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Amsterdam fun facts

If being in self-isolation is leaving you yearning for a holiday more than ever, here are 10 fun facts about Amsterdam. The ideal post-isolation city break destination. 

  • Amsterdam got its name from the Amstel river
  • Amsterdam is the new capital of the Netherlands
  • Amsterdam lies below sea level
  • Amsterdam has over 100 canals
  • There are over 2,000 houseboats in Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam is home to dancing houses
  • Amsterdam’s tap water is safe to drink
  • Amsterdam is home to some of the most famous museums in the world
  • Amsterdam’s floating flower market 
  • Amsterdam’s tourists drastically outweighs its locals

Amsterdam got its name from the Amstel river 

Amsterdam was founded as a fishing village in the 12th century. The city grew around the Amstel river and was protected by a dam that prevented flooding from the  ZuiderZee (South Sea). Thus the name Amsterdam was given to the city as a combination of Amsel and Dam. 

Image by Giorgio Baresi

Amsterdam is the new capital of the Netherlands 

Amsterdam only became the official capital of the Netherlands in 1983. Prior to this, everyone assumed that Amsterdam was the capital but it was never official. Despite being the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam isn’t the political capital. The Netherlands government buildings are actually housed in Hague.

Amsterdam lies below sea level 

Half of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, is situated below sea level. In the 12th and 13th century, residents would dig ditches and remove water to pump windmills. This resulted in the ground getting progressively lower to the point where half of the Netherlands now remains 2 meters below sea level. Without the dikes and dunes that are enforced every year, the Netherlands would be submerged underwater.

Amsterdam has over 100 canals 

There are 165 canals across Amsterdam, which separate the city into 90 different islands. The majority of them were built in the 17th century, during the Dutch Golden Age. They now have a combined length of 100km. Amsterdam is notorious for its canals, so much so that the historic Canal Belt, or ‘Grachtengordel’ in Dutch, is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. 

There are over 2,000 houseboats in Amsterdam  

Amsterdam’s canals are home to 2,500 houseboats, many of which have been afloat for centuries. Houseboats are either wooden or concrete, with the concrete ones being most desirable. If you own a wooden houseboat you are legally required to take it to a shipyard every three years for repairs and to be painted. The majority of the boats are residential, however, you can find hotel houseboats and even museum houseboats. 

Amsterdam is home to Dancing Houses

The Dancing Houses of Amsterdam are famous. Found on the edge of the Damrak canal these houses get their name from their crooked appearance. Originally built as both houses and offices for wealthy bankers, the soil these houses were built on was so swampy that they had to be built on stilts. This caused the houses to wobble and sink slightly, making them off-balance. The Dancing Houses are a regular tourist attraction and a highlight of Amsterdam. 

Amsterdam’s tap water is safe to drink 

Amsterdam’s tap water is the cleanest in the Netherlands. Above this, the Netherlands has the cleanest tap water in Europe. 

Amsterdam is home to famous museums

Not only is Amsterdam home to some of the most famous museums in the world, but it also has more museums per square meter than any other city. Famous figures, such as Anne Frank and Van Gough, have museums in Amsterdam, alongside the Rijksmuseum and the Amsterdam museum.

Image by emoro from Pixabay

Amsterdam’s floating flower market 

The Netherlands is well known for its flowers, specifically tulips. The iconic floating flower market of Amsterdam has been in business since 1862. It is now one of the most famous flower markets in the Netherlands. To this day, all the stalls of the market are located on boats as a remembrance to when flowers were delivered to the Netherlands by boat. 

Image by jimderda

Amsterdam’s tourists drastically outweigh its locals

Amsterdam is visited by roughly 14 million tourists per year. 4.5 million of these tourists travel from the Netherlands, with the rest travelling from around the globe. Amsterdam is home to only 821,000 residents, meaning that the tourists drastically outnumbers the locals. 

Another fun fact about Amsterdam is that Laundryheap operates from the city. If you are visiting Amsterdam and need your clothes laundered you can book your slot via the Laundryheap website or on the app. 


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Amsterdam: Must-Haves For Your Trip

Amsterdam is ripe with history, culture and excitement. The city has something for everyone, with priceless work of arts and historic architecture coexisting harmoniously alongside coffee shops (marijuana dispensaries) and the red light district.

It is always worth thinking ahead and deciding what to pack for your trip in advance. So, whether you are travelling from within Europe or coming from further afar, make sure you come prepared.

  • I Amsterdam City Card
  • Maestro Card/ Cash
  • Waterproof Clothing 
  • OV-Chip Card
  • Bring Earplugs
  • Backpacks Over Suitcases
  • Comfy Shoes Over Clogs
  • Don’t Forget Your Travel Adaptor
  • Study A Map Of Beforehand
  • Carry ID At All Times

I Amsterdam City Card

 The I Amsterdam City Card offers you a unique way to explore the Dutch capital. The card will give you admittance to the majority of the cities main highlights, including more than 70 museums, public transport, canal cruises, discounted dining and bike hire. 

You can order your card online before you reach the city and have it shipped home, to your hotel or pick it up once you arrive. If you are already in town, you can pick it up straight away – there’s no processing time. This card comes with a booklet, map and magazine, perfect for planning your trip as soon as it arrives. Alternatively, you can download the I Amsterdam City Card App to check out some of their recommended itineraries. 

Maestro Card/ Cash

If you have not travelled to Amsterdam before you won’t be aware that most supermarkets don’t accept anything other than maestro cards. Likewise, with smaller businesses like cafes, bars and restaurants have a similar policy regarding credit cards.   

You do not want to be that unsuspecting Visa or Mastercard user who’s card gets rejected after enjoying a three-course meal in a posh restaurant. For that reason, be sure to either have a maestro card at hand or carry cash with you at all times. But, there is no need to worry too much, though, as there is an abundance of ATM’s scattered around the city. 

Waterproof Clothing 

Amsterdam weather can be very unpredictable all year round, but chances are if you are there for more than two days you’ll see some rain. With this in mind, we advise you to pack several items of waterproof clothing. A good rain jacket and some a sturdy pair of boots should do the trick.

OV-Chip Card

Amsterdam is renowned as a cycle-city, but it’s public transport is comprehensive and efficient. To travel on public transport in the city, you will need an OV Chipcard. Buses, trams, trains and metro services require this useful smart card to gain access. 

Thankfully, there is no specific OV Chipcard for tourists. We recommend using the single-use chipcard or an ‘anonymous’ OV Chipcard. You can purchase your OV Chipcard at public transport service desks, ticket machines at train stations, tobacco shops and in several supermarkets. 

Bring Earplugs

Amsterdam’s city centre can be a particularly busy place both during the day and at night. As a result, the noise levels can be extremely loud and keep you awake at night if you stay in the centre of the city. It is worth packing a pair of noise-cancelling earplugs. This will ensure you get enough rest to see all the sights in the day.

Backpacks Over Suitcase

When packing for your trip to Amsterdam, try to remember that many of the cities streets are cobbled and not ideal for suitcases. A good size traveller backpack will serve you perfectly well in the city. This is especially true if you are only staying for a few days.

Comfy Shoes Over Cloggs 

Do not be fooled by Amsterdam’s flat terrain, walking around the city all day will leave a mark on your feet. To avoid blisters and bruises, make sure you pack comfy trainers or sturdy boots. Also, you will undoubtedly find yourself riding a bike at some point. This calls for suitable footwear with high-grade calf support. The Dutch may have historically worn Clogs on their feet, but times have evolved and so has the footwear.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Adaptor 

Like most other countries in the EU, the Netherlands power sockets have two prongs. So, if you are travelling from any non-EU country, we recommend buying a travel adaptor before arriving in Amsterdam. You do not want to reach your hotel without access to your phone charger or beard trimmer when you have big plans in the city that night. 

Study A Map Of Amsterdam Beforehand

The Dutch Capital has a notoriously confusing layout, thanks to the endless canals that curve around its oldest and more central neighbourhoods. For this reason, we recommend consulting a map before you get to the city. It is almost inevitable that you will get lost on your first outing onto the canals,that is why identifying key landmarks beforehand can help you find your bearings. 

Carry ID At All Times

If you are not a native Amsterdamian, you probably won’t be aware that in the Netherlands you are required by law to carry ID at all time. Due to this law, you must remember to carry a form of photo ID card at all times. Although it is not common, police officers can fine you if you do not have identification present on request. 

If you are thinking of travelling to Amsterdam follow these tips, stay safe and enjoy your trip. If you require a laundry service on your trip, Laundryheap is here to help with all your laundry worries.