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Updated: 24 October 2021.
Solo travel to Amsterdam is very popular among adventurers planning their first trip to Europe. And, really, can you blame them for loving the biggest city in the Netherlands so much? Without a doubt, Amsterdam is beautiful, significant (both historically and culturally), and lots and lots of fun.
This isn’t brand new information, haha. We’ve known it for decades.
Furthermore, Amsterdam is also easy to reach for international travelers since it is home to a major airport, as well as abundant train and bus connections from all over Europe. And solo travelers (a lot of them, anyway) like ease. I know when I’m alone, the less I have to think about logistics, the better I feel.
Anyway, since solo travelers LOVE this famous city so much, I decided to put together this guide for everyone planning to go traveling to Amsterdam alone.
Although some naysayers exist (seriously, there are travel snobs who write off the entire city as too touristy. say what?), I still think Amsterdam is a wonderful destination for solo travelers. I would absolutely visit here again.
Should You Do a Solo Trip to Amsterdam?
The first (and biggest) question to ask yourself: should you take a solo trip to Amsterdam or opt for another European city instead of the Dutch capital?
Think carefully about your answer. You’re spending a lot of money, after all.
First and foremost, are you a brand new solo traveler? Or are you an experienced traveler, one who has many trips already under her belt?
Because, to tell you the truth, I think the answer to this “should I go to Amsterdam?” question highly depends on your own comfort level and what annoyances you are willing to tolerate in a new destination.
New Solo Travelers
Okay, now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, here’s what I think for novice travelers planning to go to Amsterdam.
Personally, I feel like a solo trip to Amsterdam works for a certain type of new traveler.
As you probably know, Amsterdam is well-known for it’s libertine atmosphere regarding drugs and prostitution. You see “coffeeshops” throughout the cities, as well as women posing in the windows in the Red Light District. This is nothing new. We all know it.
However, consider your personal comfort zone. Are you easily bothered by rambunctious stag parties or intoxicated individuals? Would you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or even angered over these nuisances?
You know yourself best. For example, do you feel like turning the street corner, smelling a cloud of marijuana, and seeing loud and drugged tourists acting obnoxiously would bother you enough to spoil your trip? If so, then you don’t want to come to Amsterdam alone.
For sensitive (for lack of a better word) travelers who have their hearts set on seeing this city, then I’d recommend staying in nearby quaint Haarlem and take a 15 minute train ride to Amsterdam in the day time. That way, you’ll still sample Amsterdam’s coolness and have a quiet home base for sleeping and eating dinner.
I’m not saying Amsterdam is only a den of sex work and drugs. Amsterdam is so much more than that stereotype. At the same time, these things exist, and the party-happy tourists can be hassle depending on your personality. I don’t want to lie to you.
Experienced Solo Travelers
As for experienced travelers, Amsterdam is a wonderful choice for you, although I have a feeling that the tourist hordes and tackiness near the central station and Red Light District will make you roll your eyes.
However, the crazy tourists wouldn’t overwhelm you enough to spoil your trip either. Instead you’ll do a great job avoiding them and finding the hidden gems that still exist in Amsterdam!
On the flip side, experienced solo travelers will love exploring boutiques and cool eateries in neighborhoods such as Jordaan and de Pijp. They’ll also go to the artists’ open air markets and venture outside of Amsterdam to unique cities such as Hoorn and Rotterdam.
As I’ve already said, Amsterdam is a wonderful place. Truly. I think travelers who have done solo trips would have an amazing time exploring some of the Dutch capital’s lesser known neighborhoods and attractions. They do exist.
Read More: How to Spend 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
Why Solo Travel to Amsterdam is Awesome
Now let’s talk about why Amsterdam might be a great option for your next adventure.
Firstly, solo travel to Amsterdam is easy due to the great public transportation and abundance of world class attractions.
For instance, I love getting lost in museums all by myself. Having no one to rush me through the exhibits always lends to a great experience. Why is this so cool for me? Because Amsterdam’s home to several brilliant museums. For example, Rijksmuseum has a large collection of art by the Dutch Masters and it’s easy to understand why it’s one of the most visited museums in the entire world.
Not to mention, since solo travelers love Amsterdam, you won’t stand out as a target. It’s not uncomfortable asking for a table for one at the cute corner cafe. The Netherlands knows how to take care of visitors.
You’ll have a great time traveling to Amsterdam alone, especially by planning ahead of time. I don’t think Amsterdam is a destination where you need to stress out much.
Anyway, these are my top five suggestions for all solo travelers coming to Amsterdam. Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.
Important Solo Travel Amsterdam Advice
Stay Alert at Night in Amsterdam
Full disclosure: I chose not to explore Amsterdam much at night and purposely avoided the Red Light District area at that time.
It’s always a smart idea for solo travelers to stay alert in Amsterdam at night. I mean, although it’s skinny row homes are picturesque, Amsterdam is still a big city, and as a result, comes with typical big city problems. I will say, though, that violent crime is very rare. I felt safer walking around Amsterdam than parts of Philadelphia and Seattle – without a doubt.
Now, you definitely want to experience this city after dinner and drinks. I promise a night walk is worth your energy.
After all, Amsterdam is very pretty at night, particularly if you take a canal tour and see all the lovely lights glowing on the bridges’ archways. You don’t want to lock your doors at night. Paranoia isn’t necessary.
However, I’ve heard from multiple people to specifically avoid the Red Light District at night. This area is perfectly safe during the day with plenty of tourists and locals in the street, but night apparently draws in a much seedier crowd.
As a woman who travels alone, I’d advise staying out of the Red Light District and stick to other neighborhoods once the sun goes down.
See Neighborhoods Outside the Tourist Core
Amsterdam’s major tourists center do have pretty buildings, I’ll admit it. For example, in Dam Square, I really thought Koninklijk Palace (Royal Palace) was a stunning work of architecture.
Yet, the cheesy souvenir shops and Madame Tussauds (sorry, not a fan) definitely took away from the atmosphere. I went to Amsterdam in the summer, which is the height of tourist season, and sometimes the crowds were just too much.
Luckily, it seems like most tourists stay on the same two or three streets, and leave the rest of the city alone.
Like all of Europe’s capitals, you need to branch out into the local neighborhoods to find the true magic of Amsterdam. So move away from Dam Square and the Red Light District.
Be Careful with Your Travel Budget
Argh, Amsterdam’s expensive, folks.
Your wallet might not like a trip to Amsterdam – especially with accommodation in high season (aka summer). The most popular hostels sell out fast, and apartment owners raise their prices with the high demand. You need to plan well in advance to score the best deals on accommodation.
One way to do that is to stay outside the tourist core. And honestly, picking a place a little further from the attractions will give you a chance to see Amsterdam’s true charm.
Moving on. What about the most popular museums and attractions? They cost a pretty penny – erm, Euro – too.
I don’t want to sound like a miser here. There are still some ways to save money in Amsterdam. For example, free walking tours are great for learning about Amsterdam all for the price of a tip. Just be careful.
Don’t Feel Scared to Go Outside of Amsterdam
Don’t skip the several amazing day trips to take from Amsterdam, simply because you’re traveling alone and feel nervous about venturing outside of the city.
Amsterdam’s public transportation system is amazing. Seriously, I was spoiled rotten using Amsterdam’s great bus and train connections. Not to mention, the tickets are affordable, and the routes go everywhere.
You can book organized tours to go to places such as Zaanse Schans, but I’d honestly recommend going alone and taking your time, seeing everything on your own schedule and not a bigger group’s rigid itinerary.
Ultimately, solo travel to Amsterdam is wonderful, but go outside the city too for more adventures!
Read More: Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting?
Avoid the Drugs
Okay, time to address the elephant in the room.
Amsterdam is popular with the party crowd due to the availability of soft drugs. And I promise I’m not judging anyone, but still, you should avoid drugs if you’re traveling alone.
First of all, cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands. Yes, you correctly read that. Growing and selling weed is against the law. Personal use is tolerated, but as far as the law goes, you’re breaking it.
I don’t advocate breaking the law at home, and definitely not on a solo trip in a brand new country. Although you’ll unlikely be arrested for marijuana use, you can’t always trust the quality due to the legality and might end up sick.
Solo Travel Amsterdam Essentials
Let’s get into the important essentials for your trip to Amsterdam. Although the canals are adorable, don’t be deceived: Amsterdam is a big city. You don’t want to waste time shopping for important items or struggle for a place to stay, especially if you’re traveling alone to Amsterdam.
What to Bring to Amsterdam
Below, I’ve listed a few items to bring to Amsterdam any time of the year. Don’t leave these things at home! It’s easiest to just have them rather than shop for them later.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Amsterdam’s gorgeous cobblestones may look pretty, but they can feel rough on your feet! And you’ll walk a lot on a solo trip to Amsterdam. Bring cozy walking shoes to better enjoy your trip.
- EU Plug Adapter: The EU has different plugs. Although a lot of hotels and hostels have USB adapters, you can’t always count on it. Bring an EU plug adapter so your devices don’t die.
- Guide Book to Amsterdam: Guidebooks are always helpful for finding amazing attractions and other things to do. Lonely Planet Guides are my favorite — definitely bring a copy on a solo trip to Amsterdam!
- Mirrorless Camera: Although phone cameras are wonderful, you want to bring a Sony Mirrorless Camera to truly camera Amsterdam’s beautiful! The photo quality is unreal!
- Pacsafe Crossbody Bag: Amsterdam is a popular party destination, so you want to be aware of pickpockets. With a Pacsafe crossbody bag, your belongings will be super secure.
- Travel Insurance: Don’t ever forget travel insurance! If you get sick in Amsterdam, you don’t want to pay full price for medical help. I use World Nomads for my trips and never had a problem!
- Travel Umbrella: The Netherlands is quite rainy at times. Have a small travel umbrella so you’re not caught in bad weather!
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
I know I already mentioned the costs, but it needs repeating here. Frustratingly enough, accommodation in Amsterdam is pretty damn expensive.
However, if you keep your eyes peeled, you’re able to find good places to stay for a decent price. And, no, they’re not all hostels either.
On my trip, I stayed at The Highland House, which is a boutique hotel only blocks away from Amsterdam’s main station. The price was reasonable and staff was super sweet. They always asked about my itinerary, gave suggestions, and left delicious chocolate in the room every night.
I’d highly recommend The Highland House to anyone taking a solo trip to Amsterdam.
- Ecomama Hostel: This green and quirky hostel is perfect for the sustainable solo traveler! It’s highly rated and provides a quieter hostel experience compared to some of the raging party hostels in this city. See prices on Booking.com.
- The Flying Pig Downtown: If you want to party and meet people in Amsterdam, this hostel is a classic choice! You can’t go wrong! See prices on Booking.com.
- The Highland House: Despite being more of a hotel, the staff here are so wonderful that you never feel lonely. I adored this place and highly recommend it to all solo travelers. See prices on Booking.com.
Is Amsterdam Safe to Travel Alone?
Last but not least is the question of safety. And this is completely understandable.
How about you? Are you wondering is Amsterdam safe to travel alone? Honestly, I would say “yes,” with a few caveats.
All in all, I thought Amsterdam was a very safe destination. For example, I didn’t have anyone harass me or ask me for money. I was bothered way more in Paris and Lisbon – although I love both of those cities. Additionally, I didn’t witness any tourist scams, and even the, uh, intoxicated tourists, didn’t cause me any problems.
However, I spent most of my time sightseeing during the day and most of my money on museums, shopping, and food. It was a relaxed trip.
As previously stated in this guide, I believe most solo travelers run into problems if they overindulge in Amsterdam’s party atmosphere and aimlessly wander around the Red Light District late into the night hours.
So, yes, solo travel to Amsterdam is safe if you use typical common sense and street smarts.
I hope you enjoyed reading my solo travel to Amsterdam guide. For those of you who have visited Amsterdam, what suggestions would you give solo travelers?
In addition, do you think Amsterdam is a good place for these solo travelers to go? As always, thanks for your support over the years!