Tips on the Four Ways to Tour Amsterdam

the I AMsterdam monument in Amsterdam, Holland

I was Amsterdam for a week, great time

When I think of European destinations, I can easily say Amsterdam has become one of my favorite cities. I’ve visited the city multiple times,  each time with different companions and each time I left saying, “I love Amsterdam.”

Whether its finding a cafe filled with memories such as Hill Street Blues Cafe or making new adventures and enjoying meals made from the organic Noordermrkt Farmers Market  I’ve always really enjoyed my time in the city.

And if you are heading off to visit for the first time or even returning to the city one of the benefits are the choices and ease on how you can tour  the city itself.

Visitors can hop on board a boat for a canal cruise, hire a bike and pedal its streets, take the convenient trams or even walk the city following the steps of a guided audio tour. Each provide for an enjoyable, educational and enlightening view of the city itself.

Take an Amsterdam Canal Cruise

Multiple companies offer canal cruises. Tourists can purchase an all day hop-on hop-off from Canal Bus or just a single hour to seventy-five minutes tour. Passengers ride a luxury barge down the three famous canals passing preserved landmarks from Holland’s Golden Age to monuments from its more recent history. And the tours come in multiple languages through taped recordings in Dutch, German, English and French.

The canal tour provides a great way to sit, relax, and see the city from the waterways. Additionally, many tourists chose to enjoy a twilight dinner cruise available from Holland International. The timely viewing of the illuminated canals makes for a most romantic experience.

Tour Boat on Amsterdam Canal

Travel Tip: Take a Canal tour first. It is a great way to see the entire city quickly and be able to learn where you might want to spend your time.

Hire a Bicycle

On the city streets of Amsterdam the bicycle remains the preferred method of transportation. Parking garages fill with bicycles not cars and most tourists seem to leave the city describing a close encounter with a local on a bike. I know, i have at least one encounter from each visit.

Numerous shops offer access to hire or rent bikes for a few hours or for a full day. Some shops even provide group bike tours if interested often for no an additional cost.

Travel Tip: Take the insurance. Although crime is very low in Amsterdam bike theft (borrowing) remains a problem.

a bike on a canal bridged in Amersterdam Holland

the classic Orange for Holland

Take the Tram

The tram will take you everywhere you want to go and it is much faster than walking too. The convenient above ground electric cars move through the city and stop near all the attractions any visitor would want to experience. Plus, with the above ground vantage point, visitors can really view the city.  And if one spot catches your eye, just hop off and visit.

the Tram at Central Station Amsterdam

Most trams can be found at Central Station

Travel Tip: The City of Amsterdam offers an I AMsterdam card which gives you access to the Trams of the city. It is definitely something to consider if you want to maximize your visit with activities.

Walk The City Streets

To really soak up the city at a slow leisurely pace, many visitors chose to walk Amsterdam. With numerous walk-able districts and the canal side cafes, restaurants, and bars never more than a few steps away, it’s a great option.

Also, I found Holland Audio Tours, a downloadable tour for an iPod or MP3 players, that can take visitors across the entire city. Points of interest include the Van Gogh Museum, Dam Square, Floating Flower Market and thirty others. Tourists can walk the whole city and I did. Plus, when walking you can always stop on a canal bridge to watch an Amsterdam sunset.

walking the streets and squares of Amsterdam, Holland

walking the streets of Amsterdam

Travel Tip: If you decide to walk the city definitely consider doing it over a few days. You can probably walk all of Amsterdam in in a single day, but if you want to experience the city, it is best to break it up. I did it over three leisurely paced days.

stay adventurous, Craig

this post is part of the European Summer Series. I’d also like to thank Holland Audio Tours for providing me with a copy of their guide to the city, and Holland Tourism for access to a IAMsterdam press pack.

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  • Ana Silva O’Reilly

    Haven’t been to Amsterdam for 5 years – thank you for taking me back there. I may need to book a flight, actually!

  • The World of Deej

    I have got to get back to Amsterdam…visited a few years ago and walked the entire city. Would love to bike as everyone else does!

  • Leah Travels

    Amsterdam on a bike is on my bucket list. I’ve heard mixed reactions about the city, but I still want to go. I’m glad to know you love it so.

    • craig zabransky

       I do and for different reasons than many might believe… it truly is a great place, a wonderful city. Keep that on your bucket list.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Lazy Travelers

    the hubs and i only went once this past fall but we fell immediately in love with the city. great recs!

  • Jetting Around

    I can’t decide which way to see Amsterdam is best… I’d probably do a combination of both. Great tips, Craig! 

  • Lauren DiMarco

    DYING to go to Amsterdam. man that baby has been on the list for a while. might be time to check it off. i’m pretty sure i’ll leave saying “i love Amsterdam” too :)

  • travelingted

    I love Amsterdam as well. Only been once, but I am aching to go back and say it again.

  • CaptainandClark

    I love the different ways to explore Amsterdam.  We’ve never been but it’s a destination that’s high on our list.  We have to know… what was your favorite way to see the city?

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