Some people love detaching from modern life as much as possible when they travel. I am not one of those people. I’m quite content to leave some tech toys behind when I go on vacation, but I also love some of the new technology that makes travel easier. One of the most ubiquitous tech tools – that’s also a great travel tool – is the iPhone.
There are a gazillion apps in the iTunes app store (and yes, I counted), with more being added every day – and the good news for travelers is that there are loads of useful iPhone apps for just about any destination you’re going to. Some places have more iPhone apps than others, but Amsterdam has enough appeal that there’s a variety of great Amsterdam iPhone apps.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of iPhone apps for Amsterdam, but it’s a selection of some of the apps I thought were most interesting, useful, or just plain fun. And if you (like me) don’t have an iPhone but have an iPod Touch instead, you’ll need to read the details on each app to make absolutely sure it’ll work on the iPod Touch as well as the iPhone. (Most apps do, but some don’t.)
As mentioned, the iPhone app store is growing every day, so if your favorite Amsterdam iPhone app isn’t listed here, please let us know what it is in the comments section.
Amsterdam iPhone Travel Guides & Maps
- Lonely Planet Amsterdam – Paper guidebooks may be soon going the way of the dinosaur, but the great content that’s in guidebooks is still handy to have when you travel. Lonely Planet Amsterdam ($15.99) is one of the many cities covered by the publishing giant, and it has everything you’d expect from an LP guide (except the paper).
- Amsterdam Mobile Guide – The Netherlands Board of Tourism has an official app for Amsterdam, and it’s this Amsterdam Mobile Guide (FREE). It includes information on attractions, entertainment, bars, restaurants, hotels, museums, and shopping – as well as tips about nightlife, for gay and lesbian travelers, and specific itineraries you might want to follow. The app has both text and images, and it launches Google maps with a “places near me” function (the maps and “near me” function require internet or cell data connection).
- IAmsterdam City Guide – You may be familiar with the IAmsterdam Card, a combination card for transportation and attractions in the city, so the IAmsterdam City Guide (FREE) name will no doubt stand out. This app includes a city guide, information about points of interest in Amsterdam, and an offline map you can use without needing to connect to anything. You can also connect to find out what things in the guide are near to where you are.
- DK Top 10 Amsterdam – I’ve always loved looking at the DK guides, but they’re incredibly heavy so they never make it into my suitcase. the DK Top 10 Amsterdam app ($7.99) solves that problem nicely. It’s not just a list of the top 10 things to do in Amsterdam, but it also isn’t trying to be a comprehensive guide to the city. It covers highlights of the city in several categories, with text and great images.
- Amsterdam Unlike City Guide – Don’t let the name of this app fool you – the Amsterdam Unlike City Guide ($4.99) isn’t a list of stuff not to like about Amsterdam. Instead, this app pulls guide information from the Unlike website. Unlike is good for people who want to know what’s going on with current events and trendy hotspots in a city.
- Amsterdam Walking Tours and Map – I love when an app name explains exactly what you’ll get. The Amsterdam Walking Tours and Map app ($4.99) has seven guided audio tours through Amsterdam that cover different parts of the city. Your location is shown on the map part of the app so you know if you’ve taken a wrong turn, and the navigation features built-in so no internet or cell data connection is required.
- Amsterdam 3D Guide – Don’t worry, the Amsterdam 3D Guide ($0.99) requires no silly glasses. (It also requires no internet connection, which is nice.) It includes information on the city’s best restaurants, bars, shops, and even coffeeshops (which not all the guides include) – and if you turn on your phone’s GPS or key in a specific location it will tell you which of the listings in its system are close to you.
- Amsterdam 2Go – The Amsterdam 2Go app ($0.99) is essentially a good searchable map of the city, with some information about points of interest, transportation, and city history, but without listings for hotels, restaurants, etc. It’s entirely offline, so no internet is required.
- iPlane Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – Unlike some of the airport apps out there, iPlane Amsterdam Airport Schiphol ($1.99) isn’t an airport guide. It’s not meant to help you find your way around Schiphol or tell you where to find what shops and restaurants. It does, however, provide real-time arrival and departure information, terminal and gate information, flight status, and even belt numbers for baggage claim. If you’re a frequent traveler through Amsterdam’s airport, this might be a useful app.
- Amsterdam Metro – Getting around Amsterdam is easy enough on foot for most people who are visiting the city, the Amsterdam Metro app ($0.99) is handy if you’ll be using public transit often. There’s a metro map, a trip planner that tells you the best route between two points (with a travel time estimate), and the ability to bookmark stations you use often. You can also turn on your phone’s GPS or key in an address and locate the station closest to you.
- Bikeplanner for Amsterdam – As has been noted on this website, renting a bike in Amsterdam isn’t necessarily the best idea when you’re visiting the city. But if you’ll be in Amsterdam for awhile, you want to explore more than just the city center, or you intend to take cycling day trips from a home-base in Amsterdam, then the Bikeplanner for Amsterdam ($1.99) is a great app to get. It helps you plan bike-friendly routes through the city, and you can even save routes in the memory if you want to retrace your steps (or pedals) another time.
Fun Amsterdam iPhone Apps
- Dutch Phrasebook and Translator – You might think that a Dutch Phrasebook and Translator ($1.99) would be something that should go in the travel guide section above, but since the vast majority of the people you’ll run into in Amsterdam speak English (in some cases, perhaps better than you do) you’ll likely have very little practical use for this app. If you’re in Amsterdam for an extended period, are really into languages, just want to know what the heck the signs say, or will be traveling to other cities in the Netherlands that are less touristy, then this app can be very useful, indeed. There are more than 250 words and phrases in it, so it’s not an exhaustive dictionary, but it will get you by.
- Rijkswidget iPhone – I love that the actual Rijskmuseum, one of the top attractions in Amsterdam, has produced the Rijkswidget iPhone app (FREE) – and I love even more that they’ve called “Rijkswidget.” (Further proof that the Dutch speak English pretty doggone well, wouldn’t you say?) This app can help get you inspired for a trip to the famous museum before you go. There are 1,000 masterpieces in the app, and it features one per day – you can zoom in and out, and see information about the piece and the artist.
- Water Taxi – This app exists because it’s impossible to visit a city full of canals like Amsterdam and not imagine what it would be like to race boats through those canals. Right? Or is that just me? The object of the Water Taxi game ($1.99) is to successfully (and quickly) navigate a guide boat through Amsterdam’s canals, picking up passengers along the way. Master this game and you’ll be all set for your new job as an Amsterdam guide boat driver.