Main information

Elevation

Below sea level, but protected from flooding by an extensive network of dikes and drainage canals.

Time Zone

When it is noon in Amsterdam, it is 6AM in New York City.

Annual Temperature Range

Month High Low
January 41F 34F
February 41F 33F
March 47F 37F
April 53F 42F
May 61F 48F
June 66F 54F
July 69F 57F
August 70F 58F
September 66F 55F
October 57F 48F
November 49F 41F
December 43F 36F

When to Visit

Weather-wise, the best months for sightseeing are April, May, June, September, and October. The maritime climate of the Netherlands is very changeable, though, and during these months expect weather ranging from cool to pleasant to wet and windy to hot and sometimes humid. Winters in Amsterdam can be very cold from December through February and March.

ATMs

Among the centrally located automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible by cards linked to the Cirrus and Plus networks, and the major credit cards and charge cards, are those at ABN-AMRO Bank, Dam 2 (tram4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25) and Leidsestraat 1 (tram1, 2, 5), at Leidseplein; Rabobank, Dam 16 (tram4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25); and Fortis Bank, Singel 548 (tram4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25), at the Flower Market.

Babysitters

Many hotels can arrange babysitters. A reliable local organization is

Business Hours

Banks are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4 or 5pm, and some to 7pm on Thursday. Open hours for offices are Monday through Friday from 9 or 10am to 4 or 5pm. Regular shopping hours are Monday from 10 or 11am to 6pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to 6pm; Thursday from 9am to 9pm; Saturday from 9am to 5pm; and some stores are open Sunday from noon to 5pm.

Convention Center RAI

Convention Center,Europaplein (020/549-1212; MetroRAI), in the south of the city.

Currency

The Euro is the currency of the Netherlands. Euro notes come in denominations of EUR500, EUR200, EUR100, EUR50, EUR20, EUR10 and EUR5. The euro is divided into 100 cents, and coins are available as EUR2 and EUR1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cents.

Doctors

Call the Central Medical Service (tel. 020/592-3434).

Drugstores

For such items as toothpaste, deodorant, and razor blades, go to a drogerij (drugstore), or a supermarket.

Electricity

the Netherlands runs on 220 volts electricity (North America uses 110 volts). You will need a small voltage transformer (available in drug and appliance stores and by mail order) that plugs into the round-holed European electrical outlet and converts the Dutch voltage from 220 volts down to 110 volts for any small appliance up to 1,500 watts.

Embassies & Consulates

The U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam is at Museumplein 19 (tel.

Emergencies

For police assistance, an ambulance, or the fire department, call tel. 112.

Holidays

January

1 (New Year’s Day)

March/April

Good Friday; Easter Monday;

April 30

(Queen’s Day/Koninginnedag)

Ascension Day Pentecost Monday

(50 days after Easter)

December 25 (Christmas)

(The dates for Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost change each year).Hospitals

Internet Access

In the City center, easyEverything (www.easyeverything.com) has two locations Damrak 33 (tel. 020/320-8082; tram1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17, 24, 25); and Reguliersbreestraat 22 (tel. 020/320-6291; tram4, 9, 14). Both are open 24 hours a day and access begins at 1.15Ä. A less-crowded choice is Internet CafÈ, Martelaarsgracht 11 (tel. 020/627-1052; tram1, 2, 5, 13, 17), open Sunday through Thursday from 9am to 1am, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 3am.

Language

Dutch is the primary language, but English is the second language of the Netherlands.

Newspapers & Magazines

The American Book Center, Kalverstraat 185 (tel. 020/625-5537; tram4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25), and Waterstone’s, Kalverstraat 152 (tel. 020/638-3821; tram4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25), and newsstands at Schiphol Airport and Centraal Station all have a big selection of international newspapers and magazines.

Police

The emergency number to call for the police (politie), fire department, and ambulance is tel. 112. For routine matters, police headquarters are at Elandsgracht 117 (tel. 0900/8844; tram7, 10, 17).

Post Office

Most post offices are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Taxes

There’s a value-added tax (BTW) of 6% on hotel and restaurant bills (19% on beer, wine, and liquor), and 6% or 19% (the amount depends on the product) on purchases. This tax is always included in the price. People resident outside the European Union can shop tax-free in Amsterdam. Shops that offer tax-free shopping advertise with a Netherlands Tax-Free Shopping sign in the window, and they provide you with the form you need to recover value-added tax (VAT) when you leave the European Union.

To make international calls

To make international calls from Amsterdam, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next you dial the area code and number.

Toll-free numbers

Numbers beginning with 0800 within the Netherlands are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States from the Netherlands is not toll-free. It costs the same as an overseas call.

Special numbers

Beware special Dutch numbers that begin with 0900. Calls to these are charged at a far higher rate than ordinary local calls.

International Access Codes

To call the United States or Canada, dial 00 (the international access code) + 1 (the country code) + the area code + the number. Other country codes areAustralia, 61; United Kingdom, 44; Ireland, 353; New Zealand, 64.

The area code for Amsterdam is 020

When making local calls in Amsterdam you won’t need to use the area codes shown in this book. You do need to use an area code between towns and cities in the Netherlands.

Tipping

The Dutch government requires that all taxes and service charges be included in the published prices of hotels, restaurants, cafes, discos, nightclubs, beauty salons/barbershops and hairdressers, and sightseeing companies. Even taxi fare includes taxes and a standard 15% tip.

Amsterdam

Arriving and Departing

By Air

Amsterdam Luchthaven Schiphol

(pronounced “Shh-kip-hole”)
(AMS) (17 km (11 mi) southwest of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 0900/0141, is the main passenger airport for Holland. With the annual number of passengers using Schiphol approaching 40 million, it is ranked among the world’s top five best-connected airports.

A hotel, a service to aid passengers with disabilities, parking lots, and a main office of The Netherlands tourist board (in Schiphol Plaza and known as “HTI” — Holland Tourist Information) can prove most useful. The comprehensive Schiphol telephone service, charged at EUR.10 per minute, provides information about flight arrivals and departures as well as all transport and parking facilities.

Flying time to Amsterdam is 21Ω hours from Auckland; 1 hour from London; 10Ω hours from Los Angeles; 7 hours from New York; 20 hours from Sydney; and 8 hours from Toronto.

Getting Around the City

Metro

Amsterdam has a full-fledged subway system, the metro, but travelers will usually find trams and buses more convenient for getting around, as most metro stops are geared for city residents traveling to the outer suburbs. However, the Amsterdam metro can get you from Centraal Station (at the northern harbor edge of the city) to Amstel Station (a train station at the southeastern area of the city, with connections to many buses and trams) much faster than a tram, which makes many stops along the way.

Trams & Buses

Many tram and bus routes start from the hub at Centraal Station (Stationsplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Tel. 0900-9292 public transportation information).

A large bus depot is located on the Marnixstraat, across from the main police station, and there’s another one at Harlemmermeer station in the Overtoomseveld neighborhood of western Amsterdam. Trams and buses run from about 6 AM to midnight daily. The tram routes, with a network of 130 km (80 mi) of track, make this characteristic form of transport more useful than the bus for most tourists. Night owls can make use of the hourly night-bus services, with double frequency on Friday and Saturday night, but routes are restricted.

Between stops, trams brake only when absolutely necessary, so listen for warning bells if you are walking or cycling near tram lines. Taxis use tram lines, but other cars are allowed to venture onto them only when turning right. The newer fleets of buses are cleaner, and therefore nicer to use, and bus lanes (shared only with taxis) remain uncongested, ensuring that you travel more swiftly than the rest of the traffic in rush hour.

If the bus is very crowded, you may have to stand, so hold on to a handrail, as the buses can travel quite fast; to avoid rush hour, don’t travel between 8 and 9 in the morning or between 430 and 530 in the afternoon. As with all urban systems of transportation, keep an eye out for pickpockets.

Ferries

Four ferry lines leave from Centraal Station, but only one is of any interest to tourists. The Buiksloterwegveer leaves from Pier 7 behind Centraal Station every 8 to 15 minutes, day and night. The ferry transports pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists across the IJ channel to North Amsterdam. There is no fee for the service. North Amsterdam may prove to be less interesting than the refreshing trip, which takes about five minutes.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town

If you wish to hop aboard a tram or bus to get to your hotel, go to one of the Gemeentevervoerbedrifj (GVB) Amsterdam Municipal Transport

booths found in front of the Centraal Station. Here you can find directions, fare information, and schedules.

The KLM Hotel Bus shuttles

between the airport and Amsterdam, serving 16 top hotels directly and many more that are close to these stops. Buses depart Schiphol Plaza every 20 minutes from 7am to 6pm and every 30 minutes from 6 to 930pm.

Bus no. 197 departs every half hour from in front of Schiphol Plaza for Amsterdam’s downtown

Marnixstraat bus station

This bus is much slower than both the train and the KLM Hotel Bus.

Taxis

Fare expensive, but are the preferred choice when traveling with luggage, or if there are two or more people to share the cost. Taxi stands are located at both ends of the sidewalk in front of Schiphol Plaza. Taxis from the airport are all metered.

Walking

If you’re going around on foot, remember that cars have the right of way when turning. When crossing a street, watch out for trams, buses, and bikes, too. Use caution with children near the canals Protective fencing is rare, and the low metal railings wonít prevent a fall into the water.

Biking

Almost everyone in Amsterdam rides a bicycle. There are special bike trails everywhere, as well as parking for bikes at most sites.

De Opstapper

The Opstapper, a transit van that travels the elegant Prinsengracht — heart of the historic canal sector — between Centraal Station and the Music Theater. For a one-zone stamp on your strippenkaart, you can get on or off anywhere along the Prinsengracht. There are no fixed stops. It passes within walking distance of the Anne Frank House, the Leidseplein, and many hotels. The buses run every ten minutes from 730 AM to 630 PM. There are eight seats and room for an additional eight standing passengers.

Arts and Entertainment

Beurs va Berlage

Beurs va Berlage

Damrak 243  521-7500

Buses 4,9,14,16,20,24,25.

Home of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, located in the former stock exchange.

Concertgebouw

Concertebouwplein 2-6

671-8345

Tram:  3,5,12,16,20

Home of the famed Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  Its main hall is considered to be one of the world’s acoustically perfect concert halls.  Free concerts on Wednesdays at 12:30.

De Ijsbreker

Weesperzijde 23

Tram:  3,6,7,10,20.

The place for contemporary, electronic, experimental, cutting edge music.

Muziektheater

Amstel 1-3

625-5455

Subway:  Waterlooplein

Tram:  9,14,20

Home of the Netherlands Opera and National Ballet, and Amsterdam venue for performances by the Hague’s highly regarded Netherlands Dance Theater.

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