hotel you have chosen.
Public buses leave from outside Schipol Plaza and include an express bus. The express bus takes about 27 minutes from the airport to the main street Damrak, and costs 4.5 Euro.
Getting around Amsterdam
There are many who travel on city breaks to Amsterdam, and who do not set foot in either cars, subways, trains, buses or taxis, except to and from the airport. the city is not that big and it is very friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. If you are still traveling motorized around the city, public transport is very good.
In the center, it is the company GVB that applies. They run the subway, the trams and most of the buses. Buses from Amsterdam and out of the city center are operated by several companies, including GVB.
- Metro– The underground has four lines, three of which have the main train station as a starting point. The metro runs from the city center and out into the districts in different directions.
- Bus– The buses run everywhere, but are perhaps most relevant when you go to beaches such as Zandvoort or Bloemendaal, or to the villages located just outside the center of Amsterdam.
- Tram– The blue and white trams are easy to use for short transport stages. The trams run very often, so there is almost no point in getting into the timetable. Most routes start at the main train station. From there, they go in various directions through the center, and out into the slums and districts around the center. Most sights are close to a tram stop.
- Ferry– In the canal and river city of Amsterdam, the ferry is a natural addition to the public transport service. These are not meant for cars, but pedestrians, cyclists and those who ride mopeds or motorcycles. However, most tourists do not travel by ferry, unless they are crossing the river IJ, or crossing the North Sea Canal.
- Payment– You buy single tickets, day passes, etc. at vending machines at the stations, or at the counter at GVB’s service office. On board the tram and ferry you can pay by debit or credit card. You save money by getting an OV chip card . The card can be purchased at vending machines, ticket offices, information offices, as well as simple kiosks and grocery stores. OV-Chipkart is a refill card (refilled online with a credit or debit card) that you must take care of, and you must remember to check both in and out of the means of transport when you use it. You can also use the iAMsterdam City
- Taxi– As long as you do not need transport to the airport, or at night after the trams and the metro have stopped running, there will hardly be the great need to take a taxi. In Amsterdam, daytime taxis mean both increased costs and wasted time. The car may spend a lot of time in the partly congested traffic. If you still take a taxi, you should know this:
- The car is obliged to drive on a taximeter, and you will receive a receipt when you arrive at your destination.
- Drivers are obliged to accept short trips.
- The driver is obliged to choose the fastest or shortest route.
- In a normal car, 4 passengers is the maximum.
- The taxis have a minimum price of 2.98 Euro, as well as a maximum price of 2.19 Euro per kilometer, and 0.36 Euro per minute.
- Taxis can not stop anywhere and pick up passengers due to traffic rules. It is best to find a free car at taxi ranks (there are many of them), or call and book.
- Amsterdam currently has 8 different taxi companies that are licensed.
IAmsterdam City Card
At the time of writing, this card costs from 60 Euro (24 hours) and up to 115 Euro (120 hours). Whether you save money depends very much on what you do. If you only take a couple of tram rides during the day, single tickets will be significantly cheaper than an iAMsterdam City Card . However, if you plan to travel a bit, as well as get some of the things included in the card, the investment can definitely pay off. Here are the benefits:
- Free transport on all public transport (subway, tram, bus, ferry)
- Free canal cruise.
- Free admission to the best museums and several of the city’s attractions.
- Discounts on restaurants, as well as selected theater, concerts, various rentals (bicycle, car).
- Discounts at various stores.
Best time to visit Amsterdam
The city’s location along the coast makes the winter somewhat wet and dull, so we recommend a visit when flowering begins in April, or when the leaves begin to fall in September. You will also be able to enjoy Amsterdam in the summer, as the temperatures are somewhat similar to the Norwegian summer in Eastern Norway.
The tulip season is by no means a bad choice. It starts in mid-March and lasts until the beginning of May. Then the city is at its most beautiful, and there are relatively few tourists in the city.
Security in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a safe city in every way. Such things are ranked and considered, and in well-respected overviews, the city is among the 10 safest in the world.
Many people think that Amsterdam is a bit scary, mostly because of the liberal attitudes towards drugs and prostitution. However, this is something very few people need to worry about, even in the city’s Red Light District.
The biggest danger you are exposed to is pickpocketing or fraud. As in all other major cities, it pays not to be naive, as well as take good care of their valuables. Pickpockets operate as they always do, namely where tourists frequent in droves, and on buses, trams and the subway.