Last week I was lucky enough to tick off another city on my travel bucket list, where Jamie and I visited Amsterdam as part of my birthday celebrations.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and now I totally get why. There is so much to see and do, it’s the sort of place you could visit more than once.
From the beautifully obscure buildings, its world famous cheese or its seedy red-light district, this city has so much to offer.
I’ve listed the highlights/recommendations of my stay, so if you’re thinking of taking a trip, here’s somewhat of a guide to the city below.
- Visit during the tulip season if you’re a flower lover. Tulips are one of my favourite flowers, so visiting mid-April was the perfect time to see them. Have a look at the Tulip Museum, Bloemenmarkt (flower market)
- Take a canal tour for an insight into the city’s rich history, (without having to listen to an annoying tour rep). We took a Lovers Canal Cruise.
- Visit a museum or two on a rainy day. There are so many on offer, and the Museumplein quarter is a good place to take your pick. I would recommend the Moco Museum (Banksy and Dali) and the Heineken Experience.
- Take a walk down the side streets for an array of ‘coffee shops’. Jamie referred to Amsterdam as a “stoner’s paradise”, and if you want to see what it’s all about, then visit a coffee shop (which isn’t actually a coffee shop… if you want coffee, try a cafe or Starbucks). The Bulldog coffee shops are the most touristy, but a safe bet.
- Rent a bike if you’re brave enough! It’s a certainty that there are more bicycles than cars roaming through the centre, and in my opinion you have to be rather fearless to ride one. They are the easiest way to get about, and the vintage style looks pretty cool too.
- Take a peek at the red-light district at night to satisfy your curiosity, because, lets be honest; who isn’t? The streets are full of scantily-clad ladies in windows, and if you’re really curious, go and watch a live sex show. We did, and although we laughed all the way through it, it was an interesting experience. Visit the Sex Museum for a bit of cheekiness, or Moulin Rouge to see it all…
- Get involved in the food. The Netherlands is famous for its cheese, so try some authentic Gouda or Edam (both of which are actual cities, if you didn’t know). There are also plenty of restaurants and street food on offer, from mini pizzas to stroopwafels (Dutch waffles). We enjoyed a fancy Chinese at the floating restaurant, Sea Palace.
I’m usually more of a fan of hotels, but our stay at Yays Zoutkeetsgracht was lovely. The apartment gave us plenty of space to relax each night, the kitchen was well equipped and the staff at the concierge desk were super helpful.
I would most definitely recommend a visit to Amsterdam, as not only is there plenty of culture, the shopping is decent, the locals are friendly and the vibe is very laid-back. Just make sure to take plenty of cash!
What city breaks have you enjoyed? Let me know your recommendations below…