Amsterdam was never high on my list of cities to visit as, growing up, I assumed it was the place you went if you smoke (which I don’t) but I was so wrong. It’s filled with beautiful scenery, friendly people and the cutest restaurants and shops.
I visited Amsterdam in February and it was cold but the weather was beautiful – I really want to go back in the summer. I think it would be the perfect city to spend a weekend in July. We spent hours walking, exploring the little streets, watching people balance ladders on their bicycles and falling in love with the quirks of the city.
I believe that most cities can be done in three days, which is exactly the amount of time we spent in Amsterdam, long enough to fall in love with a city but short enough to have an excuse to go back. February was cold but we were really lucky with the weather – beautiful blue skies the whole time! Whilst booking, the hardest part was finding good accommodation that was affordable, especially as we needed a triple room. I am a little picky about accommodation: I know you don’t spend that much time in your room but I like modern hotels which are clean and in the centre of the city so we can do as much walking as possible.
I ended up booking the Ibis Amsterdam Central which was fine – nothing more and nothing less – just fine. Pretty clean, but a little dusty and with more of a dorm feel than a hotel feel. I think this is because Amsterdam is so popular with large, often young, groups of people. Next time I think I’ll book an AirBnB as I’ve heard you can find some real gems.
That said, Ibis Amsterdam Central was the perfect location and we walked everywhere! (oh, and the boat)
If I recommend one thing to do in Amsterdam it would be a canal tour: it’s a great relaxing and informative way to see the city. The ticket we bought was 24hours so we ended up using it as a mode of transport on the last day when we weren’t in a rush, which was a bonus. It’s Hop-on, Hop-Off isn’t too expensive and passes all the main sights.
Whilst abroad I am a museum goer and Amsterdam has quite a few to offer: I would highly recommend the Anne Frank Museum, which is very popular so always has a long queue. The museum closes at 7PM most days and at 9PM on Saturday. I’d recommend either queuing for opening time or towards the end of the day but you should still expect to queue for a few hours (you can prebook a while in advance too). Queue aside, it’s a very touching museum, very engaging and I would highly recommend visiting!
We also went to the Heineken Museum, which I probably wouldn’t recommend – it’s average at a push. The Sex Museum is pretty inexpensive, so worth visiting since it’s Amsterdam! We didn’t visit the Van Gogh museum – which I now regret – but I guess that’s something to do next time.
Although it was winter, we took the boat to Vondel park and it was a great way to spend a sunny winters day – I can imagine it’s even more beautiful in the summer. We didn’t rent a bike but if that is something you want to do, then Vondel park seems like a great place to do it. But generally, I would say Amsterdam is the perfect place to cycle or stroll around, just taking in the beautiful neighbourhoods.
Where to eat
Hema: If you want a super cheap but nice breakfast then Hema is the place for you. We went more for the gimmick of being able to get a breakfast for 2 Euros. It comes with an omelette baguette, a croissant with Jam, a coffee and an orange juice.
Burgerlijk: we visited here for lunch and it was a nice walk away from our hotel. Although it did get a little busy, we went early and were seen to straight away. We ordered fries and burger which were super yummy, although I’ll admit I think they’re ketchup may be home made and not quite to my taste.
The Pancake Bakery: I seem to be one of the few people that doesn’t love pancakes but we went for breakfast nonetheless and we were quite lucky to get a table straight away. If you love pancakes this is the place for you – even if you’re weird like me and aren’t crazy about pancakes – they were still quite delicious and, of course, I went for the bacon ones.
Vapianos: A boring option but always a failsafe. Wasn’t too busy and the food is always good no matter what country I visit them in.
Overall, I loved Amsterdam. If you’re unsure it’s for you, I’d still go. It’s very quick and cheap to get to from England and it has this free-spirited charm which I fell in love with.