Travelling to Amsterdam alone? Here are ten thoughts I had from when I recently travelled to Amsterdam alone and what to expect…
As this time of year is such a drag with the Christmas buzz feeling like a somewhat distant memory now and spring feeling like an absolute age away, it’s that time of year where we start to daydream about our next getaway. One of my favourite adventures is experiencing new cultures and being kept busy with plenty of things to do.
So as I’m sure you can imagine, I do love a city break, especially in Europe with all the culture and history each country has to offer. And seeing I haven’t gotten round to sharing this yet and seeing as it seemed like the perfect time to, so I thought I would share my thoughts with you on travelling to Amsterdam alone.
Despite considering myself as someone who loves to travel the thought of travelling solo is rather daunting to me as I’ve always travelled abroad with someone else. It’s not so much the going somewhere that worries me it’s more the issue of there being a language barrier and I end up feeling isolated or lost as I worry I can’t converse with local people (We aren’t great at learning other languages in the UK to be perfectly honest!). I’m also quite small which could potentially make me quite vulnerable.
As a result, it turned out I had a lovely time and would quite happily go back by myself again but below I’ve listed my thoughts and what actually happened. I can’t vouch for the whole of the Netherlands but the Dutch people in Amsterdam were incredibly good at just instantly speaking English to you and were very helpful and friendly.
Ten thoughts on travelling to Amsterdam alone
- Where to fly from?
I flew from Southampton Airport as it is literally within walking distance from my house. Although it’s only a small airport designed for business commutes as opposed to leisurely holidays, it was actually quite reasonable for one person to fly from. I weighed up the pros and cons of driving to Gatwick or Heathrow but it just made sense to fly from Southampton if you take fuel and airport parking into consideration. One of the other pros to take into consideration was that I literally went through security and was waiting in the waiting lounge within 20 minutes – no joke!
- Who should I book with?
I had a shop around as I love finding a jolly good bargain and found that Expedia was the best value for money to book with. They even gave me a load of Nectar points as a thank you.
- Hotel or hostel?
I wasn’t sure at first on whether to risk booking a hostel or just pay the extra and book a hotel. I looked into the prices and found that it was almost double the price to book a hotel so I did some research on the hostels Expedia was suggesting by looking at their ratings and reviews. As a result, I decided that I would book a hostel although I had to share with others, I was literally just there to sleep. So I’d recommend weighing up the pros and cons of costs, whether you’re okay with sharing a room and where you want to stay.
- Travel insurance
This is optional but I would very much recommend buying this to protect your belongings. I would strongly advise shopping around a bit and having a look at what each policy covers exactly as my sister had her phone stolen on holiday before and the insurance didn’t cover it. Whilst I took this into consideration, I had my camera, tablet and phone on me so wanted some kind of protection for them. It did mean I had to pay a little more but I would rather that than potentially being mugged and having no cover on my valuables.
- Plan ahead
Ask yourself what kind of holiday you want to have; sightseeing and culture or drinking and experiencing some of those renowned bars that Amsterdam has to offer. By creating a list of places or events you would like to see gives you an idea of what travel arrangements you need to make depending upon how far away your hotel/hostel is, if you’re leaving the city, how much money you have for what you have planned or even how much you should take with you. Something else that’s also worth bearing in mind is that some tourist attractions need to be booked in advance to guarantee tickets on set days, such examples are the Anne Frank House.
Things to be aware of on arrival
- Travel/attraction cards
There is a variation of travel and tourist attraction cards available to purchase on arrival or before you arrive. If you decide to travel within the city then you are best purchasing the GVB day travel card that can give you one to seven days travel; it can be used on the metro, trams and any public transport with the GVB logo. However, bear in mind that this won’t get you to and from the airport and can’t be used on travel outside of the city.
The other alternative is buying one of the OV chip cards which are essentially the Dutch version of the Oyster Card. You can use it on all public transport in and out of the city but be aware that you have to have at least 20 Euros on the card. Depending on what tourist attractions you intend to visit there are two options for attraction cards to purchase.
If you’re going out the city then the Holland Pass would probably be the best option for you. However, if you’re staying in the city then the IAmAmsterdam City Pass would be the best option. Both options can be purchased for several days and will either get you into attractions for free or provide discounts.
- City tours
There are several options for city tours via bus, boat or walking. I chose the walking tour as it was free and happening there and then but you were expected to tip at the end of it, so do bear that in mind! It lasted approximately two and a half hours and we were given a tour and full explanation of the Dutch universities, Jewish areas, Madam Tussauds, the royal palace, Red Light District and the Anne Frank House were just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.
It was really enjoyable and killed a couple of hours of my time that I had spare. While the bus tour, on the other hand, you are able to hop and hop off around the city and the canal tour gives you a full tour of the city via the canals.
The Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus is ideal if you are planning on seeing lots of Amsterdam’s iconic sights and is pretty flexible. However, both the walking and canal tours can be done in the evening so perhaps well worth doing one of each at various times of the day.
Amsterdam isn’t famous for its bikes for nothing! Bikes are one thing to be aware of in the city and if you get in the way of them then you might find a very angry Dutch person. Bikes are given right of way so try not to be one of those annoying tourists that get in the way of the locals.
- Is the city safe?
This was something that I was really worried about before going but other than the locals on bikes the city has a really liberal and friendly atmosphere. Obviously, keep your wits about you but I didn’t once feel scared walking around late at night by myself.
- Red Light District
If you’ve heard anything about Amsterdam then chances are the Red Light District is one of them. It used to be renowned as a really rough, no-go area but it was cleaned up some years ago and is now a thriving tourist area. You can avoid the areas that the prostitutes are in as they generally tend to be down small alleyways but if you do go down there, you are strongly advised not to stare or take photos.
Because it’s these ladies job and I was told by my tour guide that they may throw things at you or may not want their photos taken in case they are identified. In all honesty, I think that’s quite understandable.
And that’s my ten thoughts on travelling to Amsterdam alone. Have you ever been to Amsterdam before?
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