Ah, Amsterdam. Such a gorgeous and fascinating city.
Even though I have now been to Amsterdam twice, I absolutely love it and I am literally dying to go back for more.
How do you get around locally? How to you get to the city?
Everything in Amsterdam is walkable, but it might take some time. There are hop-on/hop-off boats that you can purchase tickets for or you can rent a bicycle (be wary, locals are not too patient with or fond of oblivious tourists who don’t know the rules riding bicycles). Uber is available as well. Getting to the city from the airport is a 15-20 minute train ride.
Where to stay?
I would recommend staying near the Van Gogh museum. It is a quiet and beautiful area. Anything within walking distance of the central train station is also good.
How much time to spend here? When is the best time to go?
I have been to Amsterdam twice now and I still don’t feel like I’ve had enough, there are literally just so many things to do. I would give yourself three or four days for your first visit. Like many other European destinations, spring and fall are the best times to go.
How much money?
Amsterdam isn’t crazy expensive, but it’s not cheap either. It isn’t that things are overpriced, but rather there is just so much to do, you’ll have to spend a lot to accomplish it all. Believe me, it’s worth it.
What to do?
In the quick 48 hours I allotted to spend here back in 2014, I was able to see and do so much including the Anne Frank Museum, the Heineken Experience, shopping, sightseeing, a hip nightclub and the “I AMsterdam” sign, plenty of coffee shops, a stroll past the edge of the Red Light District and countless orders of fries (seriously, they were delicious).
It was lovely to be able to stroll around the streets and take breaks sitting by the peaceful canals which run through the city like a giant spider web. Hardly anyone drives cars, and those that do encounter road blocks at every corner. The majority of the population walks or bikes to get where they need to be. Another wonderful thing about Amsterdam is that English is the most common spoken language, so don’t fret if you’re American like myself!
Art is literally anywhere and everywhere you look. My eyes were overwhelmed by all the gorgeous and interesting things I encountered. The architecture of the buildings alone is absolutely breathtaking and everything seems to be artistic expression in some way.
The Anne Frank Museum was a must-see. There was an extremely long line to get inside, but fortunately I had plenty to look at because a parade was headed right down the alley we were standing in!
Though you are not allowed to snap pictures inside of the Anne Frank house, it was an emotional experience to be present in the secret annex where the Frank family spent over two years of their lives. During the tour, you to walk through the same rooms that Anne, her family and four others used to eat their dinner, sleep, and spend their days together in hiding. I definitely recommend buying a copy of her diary as well on the way out!
As cliché as it is, I also highly recommend stopping by one of the local coffee shops, or five, which is one of the most popular things Amsterdam is known for. It is one of the only places in the world that you can legally purchase and smoke marijuana. I learned how to roll a perfect joint and even had an opportunity to try chocolate cannabis ice cream!
The Heineken Experience was also a blast; they show you how they make their beer and you get to taste some fresh out of the tap! By the end of the tour, you’ll be happier than you were when you walked in (which is pretty difficult to imagine considering you’re already in Amsterdam).
Holy moly. The Red Light District. It felt weird having a camera out here so I did not, but this place was nothing quite like I could have anticipated– I didn’t realize how massive and crowded this place would be. It was certainly a culture shock. My friends and I only walked by a couple windows before turning around, but it was crazy to see how acceptable prostitution is.
Please eat the fries. Eat all of them, forever. They are bombatronic. I think I ordered like two both days I was here. They come with a sauce of your choice, except there are SO MANY to choose from. The sauces with mayo are the most popular, but the peanut sauce they offered was mouthwatering. Ahh. Can I order them from California? I’m obsessed.
I’m positive I left piece of my heart in Amsterdam.
For those who have been to Amsterdam, what was your favorite part? And if you haven’t had the chance to go yet, what are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments. Happy traveling! 🙂