17 Top Amsterdam Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018 Update)

Amsterdam is a city that you will find yourself thinking about long after you have returned home. Between the jaw-dropping architecture, easy intra city transport, and friendly people, Amsterdam has got to be one of the world’s coolest places. Here’s my packing list for Amsterdam that includes what to pack before you jet off.

What to bring to Amsterdam:

1) Casual Tops & Jeans – In Europe, the usual dress code is casual and practical, yet cool. Bring some simple, plain t shirts that can pair well with jeans or double as PJs. You can’t go wrong with a pair of jeans as well. A comfortable t shirt and jeans combo should probably just be part of your arsenal no matter what. Try these ones on for size.
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2) Clothes for Cycling – Amsterdam is best explored by bicycle! Your jeans and t shirt outfit will work well for bicycling, but if you prefer a little extra wiggle room, consider bringing some athletic clothing. A pair of black leggings is perfect for riding bikes and exploring the canals. They can also be paired with almost anything, so they’re a great multipurpose travel item.
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3) Beanie – Especially if you’re visiting Amsterdam in the fall or winter, the days can get quite chilly. Look super cool and stay warm by wearing a beanie. The area is also prone to rain, so wearing a hat is a good way to keep your hair looking its best.
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4) Cozy Sweater – Unless you’re going in the fall or winter, a sweater should suffice as far as outerwear goes. Tie it around your waist while you’re biking, and throw it on when you enter one of the many air-conditioned museums.
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5) Rain Gear – The Netherlands is no stranger to sudden downpours! Make sure to pack your rain gear, like waterproof shoes, a rain jacket, and an umbrella. Be careful with an umbrella, though, because it can get quite windy as well.
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6) Comfortable Shoes – There is so much to see in a historical city like Amsterdam. Walk along the legendary canals, pop into a view museums, and take a visit to see historical sites like Anne Frank’s family house. Your feet will thank you if you bring some comfortable sneakers like these.
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7) Money Belt – Unfortunately, pickpocketing is somewhat of a problem in Dutch cities. To keep your money and documents safe, bring a money belt with you to Amsterdam. If you’re set on using a daypack, wear it in front of you when you’re in touristy or crowded places.
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8) Sarong – A sarong is a must-have multipurpose travel item. When I’m traveling, I use mine pretty much every day. A sarong can be worn as a coverup on the beach, a scarf when the temperatures drop, or a shawl when you’re checking out churches. This one is neutral and perfect for any Amsterdam scenario.
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9) Universal Adaptor – The outlets in the Netherlands may be different from the ones where you are from. Invest in a universal adaptor that you can take to literally any country – it’ll save space and you will be prepared for anything. This one has four USB ports and super quick charging
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10) Helpful Travel Apps – There are a few apps out there that can seriously ease your transition abroad and help you get where you need to go. Maps.me is a good one – you can download maps of cities and even countries for free, and access them offline. Apps like Airbnb and Hostelworld are also some of my favorites, and help you book accomodation wherever you want to go.
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11) Aquaphor – Bicycling in cool autumn and winter air can dry out your skin, and a rich moisturizer like Aquaphor will help. This is the first thing that I throw in my purse or backpack before I go anywhere. I put it on my lips once in the morning, and they stay hydrated all day! It’s also helpful for chapped hands, dry elbows, etc.
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12) Toiletry Kit – Don’t let your skin suffer just because you’re traveling and your routine is thrown off. Bring travel-sized versions of all the basics – face wash, moisturizer, shampoo, etc. Make sure everything is allowed through TSA, and toss everything into a compact toiletry bag like this one.
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13) Ear Plugs and Sleeping Mask – If you’re staying in hostels, you’re going to be looking at a bunch of sleepless nights unless you bring earplugs and an eye mask. Noisy roommates, snoring, and fluorescent ceiling lights can make it impossible to get some shuteye on your trip. This mask & ear plug duo will save you!
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14) Waterproof Cellphone Case – A waterproof cellphone case will come in handy for a freak thunderstorm and other unpredictable weather! Your phone is an indispensable travel item, so keep it safe with a case like this one.
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15) Backpack or Sturdy Luggage – If you’re taking the backpack route, make sure you use a 35 or 45 liter pack that is fitted to your body. If you’re more of a suitcase person, make sure your luggage has big strong wheels so that you can pull it through Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets.
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16) GoPro – A waterproof GoPro camera is the perfect tool for capturing all the amazing architecture in Amsterdam, and all of the good times you’ll have in “coffee shops.” A GoPro is perfect for vacations because it’s waterproof, small, and selfie-friendly.
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17) Kindle – Investing in a kindle will save your back and your eyes while you’re traveling. A kindle paperwhite can cold thousands of books, and weighs just a few pounds. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime, all of Lonely Planet’s guide books are totally free!
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Other packing list items for Amsterdam:

What to wear in Amsterdam:

In a big Dutch city like Amsterdam, locals dress stylishly, but practically. Jeans and boots are great for a night out. Athletic clothes or a casual outfit are both good options for a day of exploring the city. Plan to dress in layers, since weather in the Netherlands can be unpredictable. If you’re going in winter, bring a heavy coat or down jacket, beanie, scarf and gloves. Don’t forget an umbrella, no matter what time of the year it is!

What NOT to Amsterdam:

1) 🚫 A full suitcase – Remember to leave space so that you can bring home some souvenirs.
2) 🚫 Laptop – No need to lug around a heavy computer on your vacation, unless you are a digital nomad. If you need to work or stay connected, upload your documents to Google Docs and just use your phone.
3) 🚫 Books – Books will easily weigh down your suitcase or backpack. You’ll thank yourself later for downloading Texture (for magazines) or investing in a Kindle (for books, guide books, etc).
4) 🚫 Expensive Jewelry or Valuables – Amsterdam is a relatively laid back city. Don’t become a target for pickpockets. Leave the jewelry at home unless you have a special occasion planned!
5) 🚫 TSA requirements – If you’re flying, make sure to check out the TSA requirements and find out what not to bring on board.

FAQs about packing for a trip to Amsterdam:

1) Where is Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, and is located in the Southeastern part of the province of North Holland. The Netherlands is also known as Holland.

2) What language is spoken in Amsterdam?

Dutch is the official language. Don’t worry though, many locals speak English.

3) What’s the weather like in Amsterdam?

It can get extremely cold in winter, and there is the potential for rain at all times of the year. Spring is mild and a very nice time to visit. Summers are pleasant and can be very sunny!

4) What if I forget something?

If you forget something, remember that Amsterdam is a major city and has everything you might need locally.

5) What travel documents will I need before I leave?

Passport, student visa (if necessary), copies of health insurance, travel insurance, state ID/ drivers license, medical and vaccine history (just in case), and plane tickets.