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, it has to be one of the world’s coolest places.
Be sure to travel with your patience, your sense of adventure, and a lot of curiosity, and Amsterdam will bring out the best in you!
1) Stylish Raincoat: Women’s and Men’s – When you’re exploring Amsterdam, you’ll notice people tend to dress pretty nicely. On top of that, you will notice that the weather is pretty wet there. Many of the seasons in Amsterdam include rain showers fairly frequently, and that means that a stylish raincoat is a must have. This one is stylish and timeless!
2) Power Adapter for Amsterdam – Power outlets in Amsterdam are different from those in the US. You’ll notice that you need a power adapter in order to charge any of your electronics that you bring with you. We recommend an international adapter – not only can you use it on almost any trip you go on, it also includes extra features like built-in fuse protection and handy double USB ports.
3) Brita Water Bottle – Water in Amsterdam tends to be safe to drink, and you will want to carry some with you at all times. My preference when traveling is to bring my own water bottle with an additional filter so that I can always trust the quality and safety of my water, and I don’t have to spend a fortune on bottled water while I’m out and about.
4) Jet Lag Relief – Jet lag can seriously ruin your trip. The condition can leave you feeling nauseated, tired, dizzy, and headachy. It’s a good idea to bring some form of relief with you, and these natural pills work wonders. I personally use this type of jet lag supplement both to prevent and to treat the issue so that I don’t have to sacrifice several days of my trip to feeling miserable.
5) Neck Wallet – You’ll want to carry your passport, credit/debit cards, and a little cash with you during the day, but you really don’t want to make those things accessible to pickpockets. A neck wallet is ideal, because you can talk all of these items inside it and then wear it beneath your shirt where it’s undetectable by any potential thieves. This way you can carry around your items, enjoy easy access to them when you need them, but also avoid looking like a tourist or a pickpocket target.
6) Comfortable Flats – Bringing a pair of cute, comfortable, and durable flats is one of the most important wardrobe choices you will make while traveling. You will be doing a ton of walking and maybe even bike riding while in Amsterdam, and so you’ll need to protect your feet and keep them comfortable and supported all day, while balancing the need to look fashionable. I personally love these flats, and I never have to worry about my feet being too tired or achy at the end of the day since they are supportive and cushiony.
7) Vetelli Toiletry Bag – I am admittedly obsessed with this toiletry bag. I have tried quite a few bags and had not found the perfect balance of affordability, luxury, and practicality until I found this one. The leather is supple and luxurious, the pockets make sense and work well, and the bag itself makes packing, using, and unpacking my toiletry items an absolute breeze.
8) Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A VPN is something that a lot of people don’t realize is essential for not only travel, but for every day WiFi use. When you access unsecured WiFi, whether it be domestically or abroad, you are making your information, both personal and financial, vulnerable to hackers and other virtual predators. What a VPN does is create an additional shield between you and those would-be criminals. This extra layer of encryption is private, and ensures that your browsing is not monitored, interrupted, hacked, or otherwise compromised.
Another handy feature of a VPN is that when you are visiting countries where the Internet is blocked or censored, you can use it to gain access to the hidden content. I use my NordVPN service frequently even while I’m at home. I learned the hard way after my financial information was stolen in Paris that it’s not worth the risk to not use it.
9) Stylish Daybag: Women’s and Men’s – Style meets practicality with these bags. You will definitely want to have a hands-free way to carry around your daily items while you are in Amsterdam, especially since much of your travel may be by bicycle or boat or walking. Using a daybag allows you to carry everything you need and even leaves room for any souvenirs you may pick up on the way.
10) Jean Jacket – Jean jackets are really “in” in Amsterdam, and are a versatile fashion accessory. They are also one of the best ways to add a fashionable layer in case you get chilly in the evenings. This jacket is cute and comfortable, while also being light enough to carry around with you.
11) Gorgeous Outfit: Women’s and Men’s – There will be plenty of opportunities to go out for a nicer evening here, and you’ll want an effortlessly fabulous outfit for just such an occasion. Look no further! These men’s and women’s outfits are flattering, stylish, and very easy for anyone to pull off, regardless of size and style.
12) Deodorant Wipes: Women’s and Men’s – Sometimes when you have been traveling all day or out and about exploring, you end up feeling sticky or greasy. These deodorant wipes are the perfect solution, and will give you an easy way to quickly clean up while you’re on the go! They smell nice, they are great and effective for sensitive skin, and they don’t leave any nasty residue.
13) Solid Shampoo – Solid shampoo is a favorite of mine. It saves space in my liquids bag when I’m flying, and it works as well as the liquid shampoo I’ve been using for years! This brand makes a particular effort to make quality, earth-friendly products, and their shampoo is really nice.
14) Lipstick-Sized Charger – A portable charger for your devices is crucial. Sometimes it’s very hard to get back to your accommodations just to sit there and wait for items to recharge. Packing a portable charger alleviates this issue because it can carry multiple charges and can be used while you are on the move so that you don’t have to wait for your items to power back up. Simply charge the portable charger while you are sleeping or already in your accommodations, and bring it with you so that you can recharge your other items should they run low on battery while you are exploring during the day.
15) Travel Insurance for Amsterdam – Honestly, you never know what issues could happen on your trip that you may end up having to foot the bill for. Some of the most common problems that travel insurance can help you with are things like cancelled reservations, medical emergencies or urgent trips home, theft, or loss or damage of items that you bring. When it comes to traveling, it’s never a good idea to take the chance that you’ll have to spend money out of pocket to resolve these issues, especially when travel insurance is incredibly affordable. We use World Nomads and enjoy their service, their plans, and their prices.
16) Quick-Dry Towel – I tend to recommend travel towels that are quick-drying when going to almost any destination. They save so much space in your luggage as opposed to bringing a normal towel, and they ensure that you will have a clean and reliable towel if your accommodations don’t provide them. Sometimes, even if your accommodations do provide towels, the ones they provide are scratchy or not the cleanest, and you don’t feel like using them. Having your own towel in those times is extremely handy, and this one can be carried with you anywhere since it’s so compact.
17) Cotton Shawl – Cotton is a great fabric to wear in almost any destination, and Amsterdam is no exception. Bringing a cotton shawl gives you a comfortable, soft, and lightweight way to add a layer whenever you feel a little too cold.
Amsterdam is home to a unique history, intriguing architecture, easy intra-city transport, and super friendly people. In this big Dutch city, locals dress stylishly, but practically. Rains can be expected year-round, and fashions do double duty, offering both function and style.
You’ll find that there are many ways to get around town but that bicycles and walking are some of the most common, so keep those activities in mind when planning your attire for your trip!
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
Women in a big Dutch city like Amsterdam dress stylishly, but practically. A pair of casual jeans and boots or sneakers, or a dress with a light jacket, are good outfit options for a day of exploring the city. Plan to dress in layers, since weather in the Netherlands can be unpredictable. Go for well-fitting jeans, dark boots or sneakers, plain tops, simple dresses, and versatile outerwear. A cozy scarf is a good addition to your outfit if it’s chilly outside. People tend to keep it more casual at nighttime than you might find in other European cities – jeans and boots are great for a night out. And always bring a rain jacket!
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
The dress code in Amsterdam for men tends to be a bit more polished compared to the dress code in the US. Men wear more tightly fitted clothing, which is typical of men’s European fashion. Plan on packing a few pairs of gray, brown, black or khaki slacks, a few nice button-down shirts, cotton v-necks, rain gear, comfortable sneakers, and a pair of dress shoes. A beanie, scarf, and a heavy jacket are good for the winter months.
Seasons in Amsterdam are typically European, though this Dutch city has a way of making every season magical. The shoulder-seasons of Spring and Fall are perfect – great weather, smaller crowds, and lower prices than the high-season mean you’ll get to experience this place at its best. Summer is high-season for tourism for a reason; mild and comfortable weather combine with gorgeous scenery to delight the many people who flood to this canal-laced capital. Even winter with its gorgeous snows and lights is a wonder to behold.
SPRING – March, April, May:
Believe it or not, this is the time of year with the least rain, albeit only by a day or two fewer wet days per month. It will still rain while you’re there, though, so don’t plan for completely dry weather! Spring is a great time to visit if you’re looking for smaller crowds and great sights – the city is thawing and some greenery is starting to come up by the end of the season.
Attractive but comfortable shoes are also key. Sandals aren’t ideal, so opt for cute, comfortable flats and nice closed-toed shoes. If you wear skirts, keep them fairly modest and wear tights with them. Otherwise, cute blouses, cardigans, pants, and a light jacket will be ideal. Temperatures average between 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 16°C).
SUMMER – June, July, August:
The summer is tourist high-season, so if you’re traveling during this time plan to be extra patient with lines and heightened prices. Open-air concerts, gorgeous markets full of fresh items for sale, and smiling faces permeate the city, where you’ll always find something to do and to explore. With the plethora of activities in mind, you’ll want reliable footwear and to dress in layers. The weather is warmer, but this is no tropical city – there are breezes, and it can get cool at night.
Fall brings a cooler set of temperatures with later months being the chilliest, but the weather is still splendid. This second shoulder-season is another great opportunity to enjoy the Netherlands without so many tourists and crowds.
Break out your pretty sweaters and nice pants for fall in Amsterdam. Keep to a clean and neutral color palette, and always dress in layers that can be easily removed or added as the temperature rises and falls with the sun.
Winter is beautiful here. Snows do happen with fair frequency, but they don’t often stick around for long, and it doesn’t get too terribly cold. Nighttime brings the coolest temperatures, of course, so always dress more warmly for evenings out.
A cute coat, a few stylish sweaters, and some comfortable but attractive pants are your go-tos here. It still rains, so if you can opt for a jacket that is both warm and waterproof, so much the better. Bring a scarf, a nice winter hat, and some fashionable gloves to ward off the chills. Temperatures average between 40°F to 50°F (4°C to 10°C).
Sightseeing on foot – There are loads of historical buildings, winding streets, museums and breathtaking canals to be explored in Amsterdam. Bring comfortable sneakers or boots, as well as clothes that will be comfortable to wear from day to night. Think worn-in jeans, loose dresses, and t-shirts. Bring your rain gear in case you get stuck waiting in line for an hour in front of Anne Frank’s house!
Cycling through the city – Amsterdam is best explored by bike, and you can find spots to rent bikes all around the city, and probably at your hostel or hotel. Flexible and comfortable casual clothing will suit you well for this, as well as tennis shoes or sturdy boots. Make sure to bring a hat and gloves if it is chilly.
Dancing the night away – Amsterdam has a Night Mayor (seriously). This means that the city’s nightlife has never been better – and by nightlife, I mean 24-hour parties. Bring a few cute dresses with tights, or skinny jeans and a sleek shirt to wear to the local dance clubs. No need for heels – just wear some nice shoes that you’ll be comfy dancing in.
What NOT to take to Amsterdam:
1) DON’T PACK a full suitcase – Remember to leave space so that you can bring home some souvenirs. It’s also worth noting that fees for overly-heavy baggage are hefty and should be avoided.
2) DON’T BRING your laptop – No need to lug around a heavy computer on your vacation unless you are a digital nomad and have to work. If you need to work or stay connected, upload your documents to Google Docs and just use your phone.
3) DON’T TAKE 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 really special occasion planned!
4) DON’T BRING books – Books will quickly 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).
5) DON’T PACK TSA-prohibited items – If you’re flying, make sure to check out the TSA requirements and find out what not to bring on board. Some items are obvious, but others may surprise you!
6) DON’T TAKE high heels – Yes, sometimes you’ll want to wear a heel to dress up, but keep it short and chunky if possible. Narrow heels can easily cause injury on the uneven and commbled streets in parts of Amsterdam.
Don’t wear your summer dresses without wearing closed-toe shoes or tights, especially during winter. Make-up is a non-essential in Amsterdam, as many local Dutch women keep it pretty natural. Some tinted moisturizer and mascara will do. No need to bring sunglasses, as it’s cloudy 99% of the time. Speaking of sun, leave the bathing suit at home, unless your hotel or rental has a pool! As a traveler and guest in Europe, it’s a good idea to stay away from casual leggings, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and flip-flops when you’re out in public. Unless you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t wear super bright colors. Stay close to earth-tones, grays, cream, tan, camel, and other neutral colors like navy and black.
FAQs about traveling 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, and are more than happy to help! You’ll find the locals incredibly friendly and welcoming. You can bring a Dutch pocket dictionary if you’re concerned about ease of communicating or reading signs.
3) What’s the weather like in Amsterdam?
It can sometimes get quite cold in the 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! High-season for tourism is summer, and low-season is winter, though don’t discount winter if you can tolerate the cold. There are some gorgeous lights and sights to be seen! Fall and Spring are the nicest times if you’d like to avoid crowds.
4) What if I forget something?
If you forget something, remember that Amsterdam is a major city and has everything you might need locally. Some items may be more expensive than you’re used to paying, but you may also find that certain things are more affordable than back home!
5) What is the food like in Amsterdam?
As you might expect, local eats feature a lot of fish. Herring and onion or “Hollandse Nieuwe”, pictured here, is a quick meal that can be found almost everywhere. Other food delicacies include:
Stroopwafels – A sweet, waffle-like cookie that includes layers of sticky and delicious syrup.
Kroket – A fried snack food similar to fried mozzarella sticks in the US. These ones are filled with a delicious meat ragout, though.
Patat – Essentially Dutch fries. They’re thicker than those found in the US.
Bitterballen – Similar to Kroketten, these are delicious fried balls of meat, sauce, and spices. They can be found pretty much anywhere, and taste phenomenal with beer.
Kaas – CHEESE!
Drop – Be warned: if you don’t like black licorice, it’s probably best to keep that detail to yourself. “Drop” is the way the Dutch refer to the ubiquitous treat. Black licorice can be found everywhere, and Dutch consumption of it is the highest in the world.
6) What travel documents will I need before I leave?
You’ll need your passport, a student visa (if necessary and applicable), copies of health insurance cards, travel insurance information, state ID/ drivers license, medical and vaccine history (just in case), and plane tickets. It’s also wise to keep photocopies of all of your documents stored safely with you in case an item gets lost or stolen.
7) Is the I Amsterdam City Card worth it to purchase?
The I Amsterdam activity and transportation card is one of those items you have to measure based on how much you intend to do while you’re there. If you’ll be visiting a lot of museums and transporting around a lot, it can save you quite a bit of money! If not, it’s probably not worth it.
Keep in mind that the Anne Frank House is not included on the I Amsterdam card – it’s a separate attraction. There are also other museums that are not included, though a large number are.
8) Is the Anne Frank House worth it? Are there lines?
Honestly, yes. It is an incredibly moving, inspirational, and powerful experience. It can also be quite emotional – many people plan only the Anne Frank House without other attractions to visit that day, and then go seek entertainment about town to process and cheer them up.
Hands-down, it (and the long line you often have to wait in) are worth it. Keep in mind that handicap access can be limited – there are a lot of steep staircases and narrow passages – so check their website for recommendations if this affects you.
9) When is the best time of year to see tulips in Amsterdam?
You’ll want to plan your Netherlands trip for mid-April for the best tulip bloom viewing. The blooms have just reached full size and are starting to open, which is the best way to see their colors and shapes.
If you get the chance, try to take a walk or a bike ride near some tulip fields, or arrange a tour. The massive and vibrantly-colored fields are certainly something to behold!
10) Do I need to tip in Amsterdam?
Not unless you want to give extra. You’ll find that tipping etiquette in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is much like that of the rest of Europe. Gratuity may be added to your bill already, or if it isn’t (as is often the case with smaller bills like in cafes) it’s really not expected. You may choose to leave your change or a small tip on the table for your server, and it’s always appreciated when you do!