When I started writing this article I figured I would read what people think about both cities, because in my opinion, it’s easy, Amsterdam! But what do people actually prefer? Amsterdam or Paris? Why is that? Is it one better than the other? In what sense? Well, let’s take a look at it.
Paris is exactly what you expect it to be: everything you know about Paris, the feeling it gives, the charm it has and even the good food. In the case of Amsterdam, it is a city to discover, get to know what you want from it. One could say that Paris is better for visiting and Amsterdam, for living.
On my defense, I am going to say that Amsterdam is a city to discover. Whereas my first day in Paris was a moment full of discoveries and lack of deception, when I went to Amsterdam I didn’t really know what to expect, everything was overwhelming and it took me a while to discover what for me is the beautiful city that I now know. Let’s take a look at both cities!
Visiting Paris or Amsterdam?
In my opinion, as well as my whole family and most of my friends, Paris is the most amazing city they have ever been to. I really do believe this is due to the fact that it lives up to the expectations. I mean, we all have a collection of memories of Paris we have seen in films since we were children, books, songs, and everything has created an idea of what this should be. And, guess what? It is all of that and more.
In the case of Amsterdam, unless you have studied or been interested in it for a specific reason, we don’t really know what to expect and we get carried away by the most touristic aspects of the city. Of course, we have tulips, Van Gogh, art and history, but also drugs, prostitution, and party.
Both cities have their pros and their cons, but that obviously depends on every person’s taste. Visiting both cities properly requires a few days, so doing both at the same time it is never a good option if you have a narrow schedule. I would recommend you to visit Paris unless you have a great reason to visit Amsterdam.
Where to Stay in Paris and Amsterdam?
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)
My recommendation for Paris with the same criteria are, close to the centre, good quality-price and nice reviews:
- Hotel Aida Marais (3 STARS HOTEL)
- MileStay Paris Montmartre (Luxury Apartments)
- Best Western Premier Marais Grands Boulevards (4 STARS HOTEL)
- Citadines Les Halles Paris (4 STARS CONDO HOTEL)
What can you see: Paris vs Amsterdam
When considering where to go it is important to know what you can see, places to go and all the main attractions the city has. Both of them are amazing for sightseeing, but checking these lists there is a clear winner. What I consider when I see the winner is the feeling of fulfilled expectation one has before visiting the city. See for yourself:
Paris implies doing the compulsory itinerary of impressive monuments and buildings:
- Tour Eiffel
- Arc de Triomphe – Champs-Élysées
- The Louvre Museum
- Notre-Dame Cathedral
- Sacré-Coeur Basilica
- Moulin Rouge
- Musée d’Orsay
- Tuileries Garden
- Musée de l’Orangerie
- Jardin du Luxembourg – Palais du Luxembourg
The Amsterdam version of this list is the following:
- Dam Square – Palace
- Oude Kerk
- The Red Light District
- Van Gogh Museum
- Anne Frank Haus
- Stedelijk Museum
Of course, if I would compare those lists, which is possible, Paris would win. Going to the Tuileries Garden could not be compared to Vondelpark in no case scenario. Don’t get me wrong, Vondelpark is great, but it definitely is not the same. I have grown to love it the more I have discovered of it, but it is a city park. If only, Keukenhof would be the possible comparison but only for a couple of months a year (do you want to know when, check this article). In most cases, it is the same, not everything is comparable.
I have experienced Amsterdam with time, I have discovered all the places tourists don’t normally visit, I have discovered museums not everybody talks about and activities I never thought I would like. This is the Amsterdam that I love, not necessarily everything people visit. I understand that once in your life you have to go to the Red Light District and you have to do some touristic things. But there is much more than that, it just depends on what you personally enjoy doing. Among my favourite activities, I would recommend:
- Stedelijk Museum (read more)
- Cheese for cheese lovers (read more)
- Close by cities: Utrecht, Delft, Gouda, The Hague, Rotterdam, Harlem, Zaandam, etc. All of them worth visiting and in just a few hours!
- Windmills (close ones to Amsterdam here)
- Cycling is a must experience (including its rules)
- And you can also find 76 more things to do in Amsterdam (link here)
Some of my friends love Amsterdam for a more original way of shopping, vintage and many other things you can not only do in Paris. Among them, romantic dinner, eating good food (if you know where to go) and more.
Food is not even discussible: Paris. If you want good cuisine, the French cuisine is, if not the most famous one in the whole world, probably the second. Dutch cuisine has some good pieces such as the typical stroopwafels, great cheese and poffertjes. But Amsterdam is a place to find cuisine from all over the world and get to experience it: Korean, Nepali, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian, Argentinian, Mexican, Japanese and much more.
Other Aspects to Consider:
I have been thinking a lot about the advantages of visiting one or the other city and I came up with some aspects to consider in both of them. Here are some of the ones I considered and what city wins:
Queuing for attractions: in this aspect, both cities win. Paris and Amsterdam are very touristic cities that offer the possibility to book online their most famous attraction (and basically all the other too). This is something great because most of the time you will find that there are no tickets left for that day or even the whole week.
Time to spend in the city: Amsterdam can be more of a short trip whereas Paris could be more of a longer holiday. This is most of all because distances between things. Amsterdam is small enough to walk from one of your activities to the other whereas doing that in Paris could be a little tricky. Even if you take public transportation in Amsterdam, you will get to places much quicker. Organising something to see in Amsterdam during a weekend is much easier than in Paris.
Travelling with kids: both cities are children friendly, although I would suggest Amsterdam. Both cities have good deals of free entrance for most museums when it comes to children. For instance, both the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre are free for children. But as far as I know Amsterdam has a lot of cool museums that both parents are children could enjoy. Among them: NEMO Science Museum, Stedelijk Museum and the zoo, ARTIS. Plus, children travel for free up to 7 years old.
Language: in this one I have to go with Amsterdam. I would say that 99% of Dutch people speak English (read more here) something I believe Paris cannot promise. If you want to practise your French, Amsterdam is great, but I would also say that there are higher chances that someone will speak your language in Amsterdam. I myself speak Spanish and Italian and working in the touristic industry I have spoken more Italian and Spanish living in Amsterdam than living in Italy and in Spain. Funny, right?
Flights: both cities are great, well connected to the airports with shuttle, busses and more. Also both cities have two airports. In the case of Paris, they have Charles De Gaulle and Orly. In the case of Amsterdam you can fly to Schiphol or even to Eindhoven, an airport 1 hour or so away by train to Amsterdam, something relatively reasonable and with great deals.
Visiting only the city: if you want to visit just the city, Paris it is. If you want to make something else out of your holidays, definitely Amsterdam. The size of the Netherlands makes travelling around by train or car super easy and most cities end up being a one day trip. If you are interested in knowing more about one day trips from Amsterdam this article may inspire you. Getting to know the Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam, something harder to find out in Paris.
Weather: both cities are very gloomy during the winter months. Amsterdam is a little more colder and depressing, to be honest. That doesn’t bother me but I can understand that enjoying a city it also has to do with the weather. Amsterdam tend to be better during the summer months, not so warm and maybe not so rainy. Paris tend to look more alive during the winter.
Do you think money may be something to consider? Which one is cheaper, Amsterdam or Paris? Read here!