Useful information about Amsterdam & the Netherlands

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has its origins in the 12th Century. It was granted city rights in 1300. It made its mark as a trading post, and the city's ever present water had a major part in this development. Amsterdam is also known for its beautiful historic centre with its charming canals and plentiful shopping streets. Amsterdam has a number of special museums, and other interesting sights of international fame. Many historic places can also be found outside the city, and they are well worth a visit. Most places are easy to reach and open throughout the year.

Passport / Visa

Any visitor to the Netherlands must be in possession of a valid passport. Visitors from the United States, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Canada do not need to apply for entry visa to the Netherlands, so long as they are not staying for more than three months. Otherwise, visa arrangements must be made.

Language

Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands as well as Flanders (Belgium). Historically speaking, Dutch has a number of similarities with the English and German languages because it is rooted in the Germanic language family. Afrikaans also bears a strong likeness as this language evolved from the Dutch in the 17th century. Thanks to these similarities many Dutch people are well able to communicate in English and German.

Tourist information

Amsterdam has a number of Tourist Information Offices where relevant information is available, such as itineraries, opening times of tourist sights, support with booking excursions and hotel reservation inside and outside the city, the museum pass and general tips on Amsterdam. A large office is located on Stationsplein, right in front of Amsterdam Central Station. Another tourist information office can be found in the Leidsestraat. Both are within walking distance of the Ambassade Hotel. Schiphol Airport also has a tourist information office. Naturally, Ambassade Hotel staff are also in a position to provide information.

National Holidays in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, 9 days per year are set aside as national holidays. On such days, banks and some shops remain closed. The main museums are open all year except January 1st. Our reception staff will be able to advise you accordingly.

A number of dates are fixed, and recur every year:

  • New Year's Day (1 January)
  • Queen's Birthday (30 April), From 2014 and on King's Birthday (2014: 26 April, 2015: 27 April)
  • Liberation Day (5 May)
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • Boxing Day (26 December)

In addition, a number of dates (religious Christian holidays) are subject to annual variation:

  • Good Friday (2013, 29 March)
  • Easter (2013, 31 March - 1 April)
  • Ascension Day (2013, 9 May)
  • Pentecost (2013, 19-20 May)

Payment in the Netherlands

The Netherlands are part of the European Union, whose currency is the euro. This is available from banks and cash machines. In the Netherlands, banks are open from 09.00 to 17.00 hrs on working days. Dutch banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Cash machines are always available. Various exchange offices offer a currency exchange service to euro. This service is also available at the hotel reception desk. You can use credit cards in most places in Amsterdam. In general, the following cards are accepted: American Express, Visa, Eurocard/Mastercard, and Dinersclub. Other credit cards and foreign debit cards are not always accepted. The same also applies to (large) euro bank notes of 100 € and 500 €.

Tax-free Shopping

Visitors from outside the European Union can claim back any pre-paid V.A.T.. This is, however, subject to certain regulations, i.e. only if the goods were bought in the relevant "Tax-Free for Tourists" shops, at an amount in excess of 136 €, and if the goods are to be forwarded to their country of destination within three months from purchase. The original purchase receipt must be stamped and kept for presentation. Unfortunately, V.A.T. on hotel accommodation is not reclaimable.

Tipping

In the Netherlands, service is included in the price, as a matter of principle.
Tipping is not necessary. However, if the service you have received has been to your satisfaction, you may wish to tip 5% to 10%.