Getting from Schiphol to Amsterdam - avoid taxis as they are so expensive and if they know you're a tourist they will take you a long route. There are trains right under Schiphol. Just follow the signs for trains. There are yellow and blue machines that sell train tickets, also a sales counter if you prefer. Trains are every 10 mins to central station. There is an info booth near the ticket machines and they can advise you of times if it's not clear from the screens. You need to scan your ticket before going on the train ( generally at Schiphol these are just by the escalators before heading down to platform) and also at central station you need to scan your ticket to get out.
Travel cards - you can now buy your travel cards on the trams, 24 hour and upwards. This is the cheapest way to travel. These cards are valid for tram, bus and metro. You can only pay by card on the tram. You need to check the card in every time you enter and leave the tram. The second last door of the tram is where you enter and exit from all others door.
Canal tour - best to get the tour from just in front of central station. Tours generally take an hour and are well worth doing as you get a great perspective of the city.
Walking - Just get lost in the canal belt, the canals are just a beautiful area to walk around, get to see all the old houses, some used to be warehouses for the wealthy shipping merchants to store their goods. Any of the houses with large wooden shutters outside used to be these store houses. Great cafes alond the canals.
9 Streets - This is just a specific area called the 9 streets just made up of independent shops and cafes etc. You can download an app I think that stores the map on your phone.
Eye museum - If you walk to the back of central station (there is a walking tunnel to the left of the station) you will get to the ferries that take you across the river. The ferry is free and it only takes a few mins. On the other side you will see the impressive Eye film museum (white building) there are multiple cinemas in there, plus a really nice restaurant that has amazing views back into Amsterdam which alone is worth a trip.
The Amsterdam tower - the old Dutch shell building converted into a viewing tower so you can get a bird's view of Amsterdam. For this you need to pay for an entrance but also there is a cafe on top with amazing views. Are you brave enough to get on the swing that takes you over the side of the building?
The main shopping streets is the Klaverstraat. It's a pedestrianised street that runs from both sides on the Royal Palace at Dam square.
When walking around shopping etc. note that Amsterdam has 3 main squares: being Dam (royal palace and shopping), Rembrandtplein (more cafes and hotels and clubs) and Leidseplein (mix of both and the famous Apple store)
For a good guide on what's on in Amsterdam and sights etc then look at www.iamsterdam.com
Most museums are located in the museum quarter.
The newly renovated Rembrant museum is well worth a visit, famous for the Nightwatch, you can pay for an additional audio guide that has a highlights tour to get the main attractions. The building itself is amazing after a 10 year redevelopment.
The Van Gogh Museum - this you can do quickly and to avoid the lines you van book your tickets online, as I am aware they sell tickets on timeslots to manage the crowds.
Ann Frank Museum - this is walking distance from Dam square heading west. This is always busy so do buy your ticket in advance, they have limited online tickets per day, otherwise you could be a few hours in line. My advice is get here early in the morning.
Red light district
This starts from behind the Krasnapolsky hotel at Dam square and goes up towards central station, basically just follow the tourists. This area is getting smaller year by year so its a must see if your a tourist its just a few canals lined with girls of the night and sex shops. It’s surprisingly friendly and full of tourists both day and night.
Just like every where else in AMSTERDAM keep your wallet and phone in your front pocket or in a crossbody bag. Pickpockets are every where. Also never leave your phone on a table in a bar, cafe or restaurant. Just be extra careful.
Heineken Experiences - if you like the beer its worth the trip.
Please avoid any of the restaurants on the Damrak, this is the main street from central station to Dam square. This is just a tourist trap with really bad food and expensive.
Some of my favourite places are as follows...
O Reilly's Irish bar - Its the classic Irish bar away from home and that O Reilly's just behind Dam square. Just good comfort bar food and great staff. Known for great Guinness plus if you're into the soccer they show games all the time. Open from 11am.
Tinner - this is my favourite brunch place, open from 10am and serves to 4pm
If your in the mood for cake just opposite here is De Drie Graefjes, they have multiple locations in Amsterdam
My favourite Italian is Casa di David. It's located on the Singel very near to the flower market. They have 3 or 4 tables by the window upstairs and if you call in advance try to book a table there as it's a special view. The shared appetizer and desserts are fantastic. Also if you tell the server you do not want to be rushed you can have a very relaxed evening here.
Pizza de Pizza Baker, multiple locations in Amsterdam and great value, look out for the pizza of the month, my favourites are the vegetarian pizza (goats cheese and caramelised onion) or the fennel salami pizza.
Dubbel, this is a go-to for steaks, ribs, burgers. It's quite close to Leidseplein, it's good...very good.
Burger Bar, if you're just in the mood for a burger this is the place, it's a kinda fast food feel, but really good. For me, the best burger in town.
In my hood there is De Hallen, it's the old tram halls of Amsterdam tram 17 or 7 to Ten Katemarkt stop. Here in the food hall there are 26 food vendors where you can order from and sit anywhere. You need to go pick up your food when its ready. There are central bars where you can get drinks and or coffe. In the centre of the food hall you will find a really famous gin and tonic bar with a great selection but be prepared the average drink is about €15 but as I am told worth it. Really study the drinks menu before ordering. I love this foodhall, it gets busy and if it's raining it will be very busy. But it's fun and have varied food to choose from. Some evenings they have live music.
Outside of the city...
Also for a nice trip outside Amsterdam, you have Haarlem or Utrecht both less than 30 mins by train from Amsterdam.
Guest written by our friend David - thanks David!