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Are you thinking of doing some solo travel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands capital known for canal houses and stroopwafels? Whether you love traveling independently or schedules simply didn’t line up, visiting this Dutch city alone is totally worth it. In fact, the week I recently spent exploring the Netherlands was one of my best solo trips yet.
To be honest, I didn’t know if I could enjoy Amsterdam alone. With legal marijuana and prostitution, this city seemed more meant for friend groups looking to party. However, after spending four days of my trip in Amsterdam, I now know that my initial thoughts were wrong.
At the end of the day, it was the iconic canals, world-renowned art, gorgeous architecture, and fascinating history that cast a spell on me. The availability of delicious gouda, the local cheese specialty, didn’t hurt either.
To help future solo travelers have as wonderful of an experience in Amsterdam as I did, I am sharing everything you need to know below. Whether it’s things to do in Amsterdam alone or safety tips, I’m covering it all. As usual, I won’t shy away from discussing my negative experiences, as even the best trips encounter a few mishaps.
Solo Female Travel in Amsterdam: What You Need to Know
Why Travel Solo to Amsterdam?
Of all the destinations this world has to offer, why did I choose Amsterdam? You might also be wondering why I traveled solo.
Even though weed doesn’t interest me, I was still curious to see one of Europe’s most visited cities for myself. After all, the city is also know for pretty canals, lots of bikers, Vincent Van Gogh, and even Anne Frank.
The more I read about the Netherlands, the more I realized how important the small country was in forming our modern western society. In fact, the Netherlands practically invented capitalism, with the Dutch East India Company being one of the world’s first multinational corporations.
Finally, I traveled alone because my husband does not have as much flexibility to travel as I do. While I value sharing new experiences together, I admittedly love the perks of solo travel too. For example, it opens the door for me to know my own capabilities and interests without any outside influence.
Top 5 Things to Do Alone in Amsterdam
All solo travelers should make time to see the following top attractions in Amsterdam:
Anne Frank House
Van Gogh Museum
Red Light District
I’ll talk about my experience exploring the Red Light District alone in the safety section below. As you can see, it’s pretty tame during the day, and there is even a couple walking with a child.
Book Your Amsterdam Canal Cruise Here!
Amsterdam First Impressions
The weather on my arrival day was awful, with gray skies and a 24-hour nonstop drizzle. It was cold, there were puddles everywhere, and at one point the ground was coated in slush. I arrived an hour early for my timeslot at the Rijksmuseum just to sit in the lobby and avoid the rain.
However, the next day was sunny and I finally had the chance to really take in the city’s beauty. This started with exiting the city’s main train station, Amsterdam Central, which was in a beautiful brick building that was reminiscent of the city’s Golden Age.
The route to my scheduled food tour took me across several small bridges, as I navigated to the Jordaan neighborhood. With clear skies, I could now fully appreciate the unique facades of all the narrow brick canal houses. There were plenty of people out strolling, and I found myself stopping every couple minutes to take photos.
Amsterdam was overall easy to traverse with public transportation. The tram can take you everywhere within the city, and the train can take you just about everywhere else. I bought the 7 euro OV-chip card to use during my stay, which can be preloaded with money and used on all trains, subways, trams, and even buses.
Meeting Other Travelers
When I’m traveling alone, my favorite way of meeting new people is by booking tours and experiences. Staying in hostels is another popular way to meet other travelers, although these days shared spaces and partying are not my cup of tea.
I’m always surprised how a two to three hour tour can lead to fun encounters with others, especially since I’m rather shy and introverted. For example, I once grabbed drinks with several people I’d met during a food tour in Barcelona. Even my husband and I together once dined with a group of four Swiss friends after a wine tasting on Paros.
While traveling in the Netherlands, I had my fair share of encounters as well. I met a really nice girl from Germany during a tour of the American Pilgrim Museum in Leiden. We ended up chatting outside the museum afterwards before eventually going our separate ways.
Additionally, I did a food tour around Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighborhood and admittedly felt quite out of place among all the other people. That’s until I was suddenly having an unexpected heart-to-heart with my tour guide about the struggles of becoming self-employed.
As it goes, all of these instances were fleeting, but at the same time they added so much more meaning and depth to my trip. Plus, I continue to feel my confidence and ability to talk with new people growing as I put myself out there with each solo trip.
Book Your Amsterdam Food Tour Here!
Amsterdam Likes & Dislikes
What I liked about Amsterdam
- Amsterdam’s art museums; particularly the Vermeer Exposition at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum
- The city’s pleasant walkability and great public transportation, including the convenience of the OV-chip card.
- When the sun came out and I could finally appreciate the views of Amsterdam’s gorgeous canal houses
- All the food, particularly Dutch pancakes, fried or pickled herring, and locally produced gouda
- The inspirational stories about the Dutch resistance against Nazi occupation during WWII both at the Dutch Resistance Museum and at the Anne Frank House
What I disliked about Amsterdam
- The cold rain and wind of March, which was brutal for about two days but thankfully subsided
- Getting caught sitting in the first class section of the train by accident (if the seats are a different color, almost empty, and cleaner looking than usual, it’s probably first class)
- Forgetting to get cash and never tipping, while also reading and being told that there’s no tipping culture, but also being solicited for tips by one of the tour guides. Very confusing!
- That almost all sights and museums in Amsterdam close by 5pm. Makes for a tight sightseeing window!
- How crowded the Rijksmuseum was, along with the lack of lockers and long line for the coat check. This museum could be thought of as the “Louvre of Amsterdam”, so you will not be alone there.
Safety in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is generally a safe place for solo travel, but it’s still always good to be aware of your surroundings. Basically, don’t do anything while traveling in Amsterdam that you wouldn’t do while at home.
Below are my observations on safety that I personally encountered while in Amsterdam. You can read more about safety in Amsterdam here.
- Exploring the Red Light District Alone: I was apprehensive about strolling Amsterdam’s Red Light District alone, even though I’d read the area was tame during the day. Since I knew I couldn’t leave without checking it out, I consumed a few sips of *ahem* Dutch courage, and set out around 5pm. I did not feel unsafe while walking around, and actually found the area to be quite touristy. That said, do not visit the Red Light District after 10pm, when the crowds become rowdy, drugs become rampant, and the vibe feels overall less safe.
- Petty Crime: Amsterdam has its share of petty crime, particularly in busy places like train stations and high tourist areas like the Red Light District. I never keep all my cash and cards on me, and I generally wear my small purse in front of my body. Additionally, bike theft is incredibly common, so take great care when leaving one anywhere.
- Walking in Amsterdam after dark: Certain parts of Amsterdam, Red Light District included, become sketchy after dark. While I try to avoid being out at night as a solo female traveler, I do make exceptions. For example, I took the train and metro for a 9:30pm Vermeer Exposition at the Rijksmuseum. The area around the museum was quiet and there were plenty of people using public transportation at night (although a girl next to me on the train appeared heavily intoxicated).
- Amsterdam Canal Tour: The bridges over the canals are pretty low. If the tide is high, the flat boats will be quite close to some of the bridges. It’s best to avoid standing during any canal cruises, as you could hit your head.
Should Solo Female Travelers Visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is overall a wonderful city for solo female travel. I certainly found inspiration there that I wasn’t expecting, both from learning the city’s rich history and falling in love with the works of Vermeer. If you take basic care, Amsterdam is perfectly safe and easy to explore alone, both on foot and with public transportation.
Additionally, the Netherlands is an especially great country to visit as an English speaker. Although Dutch is the official language, English is widely spoken and there is a high level of proficiency.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Amsterdam and am thirsting to go back with my husband so I can show him all the places I loved. If you have any interest in history, art, or architecture, then you will find this city fascinating.
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In summary, Amsterdam can be amazing for solo travelers, and there is plenty to discover outside of weed and sex. The architecture is a photographer’s dream and foodies will love trying unique cuisine, like Dutch pancakes and pickled herring. Amsterdam is definitely in my top five favorite European cities now – maybe you’ll be able to say the same!
Would you like to travel solo in Amsterdam?