Amsterdam is a hospitable city. The accessibility of public buildings, public transport and parking facilities for visitors with various forms of disability is taken very seriously. However, the city presents accessibility challenges like the many cobblestones, steep bridges, bridges with stairs and difficult-to-board trams.
More information on accessibility in the city can be found below:
A downloadable guide for those with limited mobility can be found here: www.accessibletravelnl.com/blogs/new-city-guide-for-Amsterdam
Exchange bureaux can be found throughout central Amsterdam, particularly in the more tourist-oriented districts. Dutch banks are usually your best option for a fair rate. Another choice is the chain of GWK exchange offices scattered throughout the city, including a branch in Amsterdam's Centraal Train Station, open 24 hours a day. Withdrawing euros from ATMs is not only convenient, but will also often give you the best exchange rate.
Most places in Amsterdam accept credit cards. However, make sure that you check with your bank before arrival in Amsterdam to be aware of any extra fees that may be charged to your account for using ATMs and credit cards in the Netherlands. If your bank is in the Eurozone, you should not be faced with extra fees for ATM withdrawals or credit card charges.
Regular shopping hours in Amsterdam are as follows.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday
09:00-21:00 (late-night shopping)
12:00-17:00 (This applies primarily to the shops on and near the Nieuwendijk and Kalverstraat. In some of the other shopping streets, you may find that only a selection of shops is open on Sundays.)
Museums open at 09:00 or 10:00 and close between 17:00 and 18:00. The main museums are open daily, with a few exceptions. Many museums have a late-night opening once a week until 21:00 or 22:00. The majority of museums and attractions in Amsterdam are open on public holidays, although opening hours may vary. If you’re planning to visit on one of these days, we recommend that you check the museum’s website beforehand for alternative public holiday opening hours.
More information on museums’ opening hours can be found here: www.allaboutamsterdam.com/things-to-do-in-amsterdam/amsterdam-museums/
Climate and clothing
Summers in Amsterdam are generally warm, averaging 18°C, with occasional colder periods. Rain can be expected throughout the entire year, so it’s best to pack a jacket and a raincoat.
More information on climate and clothing can be found here: www.amsterdam-2-go.com/weather-in-amsterdam.html
On 1 January 2002, along with 11 other Member States of the European Union, the Netherlands adopted the Euro currency. These notes and coins can therefore be used in any country belonging to the Eurozone: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
- EUR 1 is divided into 100 centimes or cents.
- Notes: EUR 5, EUR 10, EUR 20, EUR 50, EUR 100, EUR 200 and EUR 500.
- Coins: 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents; EUR 1 and EUR 2.
In the Netherlands, the norm is 230 volts, with a frequency of 50Hz. In the United States or Canada, for example, it is 110 volts for 60Hz. Voltage and sockets vary from country to country; an adapter might be necessary. Universal adapters are available throughout the city and at Schiphol/Amsterdam Airport. Most hotels will also have adapters or USB plug-in points available.
Should you be a witness to or the victim of an accident, you may require medical treatment that cannot wait until the following day. These are the emergency services to contact:
- Emergency services (fire brigade, police, ambulance): 112
- Police information (non-emergency): 0900 8844
- Anonymous tip-line (to report a crime): 0800 7000
- AIDS/HIV info service: 0900 204 2040.
More information can be found here: www.expatica.com/nl/about/Emergency-numbers-for-expats-in-the-Netherlands_100591.html
No vaccinations are required in order to visit the Netherlands.
Accident and emergency department and emergency doctors
Bring identification and an insurance pass if possible when you go to the accident and emergency (A&E) department. Everyone in the Netherlands is legally obliged to take out health insurance, and standard coverage will normally cover hospital treatment. In some situations, paying a deductible fee may be necessary.
The A&E department of a hospital is meant for serious situations that require immediate specialist medical treatment. Going to the A&E department for treatment that in normal cases would be done by a GP will probably lead to having to pay from of the deductible portion (eigen risico) of health insurance.
An emergency doctor’s office caters for problems outside of regular doctor’s hours. The service operates around the clock (24 hours) and is available on nights, weekends and all public holidays.
The number in Amsterdam is 088 003 0600.The operator will connect you with an emergency doctor in your area.
In a pharmacy (in Dutch, apotheek), you can get some drugs which are sold only on prescription by a doctor. In addition, pharmacies sell some non-prescription medicines, which can also be bought at drugstores. The pharmacies are usually open from Monday to Friday, from 09:00 to 17:30, but times may vary. The pharmacy in Leidsestraat, for example, is located within a large drugstore and is open until 22:00.
At night and on the weekends, there is always a pharmacy open on rotating shifts. To find an open pharmacy, call the central number for pharmacies (020 592 33 15) or go to the nearest pharmacy; the one on duty will be indicated on the door or in the pharmacy window.
HIV treatment centres
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. The majority of Amsterdam’s residents speak English well and many are fluent in one or two languages on top of that. You can usually get by effortlessly in Amsterdam without knowing a word of Dutch. For those keen to try, learning a few words or phrases will always go a long way with the locals.
Some helpful tips, words and phrases in Dutch can be found here: www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/about-amsterdam/history-and-society/language
The system of measurement used in the Netherlands, as in the majority of European countries, is the metric system. Temperatures are expressed in degrees Centigrade.
It is worth noting too that in the Netherlands, decimals are indicated by a comma and not a point as in English-speaking countries.
National and international calls
The telephone country code for the Netherlands is 31, and Amsterdam’s city code is 020. You only need to dial the 0 if you’re calling from within the Netherlands.
Contact your mobile phone operator who will confirm whether or not your mobile is compatible with the Dutch network and also explain how you will be charged for calls received from your own country or that you make while abroad (local and international calls).
Security and safety
Amsterdam is renowned for its friendly, welcoming ambience and prides itself on being a safe city. However, in order to ensure that visitors enjoy their time in the city to the fullest, they are advised to keep health and safety considerations in mind and remain alert to petty crime.
More information on security can be found here: www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/plan-your-trip/practical-info/health-safety
In 2004, the Netherlands enacted a smoke-free law covering public transportation and non-hospitality workplaces, except within separately ventilated rooms. The law was expanded in July 2008, making shopping malls, tobacco shops, gaming establishments and convention centres smoke-free. The 2008 law also covers restaurants, cafes, bars, festival tents and nightclubs, except in separately ventilated areas not serviced by employees. Employees may only be required to enter such smoking rooms in emergency situations.
Since the beginning of 2017, it is prohibited to smoke in all trains, stations, waiting areas and on platforms in Amsterdam. Special smoking areas have been created. There are designated smoking pillars where you can smoke and extinguish your cigarettes. The fine for smoking outside this area is EUR 25, and throwing your cigarette butt on the platform can cost you EUR 40.
The Dutch divide drugs into soft and hard drugs. Hard drugs, such as cocaine, LSD, morphine and heroin, are forbidden, although their use is not prosecuted, only their sale.
Soft drugs, such as cannabis in all its forms (weed, hashish, hash oil) and hallucinogenic mushrooms (so-called magic mushrooms or paddos in Dutch), are legal for “personal use”. Smoking of cannabis is not prosecuted; nor is selling it, although it is technically illegal under the Opium Act (the Act dates from 1919). Smoking of cannabis is widely tolerated but it must happen in a controlled way (in a coffee shop; in small portions; sale only to adults; no drug advertising).
The sale of most hallucinogenic mushrooms has been forbidden since 1 November 2008 when more than 200 mushrooms were put on the banned list.
Amsterdam is in the Central European Time Zone. You can see Amsterdam’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting www.TimeAndDate.com
Although all restaurants, pubs, cafés and hotels must include value added tax and tips in their published prices, leaving a tip is customary in the Netherlands. A good guideline is 5-10% of the total amount if you are having just a light snack and something to drink, and 10-15% for a more extensive meal.