Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam’s name is derived from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city’s origin: a dam in the river Amstel. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam (in Dutch: ‘Grachtengordel’), located in the heart of Amsterdam, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fun Fact: New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan Island that served as capital city of New Netherland. It was renamed New York in 1667 in honor of the Duke of York (later James II of England) when English forces seized control of Manhattan along with the rest of the Dutch colony.
Amsterdam is in the Central European Time Zone (GMT +1:00).
The native language is Dutch, but everyone speaks English.
Currency & Tax
The Netherlands is part of the European Union, and use the Euro (€).
Sales tax (VAT) is 21% and is already included in the listed price. If you’re interested in tax-free shopping (only available at certain stores), check out the Global Blue Program.
ATMs are only available at banks. Please check with your bank about withdrawal/currency exchange fees, and notify them of your trip before travelling.
Visa and Mastercards are accepted (they usually charge 3% foreign transaction fee), but it is better to use cash.
- Tipping is 5-10% of the bill.
- When introducing yourself, it is common to shake hands and say your name.
- When greeting friends/family, the Dutch often kiss cheeks three times. The first kiss is on the right, then the left, and the last one on the right again (from the kisser perspective). The same happens when saying good-bye.
- If you do not want to be kissed, you can extend your hand out for a handshake.
Other good things to know
- Public toilets are known as “toiletten” and “WC”. They are available in restaurants and train stations, and are pay per use (usually 30-50 cents). There is usually an attendant with a bowl for you to put your money in, or there is a turnstile. The toilets are usually very clean and have toilet paper. It is always good to keep your small change.
- Heren is Male
- Dames is Female
- Jay walking is very common in Amsterdam, but please exercise caution and look both ways for cars, bikes and trams before crossing.
- Tap water is safe to drink, but when you order water in restaurants, they usually bring you mineral/sparkling water and will charge you for it. Coffee and beer are popular drinks.
Things to do
Check out the following links for itinerary suggestions:
Also, here is a map compiled by us with recommendations on where to eat and what to see (updated continuously):
View Ana & Guy Amsterdam Wedding in a larger map