Amsterdam is a unique and beautiful city. It is full of history, it is romantic, and despite having over 160 canals and more than 1000 bridges, it is quite easy to navigate. This is a city that seems to have something for everyone. But before you go, here are six things that you should know about Amsterdam:
When To Go - Not surprisingly, the summer months are the most popular time of year for tourists to visit Amsterdam. While the days are longer and the weather is warmer during this time, the streets and attractions are more crowded and the prices are higher. The city is worth seeing all year round, so if you are flexible with your vacation time you may wish to plan your visit for April or October.
Bikes - At times, you may feel overwhelmed by the number and speed of bikes whizzing past you. In addition to their speed, many cyclists in Amsterdam seem to think they have the right-of-way. If you're spending your day(s) out-and-about, exploring the city, there's a good chance you will witness a collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist.
While a bike may be a great way to see the city and feel like a local, if you're not familiar with the area, you may wish to take a guided bike tour rather than renting one on your own. If you do rent one on your own, pay attention to street signs. You don't want to find yourself cycling down a pedestrian-only street.
English - Don't greet people with the question "Do you speak English?" For some, it's insulting. The majority of locals in Amsterdam speak English.
The Red Light District - Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and regardless of whether or not you are interested in experiencing this first-hand, the city's famous Red Light District is worth seeing. Naturally, the later in the evening you visit this area, the weirder the experience may be. If you're feeling intimidated, walk through the Red Light District during the day or take a guided tour.
Do not take pictures of the women working in the Red Light District.
Coffee Shops - When you wake up in Amsterdam feeling a little groggy and in need of a coffee, remember not to ask someone to point you in the direction of the nearest "coffee shop". In Amsterdam, a coffee shop is a place where you can buy and smoke marijuana or purchase food that is made with marijuana. These establishments tend to be frequented by tourists more than locals.
Euros - When you arrive in Amsterdam, be sure to withdrawal some local currency (Amsterdam uses the Euro). While credit and debit cards are widely accepted, there are a number of establishments throughout the city that are 'cash only'.