The City’s guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s little gems. It’s a small city, but it has a huge culture base.

The best thing to do when you get to Amsterdam is to get their version of a leap card. Straight away when you land, you’ll come out of the airport and find yourself surrounded by every form of public transport.

If you buy a leap card, you’ll be able to get around no problem. Find a map, locate where you want to go and there are options of trains, trams, metros and buses. There are also taxis, but they are ludicrously expensive. A native enlightened myself and my traveling buddies that there are two types of taxis in Amsterdam, the ones that tourists use and ones that everyone else uses.

The touristy ones are the cars that display a taxi sign and use a taxi meter. The others, dodgy as it may seem, are unmarked cars whose owners approach you when you seem as though you are in need of a lift. My advice? Use the tram.

After you’ve found your accommodation, you’ll probably want to go sight-seeing. Make sure to wear comfortable footwear because everything is within walking distance and you will not want to waste your whole time waiting on public transport. Throw on a pair of runners and get exploring.

Whether it’s in the Red Light District or just on the main streets, Amsterdam has so much for tourists. On nearly every street corner there are tourist offices. Venture in to one of them at some stage and ask them what offers they have for various activities. They can give you vouchers, directions and even some tips on where to go for food.

There are a lot of McDonalds in Amsterdam for the less adventurous. But there are also some very nice restaurants. This city can be quite expensive, especially in the tourist districts so being smart with your money is essential.

Enjoy a sandwich in a small café for lunch rather than fine dining for three meals a day. If you take one piece of advice from this article, let it be this, eat as many waffles as you possibly can. They’re freshly made and served with a number of delicious toppings.

Is there anything better than a fresh, warm waffle, doused in Nutella with a handful of strawberries and a dash of icing sugar? No? I didn’t think so. They are incredible and they will change your life.

The queues for some activities can be quite long so I’d recommend booking in advance. While you’re there, if the weather is good, go to the zoo. Amsterdam is pretty much crazy for Heineken and you’ll find it to be available everywhere – including the zoo.

Picture this, strolling around the zoo with an ice cold beer in your hand. Heaven. After spending some time with nature, head on over to the planetarium located on the outskirts of the zoo. Here, you’ll be amazed by an incredible show above your head. This was definitely a highlight to my time in Amsterdam.

At night time, there is also a lot going on. The Red Light District is a huge tourist attraction and definitely somewhat of an experience. I would recommend you do not venture here on your own. It is quite seedy and completely different to anything we have here in Ireland.

Nightlife in Amsterdam is quite similar to nightlife in Dublin – full of tourists and mainly made up of outrageous queues. The pubs however, are a lot more laid back, cheaper and seemed to have more friendly faces.

If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam soon, just remember, almost everyone over there speaks English and are quite helpful with directions. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if you find yourself lost. Try restaurants that are not on the tourist strips, they will be a little bit more authentic.

Go out during the daytime too, don’t just go for the nightlife. There are lots of outdoor markets that sell authentic merchandise that may even be handmade that you could bring home for your Mammy, rather than mass produced shot glasses. And if you love yourself, you’ll try the waffles.

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