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 influence in it's development. Amsterdam is especially known for its beautiful historic centre with its charming canals and plentiful shopping streets. The city has a number of world-renowned museums and plenty interesting sights of international fame. The 17th Century Canal Belt has been deemed a Unesco World Heritage listing since the summer of 2010.
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.
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.
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 most shops remain closed. The main museums are open all year except on 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 (January 1st)
- King's Day (April 27th)
- Liberation Day (May 5th)
- Christmas Day (December 25th)
- Boxing Day (December 26th)
In addition, a number of dates (religious Christian holidays) are subject to annual variation:
- Good Friday (March 25th 2016)
- Easter (March 27th & 28th 2016)
- Ascension Day (May 5th 2016)
- Pentecost (May 15th & 16th 2016)
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 on working days. All banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Cash machines are always available and are ubiquitous in the centre. 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 €.
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.
In the Netherlands service is included in the price. Tipping is therefore not necessary and is considered a token of your appreciation. In that case a tip of 5% to 10% is appreciated.