Getting Around Amsterdam Without Looking Like a Tourist

Amsterdam is among the most visited cities in the world. We are talking about millions of people who visit the city every single year.

It is a large city with a lot of history. Seeing all in one take is not possible.

That is why I would like to provide you with several tips for Amsterdam commuting and how to see as much as you can at once.


Exploring Amsterdam on foot


Exploring Amsterdam on foot is not only a pleasure but also the most immersive way to appreciate the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Walking allows visitors to take in the intricate details of the Dutch capital, from the historic architecture of the Canal Ring to the bustling street markets of Jordaan.

To go through the city effectively, it’s advisable to start with a map or a digital navigation app that highlights pedestrian zones. Amsterdam is renowned for its extensive network of sidewalks and dedicated pedestrian streets, especially in the city center and areas like the Nine Streets and Dam Square.

When walking in Amsterdam, it’s essential to be aware of bicycle lanes, which often run adjacent to or are integrated with pedestrian paths. Always check both ways before crossing these lanes, as cyclists tend to move quickly and have the right of way.

For an authentic experience, explore the areas around the University of Amsterdam where many local students and academics frequent, or take a leisurely stroll through Vondelpark, a favorite among locals for a sunny day out.



Amsterdam’s public transportation network is a seamless way to travel around the city, efficiently connecting various districts through trams, buses, and metros operated by GVB.

To navigate this network like a local, purchase an OV-chipkaart—available at most stations, supermarkets, and newsagents. This card can be loaded with credits and used for all modes of public transport across the city, offering a convenient and cost-effective way to travel.

To avoid the crowds, try to skip travel during rush hours, typically early mornings and late afternoons on weekdays. Also, familiarize yourself with the tram and bus routes using the GVB app, which provides real-time updates and schedules.

While trams are ideal for short distances within the city center, buses, and metros can be excellent for reaching outer neighborhoods or attractions like the Amsterdamse Bos Park or the modern suburbs of IJburg.


Transportation in Amsterdam


Cycling is not merely a mode of transportation in Amsterdam—it’s a fundamental aspect of the city’s identity and daily life. The city’s flat landscape and comprehensive network of over 400 kilometers of bike lanes make it ideally suited for bicycles.

For visitors, navigating Amsterdam by bike is both easy and enjoyable. Bike rental shops are plentiful and cater to all needs, from standard bicycles to cargo bikes and electric bikes.

These shops often provide not only bicycles but also essential accessories like helmets, locks, and even rain gear.

Maps highlighting preferred bike routes and major attractions are usually available, and some shops offer guided tours that focus on different aspects of the city—from historical landmarks to culinary hotspots.

Before setting off, familiarize yourself with local cycling etiquette. Amsterdam’s cyclists are known for their brisk pace and adherence to unwritten rules of the road. It’s important to signal when turning and to always lock your bike to prevent theft, a common issue in the city.

One of the most enchanting routes for cyclists is along the Amstel River. This path takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, offering peaceful views of pastoral landscapes, traditional Dutch windmills, and quaint riverside cafes where you can stop for a traditional Dutch snack like a broodje haring.

Another rewarding cycling experience is the route through Waterland. Starting just north of Amsterdam, this area feels worlds apart from the city. It features expansive meadows, historic dykes, and charming villages such as Broek in Waterland, a picturesque town with well-preserved wooden houses. Cycling here allows you to appreciate the serene waterways and the lush greenery that characterizes the Dutch countryside.

Canal Cruises and Ferries


Amsterdam’s canals offer a unique perspective of the city, weaving through major landmarks and historic neighborhoods. While canal tours are popular among tourists, choosing less commercial options can provide a more genuine experience.

Opt for smaller, eco-friendly boats that take quieter routes, or even rent a private boat to explore at your own pace.

The ferry service is another excellent way to see Amsterdam, connecting the central city to the northern districts like Noord, a rapidly developing area with a vibrant arts scene and excellent eateries.

Ferries are free, depart regularly, and offer a delightful view of the IJ River. To blend in, avoid the busiest times, typically during morning and evening commutes, and enjoy the calm of an off-peak journey across the water.

Practical Tips for Seamless Navigation

Navigating Amsterdam like a local requires avoiding common pitfalls that can make you stand out as a tourist. Steer clear of busy souvenir shops and eateries in the central areas and opt for local boutiques and cafés instead.

Utilize apps like Google Maps for real-time navigation and 9292 for public transport timings. These tools are invaluable for planning efficient routes and staying updated on any travel disruptions or changes.

Cultural integration is also crucial. Attempt to learn basic Dutch phrases, understand local dining etiquette, and always respect cycling lanes—a vital element of Amsterdam’s infrastructure. These small steps will not only enhance your experience but also earn you appreciative nods from locals.

Recommended Routes and Itineraries

Combining all modes of transport can significantly enrich your Amsterdam experience. Start with a morning walk in the quieter neighborhoods like De Pijp, then hop on a tram towards Central Station.

From there, a short ferry ride can take you to Amsterdam Noord for a midday exploration. Rent a bike in Noord and cycle towards the eye-catching A’DAM Lookout and the artistic NDSM wharf.

For those seeking hidden gems, visit the eastern docklands (Oostelijk Havengebied), known for its modern architecture and less-traveled paths. Wrap up your day with a sunset canal cruise, which will give you a mesmerizing view of the city as it winds down.

These itineraries provide a balanced blend of tourist attractions and local favorites, ensuring a comprehensive Amsterdam adventure.

Miljan Radovanovic
Miljan Radovanovic

As a content editor at, I play a crucial role in refining, controlling, and publishing compelling blog content that aligns with our strategic objectives and enhances our online presence. Outside of my professional life, I am passionate about tennis and have a rich history in football, which have both instilled in me the values of discipline, strategy, and teamwork.