Taste is a subjective matter and comparing Amsterdam and London, something very unfair. Both cities are world-wide known capitals with an extensive cultural, historical and artistic offer. Both are great tradings centres, but also centres of leisure and tourism, making them two of the best places to spend your free time exploring.
For family time, Amsterdam is better: smaller and calmer. For free museums, partying and shopping, London is better. Both cities share the same gloomy and cold weather. Both cities offer international cuisine, good transportation, great flight connections, culture, art, fashion, and entertainment.
If you can, go to both! If visiting my two favourite cities in the world is not an option (and you have to choose one), let’s find out which one is better for you! Before going on a holiday it is mandatory to do some research and find out why that destination suits you, how to get there, for how long to stay and so on. Keep on reading to get some help!
Amsterdam vs London: Accommodation
One of the first things to consider when going abroad is the accommodation and how expensive it is. In the case of Amsterdam and London, there are always great deals for hotels and flights, but it is always the most expensive part of a trip and the one to consider in order to know for how long or when to go.
London is more expensive than Amsterdam when it comes to accommodation. Even though both are expensive destinations, London is a little more expensive, also considering their currency. In any case, options for both cities are endless: 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars hotels of any kind, guest houses, couch surfing, hostels and airbnb.
3 Stars Hotel: the average prices for an off-season week at a 3 stars hotel in Amsterdam would be 300-400 euros for 4 nights. In London, the same type of hotel would swing between 350 and 600 euros.
4 Stars Hotel: in Amsterdam 450 and 600 for 4 nights at a 4 stars hotel. In London: 700-900
In Amsterdam I would personally recommend checking out these hotels for the quality-price relationship and the walkable distance to the most important attractions in Amsterdam:
- Hotel Plantage (3 STARS HOTEL)
- Hotel Casa Amsterdam (3 STARS HOTEL)
- Leonardo Hotel Amsterdam Rembrandtpark (4 STARS HOTEL)
- Eden Hotel Amsterdam (4 STARS HOTEL)
When it comes to cheaper accommodations in Amsterdam, you can check this article for travelling on a budget.
My recommendation for London with the same criteria that are close to the centre, good quality-price and have nice reviews:
- Pembridge Palace Hotel (3 STARS HOTEL)
- Prince William Hotel (3 STARS HOTEL)
- Henry VIII (4 STARS HOTEL)
- The Premier Notting Hill (4 STARS HOTEL)
Airbnb and guest houses are also always a good option. Of course, it is not for everybody but these cities have a great demand for accommodation and Airbnb has always worked for me and my siblings, who have come to visit me in Amsterdam. In London, it is also a great type of accommodation because it is flexible and you have other facilities that allow you to cook at home and make your stay a little cheaper. Check it out!
Amsterdam vs London: Transportation
Prices of Public Transportation is quite similar in both places. In the case of London, the best way to move around is always the underground whereas in Amsterdam trams are your best option. In Amsterdam you have the option of getting an OV Card to make travelling around cheaper if you are staying for a long period of time, or also buying a 24/48 or 72 hours ticket (for more info read here). The London version is the Oyster card but it is almost as expensive anyway.
Which is Better? Amsterdam, because it has better public transportation deals and it is a smaller city, which encourage tourists to walk around most of the times.
However, both cities have very similar prices, both offer bicycles (even though Amsterdam is THE city to cycle) and very importantly, both cities have great flight connections and good connections between the airports and the city. Even though London has many more airports, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is a hub, which means great connections anyway.
Amsterdam vs London: Entertainment
Which is better? In this category we have a clear winner: London. Even though both cities have a lot to offer, the entertainment offer in London is and has always been, mind-blowing.
- London has free museums and many more of them than Amsterdam. This is something Amsterdam can’t compete with. As you can see on the table, Amsterdam has the big number of 51 museums, which is a lot, but London has 240. There are great deals in Amsterdam such as Museum Card, Iamsterdam Card and Holland Pass to make it cheaper and there are amazing museums such as the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. London free museums are open all year around and they are outstanding institutions: the British Museum, the National Gallery and 21 more.
- London has twice as many theatres.
- London has many more stadiums than Amsterdam.
- Both cities are hosts of the CSD: if you want to read more about Amsterdam’s LGTB+ friendly places, read this article.
- Amsterdam has free entrance for children in most museums.
- Both are historical cities and have many landscapes and historical museums.
- London has many more party areas and clubs. Amsterdam party areas are very touristic. There are very few areas that are outside the touristic and properly going out places. In general, Leidseplein and Dam Square area but it is worth mentioning the transgressive side of Amsterdam: Red Light District and coffeeshops. Of course you can be transgressive in London, needless to say this is an option, but there is something peculiar about it being allowed in a country.
Amsterdam vs London: Random
Here there is a random list of things that may help you make up your mind and consider one city over the other. It is a very personal decision and each person understand something to be better according to their own criteria. Here there are some things to consider:
- Drinking alcohol: Amsterdam is better. It is a little cheaper and you are allowed to drink in public places (make picnics in the park with wine and drink in open terraces, etc)
- Walking: Amsterdam: it is 14 times smaller than London. It is a big city yet not comparable to the 1572 km2 London has.
- Cycling: Amsterdam is way more bike friendly than London. Both cities are prepared but the infrastructure Amsterdam has is out of this world. Much recommended.
- Being alone: as a woman in Amsterdam, even though the level of corruption seems to be higher, it is super safe and I feel comfortable going everywhere alone in Amsterdam, at any given time of the day. This is something I wouldn’t say of my experience in London. Nothing has ever happened to me but the feeling of being safe Amsterdam gives me, I don’t have it in London.
- Coffee: both cities have amazing options.
- Beer: Amsterdam has to win in this one, even though Belgium beer is my favourite, Amsterdam is close behind.
- Food: British have more national dishes than Dutch do, yet both cities offer a broad international variety of cuisines.
- Luxury shopping: London. Even though you can find everything you want in Amsterdam there is no comparison with the English capital and its amazing stores (Bond Street, Harrods, King’s Road, Liberty…)
- Vintage shopping: both are great cities for that but I would have to go for London. In Amsterdam there are great markets mostly, but for proper vintage pieces London is one of the best (if not the best) city in the world. It is worth going to charity shops and everything you find on your way there.
- Antiques shopping: London is the paradise. Amsterdam is a good second option.
- Children friendly: both cities, although Amsterdam is much more calm and safer in my opinion. Being walkable also makes it a better option. And you can visit a lot of museums that include interactive activities to do with kids: the national museum (Rijksmuseum), the Stedelijk Museum of Modern art, NEMO Science Museum, ARTIS Zoo, Rembrandt’s Huis, the Jewish Museum and almost all of them.
- Weather: both have the same weather, although Amsterdam may be one degree colder. Who can notice the difference? Prepare for some rainy holidays in both cases.
I would also add that both cities are good for a weekend trip and a long holiday. There are cities like Paris where I would not recommend going for a weekend since there is so much to do so far away from each other and with different opening times. But both Amsterdam and London can be speed-holiday cities, great to go for a punctual reason such a concert, a football match, a musical or simply spending a weekend away, and also a full long length holiday visiting everything they have to offer. If you plan to visit London you must check out my friend’s blog. Kat is living in London and she writes about her explorations around London and budget-friendly travel tips 😉