Underneath the topic ‘UvA’ you can find all the important information about studying Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, and how to make your way through both the online and the physical environment. With this information getting started with studying at the university becomes a lot easier right away!
Want to know a little bit more about the student life and the student culture here in Amsterdam? Well, check it out! If you are interested in what the VSPA represents and what the association stands for, this is the place to be!
Introduction Week (Intreeweek)
The Introduction Week (Intreeweek) of the University of Amsterdam is one big welcoming party that takes place in the week before the start of the new school year. This week is organized by UvA students and welcomes thousands of new students to the city as well as to student life itself. Joining this 5-day event is generally regarded as one of the best ways to start off your time here, as you’ll get a feel of the city and campus, experience lots of fun activities and parties as well as get to know your fellow students even prior to the start of the courses! Everybody will tell you that they’ve met some of their best friends in Amsterdam during their time spent together during ‘IntreeWeek’.
When signing up, you’ll be put in a group of 20 other first year Psychology students, together with your mentors, two second or third year Psychology students. They guide the group during the week, accompany you at events and will be more than happy to answer all your questions about the courses, as well as about general life in Amsterdam. The week consists of many social components, such as: cabaret in a large theatre, a festival, treasure hunts, parties, visiting a museum, getting to know student organisations and especially lots of fun with other students.
For the full program, check the website.
It is highly recommended to follow this week, because you will get to know many other psychology students, but you will also get to know the city of Amsterdam! There are no lectures or tutorials during this week, and none of the activities is obligatory. This makes it the perfect kickoff to your time here at Uni. The Intreeweek takes place from the 24th to the 28th of August. The lectures and (obligatory) tutorials will start on the 31st of August. Just enough time to recover a little ;)
Keep an eye for the UvA-mails in order to sign-up for this week. Registrations generally open at the beginning of July.
What is a study association?
A study association (not to be confused with a student association) is a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of students in a particular field of study. It consists of many different committees which organise study-related (extracurricular) activities, such as educational trips, lectures and excursions as well as social activities like borrels (typical Dutch get-togethers), dinners and parties. Study associations are run for students, by students, and are a great way to get to know like-minded people and make your life as a student easier. Keep in mind though that it is not obligatory to join one or a necessity for passing the year! Still, joining one could definitely help you out since these associations oftentimes offer students great opportunities, benefits and discounts!
Members of the study association of Psychology (VSPA), for instance, have access to significant discounts and benefits on their textbooks as well as summaries and exam training. These associations often have their own spot on campus where members can hang out, have coffee and receive information or educational resources. More on the VSPA, what is does and what it can do for you, right below:
What is the VSPA?
The VSPA, is an association run by Psychology students, for Psychology students. VSPA stands for: Vereniging van Studenten in de Psychologie te Amsterdam (the Association of Students in Psychology in Amsterdam). It is over 79 years old and with that one of the oldest and biggest study associations of the Netherlands!
The VSPA consists of about 1600 members, all looking for ways to expand their student lives in both a social and a study related way.
The association is built on her many committees that organise all kinds of study related activities such as: an international conference, different lectures, workshops and excursions, just to name a few. Besides these events, there are many opportunities to make social connections by means of the various parties, trips and ‘borrels’ that are organised. As a member you can join all these activities and even better; you can organise them yourselves! Basically, about 90% of Psychology-related things you experience on campus besides lectures and tutorials, are done by or with the VSPA. The VSPA is constantly growing and developing, just like its members. Make sure to stop by and check it out to see if there’s something we can offer you! Now: ‘where to find us?’, you may ask. Keep reading!
The VSPA room is where the board of 6 students stays every working day. Here, they fulfill all of their tasks to coordinate the organisation and keep everything running. But don’t be confused: the VSPA room is just as much a home for members as it is an office! All members are welcome to come together and chat with each other or with the board while enjoying a free cup of coffee. Also you can: get your study books with a great discount, buy summaries, receive information on activities, pick up free pens, markers, notebooks, snacks, merch and so much more. The VSPA room is located in the G-building of the Roeterseiland Campus, room GS.25. Do not hesitate to stop by once in a while, we are more than happy to help you or hang out!
Opening hours of the VSPA room are as follows:
VSPA, REC GS.25
Nieuwe Achtergracht 129B
1018 WS Amsterdam
Student Culture in Amsterdam
The student culture is really a culture in and of itself. Amsterdam consists of a lot of different study and student associations.
Study associations are affiliated with a university and organize social and study-related events. A well-known social occasion is the ‘borrel’. This is actually a kind of party in a cafe with a beer in hand. Borrels are there to have a nice chat with fellow students, together with an alcoholic refreshment. Of course there is also the possibility to join the borrel with non-alcoholic consumption.
Student associations are separate associations for students. Most student associations have a hazing system. This is a period in which students have to prove themselves with all sorts of crazy assignments before they belong to the student associations. Think of being dropped somewhere random in the Netherlands without a phone and money. The aim is to come back to the city you come from. In addition, student associations are mainly about fun and getting together. This can be done in many different ways, such as at a get-together, but also on sports fields or in the theatre. There are also many different sports, theatre, music and political associations.
In Amsterdam, clubs are open 7 days a week, where students flock in for a party. Every day other clubs have drinks, so drinks are held everywhere. Pils is the most famous word in the student culture. Pils is the Dutch word for beer. Finally, you will often mention the word ‘VO’. This equals ‘Bravo’. It is used to praise someone. VO for you!
Just like any major city: Amsterdam has many things that make it unique, as well as some things which are just very useful to know when living here. You need to understand a little bit about how the city is structured, but also how public transport works and how you can find a room the easiest way. Did you for example know that Roeterseilandcampus lies in an area where many other students live? Or did you know that biking is the most popular way of transportation?
Districts of Amsterdam
In order to get a clear and more structured view of the city of Amsterdam, here you can find some more information about how the city is geographically organized. To get an overview, let’s divide Amsterdam into several districts: Centre, North, South, West, East, South-East, New-West and Westpoort.
In the centre of Amsterdam you will find canals, many tourists, beautiful churches, most museums and other cultural hotspots. In the north of the centre lies Central Station, from where you can travel to every city in the country, but from here you can also easily travel from one district in the city to another.
Amsterdam North (Noord) is amongst other things home to the NDSM area, an area with sheds where many artists work, trendy cafes can be found and where quite a lot of students live. Furthermore, North has some of the greenest parts of Amsterdam and is home to many suburban families. Last but not least, various cultures disperse across the streets and therefore there are many shops offering various cultural products. North is gradually becoming more and more booming with trendy places.
South (Zuid) is known for its parks and business center called the Zuidas. In this beautiful part of the city live the generally more affluent people. If you like architecture you can see the beautiful architecture style of the Amsterdamse School here. The neighborhood de Pijp is also part of Amsterdam-Zuid. Here you can find trendy cafes, shops and restaurants.
Amsterdam West (West) is home to the classic ‘Amsterdammer’. Residents with a somewhat modal income live mostly in this part of the city. But also here the diversity in culture is very much to be found, which gives the West a cozy and convivial atmosphere. In Amsterdam West, quiet, beautiful residential areas alternate with busy, pleasant shopping streets. If you’re looking for a place of tranquillity or busy summer days, do visit the Westerpark! A great place to go for a walk or a coffee in a diverse cultural area is for example the Kinkerstraat, Jan van Galenstraat and the Jan Evertsenstraat.
In Amsterdam East (Oost) you will find the Roeterseilandcampus, where you will be spending most of your time studying. But Science Park is also located in this district. Furthermore, Oost is mainly known for the many students that are housed here, but also for the Young Urban Professionals, the many canals and multicultural shopping streets, like the Dappermarket!
South East (Zuidoost) is a bit further away from the centre of Amsterdam. Most people who live in this area earn a little bit less than average. That is why many family homes, flats and industrial estates are located here. If you like football: The Johan Cruijff Arena, the football stadium of AFC Ajax is also located in this area. Finally, there is a good chance that your exams will take place in Southeast.
New-West (Nieuw-West) is mainly dominated by green parks, houses and hip, more alternative coffee places. However, on the other side, the area is also known by the many multicultural flats and single-family houses. South of New-West is the airport Schiphol located.
Last but not least, Westpoort consists mainly of the port and industrial estates. However, new, modern residential complexes are also being built here on the border of this area, lying close to Amsterdam West. In principle, Westpoort is not really interesting to visit, but mainly a place for people to go to their work.
How does public transport work?
Within Amsterdam it is easy to travel quickly by bike, but also by public transport. The tram, bus and metro is a good means of transport to travel throughout the city. The infrastructure in Amsterdam is so good that the trams, buses and metros follow each other in quick succession.
To pay for public transport it is important to buy a public transport chip card. With this card you can check in when you arrive at the means of transport and check out when you disembark. No more cash is accepted in Amsterdam.
There is also a company called ISIC. As an international student you can buy a one-time ticket for €15,- to travel with public transport through the Netherlands. In addition, you can use many different services at ISIC for €2,50,- per month.Then you can use the following services:
- 15% discount during off-peak hours on national railway (NS)
- A digital ISIC card, with the best discounts in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. ISIC offers a huge amount of extra services such as day trips, travel, cheap transport, discounts on restaurants and much more.
- Customized application process for international students
- Automatic top-up option (no more topping on or balance)
- Travel data, customer service etc in ISIC mobility app
- Public transport bike (OV-fiets) and storage
Regular public transport chip card
Only Dutch students can get free public transport. International students can buy a public transport chip card. The card is valid for 5 years.
With this link you can fill in your details and request a personal chip card (OV-chipkaart).
- Then you have to upload a personal photo which can be seen on your personal chip card.
- Then you can indicate the function to automatically upload the OV-chipkaart. This means that when the amount of money is lower than a certain value, the OV-chipkaart will be charged with money from your bank account. This action takes place automatically when this threshold is reached.
- Then you check everything and fill in your payment details.
- You can only pay with iDeal and PayPal.
- Within a few working days you will receive the OV-chipkaart at home.
There is also a possibility to travel with an anonymous OV-chipkaart. When people don’t travel much with OV or don’t want to share their personal information, you can choose to travel anonymously. You can share the card with the whole family (but not at the same time). For example, you travel to Amsterdam by train with the anonymous card and your son uses the same card one day later to go to football by bus.
- The card is available at railway stations, tobacco shops and service desks.
- If you load a balance on it, the card can be used immediately.
- The card is valid for five years from the date of production.
- A disadvantage of the card is that you can use prices that are not related to age. So a child will cost the same price as an adult.
Night buses also run between 01.00 and 05.00 hours in the Amsterdam region. The OV-chipcard can also be used or you can buy a separate ticket on the bus. The prices are a bit more expensive and there are less buses at night.
University of Amsterdam about public transport
The University of Amsterdam also wrote information about public transport in Amsterdam. For more information, check out their website.
The main means of transport in Amsterdam is the bicycle. Everywhere around you can see bikes, bikes and more bikes. It is by far the fastest and most efficient means of transport in the city. 40 percent of all journeys in Amsterdam are made by bike. Throughout the city there are special bike paths so that traffic is well organized. In addition, bicycles often have the right of way in traffic. Be careful when you get on your bike! The bicycle traffic is one gigantic chaos but works very efficiently. Cycling through Amsterdam is healthy, practical and fun!
For more information look at our Soft Landing page!
Strict traffic rules have been drawn up in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam in order to allow all residents to move around the streets as safely as possible. Here are the most important rules:
- Firstly, it is forbidden to drive a vehicle with alcohol or drugs in your body. This is life-threatening. It is forbidden to cycle with alcohol in the body, so be very careful! The police do not check bikers with any alcohol in their blood. However, it is still forbidden. with drIf you are not an experienced cyclist, be careful on the road. Even experienced cyclists regularly fall hard on the ground when they’re drunk.
- All vehicles drive on the right side of the road. Left overtaking is allowed.
- Since 2019 it is forbidden to hold a mobile phone while riding a scooter, motorbike, moped or bicycle. This law was introduced this year because of the many accidents on the road, caused by one or more drivers who hold their phone. Calling is also not allowed except hands-free, such as a mobile holder on the handlebars or earphones. Fines for holding a phone when driving on the road are €95,-.
- Traffic from the right has priority
- Trams always have priority (watch out for tram rails on bicycles!)
- On the motorway, in most cases the maximum speed is 100 or 120 km/hour.
- Everywhere in the city of Amsterdam there are cycle paths. Drive on these paths and avoid the asphalt roads where cars drive. There are cycle paths for nothing.
- Most important rule of cycling in Amsterdam: many people abide by the rules. The bicycle network in Amsterdam does not run on a system, but on intuition. Lots of people ignore the stop signs/red lights, cycles fast and manoeuvres swiftly past other cyclists, pedestrians, cars and trams. Be aware that it takes time to get used to the bicycle system, because you have to make the system your own.
Drug Policy in The Netherlands
The so-called “Opium Act” sets out the rules pertaining to drugs in Dutch law. The Opium Act makes a distinction between soft drugs and hard drugs.
Soft drugs, such as marijuana and hash, are less damaging to health than hard drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine. But soft drugs are also illegal in the Netherlands. This means that those found selling, producing, dealing or in possession of these drugs are liable to prosecution.
HOWEVER: the Netherlands applies a policy of toleration in relation to the sale of soft drugs in coffee shops. This means that the sale of soft drugs in coffee shops is a criminal offence but the Public Prosecution Service does not prosecute coffee shops for this offence.
Neither does the Public Prosecution Service prosecute members of the public for possession of small quantities of soft drugs. These quantities are defined as follows:
- No more than 5 grams of cannabis (marijuana or hash);
- No more than 5 cannabis plants per household.
What this means for you as a student: You can easily and safely buy cannabis-products (up till 5 grams per person) in coffee shops and smoke in public without getting arrested in Amsterdam. Officially, you will have to show identification proving you are 18 or older, when purchasing cannabis.
Hard drugs include, for instance, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, LSD and ecstasy (MDMA).
The production, sale and possession of hard drugs is forbidden in Amsterdam. Recreational use at festivals will often be tolerated due to its wide-spread use, but possession of more than 1 XTC-pill is legally seen as dealing and is therefore a criminal offense. Regardless of what or how much you are planning on using: always get your drugs tested! There are two testing centres in Amsterdam. One of them is right next to campus: GGD, Valckenierstraat 4, 1018 XG Amsterdam. Here they will (for almost no cost) test a sample of your ecstasy (or other type of hard drugs) and let you know what it is composed of, if it is recognized in their database and more. You will not get in trouble for going to these test centres and they will keep your info anonymously. Another one of these centres is called Jellinek, located in the south of the city: Jacob Obrechtstraat 92, 1071 KR Amsterdam.
There is no way that you will skip these delicious restaurants or don’t want to visit the best bars in the city! Not only can you find information about where to get a drink (or 2), we will also tell you more about different supermarkets, and for the vegans among us: check out this topic for some useful tips.
Eating in Amsterdam
Every area has loads of nice and good restaurants. That is why the different restaurants are described depending on the area you are in. Making a reservation is recommended.
Restaurants in Amsterdam West:
Amsterdam West has many diverse restaurants and bars. Click here for a list of 48 amazing restaurants in Amsterdam West.
Restaurants in Amsterdam East:
Amsterdam East is also a very diverse area with lots of nice restaurants and bars. Here is a list of 35 diverse restaurants in Amsterdam East.
Restaurants in De Pijp:
De Pijp is a very popular area amongst tourists as well. It is way more touristy than Amsterdam West or East for example. However, it has many nice restaurants. You can find a list of 23 restaurants here.
Restaurants Amsterdam North:
To go to Amsterdam North, you have to take the ferry. There are a few ferries to different areas of Amsterdam North, so make sure you take the right one to go to the restaurant. You can find a few here.
Restaurants Amsterdam Centre:
Finding nice restaurants in the city centre is quite hard, since this is the most touristic area of Amsterdam and therefore very focused on tourism. However, there are very nice restaurants here as well, you just have to look a bit harder. To make it easy for you, here is a list of restaurants in Amsterdam City Centre.
Amsterdam is a very diverse city, and therefore has a diverse range of kitchens. Every kitchen links to a website with a list of restaurants with that kitchen.
- Asian Streetfood Amsterdam.
- French Bistros in Amsterdam.
- Hamburgers in Amsterdam
- Vegan restaurants in Amsterdam.
The average price for a beer is around €3,-. A soda would be around the same price, and a glass of wine would be around €4,50. In the more touristy areas, you will probably pay more for a drink. Think of Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein.
- Terraces in Amsterdam West. Amsterdam has loads of terraces to have a drink. Amsterdam West is less touristic and perfect for spending your afternoon on a terrace in the sun.
- Drinks in Amsterdam. This website explains the different bars in Amsterdam, per district as explained under Living in Amsterdam.
Cafés on Campus
Looking for the right place to get a coffee that is not straight from a cheap machine? Roeterseiland campus and its near surroundings offer plenty of spots for a quick caffeine boost or proper lunch.
CREA – The cafe you will most likely visit the most often is CREA, the on-campus cafe which, next to being a very nice place to hangout, also provides students with lots of other facilities. CREA is popular among both students and staff due to its convenient location, menu, nice staff and overall chill vibe. (The colored lights next to the water are a big plus as well!)
Kriterion – Kriterion is a great student-run cafe right next to campus. Next to getting a cup of coffee with your friends, you can also watch art-house films in this cinema. The unique location and interior make it worth checking out for sure. Do you happen to have a CIneville membership? Enjoy their alternative flicks for free!
Not your style? Close to campus you can also find a Bagels & Beans, CoffeeCompany and other separate cafes.
Albert Heijn – This is by far the most expensive but also the most convenient supermarket in the city since there are over 60 stores in Amsterdam alone with a large number spread throughout the city centre. Their blanket coverage means you will never be far away from one of their stores. The largest branches can be found at the rear of Dam Square’s Royal Palace as well as Jodenbreestraat 21. You will find a fairly broad range of products in these larger stores but expect a massively reduced selection in the smaller outlets and the tiny ‘To Go’ stores. Alcohol is also available in the larger stores but again the selection is fairly limited to basic beers and wines. Most stores close at 22.00 daily however one branch in Central Station is open until 00.00 which is always good to know for life’s little emergencies.
Aldi & Lidl are recognised economy stores in the Netherlands. Selling a broad range of international products at cheaper prices than the likes of Albert Heijn, they remain very popular with Amsterdam locals.
Jumbo & Vomar – With regards to pricing, they are somewhere in between Albert Heijn and Aldi/Lidl. If you need to hunt out stores local to your apartment check out the following websites and click on the ‘Winkels’ or ‘Filiaal-zoeker’ buttons which mean ‘shops’ and ‘branch finder’, respectively, in Dutch. Simply type in the name ‘Amsterdam’ and hit the search button. Move the maps around to locate the nearest store.
Gall & Gall – If you are looking for alcohol other than basic beer or wine then head to this: the city’s major chain-store off-licence. These outlets are often located next door to Albert Heijn stores or in shopping centres.
There is a big cantine located in building H on Roeterseiland campus. It offers many different dishes from different companies and restaurants, most of which are a bit pricey, yet of good quality. Many of these stands have some delicious vegan options, so be sure to check it out and ask the staff to inform you further!
In the city itself you’ll find plenty of options with regards to vegan dining. They range from restaurants with separate menus for people with specific dietary wishes to chains like the Vegan Junk Food Bar which make an art out of replacing regular dishes with vegan substitutes.
Big supermarkets like Albert Heijn and Jumbo often include large vegan-sections in their bigger stores throughout the city. Though, there are also stores more strongly committed to ecological, fairtrade and vegan/vegetarian products like: Ekoplaza, Marqt and a large variety of smaller, individual shops.
Want more information and tips on living a vegan lifestyle in Amsterdam? Visit www.veganamsterdam.org
Click here for a list of vegan restaurants in Amsterdam.
Are you more interested in the cultural side of Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands? Want some more information about the best museums in the city? You prefer theme parks and adrenaline over experiencing nature? No matter: There is plenty to discover in your (future) country!
Amsterdam has a lot of beautiful museums. With your student card, you will probably get lots of discounts on several museums and cultural activities. Museum Square (Museumplein in Dutch) is the place where the biggest museums are located, the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. Museum Square is a square and a city park in the area of Amsterdam South. Here you can find a list of all museums in Amsterdam. A general tip: it is very recommended to buy your tickets for a museum in advance online, because queues at these museums can get very long. Click on the titles to go straight to the website of the museums.
Rijksmuseum is a museum with an overview of Dutch art and history with work of 17th century artists, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals. The Night Watch (De Nachtwacht) is a very famous painting that is shown here.
Stedelijk Museum: Museumplein
Stedelijk Museum is a museum for contemporary art, modern art and design.
Moco Museum: Museumplein
Moco Museum stands for Modern Contemporary Museum Amsterdam. It is an independent, commercial museum, dedicated to exhibiting modern and contemporary art. Their exhibitions change all the time.
Hermitage Museum is a branch museum of the Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg.
FOAM: photography museum
FOAM is a photography museum. The museum has four different exhibitions in which different photographic genres are shown.
Tropenmuseum is an ethnographic museum and it has eight permanent exhibitions and an ongoing series of temporary exhibitions.
This is a list of other museums and cultural trips. Click on the title to go straight to the website.
NEMO Science Museum
NEMO Science Museum is a science centre. The objects in NEMO are often experimental setups where the visitor can investigate a scientific phenomenon in the field of physics, chemistry, biology and behavioral sciences.
Body Worlds is an exposition of dissected human bodies, animals, and other anatomical structures of the body that have been preserved through the process of plastination.
The Sex Museum in Amsterdam is a museum about the history of porn and eroticism.
Anne Frank Museum
The Anne Frank House is a museum in remembrance of Anne Frank and her Jewish family who went into hiding during the Second World War. The museum is built around their hiding place Het Achterhuis, where Anne Frank also wrote her famous diary, “Het Achterhuis”.
Madame Tussauds is a wax museum, where famous people are turned into a wax figure and exhibited in the museum.
The Heineken Experience is a historic brewery and visitor center for the Dutch pilsner, Heineken Beer.
National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum (in Dutch: Het Scheepvaartmuseum) is a maritime museum. It is specialized in the maritime history of the Netherlands.
The Hortus Botanicus is a botanical garden in Amsterdam. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.
Eye Filmmuseum is a film archive and museum that preserves and presents both Dutch and foreign films screened in the Netherlands.
If you want to go to a zoo, ARTIS is the place to be. This is a famous zoo in the center of Amsterdam, and it is very beautiful. It is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest zoos of the mainland of Europe.
Day Trips in The Netherlands
Even though the Netherlands may seem like a small country: there’s plenty of culture and excitement to be discovered, also outside of Amsterdam. Below you can find an overview of some of the most popular spots in the country guaranteed to serve as worthwhile destinations for your day trip! Click on the titles in order to go straight to the corresponding website. For convenience, we’ve added the time it’ll take you to get to each of these places with public transport (departure: Amsterdam Central Station). Click on the titles of the places to go straight to their websites.
2 hours with public transport
For nearly a thousand years, the Dutch have been clever in dealing with the water that surrounds them. The sustainable blend of nature and technology used to keep Kinderdijk dry is so uniquely valuable that the area and its windmills were granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
45 minutes with public transport
Looking around you at the Zaanse Schans, you will see nothing but history. A feeling of nostalgia, no, more than that, a slight feeling of homesickness will strike you when you see the wooden facades, the slit windows and the low doors. Here, centuries of memories are like footprints of history resounding in each chamber. Hundreds of years ago, people slept, cooked, laughed, cried, loved, argued, were born and died within these walls. And still the Zaanse Schans lives on, because all premises are lived in.
Most of these coastal areas are easy to visit, so many people don’t wait for their holidays to visit the sea, but just head out as soon as the sun appears. Are the beaches too crowded? The beautiful dunes and nature areas surrounding most of them are great for walking or cycling.
2 hours with public transport (including the ferry!)
Texel is the biggest of the Wadden Islands and it has eight nice, guarded beach zones. The further south you go, the more nature you’ll find. Even though it is a desired location, it doesn’t get too busy compared to mainland beaches.
30 minutes with public transport
Zandvoort has a 9km long, 100m broad sand beach that is beloved by sunbathers. It is easy to reach from Amsterdam. Its white sands have earned Zandvoort the nickname “Pearl by the sea”. Explorers will come across two gorgeous dune areas full of plants and wildlife, a naturist area and a circuit park that was used for Formula 1 races.
1 hour and 45 minutes with public transport
What makes the small country of the Netherlands so great? Discover this and more at Madurodam, a small city full of beautiful miniatures, playful activities and the best attractions. Madurodam shows how the Netherlands has grown from our old cities to the country we see today: characteristic, free and eccentric. You can still see the traces of these developments in the buildings, squares and streets, each with their own story.
1 hour and 30 minutes with public transport
The most beautiful spring garden in the world! Over 7 million bulbs will bloom this spring, with a total of 800 varieties of tulips. A unique, unforgettable experience!
Besides the spacious 32 hectares of flowers you can enjoy the spectacular flower shows, surprising inspirational gardens, unique art and wonderful events.
3 hours and 30 minutes with public transport
As a popular Dutch tourist destination both within the Netherlands and abroad, Giethoorn is often referred to as “Dutch Venice” or the “Venice of the Netherlands”. In the old part of the village, there are no roads (though a cycling path was eventually added), and all transport is done by water over one of the many canals.
1 hour with public transport
Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot is over 700 years old and surrounded by water and beautiful historic gardens. It’s one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in the Netherlands and was built in 1285 with a single clear goal in mind: defence. The castle has a long and turbulent history. Wander around, discover how the enemy has been opposed and learn all about life at a castle in former days.
Nationaal Park De Biesbosch
5 hours with public transport
The Biesbosch National Park is a nature conservation area and the largest freshwater tidal zone in Europe. This means, for example, that you will find many streams and willow swamps there. With tall, luxuriant willow forests, the area looks just like a jungle!
2 hours and 15 minutes with public transport
The Open Air Museum looks at the history of ordinary people in the Netherlands. It inhabits antique houses, farms and factories from different parts of the Netherlands. It elaborates on stories and key aspects of Dutch history, including the Dutch East India Company and Michiel de Ruyter, as well as the First World War, slavery and child labour. On site at the museum there are re-enactors demonstrating the old way of life. Among these demonstrations are paper production, linseed production, and beer brewing.
2 hours with public transport
Looking for exciting rollercoasters, enchanting attractions or spectacular parkshows? Everyone will find what they are looking for in Efteling, the largest theme park in the Netherlands. It is renowned for its magical and fairytale-like theme, which can be felt during all shows or performances and on all rides.
2 hours with public transport
Face your fears, insecurities, expectations and habits. Whether you opt for Lost Gravity, Goliath, Out of Control, or Halloween Fright Nights. Walibi is generally regarded as the more grown-up version of the abovementioned Efteling. The rides are bigger, go faster and are generally more adrenaline-inducing.
For some practical matters related to moving to the Netherlands (the Dutch payment-system, holidays, phone plans & how/where to get your furniture), check out the following topics:
iDeal Payment System
In almost every shop and supermarket you have the opportunity to pay with your bank card. The easiest way to pay is with a Dutch bank account. Of course you can also pay with cash at most shops, but it is not so common. Contactless payments are also extremely efficient and practical.
In the Netherlands, iDeal is a well-known payment system. Through this system it is possible to complete your payments safely and quickly with any Dutch bank.
iDeal is not an app, it’s an online system! You don’t have to download anything to get access. If you apply for a Dutch bank account, there will never be any problems with iDeal payments. When transferring money from your mobile banking app to another bank account, iDeal takes care of the online transfer. You will also immediately get a notification if the transfer successfully is completed. Other advantages are not having to enter account numbers and other data, it’s very easy to transfer money via your smartphone or tablet and last but not least, no extra costs are charged.
Another great app to download is Tikkie. With this app, you can send payment requests to everyone who uses iDeal. So if a friend paid for your dinner and he wants you to pay him back, he will just send you a ‘tikkie’ and within 3 clicks on your phone, the money has been transferred to his bank account through iDeal. Incredibly quick and safe as well.
Last but not least, usually Dutch people give a 10% tip to the waiter in a restaurant. It is possible to pay this in cash or with your bank account.
You can choose between a contract (Abonnement) or a prepaid card. The prepaid option is easier to get and there are cards available with internet included which will save you roaming costs. You can top it up with cards from the supermarket or online.
A contract will usually work out cheaper if you know that you will use your mobile often and will stay in the country for a year or more. In order to sign a contract you’ll need:
- proof of identity
- an address
- an official bank statement
- bank account details.
If you have an unlocked phone, it’s also possible to buy only a Dutch sim card.
How to save money on international calls
Making international calls can be really expensive. One of the cheapest ways to keep in touch with your family and friends is to use an international prepaid calling card.
Prepaid international calling cards offer you a wide range of advantages on international calls:
- They usually offer the lowest rates available – you can save up to 90% of the cost of a normal call.
- You can use them from every phone (work, home, mobile and public phones)
- If you use a toll-free number, you can call from work or a friend’s phone without them being charged for the call.
- It’s easy to control your spending and avoid the ‘bad surprise’ of an astronomical monthly phone bill. Card providers offer such cheap calls because they buy high quantities of international minutes at large discounts. Prepaidzero is an international calling card provider.
There are a number of important days off in the Netherlands. In addition to the usual holidays, there are also holidays on which students and employees are given time off. Hereby a number of holidays:
- Good Friday. On this day the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is commemorated. In 2021 Good Friday will take place on Friday 2 April. On this day, everyone is free from working.
- Easter. Easter Day takes place on Sunday 4 and Monday 5 April 2021.
- King’s Day is perhaps the most Dutch and authentic holiday of the year. It’s the official birthday of the King. On Monday 27 April 2021 all Dutch people will take to the streets, dressed in orange. There will be big parties throughout the country. A tradition during King’s Day is to sell things in the streets. In addition, many children try to earn a buck by playing their musical instrument on the street. A nice place to visit during King’s Day is the Vondelpark. The whole park is full of children, nice stands with stuff, music and fun. For many, this is the day of the year! The night before King’s Day is also famous because many people go out partying and drinking on the streets.
- Remembrance Day always takes place on the 4th of May.
- On May 5, the Netherlands commemorates the liberation of the country during the Second World War. Throughout the country and also in Amsterdam many events are organized, like parties. In addition, many festivals take place on this day!
The most important holidays in a row:
- New Year’s Day: Wednesday 1 January 2021
- Good Friday: Friday 2 April 2021
- Easter (first and second Easter day): Sunday 4 and Monday 5 April 2021. Free day for everyone
- King’s Day: Monday 27 April 2021
- Liberation Day (many parties and festivals): Tuesday 5 May 2021
- Ascension Day: Thursday 13 May 2021. Free day for everyone.
- Whitsun (first and second Whit Monday): Sunday 23 May and Monday 24 May 2021. Free days for everyone!
- Christmas (Christmas Day 1 and 2): Friday 25 and Saturday 26 December 2021
University of Amsterdam
From 2021 onwards, the UvA will officially hold a second holiday during the year for the first time. The UvA will be closed from 3 to 7 May 2021. In September 2019, this decision was made to offer students and lecturers more peace and quiet in the second semester.
For more information about when the UvA is closed due to holidays, check out the academic calendar.
Furniture & Stuff-for-your-room Stores
Here is a website with an overview of all the second hand stores in Amsterdam.
The IJhallen is a flea market where you can basically get anything. It is held twice a month during the weekend. More details can be found on their website.
Another way to get second hand stuff is via your network. We designed a platform for you to ask these kinds of questions. Click here to go to the platform.
IKEA has everything! Loads of students buy their homeware at IKEA. You can also look at second hand or thrift stores. Other practical stores to get homeware are the Action, the Xenos and the Blokker. Action is probably the cheapest store, Xenos has all sorts of tableware, mirrors, chairs, etc. Blokker is a store for household goods, such as a vacuum cleaner, a microwave, etc.