Amsterdam is an ideal walking city, compact and quiet with excellent public transport. A bicycle is the preferred Dutch way to get about and cars are discouraged in the city’s central canal ring. The GVB company runs an integrated metro, tram and bus service.
Short break visitors can pick up a one, two or three-day IAMsterdam Card for travel on all public transport and entry to most Amsterdam attractions. Get cards from GVB centres, train stations, hotels or tourist offices. Get your card stamped each time you travel.
Amsterdam and bikes go hand in hand. The city is crisscrossed by bike lanes and there are several bike rental firms and city tours. To hire a bike you need a deposit and some ID. Dutch bicycles often have no hand brake and you must take care to stay out of tram lines. A good cycle lock is needed as bicycle theft is a city-wide problem.
Amsterdam canal boat trips are aimed exclusively at the tourist trade. The Canal Bus runs every 40min from 9.50am to 7.25pm with 14 stops along three different routes. All the major attractions are visited and you get a good commentary on Amsterdam sights thrown in.
The Museumboot (Museum Boat) also runs a daily tour around the city with stops at Centraal Station, Prinsengracht, Leidseplein, Herengracht, Muziektheater and Oosterdok.
Tickets on the Museum Boat tour also give you half-price entry into most of the museums. This is a good alternative for those who don’t want to shell out for the IAMsterdam Card. You can get on and off at any of the dozen stops to take in the local museums.
City buses mainly feed outlying suburbs or run when the trams have stopped. Night buses cover most routes linking Centraal Station, Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. The metro is fast but only really useful for travelling outside the city centre or to Amsterdam Arena.
Trams are a very handy way to get around. Trams leave every few minutes from Amsterdam Central Station until 12.15am. You can buy tickets on the tram but it costs more. Strippenkaarts or ticket strips are cheap and widely available. Get a free map of routes from tourist offices.
Taxis are found at most tourist hubs, including Leidseplein, Dam Square and Centraal Station. Hailing a taxi is not easy. If you need one call 0900 677 7777. Fares are reasonable and cabbies expect a 5-10% tip. For a nice Dutch twist, try a bicycle taxi. The pedal-powered cabs carry up to two and are much more fun.
There are car rental firms at Schiphol Airport and in the city centre, mainly along Overtoomstraat, near Vondelpark. But be warned – driving in the city is not easy. Parking is difficult and regulations are strictly enforced. Away from the city centre it’s a great idea to use the cheap Amsterdam Arena car park with a free tram ticket into the city.
Amsterdam is a great city for walking. Tourist centres have booklets on popular city walks including the Rembrandt trail, the former Jewish Quarter and in the Jordaan area.
Get around Amsterdam with the Amsterdam City Navigator.