Finding your way in Amsterdam


You're planning a trip to Amsterdam, a city you have never visited or visited once before but don’t quite remember what is where. You've had plenty of recommendations but you are not quite sure where to begin. It’s not very clear where to go first and what to see later. Preferably you want an easy-to-follow route so you won’t find yourself running around the city like a headless chicken. You want to visit all those places on your list and you don’t want to miss a thing. You want the entire mind-blowing experience.

So how do you plan in advance? And how do you maximize your navigation skills like a true Amsterdammer? Below you will find the most useful tips to make your holiday easy, smooth and perfect.

Areas of Amsterdam and which tourists’ attractions are located in those areas 

Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
It is a small, compact city that contains a large variety of attractive areas in a small radius.
On one hand, Amsterdam is all about the breathtaking canals, lovely bridges, crooked houses, cafes and restaurants, and on the other hand, each area has its own unique magic with different attractions.


For your convenience, I have divided the Amsterdam city map into areas. For each area I've marked some attractions and places that you might find interesting.  
Centraal
Amsterdam Central station including a shopping center
Canal Tours docks
  
North Amsterdam
A'DAM Lookout
Eye Film Museum
  
Dam Square marked with ♥ because there where it all began
Royal Palace
Ripley's Believe It or Not
Madame Tussauds
de Bijenkorf department store
  
Red Light District
Sex services
Sex shows
Bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants
China town 
  
The inner city
Canal Tours docks
BODY WORLDS Amsterdam
Kalverstraat shopping street
Amsterdam Museum
Begijnhof
Amsterdam Dungeon
  
Rembrandt Square
Bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants
Rembrandt monument
  
Golden Belt
Anne Frank House
The 9 Streets
Boathouse Museum
Leidsestraat shopping street
    
Jordaan
Northeren Market
Winkel 43 cafe/bar
Narrow streets with independent shops
Traditional Jordaan bars
Restaurants
  
Leidse Square
Bars, pubs, restaurants
Concerts and dancing clubs
Theaters
Cinema
Holland Casino
  
The former Jewish Quarter
Portugese synagogue
Jewish Historical Museum
Hermitage Museum
Artis Royal Zoo
Hortus Botanicus
Waterloo Square Flea Market
  
Museum Square
Rijksmuseum
Van Gogh Museum
Stedelijk Museum
I Amsterdam Sign
The concert building
   
De Pijp
Albert Cuyp Market
Heineken Experience
Bars, pubs, restaurants
 

Plan in advance

  
Now that you have a slight clue about what is where, you can start planning your visit to Amsterdam in the most efficient way. Keep in mind that some of the areas are widely spread, meaning there is a chance that two attractions that belong to the same area won’t necessarily be close to each other, but rather be closer to another attraction that belongs to a different area.
 
During the planning phase I recommend you use Google Maps and search for the attraction name, for example Anne Frank House. Feel free to type in your own language—Google Maps will do the rest. Notice the menu that opens next to the map. On top of all the basic information it gives you, such as address, website, opening times, recommendations, reviews and so on, you also have the option to share, and check which other attractions are in the area.
Click one of the icons (Favourites, Want to go, or Starred places) and save on map.
You can also make a list; instead of clicking one of the icons, click + New list, which you will name – Amsterdam, of course. Once you have Amsterdam List on your Google Maps, whenever you want to save a place to that list, you click the list instead one of the icons.
  
Notice the live info—how busy Anne Frank house is at this moment (picture left below)

Easy-going vacation

  
If you are planning your trip on your computer and not on your smartphone, make sure to send all the attractions to your smartphone, so that when you finally arrive you have easy access to all the places you plan to visit.
If you are planning your trip on your smartphone's Google Maps app, don’t forget to mark all the attractions on the map, as well as your hotel, by adding them to your favourites, so you won’t have to type the name of the place over and over again.
 
Use Smart Technology
Every smartphone has the Google Maps app. Once you have overcome the fear of using it, you will find a whole new world in the palm of your hand.
With a few simple steps, you will turn into a master of navigation. And you can start answering your own question of how to get from A to B.
 
How to work the app
Once you open the app, click the info symbol ( i ) or the 3 balanced strips ≡
A menu will open. Enable the public transport option and real-time current location, so that Google can see where you are and the public transportation options. The map will find your location according to GPS data and mark it on the map.
 
Type the name of the site, or the address (you can also type the names of restaurants, clubs, pubs, museums, and even parks). The map contains all the tourist attractions and it works in all languages that Google maps supports! Try it—you can even write in your own language, and not necessarily in English or Dutch.
Now click Directions, choose if you want the directions to be from Your location and if not, type in a different location, choose if you want public transportation or walking or other. Next to each of the options you’ll see the indication to how long will it take you to get from A to B. Now click Start and follow the directions.
 
It’s simple, easy and so efficient
It’s much more efficient to type Dam Square in the app than starting to ask people: “Sorry, how do I reach to Dam Square from Eden Hotel?” It saves plenty of time and lots of confusion. No more waiting for answers; within a split second you will get the answer, maximum technology in reach.
 
Google Maps offers a wide variety of tourist solutions such as live navigation, addresses, street views and more.
  
Also offline
The app has an option of saving offline maps, meaning you can download a map of any area in the world and use it without Internet access. So even if you don’t purchase data packages for the country you're visiting, and you decide not to buy a local SIM card, you can still use the app.

To sum it up 

plan your days logically, based on the areas of Amsterdam, and map the days out in Google.
 
I suggest installing Google Maps on your smartphone while you plan your vacation, and play with it to get to know it.
 
Download the Amsterdam offline map to your smartphone before starting the trip (make sure you have 100-200MB memory free).
 
Don't forget all the extra information you can get from Google Maps on your home computer as well as on your smartphone during the trip: Address, Website, opening hours and reviews  for any business, tourists’ attraction or tourist site, on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Booking.com and Google.
 
Thank you for reading. I hope you found it useful.
Time to practice and wander around like an Amsterdammer.