10- second takeaway: Amsterdam is an amalgamation of history with modernity like no other city. Seventeenth century buildings, World War historical relevance sites, joint serving coffeeshops, beautiful canals, serene gardens, art museums, windmills, tulips, stroopwafels, red light district, the list is endless. Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities, read on to give yourself all the excuses you need to make that Europe trip soon.
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world. For various reasons! It was my first European solo travel, it was the first place I spent over 10 days at, it was where I found friends I have stayed in touch with even today, it was in Amsterdam that I got lost at 3 am & had a bunch of American teens help me get back to my hostel, it was this city that made me reconsider how much fun museums can be, the café’s & the beautiful gardens took my heart away. If there is one city that I would consider moving in to, it has to be Amsterdam.
Honestly, if you had time, I could give you atleatst 100 reasons why you must pack your bags, book your tickets & head to Amsterdam. For now, lets start with 14 reasons why Amsterdam should be your next trip.
- Lose yourself in the cities beautiful Canals
Amsterdam has more than 100 canals. The 3 main canals Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht form the concentric belts around the city. No matter where you go in Amsterdam there’s a canal right there. Make peace with getting lost in this city because every where you go, it seems like the same place you came from J
- Get Cycling. Rent a bike & explore this beautiful city
Amsterdam is the world’s most Bicycle friendly city with over 60% of its population using the bike to commute in the city. Although you will witness the prevelant bicycle culture in the city, the smaller Dutch cities are more bike- friendly. I’d suggest you explore the city on your foot & rent a bike on few days. It is absolutely an experience worth trying.
- Eat, eat and eat more Cheese
If you are a foodie like me, you sure love Cheese. But your definition of cheese completely changes when you visit Netherlands. One trip to Vondeldam Cheese Factory Tour, all the Cheese tasting you do, you don’t need Breakfast or Lunch. Trust me, I was high on Cheese althrough my trip in Netherlands.
- Graffiti art on Amsterdam streets
Grafitti has always intrigued & interested me. To me, it’s the expression of artists with the underlying message that has made me a fan. Through my travels, I’ve tried to capture various wall arts, inscriptions, drawings & my favorite are the one’s with a Social message. And Amsterdam has been a house to many a artists & you can see that on the walls of the city. They are very progressive in welcoming Urban Art. Here is the link to an entrie blog post dedicated to this art form: http://wanderingpassport.com/amsterdam-expresses-graffiti/
- Hit the city’s famous Café’s & Coffeeshops to get your fix
Now, I’m not going to be suggestive. Whatever it is that you like, go to one of the Café’s/ Coffeeshops and get your fix. Amsterdam offers the most amazing experiences & make sure you indulge in those. I loved the PitBull Café at Leidseplein.
- Visit the beautiful Parks. Probably a Picnic at Vondenlpark
Oh, this beautiful city never lets the green away from you- Trees, Flowers, Ponds surround you wherever you are. There are numerous parks in the city like Westerpark, Amstelpark, Rembrandtpark, Flevopark, Oosterpark but my favourite is Vondelpark. I just grabbed some snacks, a bottle of wine & hit this park. In less than 30 mins, there were 5 more people who joined me & we had our own little Picnic in the park. With games, cafes, live jamming, this park will not disappoint you. I was so in love with the park that I actually moved hostels for my last 3 days in the city & stayed at Stayok Vondelpark Amsterdam.
- Museums Galore- Van Gogh, Rijks Museum
So, let me start off by establishing that I’m not your Museum person. Having traveled extensively, Museums seem like done to death personally. But Amsterdam was different. The options are many and offer different things depending on your taste. I visited The Rijks Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and each of them had different things to offer. If you are a museum person, make sure you buy a multiple museum entry ticket- you save money that way. Also, it’s not expensive to rent the audio guide.
- Get lost in the city’s beautiful Architecture & get that iconic IAmsterdam picture 🙂
Apart from the beautiful canals that are all over the city, the buildings, the roads, alleyways, churches, everything seems like a piece of art. The Renaissance architecture, the luxurious canal houses, the gabled facades, this city definitely boosts some of the most charming architectural structures.
- Hieneken Beer Tour
You’re in Amsterdam & you cannot not do the Heineken Tour irrespective of whether you like Beer or not. Hieneken, the world famous Brewers have transformed their first built brewery in Amsterdam into an interactive tour through the world of Hieneken- History, ingredients used, process, tasting, merchandise. You’ve got it all. Check out their experience here: http://www.heineken.com/Heineken-Experience/Heineken-Experience
- Try the famous Dutch Clogs
Clogs are basically wooden footwear like in the image. Wooden shoes are used globally in different forms but their main purpose remains the same- protective footwear in agriculture & used in windmill factories as well. The lady at the shop told me there are over 3 million pairs of Klompen (Dutch Clogs) made each year. A large part of it for Souveiours but some Dutch people (Farmers, Gardeners) still use them for daily use. Make it a point to visit one of the Clog factories.
- Tour the Red light district
The Red Light district does not leave anything for imagination. The Sex shops, museums, girls in their cabins inviting you, it’s probably everything you have heard of & more. But, again, I believe in seeing it for yourself. And I did visit the place myself. What caught my attention was the fact that the Ducth Govt was so smart about making this a recongnised profession, cutting the middlemen & making money both for the women and foor the government. I definitely have opinions about Prostitution & Flesh trade in general but I’ll leave that for another time. Keeping that aside, the whole establishment, set up is set up so professionally. Definitely worth a visit and if youre too uncomfortable, make a day trip as a part of the Free Tours where they’ll share all the stories on the the establishment & development of the Red Light district & how it came to become what it is today.
- Ann Frank Museum
Let me warn you that this visit to this museum is going to be a little depressing. Anne Frank house is visited by over a million visitors every year. The highlight of the Anne Frank Museum is the rear house or the Secret Annexe where the Franks hid and observed complete silence and lived here before they were sent to their deaths. The Museum is all about a little German Jew girl’s diary who fled Germany and came to Netherlands to save their life during the Nazi attacks. Even if you haven’t read the Diary, this place will take you back in time.
One warning though is to ensure you book tickets in advance as the waiting in the queue is for 4- 6 hours.
- Experience the best bars in Amsterdam. Try the Pub Crawl & Leidseplein.
Amsterdam is a young city & has a lot to offer for the young. And Leidseplein is the one stop place for all party goers. It is a hyperactive square with a bunch of tourists flocking the place, artists performing. The street has countless pubs and bars and even larger number of café’s and restaurants making it the perfect spot for all party animals. There are a lot of Pub Crawls organized here & if you are hitting Amsterdam solo like I did, these Pub crawls are an absolute fun experience.
- Head towards the countryside & spot fully functional iconic Windmills
As you are aware, Netherlands are synonymous with Windmills. How can your trip be complete without visiting a Windmill. Take a day trip & head to see a fully functional Windmill. There are nice café’s by the lakes so after doing the tour, you can chill by these café’s, drink local beer & eat lots of Dutch food and cheese.
Hope you enjoy Amsterdam as much as I did.
Bedankt en tot ziens until next time 🙂