Amsterdam: FAQs

Where is Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. It is located in the Southeastern part of the province of North Holland, which is in the west of the country. The Netherlands — often also called Holland — is located in the Northwestern part of Western Europe. It is bordered in the east by Germany, in the south by Belgium, and in the west and north by the Northsea.

What language do they speak in Amsterdam?
The city is home to people from 187 nationalities, so you will hear a lot more than just Dutch and English. You will not need to know any Dutch in order to enjoy your visit to Amsterdam.

What does ‘Amsterdam’ mean?
The name Amsterdam is derived from the city’s origins: it grew around a dam in the river Amstel. However, the city may actually have been named after a dike built years earlier. Dam square — in Dutch simply, de Dam — is Amsterdam’s best-known square, and it is a handy central location from which to explore the medieval city centre.

What is the airport code for Amsterdam?
The IATA Code for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is AMS. The ICAO Code is EHAM.

How many canals are there in Amsterdam and can you swim in them?
Amsterdam has 165 canals — with a combined length of 100 KM (60 Miles) Yes and no. People do swim in the canals — illegally or at ‘official unofficial’ spots. And then there’s Amsterdam City Swim an annual fundraising event — prior to which extra sanitation of the water takes place.

What currency is used in Amsterdam?
The Netherlands is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. Until 2002 the Dutch Guilder was used.

What is a brown café?
A brown café is a pub with a dark wood interior, nicotine-stained ceiling and low-wattage lighting. You can find brown cafés throughout Holland, but Amsterdam features more of them than any other city in the Netherlands.

How much should I tip in Amsterdam?
While tipping is common, by law all prices in the Netherlands include tax and tips. However, leaving a tip (fooi — sounds like ‘foy’ with a drawn-out ‘o’) is customary in restaurants, bars, and pubs. [Tipping guidelines]

What is the weather like in Amsterdam?
The good news: the old joke about Amsterdam having four seasons a day is just not true. The bad news: at times it seems like it could be true anyway. Overall Amsterdam has the same mild climate as the rest of the Netherlands, but the weather in Amsterdam remains somewhat unpredictable.

Why is everyone wearing orange clothes?
Huh? We don’t. Well, actually, we do — but only on certain occasions. Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, which hails from the House of Orange.

What Yoga Clothes do I Bring?
*For yoga bring clothes that you can stretch and breathe in–but don’t over-bring clothes.  On any Yoga retreat fellow guests don’t care if they see you in the same outfits and you won’t be sweating to the degree that you can’t reuse what you have.  Therefore pack fewer pants, more shirts and not just athletic tops. Layers are always effective.

What Other Clothes Should I Bring?
*Bring shoes that you are comfortable doing some light hiking in, and also shoes that you are comfortable walking in-you will be doing a lot of walking!  In Europe, it is rare to wear athletic “running shoes” unless you are hiking or working out, so keep this in mind.
*Anytime of year bring layers of clothing (a sweater or jacket), as it will get cooler in the evenings.

Do I Need a Yoga Mat?
*Bring a yoga mat but remember there is no need to bring your best or heaviest mat.  If you are bringing your mat you might find it easiest to fold it like a book inside your checked bag.

What Else Should I Know?
*Go light on bringing electronics, if you need to bring something no need to bring your ipad, laptop,and iphone;  pick one.
*Yes towel service is provided everywhere but not like what you are used to here in the U.S. There is a lot less waste. It is also not standard in Europe to have wash clothes so if you like bring one of your own.
*Yes you will need Voltage Converter and Plug Adapters.  Some hair dryers, camera chargers, laptops and cell phones are dual voltage, but most need a voltage converter too.  Check the label on each item you plan to bring. If it says “Input 100V-240V 50 / 60 Hz,” the item is dual voltage and only needs a plug adapter. If you don’t find this information on your appliance, never plug it directly into a foreign wall outlet. You must use a voltage converter to “step down” the 220-volt current.
*Speak to your bank to ensure you have security clearance to use your credit card in The Netherlands and memorize your pin.
*Do check to find out what your daily ATM withdrawal limit is before going. This will be the easiest way to get cash.
*Make copies of your passport and tickets and keep them in a safe place in your luggage. If your passport is stolen, a copy will speed up the replacement process. Leave a second copy of your passport with a family member back home. It’s also a good idea to bring telephone numbers for your credit card company.
*Get some Euros before you leave. Go to your bank at home and exchange a small amount of cash, just enough for a cab ride or basic spending on arrival. That way upon arriving in Amsterdam and an ATM machine is down or hard to find, you aren’t stressed. But don’t go nuts exchanging too much. And don’t exchange money at the airport because they usually charge an exorbitant fee and they never give you the true going exchange rate, but always give you less in euros than your home-country currency is worth.

Packing List Essentials

• Airline Tickets
• Passport
• Wallet
• Picture ID
• Some Cash (in euros)
• Copies of hotel confirmations
• Emergency phone numbers
• Contact numbers to report credit cards lost
• Prescription and OTC medications
• Guidebook
• Currency converter
• Plug adaptor/convertor
• Camera
• Backup batteries
• Extra film or memory card
• Compression clothing bags or oversized zip lock bags to pack clothes flat and avoid wrinkles

Self-Care items to pack

• Travel alarm clock
• Book and magazines
• Glasses, sunglasses and contacts
• Anti-bacterial hand gel or wipes
• Hand lotion
• Small first-aid kit
• Non-perishable snacks while in transit

Clothing care to pack

• Travel-sized Woolite or laundry soap
• Sewing kit
• Wrinkle-free spray
• Compression clothing bags
• Oversized ziplock bags with cardboard to pack clothes flat to avoid wrinkles

Clothes (women) packing list

• Underpants and bras
• Skirts
• Dresses
• Slacks
• 1 pair Jeans
• Jacket and/or cardigan
• Sweater
• Coat
• Pajamas (save space by using casual tee-shirts for sleeping and daytime dressing)
• Shirts (long-sleeved, short-sleeved, casual and dressy)
• Hat
• Scarves (a couple take up little space, but are great for making the same outfit look different)
• Bathing Suit

Clothes (men) packing list

• Undershirt
• Briefs or boxer shorts
• Shirts (long-sleeved, short-sleeved, casual and dressy)
• Dress slacks
• Jeans or casual pants
• Jacket, blazer or cardigan
• Sweater
• Coat
• Pajamas (save space by using casual tee-shirts for sleeping and daytime dressing)
• Hat!!!
• Bathing suit

Toiletries to pack

• Small bottles (for toiletries)
• Toothbrush holder
• Toiletries bag
• Toothbrush and toothpaste
• Shampoo and conditioner
• Small brush or comb
• Cosmetics
• Soap
• Razor and shaving cream
• Sunblock
• Deodorant