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Arrive, tips, eat, depart,


Many visitors arrive at Schiphol Airport, just outside of Amsterdam, and there is a very easy rail connection that brings you right into the heart of town, described below. If you're traveling throughout the Netherlands, the train is an excellent way to see this beautiful country.

At the end of this page we offer a few suggestions for eating and drinking.


As you exit the train station in Amsterdam, Haarlemerstraat is immediately to your right, just a few minutes walk to get over here, and you will find some of the best shopping and eating in the entire city, although it's a place that's often overlooked by the visitor eager to get into the central part of Amsterdam at the Dam Square. Haarlemerstraat is more of a local street where you can kick back and mingle with the residents of Amsterdam. It's mostly a street for pedestrians and bicycles, although cars are allowed to drive here, but most Dutch don't want to drive a car. It's too difficult to drive in these narrow streets with bicycles all over the place.

This is one of the most surprising streets in Amsterdam, due to the variety. You can also find a lot of locals here. This has to do with the foods, the quality of food is quite good here, compared to like the center where it's not cheap. The street is called the Haarlemstreet because it goes to Haarlem. We describe Haarlem in one of our other web sections. It's a beautiful city just 18 kilometers away.

New York City’s origin was created inside the West India House, former headquarters of the West India Company, which ordered the construction of a fort on Manhattan Island in 1625. The same building is a restaurant now, the Café New Amsterdam, with its street side and courtyard terrace tables.

Haarlemerstraat in the evening is just as busy as during the daytime. This is Amsterdam's hip alternative district offering boutique specialty shops, delis, the perfect neighborhood for dining and bar hopping.

Another popular restaurant here is Café Harlem, famous for their nachos, their Caribbean soul food with Jamaican chicken, sandwiches and huge ribs, and famously friendly service. Nice that you can sit indoors or outside in their courtyard on the street, at the corner with Herenmarkt

This road continues for a kilometer with more shops along the way through a neighborhood called Haarlemebuurt with the Brouwersgracht canal on the side.

Free Ferrys

These ferrys are at the back side of the main train station, Amsterdam Central. There are three tunnels for bicycles and pedestrians that go underneath the station leading to the other side where you can catch the ferry. We're going to take you on a free boat ride.

The ferrys provide an essential service for pedestrians, cyclists and mopeds, bringing them from Amsterdam to North Amsterdam, just a few minutes away. Tthe boats arrive so frequently, every five or ten minutes during rush hour, so there's hardly any waiting time at all before boarding.

Oh, Amsterdam! You've got to love this city, where nearly everybody rides a bicycle. And the bicycles, scooters, pedestrians and visitors get a free boat ride across the river into downtown.

The boarding process works so well because people do it every day, they're used to it. It's an automatic reaction of making room for your neighbor, and letting people go in front or behind. It's another aspect of the Dutch social system of cooperation. People get along with each other and are always very polite, even though this is a crowded country with one of the highest population densities anywhere.

Digital countdown also assures people there is time to get on board, and if you miss this ferry, no problem, another ferry is coming along in a few minutes.

While crossing the harbor you'll enjoy some nice harbor views, including the Eye Film Museum, where they put on film festivals with Amsterdam Lookout Tower next to it, with observation decks, a hotel, restaurants and nightclubs.

The ferry arrives in Amsterdam North and the passengers very patiently get off the boat, walking, pushing their bicycles and mopeds. It's a very polite crowd of people navigating together. As soon as the ferry empties, the next crowd of people starts boarding. It's a very efficient system. The turnaround only takes a few minutes.

It's a free ride for the passengers, but of course somebody is paying for it. This is a lot of infrastructure going back and forth all day long. It's a wise use of government money that they raise by taxing the population and then returning it to the people by operating this excellent transportation service. Ultimately, providing a great benefit to the society because it helps people get around without polluting, without causing any traffic congestion, supporting the Dutch culture of riding bicycles and mopeds. Tourists are also welcome. No ticket or reservation required.

There is an efficient harmony of people casually walking off the ferry, while others are patiently waiting to board. There is a subtle rhythm here, almost like a choreography of the dance performance at a Broadway show. Considering it's morning rush-hour, people seemed quite relaxed, enhanced by that boat ride and fresh air.

These people look quite healthy. Nobody seems to be overweight. It's something to do with all the exercise they get by riding their bicycles and then walking.

The urban environment of Amsterdam encourages this kind of outcome, with its many bicycle lanes, pedestrian streets and compact urban development, where it's easy to get around by walking, or hopping on a tram, or riding your bike.

They've got an efficient double-decker bike rack garage here that holds thousands of bicycles, but this is nothing – they're planning on adding another 9000 spaces underwater that will bring the total number of bike spaces here at Central Station up to 22,000. That will make it twice as big as the current largest bike garage which is in the city of Utrecht. They are expanding these garages throughout the country, adding 100,000 new spaces for bikes before the year 2025.

Amsterdam Centraal

The train station has a very modern appearance, with a sleek, curved roof outside, with a wide road for bicycles in the middle and an elevated sidewalk on the edges. Upstairs, there's a road for buses, and inside it's like a shopping mall. It's open from early morning until late in the evening. They've also got a doctor and pharmacy here to take care of any medical needs you might have.

There is a canal and a busy collection of tramlines right in front of the train station. There are 14 different tramlines in Amsterdam and 11 of them stop here in front of the Central Station.

Prior to boarding the tram or train you tap your OV card on that machine to validate your ticket for the journey. You can purchase the OV chip card used for public transit throughout the country right here at a lovely shop, with very helpful clerks. The OV is like a debit card that's very helpful for traveling in the Netherlands.

Central Station is used by about 200,000 passengers daily, with domestic and international travel. Even though it gets quite busy, there is plenty of space here that can easily handle a crowd. And there are escalators that will take you up to the platforms where they have 15 train tracks. Most of the trains are double-decker and quite long, with huge capacity.

It's a busy plaza out front, with a wide street for cars and buses, and many bicycles and pedestrians. It's an easy walk into downtown from here. Or if you are departing, you'll probably be coming to the train station to carry on with your journey, maybe just take the train out to the airport.

Schiphol Airport

We're heading out to a Schiphol Airport and you don't have to worry about a schedule because trains leave the station every 10 minutes for the airport. There is no seat reservations in second-class. It's quite comfortable, and this trip only takes 13 minutes to get out to Schiphol.

When you get off the train and arrive at your destination, you've got a tap your OV card again to let the system know that you've ended your ride, so you get charged the proper amount for distance traveled. You can recharge the OVcard by adding more money to it at one of the self-service kiosks. The OV cards can also be topped up at many supermarkets and other stores throughout town.

From the track you go directly up into the terminal on a moving walkway, which brings you right up into the middle of the terminal check-in area, with nice clear signs to let you know which way to go to the gates and ticket counters.

If you have just landed at the airport, beginning your journey in the Netherlands, you want to be sure to go to this ticket counter and get in the short queue and purchase the OV card from the ticket agent here. Then you can use it right away for that short train ride into the city. On the other hand, if you're leaving the country now and are finished with the OV card and still have a balance in it, you go to the ticket counter and they will give you a full refund of any balance that you've got.

Of course they have many shops, including a supermarket, and more in the duty-free area. Schiphol is the world's second busiest airport for international travel, and often wins awards as Europe's best airport.

All that's left to do now is have a look at the signs,check your bearings, figure out which way to go to find your gate, and depart.


Beer-lovers will want to find their way to the Heineken Brewery (“Brouwerij”) at 78 Stadhouderskade, which is a little too far to walk from the center, so you can take tram number 16, 24 or 25 on Rokin, a major busy street. It used to be the main brewery until a few years ago, and now is a museum and visitors center, open from 10:30-7:30pm, weekends until 9:00pm, admission 21 euro, which includes a big tasting of beer at the end of the tour. The great thing about getting there around 5:30pm is that no other groups come in after you, so they don’t chase you out after one round of beer to make room for the next session. You might have time for three or four rounds, soaking up the party atmosphere with lots of people getting happy.

Drinking Dutch beer on tap is one of life’s great pleasures, and gin is also very popular here. But if you need stronger medicine you could visit any of the 160 coffeeshops where pot is legally served. Not in café or bar -- the sign out front must say “coffeeshop,” and you can then order from a menu of different kinds of weed to go with your coffee and snack. A more traditional institution is the “brown café” which usually has a plain wooden interior and simple foods to go with the drinks, and now there is a modern interpretation know as the “white café” where only the very hip show up. Some brown examples are De Prins and Het Molenpad, or try the white cafés at Morlang or De Jaren.

If you would like to take in some live music there are many clubs around town that can oblige, or you could take in a show at one of the major concert halls. The Bimhuis is the best place for jazz, presenting 150 concerts every year featuring some of the world’s great stars; or if your tastes lean more to the classical, the Concertgebouw, with perfect acoustics and a performance nearly every afternoon and evening.


Café Nieuw Amsterdam

In the midst of the bustling Haarlemmerbuurt you can find this modern bistro for a nice, laid-back diner, excellent wines and high-quality cocktails. All of that right in the heart of Amsterdam, with the West-Indisch Huis as our stunning décor.  Haarlemmerstraat 75

Café Harlem

Famous for their nachos, their Caribbean soul food with Jamaican chicken, sandwiches and huge ribs, and famously friendly service.  Haarlemmerstraat 77

Some restaurant recommendations from:

De Kas

This unique restaurant in Amsterdam is located in a set of greenhouses that date back to the 1920s. They used to belong to the Amsterdam Municipal Nursery. The menu changes to whatever they have available and harvest, as they grow their own herbs and vegetables. Together with the best additional ingredients from local suppliers, you will be in for a big flavor sensation. You should always reserve a spot in advance, but it’s worth it. Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3

Restaurant ‘t Zwaantje

For Dutch authentic food you’d have to go to this restaurant. From stamppot to mussels, it’s all here and this local restaurant is located in a sort of brown cafe. Berenstraat 12, one of the Nine Streets

Restaurant Jun

If you’re looking for excellent Indonesian food in Amsterdam, then this is for you. Of course they offer rijsttafel, so you can get a real taste of what Indonesian food is like. Frederik Hendrikstraat 98,


At this lunch cafe they use organic and local products whenever they can, for salads and sandwiches, the best juices and more. While it’s a very small and cosy, it’s definitely worth a visit. You can also visit Vinnies for your daily dose of breakfast as it opens very early. Nieuwezijdse Kolk 33

Eetsalon van Dobben

For some typical traditional Dutch food go to Eetsalon van Dobben, and a local snack called kroketten, or croquettes. It’s one of the best places for cheap eats in Amsterdam, so if you’re looking for food but are on a budget go to Eetsalon van Dobben. Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat 5-7-9

Bakers & Roasters

At this great breakfast spot you eat some of the best eggs benedict.  This breakfast cafe is a mix between New Zealand and Brazil, plus incredible coffee. Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54


A favorite spot to go for a drink, especially during spring, summer and the beginning of autumn Waterkant is completely filled with people, enjoying every sun ray that they possibly can, with a drink of course. Marnixstraat 246