Do they speak English in Amsterdam?

Do they speak English in Amsterdam?

Curious to know ‘do they speak English in Amsterdam?’ While travelling, I’ve had plenty of tourists ask me this question while discussing my favourite places to visit in Europe. In this guide, I share everything you need to know about the languages they speak in the Netherlands, as well as some top tips and Dutch phrases to try during your visit.

Amsterdam is an incredible city, and a rich melting pot of culture. In fact, I’ve had so many colleagues and friends recently move to the city for work, thanks to the range of incredible companies setting up shop in the Dutch city. Personally, I love Amsterdam. It’s liberal, it has an interesting city, and it’s compact enough to explore on foot (or bicycle) in just a long weekend. I totally get the appeal of moving to Amsterdam for a new life.

Amsterdam is a city rich in culture and green spaces, offering a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors to explore. Whether you’re interested in art, history, architecture, or simply soaking up the unique atmosphere, there’s something for everyone. It’s little wonder that around 18 million tourists visit the city each year. Oh, and long gone are the days when it was just packed with stag dos looking to visit the coffee shops.

Amsterdam can be a destination on your travel list, and when you prepare your things and put them in your suitcase, your journey begins. You can commemorate your trip by designing a luggage tag with elements that represent Amsterdam. Or if you just want to decorate your luggage, Luggage Tags are still a good choice.

Do they speak English in Amsterdam?

While you might be wondering what to see and do in Amsterdam when planning your trip, you are probably also wanting to know ‘do they speak English in Amsterdam?’ In this guide, I share all you need to know about the usage of English in Amsterdam, the other commonly spoken languages, and some handy Dutch phrases you can use to try and impress during your trip.

Do they speak English in Amsterdam?

Absolutely! Amsterdam has a global reputation for being incredibly English-friendly. Although Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, you’ll find that English is widely spoken and understood throughout the city. The Netherlands consistently ranks highly in global English proficiency indexes, and Amsterdam, as a bustling metropolis, mirrors this proficiency remarkably. The vast majority of the Dutch population speak English almost as well as native speakers.

Do you need to speak Dutch when visiting Amsterdam?

No, quite the opposite – the vast majority of people you’ll speak to in Amsterdam will speak English. Wherever you wander in Amsterdam, you’ll find fluent English speakers. Menus, signs, and public transport announcements are also often available in both Dutch and English. That said, I never like to take it for granted. It can seem ignorant simply to speak English, so I recommend learning a few Dutch words and phrases to show respect. I’ll share some later on in this guide so you’re well prepared for your visit.

Can you live in Amsterdam speaking only English?

Yes – 100%. And thousands of expats who do not speak Dutch live in Amsterdam, communicating seamlessly in English. From ordering delicious Dutch treats at local cafes to asking for directions from locals, speaking in English is pretty straightforward. Thanks to the city’s cosmopolitan nature and emphasis on tourism, an environment has been cultivated where English connects cultures and facilitates interactions with ease.

Life in the Netherlands

Can You Work in Amsterdam if you only speak English?

You don’t need to speak English to work in Amsterdam. There is a booming market of international corporations seeking out English speakers for roles in Amsterdam. Thanks to hundreds of global companies and start ups setting up shop within the Dutch capital due to its great standards of living, there’s an increasing emphasis on universality. As English is one of the most universal languages of all, you don’t need to be able to speak Dutch to work in Amsterdam. Of course, there will always be more work opportunities open to you if you can speak Dutch, or converse with locals. Competition is fierce, so knowing some Dutch will likely work in your favour.

How English friendly is Amsterdam?

English is very widely spoken in Amsterdam, and the Netherlands – it’s a super English friendly city. In fact, a staggering 90% of the Dutch population speak English fluently as a second language, making it relatively simple for native English speakers to navigate Amsterdam. Language barriers aren’t common in Amsterdam.

Why is English so common in Amsterdam?

While we’ve answered ‘do they speak English in Amsterdam’, you might be wondering how or why Amsterdam natives are so good at speaking English. As the 2022 EF English Proficiency Index placed the Netherlands first when it comes to their English skills in non-native countries, there are many reasons as to why English is so common in Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam is a major global city – with a business-friendly culture, the Dutch have had to master English to compete.
  • Dutch is fairly similar to English – both languages are Germanic, with similar characteristics.
  • The Dutch are exposed to English from an early age through TV, and don’t dub it.
  • The Netherlands has an excellent standard of education, and children are taught English from a young age.
  • Amsterdam is a major tourist city. It attracts over 18 million tourists each year, the majority of which speak English. As a result, Amsterdam has had to adapt with its English proficiency.
Do they speak English in Amsterdam?

Are the Dutch friendly to foreigners?

One of the things I loved most about visiting Amsterdam is its inclusive, welcoming nature. Nearly all the people I met were incredibly warm and friendly. Although not an expat in the city, my friends who have moved there say the Dutch make a lot of effort to welcome in newcomers. Generally speaking, the Dutch are liberal and treat people like equals. If you are visiting Amsterdam, you’ll have plenty of chances to meet locals.

How do you say ‘hello’ in the Netherlands?

The most common way to greet the Dutch informally is ‘Hallo!’, which literally means ‘hi’ or ‘hello’. It’s much link English, pronounced ‘hah-loh‘. It’s best to use with friends or relatives. There are a few other ways you can say ‘hello’ in Amsterdam too:

  • ‘Goedendag!’ (huh-dun-dahg), which means ‘good day’ – it’s the most commonly used formal greeting which you can use during the day time.
  • ‘Goedemorgen’ (huh-duh-mor-huhn), which means ‘good morning’
  • ‘Goedemiddag’ (huh-duh-mid-dahg), which means ‘good afternoon’
  • ‘Goedenavond’ (huh-duh-nah-vont), which means good evening

Much like in other parts of Europe, in formal situations, the Dutch greet one another by shaking hands. If you’re greeting someone you’re more familiar with, you kiss on both cheeks, usually a couple of times.

How do you say ‘goodbye’ in the Netherlands?

Now you know how to say ‘hello’ in Dutch, you probably want to know what to say when you leave! The Dutch often say ‘tot ziens’ (tote zeens) when leaving a formal situation. It means ‘goodbye’. If you’re saying goodbye to friends or family members, you’d use the more informal ‘dag!’ or ‘doei!’

How do you say ‘Thank You’ in the Netherlands?

Another important phrase to learn while in Amsterdam is ‘thank you’. ‘Bedankt’ (buh-dankt) is an informal way to say ‘thank you’, while ‘dank je wel’ (dahnk yuh vel) is more formal.

A day in the Netherlands

Dutch phrases to use while in Amsterdam

Now you’ve nailed the essentials, there are some other words and phrases that will be helpful when it comes to interacting with the Dutch in Amsterdam. Although the vast majority of people will speak English in Amsterdam, it’s always respectful and polite to learn some basic phrases in the local language, and the Dutch will appreciate your efforts and interest in the culture. Here are some helpful Dutch phrases that might come in handy during your visit to Amsterdam.

  • Please – ‘alsjeblieft’ (ahl-syuh-bleeft)
  • Yes – ‘ja’ (ya)
  • No – ‘nee’ (nay)
  • Excuse me – ‘pardon’. Exactly the same as in English!
  • Do you speak English? – ‘spreekt u Engels?’ (sprect oo en-guls?)
  • I don’t understand – ‘ik begrijp het niet’ (ik buh-graip het neet)
  • Where is…? – ‘waar is?’
  • How much does it cost? – ‘hoeveel kost het?’ (hoo-vale kost het?)
  • I’d like… – ‘ik wil graag…’ (ik wil grahg…)
  • Cheers! – ‘proost!’ (prohst)

Is it Difficult to Learn Dutch?

If you’re looking to spend an extended amount of time in Amsterdam, you might be interested in learning how to speak Dutch. Although I can’t speak from experience, it is thought that Dutch is easy to learn if you’re English speaking. This is because Dutch is from the same Germanic branch of languages, similar to both English and German. In fact, you often find Dutch words used in English (aboard, booze, captain, and cookie, for instance), and vice versa. Because Dutch isn’t commonly spoken outside of the Netherlands, the Dutch love when foreigners try to speak Dutch and will help them to learn.

So, do they speak English in Amsterdam?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ (or ja). Even if you don’t speak a word of Dutch, Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan and diverse city where English is spoken fluently. You’ll find it easy to get around and communicate with locals. While you won’t find any language barriers with English, it’s always a good idea to learn some basic Dutch phrases. The language is very similar to English so you shouldn’t have too much trouble remembering some of the local words and phrases. Attempting to speak Dutch will be appreciated by the locals, and a little effort will go a long way.


That’s my guide to the use of English in Amsterdam! Got more questions or thoughts on ‘do they speak English in Amsterdam?’ Drop me your comments in the box below.

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