Visiting Amsterdam – For First-Timers
For a city that receives over a million tourists every year, Amsterdam locals are surprisingly welcoming. Compared to the cliché of cold shouldered Parisians and Londoners, Netherlands’ capital is a lot more relaxed. For first timers to Holland, English is easy to get away with, as it is spoken very widely. Of course in saying that, learning a few simple phrases here and there never hurts!
It is always wise to go to the visitor’s center opposite the central train station when arriving. However don’t be surprised by the overwhelming number of pamphlets listing museums and landmarks worth seeing. There is something for everyone in the city and it is easy to get carried away by the desire to see it all. The most prominent, like Anne Frank House is better in the early morning when the queue is minimal. Don’t forget to take some time out and admire the character of the city. The best way to do it is by bike, seeing as people of all ages use this mode of transportation to get around.
Bike Parking in Amsterdam (Image Source: LonelyPlanet.com)
Although first impressions of the city look very quaint, Amsterdam is known for its more eccentric landmarks like its flamboyant red-light district and coffee shops. Other interesting places include the vending machine come take away outlet, FEBO or their crazy gift shops that lure you in with bold and colourful novelty goods.
Photo Credit: Amsterdam by Day (Pat Moore)
Being one of the most multicultural cities in Europe, is a reason why Amsterdam is known for being tolerant. Over the years the city has gained from its diverse cultures with its authentic restaurants. Dining out is a breeze with the wide range of places. The grand Bazar, Indonesian or a true English breakfast is easy to stumble upon. Locals would advise you to save some space in your stomach for their delicious hot chips and their apple tarts. Winkel 43 is nowadays is a not-so-secret café for the best apple tarts in town. If you can’t grab an outdoor seat to people watch, then go to Hartenstraat and lounge outside their many swish cafes like Screaming Beans.
Another recommended tip for first timers is visit Amsterdam’s markets. There are various markets happening all throughout the week, from markets exclusively for flowers, to the Waterlooplein Flea Market for 2nd hand goods. For those eager enough to wake up early for the Saturday morning Noordermarkt, indulge in a ‘Stroopwafel’ – 2 waffle biscuits smothered together in a generous amount of caramel.
Picturesque canals, historic buildings on funny leans and its relaxed atmosphere are images that will stay for those experiencing Amsterdam for the first time. When planning on visiting the city, stay with locals or choose Wimdu. Insider tips that you gain from staying with them, will go a long way. It is so easy to get caught up in all the tourist action during your time in Amsterdam but from getting true local tips, you will realise how to cram everything in yet still feel like you are on holiday.