I love Amsterdam: A mini guide
I love Amsterdam, not just because I am part Dutch but, as far as city breaks go, this place has it all, it’s the best in both Summer and Winter! I love its brick buildings, open skyline, rich history, and relaxed, easy going attitude towards life (and no not because everyone is high)! Amsterdam has so much to do that, even after so many visits, I still find new things to do and see. The city deserves more than just the few days that travellers give it, but if a few days is all you have and you want to make the most of it, then here is my “ideal” travel trips for the Dam!
One of the most efficient ways to get around Amsterdam is by bicycle, both environmentally friendly and a fantastic way to see as much of the city as possible. At about 12 – 20 euros for 24-hour hire although some hotels provide bikes for you, cycling is cheap and cheerful and the roads are so well made to accommodate this popular mode of transport, you’ll love it! You can follow the canals or even the tram lines to navigate our way around this enchanting city. But if cycling isn’t for you, trams are also a fantastic way to get around.
Amsterdam is a city tied to the water, it grew around its canals and the taming of the Amstel River (Yes this is where Amstel beer comes from). The canals of Amsterdam are incredibly beautiful, and there’s nothing like seeing the city from a boat, but don’t be tricked into the big canal boat tours you see around the city, these bad boys are overpriced. You can hire a private boat tour for about 20 Euros an hour, the boats are small, the tours more intimate, and your driver will give you a good personalized tour with plenty of options for Instagrammable content.
From the canals I would highly recommend heading to The Jordaan area, an old working-class neighbourhood turned hip and cool. It is probably the most missed part of Amsterdam, but being a semi-local I know where the all cool kids go! Even though it is close to the city centre, hardly any tourists enter this maze of restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s peaceful, vibrant and just a really great place to wander. It is full of vintage thrift shops (you’ll need to take an extra case for your purchases). While in the area you must try the best Apple Pie in all the land at Winkel 43, the menu is simple, it’s Apple Pie only.
I am not a massive historian, but even I love visiting both the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum! The Van Gogh museum is probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, but don’t let the crowds deter you, it features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life starting with his earliest works. Though not a huge museum, I can spend hours just staring at the paintings! The Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh museum and is a breath-taking building! With over one million works of art, craftworks, and historical objects you can spend a lot of time here. You can even cycle through the museum to the Vondel Park at the back perfect for enjoying picnics while surrounded by wildlife and where the famous AMSTERDAM giant letters are, for that all important selfie!
There is also Anne Frank’s House, which can be found just a little way from the centre, a very interesting tour, and one to tick off the list of things to do. On from that, you can jump back on your bike (this really is the best way to get around town) and cruise through the streets to the flower market, it’s all about the tulips (my favourite flower by the way). Do you like beer? Then head to the Heineken factory to see how it’s brewed, the history and even a taster!
Aside from the beautiful, artistic and just awesome sights and places Amsterdam has to offer, at night Amsterdam really is something special to experience, there are so many bars in “The Dam”, it is always buzzing with locals and tourists, drinking and dancing under the stars full of spirit. There is the wild reputation everyone always wants to know about, and that’s the Red Light District. I won’t go into it too much but I would recommend a visit to the area! It’s quite a shock to cycle past a middle-aged half-naked woman dancing in a shop window at midday on your way to find some lunch! However, it is part of what makes Amsterdam the city it is. Once you get past the stag do’s and “lads on tour”, you’ll notice that very ordinary people, young and old are all curious to take a look at the main strip. It can be a dark place to try and comprehend but hey, life if all about experience’s, right?!
One last thing to mention is Restaurant De Kas, which means Greenhouse, and that’s exactly what it is, only it’s the boojey-est greenhouse ever. If you want to make those taste buds tingle, this is the place to go, however, you do need to book 6 months in advance, it’s popular, and all for the right reasons. De Kas serves Mediterranean dishes made from organic ingredients grown on-site, how wonderful is that. I have never tasted such fresh produce in my life. The menu is a set menu of 5 different things, so you get what you’re given, but trust me, you’ll love every single course (and that comes from a fussy eater). It’s a magnificent atmosphere, and the owner himself is sometimes on site, and very happy to meet and tell the tale of his journey as a Michelin Star chef, to buying a run-down greenhouse in a park and making his dream come true! That dream being De Kas.
So if you haven’t been, I am hoping you want to! And if you have, then I hope you’ll return. I will never get tired of taking trips to Amsterdam. I discover somewhere or something new every time. It’s a place I feel safe exploring and getting lost in! My motto right now… work, travel, save, repeat!
Previously published on The Assistant Room, as Fashion & Travel Editor