The fact where there was a period of time I did not leave the United States for four years (Summer 2011 to Summer 2015) is now absolutely bonkers to the girl who now lives abroad and has been to a dozen countries this year alone. It’s crazy how times change! And while I still have Bali posts to share with you along with a few other England adventures I am going to switch it up today as someone asked for recommendations for the Netherlands and I realized I have never actually put together a list! I have now been to Amsterdam six times – four for work and twice for fun, for a total of two weeks. I am by no means an expert but I have seen the sites and do have a few of my favourites of this water bound city to share with you today!
1 | The i Amsterdam Sign – The letters are red and white, two meters high, and spell out “i Amsterdam” and there is a high probability you have come across them on Instagram as they are the most tagged attraction in the city. However, they lead to an over crowding of a key spot so the letters are now on the move all around the city and if you want a picture with them, there is a copy at the airport, Schipol.
2 | The Anne Frank House – I would not normally queue in the heat and pay tickets to walk around small, cramped, empty rooms but getting the chance to see the space at Prinsengracht 263 where for more than two years Anne Frank and her family lived is an experience not to be missed. Because of the space constraints timed tickets are sold and sell out weeks ahead of time so if you are thinking of visiting, plan ahead. And one word the wise, no matter how tempting day drinking is or the drugs on every corner – go to this museum completely sober not only to show it it the respect it deserves but also because I witnessed a few people having confused trips inside.
3 | Bike Around the City – There are less than a million people in Amsterdam but you would not know that from the number of bikes you see EVERYWHERE – they are definitely the preferred method of a transportation for locals and with 400 kilometres of bicycle paths the city is equipped for it. There are dozens of bike rentals throughout the city which can be done by hour or for the whole day (And only cost €8-10 for the day). As you will have seen from past posts, one of my favorite ways to get to know a city with a bike tour. We chose Mikes Bike Tours Amsterdam, specifically the 3-hour city bike tour and I recommend it!
4 | Explore the Canals – There is a reason Amsterdam is called the “Venice of the North” and it is not because it is sinking. The heart of the city is built ans structured around 165 canals which give the city a magical floating feeling. With this many canals it means the actual city of Amsterdam is dozens of individual islands but they are connected by more than 1,000 bridges in the core ring area alone. And in 2010 the canals themselves were deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5 | Take a Boat Cruise – Speaking of exploring the canals, besides walking or biking up or down them it is a great experience to see Amsterdam from the water. There are more than a dozen options for a one hour Amsterdam Canal Cruise, and nearly all have alcohol aboard. I enjoyed our cruise with Flaghship Amsterdam as you were able to book ahead on line and the knowledgeable guides pointed out interesting sites as we cruised through the canals. Based on my experiences, expect to pay €15 per person for a regular tour or €35-€40 per person for one with an open bar.
6 | Heineken Experience – This tour of the original Heineken brewery already got it’s own post when Kevin and I went last Summer so check that out here but it is definitely worth mentioning again!
7 | Dine at Mossels & Gin As the majority of my trips to Amsterdam were with work I often was not in charge of where we were going to eat but when I have had the options it has been quite delicious and I highly recommend a seafood restaurant in Westerpark called Mossel & Gin. I loved everything about the spot from the quaint decor to the mouthwatering food to their darling location in the middle of Amsterdam’s largest park. But make sure to book ahead (and take a look at these reviews!!)
8 | W Hotel Rooftop – It is not often that I fall in love with a hotel but the rooftop pool at the W in Amsterdam makes me so happy – it could be the wrap around deck with 360 degree views of the city, the fact that they serve their Aperol Spritz’s in giant goblets or beacuse the have a giant flamingo floating in the pool but it is a top spot! Oh, and you can go even if you are not a hotel guest!
9 | Visit Red Light District at Night – It is unlike anything you have ever seen and photos are not allowed – this sneaky one above was taken during the day and not of the famous dancers in the windows who actually work around the clock.
10 | Rijksmuseum – To be honest, it I do not really care that they have 8,000 objects on display and between my two visits I have only seen a fraction but the one’s I did see made it well worth the trip for the dozen Rembrandt’s alone. And since reading Girl with the Pearl Earring in high school I have been a fan of Johannes Vermeer so getting a chance to see his Milkmaid piece with it’s vibrant blues and yellows was a treat.
11 | Sunsets or Sunrises on the Water With the hundreds of canals it is not hard to find a spot to watch the sun say good morning or bid the day farewell but the reflection on the water does create a gorgeous experience and a very photogenic one at that!
12 | Try Out Local Spots Between all of my visits I had good sushi at Mizu Bar, tasty cocktails at Buddha Bar, burgers at Lombardo’s, amazing pasta at Casa di David (though don’t be in a rush), very fancy cocktails at Tales & Spirits, outdoor nibbles at Cafe ‘t Sluisje, fresh seafood at Visrestaurant Lucius, and a highly recommend brunch at Greenwoods which is pictured above.
Also, if you are planning to visit Amsterdam take a look at what is happening in the city – for instance one of the times I was visiting there was a great Banksy exhibit going on!
Now tell me, do you think there is anything I missed from my list of things to do in Amsterdam?