Updated on March 17, 2019 by Asher Fergusson
What should I bring on my Amsterdam trip?
I’ve created a packing list that includes top items to pack, what NOT to bring, what to wear in Amsterdam, and FAQs.
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!
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.
Other items you don’t want to forget for Amsterdam
Hand sanitizer or baby wipes
First aid kit
Glasses & Contacts supply
What do people wear in Amsterdam?
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.
Comfortable flats, short, classy wedges, and the occasional dress sandal are appropriate, but consider how comfortable they’ll be for the activity you’re doing. Nicer shoes are great for going out, while flats are better for sightseeing. Dresses are great if they’re on the modest side, but avoid shorts. Crop pants, lightweight dress pants, and skirts are best. Skinny jeans are great, too, as long as they look nice. Bring a cardigan and a light scarf just in case. Mosquitoes might be an issue at times (the entire city is webbed with canals, after all), so plan accordingly with insect-repellent spray. Summer can be quite rainy, too, so don’t forget your stylish raincoat and travel umbrella. Temperatures average between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C).
FALL – September, October, November:
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.
Comfortable flats and closed-toed shoes are best. Boots, too, are a cute option should you be so inclined. Skinny jeans, cardigans, tailored blazers, and pretty scarves will help you feel comfortable and stylish. As always, bring your nice raincoat and travel umbrella! Temperatures average between 50°F to 65°F (10°C to 18°C).
WINTER – December, January, February:
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:
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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!
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