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AMSTERDAM


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Amstel Glory canal tour boat
credit Mazel Pernell


AMSTERDAM FACTS and TRAVEL TIPS


FACTS


Official Language: Dutch
Currency: Euro
Time Zone: Central European Time (6 Hours ahead of EST)
Population: 739,000

 


TRAVEL TIPS


Amsterdam is a popular European destination, so expect crowds during the peak summer tourist season.  Dutch is the official language, but English is widely spoken by the locals.  If this is your first trip to Europe, review the “Unofficial Advice and Observations from Sisters” section from the other SoulOfAmerica.com European Guides  for more tips.  Like most major European cities, Amsterdam has an extensive public transportation system that is a popular way to navigate the city. Another way to get around the city is to use the Canal bus that stops near major museums, shopping areas and attractions.

Passports are required for U.S. citizens. Currency is the Euro with major credit cards accepted by most establishments. You can make phone calls from any pay phone using a local phone card.  For internet service, you can use Easy Everything cafe, which is located near the Central Station.
 
Banks are open from 9am-4pm (Tuesday-Friday). Banks are closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday (mornings). ATMs are plentiful. Most ATMs accept cards with the Cirrus logo and some accept cards with the Plus logo. Most stores are open 9am-6pm (Tuesday-Friday), 9am-5pm (Saturday), 12pm-5pm (Sunday) and 1pm-6pm (Monday).  Some stores are open until 9pm on Thursday. Post offices are open from 9am-5pm (Monday-Friday).
 
Unlike the U.S., you do not need to tip in restaurants.  The Value Added Tax is automatically added to all bills (restaurants, shops, taxis and hotels).  Many public restrooms have an attendant that you are expected to tip EUR 0.50.
 
Electricity is different from the U.S., so bring a power converter and adapter.  Bring plenty of film/digital camera memory sticks, since they are more expensive in Amsterdam.
  
The major holidays in Amsterdam are New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday, Queens Birthday, Liberation Day, Ascension, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day. For specific dates, go to the Amsterdam Tourist Board webite.
 
The crime rate here is probably less than a major American city, but visitors should use common sense when out and about. Women should feel comfortable walking alone in the major tourist and shopping areas.  The laws regarding liquor, drugs and prostitution are different than the U.S., so be prepared for a unique atmosphere.
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