Enjoy some helpful tips from Sean and Allison at Joy Ride Tours on all things Amsterdam & beyond.
The easiest and cheapest way to get to the center of Amsterdam is on the red 397 bus from Schiphol Plaza to Leidseplein. It costs only 5 Euro and the bus has space to store your luggage. Heads up! No cash, only cards to purchase tickets. A cab will run you about 30-45 Euro, and taking the train to Central Station and then getting a tram is hard with baggage. There is a cab stand and tram stop on Leidseplein if you need to go further.
The locals use a special transport card, but they're unhandy for tourists. Trams 1 and 2 have a ticket seller in the middle entrance of the tram but Tram 5 doesn't have a ticket seller. All three of these trams go thru the center of Amsterdam and one hour tram tickets are 2.80 Euro. However, the "Public Transport Day Tickets" are the best.
If you would like to read up on Amsterdam before your arrival, here are some recommendations from Sean and Allison. In the City of Bikes is closest to our hearts, as it involves our two favorite things! Other books we suggest include: Amsterdam, A History of the World's Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto, Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma and Amsterdam by Geert Mak.
We think that nicest place to stay in Amsterdam is on the outer canal ring (but still in the center) by Leidseplein, Museumplein and Vondelpark. TripAdvisor has created a link just for Joy Ride with hotels in this area! Just click on "Accomodation in Amsterdam" above. If you are ready to party hardy, try a hotel in the area near the Central Station or the Red Light District.
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." - H.G. Wells