Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Get to know what it’s like to visit this destination.
Getting To Know Amsterdam – Cruise Port Guide
Taking its names from a dam on the River Amstel, Amsterdam is the vibrant capital of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. It is one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe, offering culture, history, heritage and excitement. The city was founded in the 14th Century and quickly expanded due to trade and also its status as a tolerant and liberal society after Dutch independence in the 16th Century. This led to the Golden Age in the 17th Century when Amsterdam became one of the richest cities in the world, due to its status as the central trading and financial hub of the Dutch Empire which spanned the globe from Europe to the West and East Indies. After suffering devastation due to Nazi occupation during the Second World War, although the citizens rallied around the Jewish community to protect them whilst putting themselves at risk, the city rebounded and has made every effort to clean up its image to be one of the most popular cities to visit, with an average of 17 million tourist visitors annually, bringing new wealth and resurgence to the city. Welcome to our Amsterdam cruise port guide.
Port Location and Facilities
The Passenger Terminal Amsterdam is located in the heart of the city, a short distance walking (1.5km) or via public transport to Amsterdam Centraal Station and the city centre. Tram number 26 from Centraal Station towards IJburg stops at Muziekgebouw tram stop right in front of the passenger terminal. The terminal has tourist information and some souvenir shops, as well as being part of the Mövenpick Hotel and Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ concert hall complex. If your ship does indeed dock in Amsterdam, then you’re in for a fabulous treat as you sail in and out along the North Sea Canal and will be able to view the city skyline from your ship with spectacular panoramic views.
Although a lot of cruise ships do dock in the heart of Amsterdam, there are some that will berth in Ijmuiden and offer a transfer service for guests into the city. Ijmuiden is approx. 45-minutes by bus from Amsterdam, so take note of where your ship will dock when you are booking.
What not to miss
The largest railway station in the city of Amsterdam, this is where all major public transport links merge and the best place to start explorations of the city, due to its proximity or connection to many sights of interest. Opened in 1889, it is a stunning and dominating Gothic, Renaissance revival structure designed by Pierre Cuypers, also responsible for the design of the Rijksmuseum.
Built over what was once the dam on the River Amstel and where the city was founded, Dam Square is the historical centre of the city and surrounded by important landmarks. These include the Royal Palace, the Gothic Nieuwe Church, the National Monument dedicated to the victims of WWII and De Bijenkorf department store.
The Royal Palace
One of three palaces used by the Dutch Royal Family, it was originally the city hall before becoming a royal residence in 1808. Its neoclassical in design and was built in 1655 at the height of the Dutch Golden Age.
The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)
Built in the 15th Century, it is no longer used as a church but for exhibitions and for official royal investiture ceremonies.
Red Light District
The Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen) is world famous and a place many visitors wish to explore when they come to the city. It is actually one of the most beautiful parts of Amsterdam by day, with cobble streets alongside canals with cafes, bars and restaurants, impressive mixtures of architecture and shops. By night the area becomes a hive of activity with the bars usually full and people curious to see the seedy side of Amsterdam. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam in this area, so e warned that even during the day women do occupy windows clad in minimal clothing and that it is forbidden to take photographs of them. There are also lots of sex shops and peep shows, as well as a sex museum that are popular to visit. The city government are currently looking at further ways of cleaning up this area so that people can benefit more from its beauty, possibly even relocating the Red Light District to an out of town area. What must be said, is that the lure of the controversial side to Amsterdam brings tourists in and it is one of the most popular tourist areas of the city.
The Oude Kerk (Old Church)
The oldest building in Amsterdam founded in 1213, it is today a Calvinist church that hosts a centre for contemporary art. It is situated within the Red Light District of De Wallen.
This area of Amsterdam is where you will find three of the must visit museums in Amsterdam:
- Originally founded in The Hague in 1800, the current museum building opened its doors in 1885. With 8,000 items of art on display from a collection that numbers over 1 million pieces, this is the place to visit to experience the Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer. The Rembrandt masterpiece ‘The Night Watch’ is the highlight work.
- This museum for modern, contemporary and design pieces from the 20th to the 21st Centuries features works from renowned artists like Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Wassily Kandinsky.
- Van Gogh Museum
- A must for art lovers, housing the largest collection of work by Vincent Van Gogh in the world.
Anne Frank House
Known as the Secret Annex, this is the 17th Century canal-side residence that Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War and where she wrote her eponymous diary. It is the third most visited museum in the city, and it is highly recommended to book tickets online in advance as they sell out months ahead of time.
The third largest brewer in the world, Heineken can trace its routes back to 1873. The original brewery was closed in 1988 but is now preserved as a museum and visitor experience, with four levels of history, product development and the chance to sample, of course.
The Netherlands is famous for its flowers, most notably tulips, and where better to experience the best of floral Amsterdam than at this unique floating flower market dating to 1862.
Another thing The Netherlands is famous for aside from flowers is windmills. This wooden structure is the tallest windmill in the country standing at 26.6 metres high and has existed in some form since the 16th Century. It sits on a stone base once home to a watermill and part of the original 17th Century bastions of the city.
NoFlyCruises recommends https://www.iamsterdam.com/en the official visitor site for the city and operated by amsterdam&partners, originally known as Amsterdam Marketing.
The currency in The Netherlands is the Euro.
Being so close to water all around, Amsterdam experiences cold wet winters and cool but pleasant summers. Summertime in July and August experiences the warmest temperatures, which average around 17 degrees Celsius. If visiting the winter bear in mind that being low lying, the city can get rather windy, which makes it feel colder than it is.
Most of central Amsterdam is easily navigable on foot, being flat and fairly well organised. Some attractions are further out and so the well supported public transport network of buses, trams and metro can be utilised, using Centraal Station as your main starting point. For more information on public transport, including prices, routes and schedules check out https://en.gvb.nl/#
Many people want to experience Amsterdam from the water, and undoubtedly one of the main highlights of the city is its 60 mile canal network. You will find embarkation points for canal boat tours, which utilise boats with glass roofs to be used in all weathers and to be able to appreciate all the wonderful views, from docks around the city. The easiest ones to access are along the Damrak Waterfront, situated between Centraal Station and Dam Square.
For Hop On Hop Off services for both buses and canal boats, including information on the routes and prices, check out https://www.citysightseeingamsterdam.nl
Safety whilst ashore
Amsterdam has been consistently ranked in recent years in the top 10 safest cities in the world. However, petty crime in the form of pickpockets does occur so take care of valuables and personal belongings. If heading out at night stick to well-lit areas of the city. The Red Light District is well policed at nighttime, but still take extra precautions if out late and do not go out alone.
Where to Eat
NoFlyCruises recommends the following eateries:
Grizzly American, Warmoesstraat 64-H, 1012 JH Amsterdam, Netherlands
In the heart of the Red Light District, this cozy bar is one of the best places for comfort food in the form of burgers and steaks, as well as a large selection of drinks and a place to watch sports. Whilst the menu is heavily American influenced, they do have typical Dutch snacks such as bitterballs which are deep fried crispy meatballs, perfect for dipping in sauce and the ultimate pub snack in this part of the world.
Old Sailor Pub, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 39-A, 1012 DA Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of the best bars to visit in the heart of Amsterdam on the banks of the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in the Red Light District. Whilst not a place for fine dining, this pub has a great atmosphere and is one of the most popular bars in the city.
Key highlights of Amsterdam
- Centraal Station
- Dam Square
- Nieuwe Kerk
- Oud Kerk
- National Monument
- De Bijenkopf
- Red Ligh District, De Wallen
- Van Gogh Museum
- Anne Frank House
- Rembrandt House Museum
- Hermitage Amsterdam
- NEMO science museum
- Amsterdam Museum
- Heineken Brewery
Regular cruise line visitors
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- P&O Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Saga Cruises
- Viking Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
Cruise Expert Insider 🔎 Amsterdam Cruise Port by Cruise With Ben & David
We have visited Amsterdam many times on both Ocean and River Cruises but it’s a great option for a short break as it’s so close to the UK via Eurostar, a quick flight or ferry ride!
Amsterdam is a vibrant bustling city full of history, culture, food and entertainment. The city hosts festivals throughout the year and is a popular spot for short breaks so it can get very busy, especially on weekends as it’s a very popular destination for stag and hen parties.
One thing we love about Amsterdam is that it’s so compact and easy to walk around. Venturing further out is easy too as it has a great network of public transportation including busses, trams and canal boats.
When arriving on a river cruise you usually dock just a few meters from the centre making it the perfect floating hotel with a desirable location! When it comes to ocean cruising there are two different ports, one in the centre of the city, just minutes from all the attractions, as well as the port of Ijmuiden which is located around 20 miles to the North West of Amsterdam. It costs around 6 euros to take a bus to the centre of Amsterdam.
You can spend hours walking around enjoying the canals, the city’s architecture or seeing some of the more colourful parts of Amsterdam, such as the famous red light district. It’s easy to get lost among the vast network of streets and alleys. Just watch out for the many bikes!
There are walking tours available that will give you a great overview of the city. But if you are missing the water you can hop onto one of the many canal boat tours. There are loads to choose from including short tours, hop-on-hop-off tours and even full three-course dinner boat tours. These are a great way to see the city and find out about Amsterdam’s maritime and trading history.
We recommend combining your tour with a few attractions such as the Rock the City tour which includes a visit to the A’DAM Lookout for an amazing view of the city, the Heineken Experience as well as a guided canal cruise through the city.
You can also purchase the I Amsterdam City Card which combines all the city’s major attractions, a canal cruise and public transport. The card costs 65 euros for 24 hours so make sure you are getting the best value from the card, especially if your visit to the city is short.
The most popular attractions include Anne Frank’s House, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. These attractions are hugely popular and you must book your ticket online with a time slot before visiting.
For something a little bit different why not enjoy a Van Gogh inspired painting class? We really enjoyed the class, not only did we learn more about the history of Van Gogh but we also had a quick masterclass in oil painting from real artists. The class provided everything we needed to paint as well as coffee and delicious homemade cakes. It was a unique experience and at the end our paintings were wrapped to take home with us as souvenirs. If we say so ourselves, we did a pretty good job replicating Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings.
If you want to escape the hustle of the city, a great alternative is the ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. The vast zoo is located just a short tram ride from the centre and features many animals, an aquarium and exhibits set amongst beautiful gardens. Throughout the day the zoo offers walking tours, zookeeper talks and animal feedings. It’s a great choice for those with kids.
If you are lucky enough to spend an evening in the city with an overnight stay, Amsterdam’s nightlife is some of the best in Europe. The city has everything from small cafes and bars to full-blown nightclubs and world class classical orchestra performances. There’s something for everyone!