READY, SET, GO
Got Amsterdam on your mind? If you haven’t been to our stunning city, you’re in for a full-on sensory feast. It’s like something straight out of a postcard — with its glistening canals and picture-perfect “dancing” houses lining cobbled streets. The echoes of “tring tring” from the bicycles buzzing past you. And oh, copious amounts of rain and wind, followed by generous sun rays — sometimes, all wrapped up in a vortex of a day. So what should you pack when visiting Amsterdam? What are the Amsterdam travel essentials? In this Amsterdam travel blog, we answer all this and more.
Amsterdam Packing 101
“Na regen komt zonneschijn (after rain, the sun will shine).”
– A popular Dutch expression
If you’re an urban traveller, you’d know that there are several variables to consider: from weather-suitable clothing, footwear to everyday essentials like credit cards, etc. Sure, it’s not rocket science. But it’s useful to hear it from locals who weather the elements of Amsterdam every damn day. So from one traveller to another, here are our tips for thriving during your trip in Amsterdam.
#1 - Comfy Footwear
If you’re a complete newcomer to Amsterdam, it’s good to know that our city is surprisingly small. It literally takes minutes to travel from one neighbourhood to another. So biking aside, walking is the way to go. Enter comfy footwear. You’d thank yourself for packing some lightweight shoes that are waterproof, in case the rain sets in. Who are we kidding? It’s a constant. Over here, we say, “We’re not made of sugar.” i.e. we won’t dissolve in the rain. But walking in sad, soggy shoes (and socks) that feel like overnight oats is never recommended. So do yourself a favour. Throw in some stellar footwear.
#2 - Credit and Debit Cards
Like all other developed countries around the world, the Netherlands has gone mostly cashless. A card is preferred over cash almost everywhere. These days, most places — from stores to restaurants and bars — have signs that say “alleen pinnen” which means card only. If you plan to commute via Amsterdam’s excellent public transport, it’s good to know that you can only get your ticket with a credit, debit or bank card. At super markets, however, only bank cards and cash are accepted — no credit cards.
CASH OR NO CASH
That said, keeping some cash can be handy sometimes. You could use it for tipping and the quintessential Dutch food experience FEBO — the country’s most celebrated fast food run on vending machines. Pop money in and get your piping hot fried snack out. But if you’re craving for seconds and your frantic jazz hands in your pockets come up empty, you can pay by card too. Wanna experience this and Amsterdam’s best traditional Dutch and Surinamese food? Our Amsterdam self-guided food tour is your cure.
#3 - Rain Gear
The Netherlands is known for its unpredictable rain and hefty wind. If you don’t know what to pack for Amsterdam, an essential should be some form of rain gear — be it a raincoat, poncho or a sturdy umbrella.
The average number of rainy days in the Netherlands is a whopping 139! Over here we say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” From Danish rain couture to windproof umbrellas, we locals are armed like Iron Man to weather any storm. The weather in Amsterdam could be Vitamin D-rich one minute and soaking wet the next. So save yourself the pain of clingy clothes and squishy shoes. Rain gear? Check.
#4 - Water Bottle
A water bottle is a thirst-quencher and money-saving essential — even in your own home country. But when it comes to travelling, drinking straight from a tap in a new place can seem daunting. “Is it safe?” is the first thing that pops into your mind. So here’s the news leak: Amsterdam has the highest-quality (no, not that kind of high), safest and cleanest tap water in Europe. So tap away with gusto, friend. But if you must buy bottled water, you can recycle it at our local supermarkets and get some moolah back for your efforts to save the planet.
#5 - An Unlocked Cell Phone
Navigating a new city can be challenging. Though Amsterdam is small as compared to the likes of London and Paris, it’s handy to have Google Maps and data to navigate public transport and dig out restaurant recommendations in your pocket. So pack an unlocked cell phone to pop a Dutch SIM card in for peace of mind.
# 6 - A Camera
Amsterdam is like an impossibly beautiful yet awkward human; the kind of place that’s so pretty without pretence that you could point and shoot at random, and yet the picture would still turn out to be Insta-worthy. Yes, Amsterdam’s architecture, canals, “drunk” houses and cobblestone are otherwordly, but there’s also beauty to be found in its every day like Amsterdam’s bikes and cute cafes. So bring a trusty camera to capture it all.
#7 - Travel Adapter + Power Bank
This is a no-brainer for globetrotters, but it’s a good reminder if you’re travelling from outside of Europe. We recommend throwing in a power bank as well so that you can charge your phone on the go to keep those Insta-worthy shots going. In Amsterdam is a city filled with surprises at every turn. Trust us, you’d thank us for this. Quick tip: Some buses, cafes and coffeeshops have charging stations to juice up your devices.
#8 - ID
In the Netherlands, you need to carry some form of official identification at all times, whether it’s a passport or driver’s license. Though it’s as rare as an albino rhino, police may fine you if you fail to present your ID at random checks, or if you happen to be called in as a bystander of a crime or incident. With the Coronavirus entry passes in force, you’d need to produce your ID to verify your identity to enter bars, restaurants and indoor events. The same goes for renting a bicycle. So make sure you pack it and carry it with you everywhere.
#9 - Weather-suitable clothing
Spring in Amsterdam means a few things. Flowers galore and the sudden appearances of skirts. It’s typically the driest season of the year. The temperature gradually grows from 9 °C (48 °F) in March to 17 °C (62 °F) in May. Nighttime dip range between 2 °C (35 °F) to 8 °C (46 °F). Since it can get chilly, we recommend layering. So here are our tips for what to pack for Amsterdam in spring.
- Long-sleeved shirts or T-shirts with a jacket
- Jeans, pants or skirts with leggings
- Water- & wind-proof jacket
- A thin scarf
Summer in Amsterdam doesn’t get too toasty and there’s always the sneaky chance of rain. Temperatures range between 18 °C (64 °F) and 22 °C (71 °F) by day and dip between 10-13 °C (50-55 °F) at night. So here are our summer packing tips.
- Short-sleeved shirts for day, long-sleeved shirts for night
- Shorts or jeans, or skirts and dresses
- A light jacket
- Swimwear and towel if you decide to swim or hit the beach
As we wave the summer sun goodbye, early fall takes us back to spring fashion. September temperature ranges between 18 °C (64) and 10 °C (50). Be prepared for strong winds and frequent rains in October. By November, temperature averages drop to 9-4 °C (48-39 °F). So here are our fall fashion essentials.
- Long-sleeved shirts and sweaters
- Jeans, pants or skirts with leggings
- Water- & wind-proof jacket
- A scarf
Winter in Amsterdam normally stays slightly above freezing, but the piercing wind, occasional hail and snow and guaranteed rain can cut right through. Daytime averages are between 5 °C (41 °F) and 8 °C (46 °F) while at night temperature varies in range of 0-3 °C (32-37 °F). So here are our Amsterdam winter must’s.
- Long-sleeved tops and sweaters
- Under-layer under the pants
- Winter jacket that’s both water & wind-proof
- Boots or sneakers
- Scarf, hat, and gloves
And off you go
Raincoats, bank cards, travel adapters — we’ve reminded you of all the travel essentials in Amsterdam. Not sure how long to visit our city? Read about how many days to spend in Amsterdam.
And to make sure you get the best experiences Amsterdam has to offer, we’ve curated Amsterdam’s best tours – run by local independent businesses.
We trust this helps you to plan your trip – whether it’s a weekend in Amsterdam or an extended stay. Enjoy our beautiful city!