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Map -- New!






From the Airport (Schiphol)

You probably are arriving at Schiphol which is a little bit out of the city,

you will take a train to Amsterdam Centraal.


Buying a Train Ticket

The train tickets for an adult from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal cost €3.60 (verify), you will need change unless you are a european with a card (PIN Pass, Maestro, Chipknip...), there are a couple machines somewhere that takes credit card so you can try to find those, if you have neither you'll have to go to the ticket counter. There are three types of ticket machines and a ticket counter. The old ticket machines take change or PIN Pass, the newer machines have touch screens and take a few types of cards, and the newest machines have touchscreens and take change or cards.


At the oldest ticket machine you want to hit the following buttons:

  • First, the destination: 1000 is Amsterdam Centraal, any other places should be listed on the right.
  • 2e Klas for a 2nd Class ticket (this means get in the trains with the 2 on them)
  • Enkele Reis for One Way ticket
  • Vol Tarief for full price (most people who use trains often buy a discount card, they are ¿45 and let you and up to 3 other people ride at 40% off)


Aside: If you are a social young person and are riding the train during a weekday after 9am you have a chance of finding somebody who will let you freeload on their discount card. If you don't find anybody, though, the fine is €35 plus the price of a full ticket if you get caught.


At the newer machines with the touchscreen:

  • You probably want to select the British flag for English
  • It will ask you to select the first letters of the station.
  • 2nd Class, One-Way, Full Fare.


Aside: I am told that a KLM flight ticket stub functions as a valid train ticket to or from the airport.


Picking a Train

Things to remember when selecting your train (they are downstairs from the airport).

  • There are signs above the places you have to walk down to get to the track specifying the track number and the destination.
  • Under the destination there are frequently other stops listed, sometimes a train going to Utrecht Centraal will stop at Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Intercity is the fastest, then Sneltrain.
  • * The first stop on an Intercity will often be Amsterdam Centraal.
  • * On a Sneltrain there may be 2 or 3 stops before Amsterdam Centraal, but don't worry it is pretty easy to notice when you get there, everybody is getting out of the train and the station is very big.
  • * They announce the stop pretty loudly "Amsterdam Centraaaal" so unless you have a particularly heavy bag, feel free to have a seat instead of standing like a tool - the ride takes at least 13 minutes.
  • You have a 2nd Class ticket but depending on the time of day you are probably just going to be standing by the doors.


From the Train Station (Amsterdam Centraal)

Welcome to Amsterdam! Here's how to get out of the station in the right direction:

  • Coming out of the train you will see little pictographs pointing at which direction to go, you want to go towards busses but not towards ferries. You hate ferries.
  • East is the direction the train from the airport was going, North is the ferries, South is the city.
  • Whichever side of the station you managed to be nearest to, you will want to get outside and head towards the center (currently around the construction) and face South towards the really big street with all the big signs. Futher directions will be given from this perspective.


Safety Note: There are a lot of bikes in Amsterdam -- no, more than that -- and they have their own lanes and lights in most places. If you are walking on something smooth that is red or not a street you are probably seconds away from being pummelled by an Amsterdammer. If you hear a bell, move to the right. And if you are the on the street, too. Or by a car or tram, they have their own lanes and traffic lights, too. Taxis hate you.



If you came from any cities like the ones I grew up in, Amsterdam is a maze. The city is laid out in circles each ring made by a canal (gracht) and there are tons of alleys all over the place.

  • Getting a map is a good idea, they should have them in the train station at the AKO. If you are staying at my house I tend to have a couple extra around.


Getting Around

Get a bike right away. There is a Mac Bike right to the left of Centraal Station, for a pedal brake it is €6 a day and the bike works pretty nicely, they'll hook you up with a lock and all that. I never buy insurance but be controlled by fear all you'd like.


Places 'n Stuff

There's a dutch site that I've reviewed some places on: http://www.yelloyello.com/profile/show/Termie



The Damrak and Dam Square (and Rokin)

From our Perspective Point (that's the center of the station, facing south, henceforth referred to as PP), straight ahead is the Damrak street. It is a massive tourist trap complete with marijuana leaf hats and sex museums. It is also a good central landmark to keep in mind as everybody knows where it is if you are lost.


The interesting stuff is on the right side of the street, and include:

  • Manneken Pis, a fry stand. It is fairly heavily trafficked by tourists, but is tasty nonetheless. The guy will offer you ketchup or mayo but you should get Oorlog (pronounced Or-Log... sorta) with Onions (they'll say "met ow?"). Tasty stuff. Don't get a large, you'll never ever finish it.
  • Teasers. This is like Hooters with breast enhancements. Total female exploitation, at night there will be girls dancing on the bar. Their motto: "Beers & Babes." Unfortunately, the Amsterdam local government didn't like them anymore and forced them to leave. Fixed now.
  • Albert Heijn To Go, stop in and receive your complimentary Heineken Tallboy.


After a bit the street opens up into a big square with a giant phallic mounment on the left and the Royal Palace on the right. This is the Dam, or Dam Square. On a good day there will be bicycles parked everywhere you can see on the left and plenty of people sitting outdoors watching you fumble around trying to take pictures of the bikes.


Of note here:

  • The Hotel Krasnapolsky, somewhat easier to see than some things, also where many conferences are held. They have wifi you can pay for in their lobby.
  • The street on the far side of the square on the left running perpendicular to the Damrak is Hoogstraat (High Street). Faithful to its name, this is one of the main tourist arteries into the red light and a flood of coffeeshops.
    • About half a block down this street on the right is a "New York Pizza," this chain of pizza places is pretty much the least bad over the counter pizza you get in town, most places have the things sitting in cases for hours and hours before they get to you.
  • Going south on the next street to the left (Nes), parallel to the Damrak, will lead you to a nice belgian cafe/resaurant on the left called De Brakke Grond. They have lots of good beer, drink some Chimay White for me. Their Foccacia-Tomato-Mozzeralla sandwich also kicks ass. http://www.brakkegrond.nl/brasserie.htm



From the PP this is basically due left. There isn't much out here, and not much at all if you don't have a bike.

  • Mac Bike - this is the closest rental place to my house, they have decent quality bikes and are helpful, €6 a day for a pedal brake bike.
  • Post CS building - If you keep walking left of the station you eventually run into water, there is a little dock (the Oosterdok) that you can walk over to get to the old Post Office building that now has the Stedelijk Museum in it, a restaurant/club on top with decent views (Club 11) and the office where I work most of the time. Walking distance.
  • Brouwerij 't IJ - Way off in the distance you might be able to see a windmill, underneath it is a brewery that makes tasty beer. My favorite place to go on a sunny sunday to sit outside and enjoy biertjes. Closes early and serves some cheese or egg dishes as appetizers while you drink.
  • If you were to walk down from the top of the Nemo and stay left, then cross the street and go over the old drawbridge you'd be pretty near this place, one of my favorite places to go for dinner: http://www.koffiehuisvandenvolksbond.nl/ Their menu changes frequently and is all in dutch, but the waitresses will be able to translate for you.



Finding a place

Good luck, the housing market here is packed. There is a mix of social housing (basically the government has a bunch of places reserved for Dutch folk), squats, anti-squats, unregistered sublets, sleezy salesmen, and something bordering on gang warefare.



Note: You really want to be in Amsterdam unless you're quite ready to embark on a Dutch experience. Amsterdam may have the tourists but it also has the connections to everywhere else and anytime your friends are visiting they will be visiting Amsterdam, not Utrecht.
  • That said, some nice cities nearby (and their train time) are:
    • Utrect (45mins) - Quite a large city actually, downtown has a pretty active nightlife a few nights a week and some of the apartments are quite large.
    • Leiden (25mins) - Beautiful downtown, pretty free of tourists and close to beautiful beaches and farms.
    • Haarlem (15mins) - I hear people here actually have their own houses, but that just be a rumor.
  • Even in Amsterdam there are a few places that you should be aware of:
    • Anywhere way South / South-East will put you 20+ minutes from the city centre and more often than not kill your urge to head into town and see friends.
    • Anywhere north of the IJ (Noord), it is far away, and you will live your life by the ferry's clock, and so far as I can tell absolutely nothing happens there.
    • The far west is sort of the locals area, people tell me it is uncommon but I have had mostly unfriendly experiences out there.
  • Some of the highly desirable spots (good luck fighting for these without a big wallet):
    • The Pijp, this is an area near the Albert Cuijp Market filled with tons of great food and good-but-cheap things. Every born-and-raised Amsterdammer wants to live here.
    • The Jordaan, the area where the good food in the center is, canals everywheree, too.
    • The Canals, the Keizergracht, Prinsengracht and Herengracht all have highly desirable apartments overlooking some of the nicer canals.





Renting Glossary


  • exclusive/exclusief - this means you have to pay utilitis on top of the rent price, usually between €100 and €150.
  • insclusive/inclusief - utilities included, wooohoo!
  • lange periode - long period, long-term
  • maand/maanden - month/months
  • jaar - year
  • vanaf - starting from, as in 'vanaf 1 oktober,' starting from october 1st
  • tijdelijk - timeness, sorta, this probably means the rental length is coming up in the text
  • huur - rent


  • kamer - room, so "2 kamer" means two rooms.
    • slaapkamer - bedroom
    • woonkamer - living room
  • keuken - kitchen
  • balkon - balcony

Descriptive Stuff To Make You Feel Good

  • oude / nieuwe - old / new
  • ruime - roomy, probably a lie.
  • leuke - nice
  • groot/klein - big/small


  • van - from, as in how many minutes from CS
  • cs - Central Station
  • vondelpark - a nice park in the southish-westish side of town


  • gezocht - wanted (seeked), you can probably ignore these ;)
  • voor - for
  • woning - house or apartment.


General Tips

  • Watch out for agents, I haven't found a trustworthy one yet. It isn't all their fault, their clients aren't trustworthy either.
  • Most Dutch people find their apartments through what they call "via-via," that is they mention to absolutely everybody they talk to that they are looking for an apartment and ask them to ask their friends. It is your best chance, and you shouldn't feel bad about doing it, everyody is used to it.
  • Furnished rooms are very common, I expect because it is difficult to move furniture around.
  • There are plenty of furnished rooms that don't actually have beds, just futons.

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