Amsterdam basic info


Amsterdam is a popular destination for tourists from around the world, who come to see its historic landmarks, beautiful parks, and vibrant nightlife.

The city is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and beautiful canal network, which earned it the nickname “Venice of the North.”

Furthermore, the city is known for its diverse cuisine, with a range of traditional Dutch dishes and international flavors.

History of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands. 

The city has a long and rich history dating back to the 13th century when it was founded as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel river. 

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world, thanks to its strategic location and the development of its canal network. 

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Amsterdam experienced further growth and development.

The city became an important center for industry and tourism, and it continued to be a hub for trade and commerce.

Today, Amsterdam has earned an international reputation for its art and history.

Amsterdam is known for its rich and diverse culture, which is reflected in the city’s art, music, food, and traditions. 

The city is home to a number of world-famous museums, including the Rijksmuseum, which houses a collection of Dutch masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The city houses the Van Gogh Museum based on the artworks of the great Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh.

Amsterdam city also has a thriving music taste, with a variety of genres represented, including jazz, classical, and electronic. 

The city is home to the Royal Concert, which features classical music, and the Amsterdam Dance Event, which is one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world.

Amsterdam is also home to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Amsterdam Light Festival

This festival features light installations by artists from around the world.

The city also hosts the annual Amsterdam Tulip Festival, which celebrates the city’s history as a major center of tulip cultivation in the 17th century.

Canals of Amsterdam

Canals of Amsterdam

The canals of Amsterdam are a major highlight of the city and are one of the most popular tourist attractions. 

There are more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of canals in Amsterdam, which are divided into three main categories: the outer canals, the inner canals, and the smaller, connecting canals.

  • The outer canals, also known as the grachtengordel, form a semicircle around the city and were built in the 17th century to help with Amsterdam’s expansion and to improve its defenses. 

The outer canals are wider and deeper than the inner canals and are surrounded by stately homes and mansions.

  • The inner canals, also known as the singels, were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and are located within the city center. 

The inner canals are narrower and shallower than the outer canals and are surrounded by more modest houses and apartments.

  • The smaller, connecting canals, known as the straatjes, are located between the outer and inner canals and are lined with narrow, picturesque houses.

The Amsterdam canals are a popular tourist attraction, and you can explore them by boat, on foot, or by bike. 

Many visitors book canal cruises to see the city from the water, or you can rent a boat or kayak to explore the canals on your own. 

You can also walk or bike along the canals to see the city’s beautiful architecture and waterways.


Amsterdam is located in the western Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. 

The city is situated on the banks of the Amstel river, which runs through the center of the city and connects to the IJ, a bay of the North Sea.

Amsterdam is built on a network of canals, which were originally dug in the 17th century to help with the city’s expansion and to improve its defenses.

Amsterdam experiences an average of 790 millimeters (31 inches) of rain per year, and the city is prone to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.

The city is surrounded by a ring of green space, including the Amsterdamse Bos, a large park, and the Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes, a protected area of sand dunes and wetlands.



The currency of Amsterdam, and the rest of the Netherlands, is the Euro (EUR). 

The Euro is the official currency of the European Union (EU) and is used by 19 of the 27 member states of the EU, as well as by a number of other countries around the world.

The Euro is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 Euro coins.

Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 Euros.

If you are traveling to Amsterdam from a country that does not use the Euro, you will need to exchange your currency for Euros. 

You can exchange money at banks, currency exchange offices, and some hotels.

You can also use your debit or credit card to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs in Amsterdam. 

It is a good idea to have some cash on hand, as not all businesses in Amsterdam accept card payments.

Spoken Languages

Spoken Languages

The official language of Amsterdam and the Netherlands is Dutch. 

Dutch is a West Germanic language and is spoken by around 23 million people in the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of Indonesia.

Dutch is a relatively easy language for English speakers to learn, as it has many similarities to English, including a shared vocabulary and a similar grammar structure. 

However, Dutch pronunciation can be difficult for English speakers, as it has many different sounds and vowel combinations that are not found in English.

In addition to Dutch, many people in Amsterdam speak English as a second language. English is widely spoken in the Netherlands, and it is a mandatory subject in schools. 

Many Dutch people, especially those under the age of 50, speak English fluently.

Other languages spoken in Amsterdam include Arabic, Turkish, and various African languages.

Amsterdam is a diverse city, and it is home to people from many different countries and cultural backgrounds.

Time Zone

Amsterdam is located in the Central European Time Zone (CET). 

The Central European Time Zone is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and is used by countries in Central Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Austria.

The time in Amsterdam is abbreviated as CET or CEST, depending on whether daylight saving time is in effect. 

Daylight saving time, also known as summer time, is observed from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, when the clocks are set ahead by one hour.

During the winter months, when daylight saving time is not in effect, the time in Amsterdam is the same as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1). 

During the summer months, when daylight saving time is in effect, the time in Amsterdam is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2).

It is important to note that the time in Amsterdam can be different from the time in other parts of the world, depending on the time zone. 

To find out the current time in Amsterdam, you can use a time zone converter or check the time on a local clock or device.

Local Laws

Local Laws

There are a number of local laws and regulations that you should be aware of if you are visiting or living in Amsterdam. These laws and regulations are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and visitors, and it is important to follow them to avoid any legal issues.

Some of the most important local laws in Amsterdam include:

  • Smoking: Smoking tobacco and cannabis is legal in Amsterdam, but there are restrictions on where it is allowed. 

Smoking is not allowed in public places such as restaurants, cafes, and public transport, and it is also not allowed in some privately owned establishments, such as hotels and hostels.

  • Alcohol: The legal drinking age in the Netherlands is 18, but it is illegal to drink alcohol in public places, such as streets and parks.
  • Drugs: The possession and use of drugs, including cannabis, is regulated by Dutch law. 

While the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis for personal use is tolerated in Amsterdam, the possession and use of other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, is illegal.

  • Bicycles: Bicycles are a common mode of transportation in Amsterdam, and there are specific laws and regulations governing their use. It is illegal to ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and it is also illegal to ride on sidewalks or pedestrian-only areas.
  • Littering: Littering is illegal in Amsterdam, and there are fines for those who are caught littering in public places.

It is important to familiarize yourself with these and other local laws and regulations before visiting or living in Amsterdam, to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable stay.

Parking Laws

Parking in Amsterdam can be challenging, due to the city’s narrow streets, busy traffic, and limited parking spaces. 

There are a number of parking laws and regulations in place to ensure that parking is managed effectively and safely in the city.

Here are some of the most important parking laws in Amsterdam:

  • Pay and display: In many areas of Amsterdam, parking is restricted to certain areas, and you must pay to park your car. 

    These areas are marked with signs indicating the times and fees for parking. 

    To park your car, you need to purchase a ticket from a parking meter or a parking app and display it on your dashboard.
  • Resident parking: In some areas of the city, parking is restricted to residents with a special permit. 

    If you are a resident of Amsterdam, you can apply for a permit at your local neighborhood office.
  • Disability parking: There are designated parking spaces for people with disabilities in Amsterdam. 

    To park in one of these spaces, you must have a valid disability parking permit.
  • Electric vehicles: Electric vehicles are eligible for reduced parking fees in Amsterdam. 

    To qualify, you must have a valid electric vehicle registration certificate.
  • Loading and unloading: In some areas of the city, parking is restricted to loading and unloading only. 

    These areas are marked with signs indicating the times when parking is allowed for loading and unloading.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the parking laws and regulations in Amsterdam before driving in the city, to ensure that you do not receive a parking ticket or incur other fines.

Helpful Phone Number

Helpful Phone Number

If you are visiting Amsterdam, it is important to have a list of helpful phone numbers in case you need assistance or have an emergency. 

Here are some useful phone numbers to know:

  • Emergency services: Dial 112 for police, fire, or ambulance services.
  • Medical assistance: Dial 0900-8844 for medical assistance or to speak to a doctor.
  • Tourist information: Dial 020-201-8800 for tourist information or to report a problem.
  • Municipal information: Dial 14 020 for information on municipal services, such as garbage collection and public transportation.
  • Lost and found: Dial 0900-0101 to report a lost item or to inquire about found items.
  • Police: Dial 0900-8844 for non-emergency police assistance or to report a crime.
  • Poison control: Dial 0900-0767 for assistance with poisoning or other chemical emergencies.
  • Mental health assistance: Dial 0900-0113 for mental health assistance or to speak to a therapist.

It is a good idea to keep these phone numbers handy in case you need to contact any of these services during your stay in Amsterdam.


Amsterdam is generally considered to be a safe city, with a low crime rate compared to other major cities around the world. 

However, as with any city, there are some areas that are safer than others, and it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

Some of the most common crimes in Amsterdam are petty theft, such as pickpocketing and theft from cars, and scams targeting tourists.

To protect yourself from these crimes, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas, and to be cautious of anyone who seems to be trying to distract you or trick you.

If you are concerned about your safety while in Amsterdam, there are a number of resources available to help you. 

The police and emergency services are available 24/7 and can be reached by dialing 112. 

You can also seek assistance from the local tourist information office or your embassy.



Tipping is not a widespread practice in the Netherlands, and it is not expected in most situations. 

However, it is becoming more common in certain industries, such as in the hospitality and service sectors.

In Amsterdam, it is generally not necessary to tip in restaurants, cafes, and bars, as a service charge is typically included in the bill. 

However, if you receive exceptional service, it is acceptable to leave a small tip, usually around 5-10% of the total bill.

It is also not necessary to tip taxi drivers in Amsterdam, although some people choose to round up the fare or leave a small tip.

In general, it is always a good idea to ask locals or staff for guidance on tipping if you are unsure. 

While tipping is not expected in most situations in Amsterdam, it is always appreciated as a gesture of appreciation for good service.

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