The public transportation in Amsterdam is very easy to use and really convenient. But in my opinion, a bike is the only way to really see Amsterdam!
Let’s start with the tram, which is sort of like the subway but above ground. I could not figure out how to buy a ticket. I was watching some locals get on before me and some of them didn’t seem to pay so I just got on. I didn’t pay! I couldn’t believe it. I would never do that in New York but it seemed to be OK…? It was very convenient (minus that whole paying thing). And is the way many locals get around. At least those that don’t have a bike!
But the truly local, and best way, to get around Amsterdam is by bike! Everyone rides bikes in Amsterdam. There are bikes literally everywhere. Outside of every restaurant there are at least 20 bikes locked up outside. It is the transportation of Amsterdam.
We found a Rent a Bike shop near Dam Square, one of the most popular spots in Amsterdam. It was a Sunday so it was absolutely packed. Trying to bike through the Square to the park where we could roam, I actually thought I was going to die.
The locals bike so fast and they just go on the street with all of the people, trams and cars. The cars drive fast, the people don’t move and there are tram tracks everywhere. Every bicyclist angrily rings their bell to tell you to move out of the freaking way. If you’re not comfortable biking, it’s really scary!
Beware of the tram’s track while biking. My front wheel got caught in the track and the bike flipped, sending me (in a dress I might add) with it. People gasped, whispers about my Americanness spread, my ego was bruised.
If you’re not a confident biker, then head to Vondelpark. The paths are less crowded and it’s much more enjoyable! You can also check out the famous “amsterdam” sign.
After the park, we headed to a makeshift park near the train station that an employee at the bike rental shop suggested. It was on the roof of the science museum high above the city so we got a great view. There were tons of people hanging out, sunbathing, drinking and kids splashing in little pools. Even though it was about 85 degrees, it was a perfect spot to stop during our ride. There’s a restaurant at the science museum if you don’t bring your own snacks and drinks.
Does one go to Amsterdam and not check out the Red Light district?
Here’s what to expect…
It’s an experience. Women in their underwear stand in front of lit up windows and motion to the men to come up to them. You’re not allowed to take photos of them and you’re not supposed to talk to them unless you’re serious about buying. They don’t want you to waste their time.
You’ll see men coming out of the doorways, especially after midnight, and lots of negotiating. We saw one couple negotiating with a woman for a threesome. Fifty Euro for one person, 100 for two. Yeah. I’m sorry but I’m not great with nudity so I was uncomfortable!
There are also people on the streets pushing the famous sex shows. This was one thing I just could not get myself to do. I was raised by WASPs! Sex shows just really don’t sound like my thing.
If you find yourself in Amsterdam with only one day, definitely grab a bike. It’s the best way to really see the people and city of Amsterdam. But no matter what, end your night at the Red Light District. You won’t regret it!