Travel

A Quick Guide to Amsterdam

View of a clock tower in Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal

Amsterdam is one of those cities that everyone thinks they know about – it’s famed for its Red Light District and its lack of laws relating to the smoking of weed but I can assure you that this city has far more to offer than these two aspects!

If you ask me Amsterdam is ideal for a short weekend trip, I only went for three days and that was plenty of time to see everything that I wanted to! It’s also the perfect city to visit at any time of the year, while I went at Christmas time I know plenty of people who have been in the summer months and loved it just as much as I did.

shelter jordan hostel

WHERE TO STAY:

Amsterdam is definitely not short of places to stay but if, like me, you’re wanting to keep your costs down then it’s definitely worth taking a look at the hostels. I stayed in The Shelter Jordan Hostel, it’s right in the heart of Amsterdam – close to the Anne Frank House, Dam Square and the Museum District. The staff were wonderfully helpful, they were full of advice on which attractions we should visit and how to get to them and the hostel itself was immaculately clean considering the amount of people who were staying there at the time. During our stay we receive a free breakfast every morning and the portions were incredibly generous!

anne frank museum amsterdam

WHAT TO DO:
ANNE FRANK MUSEUM

You cannot go to Amsterdam and not visit the Anne Frank Museum. The queue was quite long when we arrived so I would recommend booking in advance if you don’t want to be stood outside for a while. Be prepared to feel a little bit unsettled, it’s quite eerie inside but 100% worth it to view such a famed piece of history.

HIRE A BIKE

Everywhere you look in Amsterdam there are bikes and so if the weather permits it, I would highly recommend jumping straight in with the locals and viewing the city from on board a bicycle!

museumplein iamsterdam sign

VISIT THE MUSEUMPLEIN

The Museumplein is a public park, situated in between the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum and the Stedelijk Musuem (all of which are also worth visits of their own) which all make for a stunning backdrop to the greenery. The somewhat famous ‘I AMSTERDAM’ sign can also be found here and although (as expected) it was extremely busy but if you’re willing to wait around for a bit then I’m sure you’ll be able to grab the opportunity to take a photo with the sign! As I visited in December there was also an ice rink and although i didn’t go on it, the price was fairly low so if ice skating is your thing it would definitely be worth a visit if you’re heading there at Christmas time!

I managed to time my visit perfectly as not long after arriving a group of street performers turned up – they were fantastically hilarious and they definitely knew how to captivate the audience! I’m not sure if this is a regular thing or not, but if there happen to be any street performers around while you’re there, give them a bit of time out of your day as if they are anything like the group we saw they will be worth watching! Just make sure you watch your belongings as pickpocketers are rife in Amsterdam and they tend to hang around crowds like the one that gathered to watch this group!

AMSTERDAM MUSEUM

Amsterdam is absolutely chock-full with museums but one I would definitely recommend is the Amsterdam Museum!
As you enter you are given a booklet with a code on the front and as you make your way around the museum there are several check-in points and video clips that you can activate using your book. The interactive element made it so much more interesting and there were also several photo opportunities as you walked around and the photo was then uploaded to the museum’s Flickr page so that you could get yourself a free copy when you got home!

JORDAN DISTRICT:

The Jordan district is home to a whole range of different cafes and restaurants so if you’ve got a spare moment it would be worth taking a stroll through it to see what you can find.

TULIP MUSEUM:

Amsterdam is famed for its love of tulips and so it is natural that there is an entire museum dedicated to the flower.

VISIT THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT

It’s definitely not for everyone but while you’re in Amsterdam visiting the Red Light District is an eye-opening experience.

amsterdam bikes

TRAVEL:

I had expected to need to use public transport to get around the city but after catching the bus from the airport into the centre of Amsterdam it really wasn’t necessary as everything is so closely situated it’s completely reasonable to walk from place to place. As there are so many independent businesses walking around also meant that I discovered far more than I would have done if I had just jetted from each destination to the next on a bus or a tram. But, if walking isn’t ideal for you then there are numerous bus and tram stops all over the place so it won’t be hard to get to where you need to be.

MY FINAL TIPS:
  • As well as visiting all of the places I’ve mentioned above, try to have a wander around, head for the places that aren’t necessarily ‘tourist’ because I stumbled across some wonderful little cafe’s and museums that weren’t on the main streets by doing just this.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a little lost in order to find some interesting areas, there are plenty of maps all of over the place and the whole of Amsterdam seems to work on some kind of grid system so it is highly likely that you will end up back by some kind of attraction that you recognise soon enough!
  • Watch out for pickpockets. I was unfortunate to have my purse stolen on the first full day of my trip and even though I still had a great time, it did slightly dampen the rest of the holiday for me. Those people know what they are doing and the woman who stole from me was incredibly fast at unbuckling my bag before getting away with all of my money, my id and my bankcards – I was just lucky that she didn’t get my passport too which was tucked away in a different compartment!
  • If you visit during December, take a trip to the Christmas Markets. They are dotted all around the city, they are so cute and quirky and they normally sell some very tasty food which should definitely not be missed! There are also several ice rinks around the city at this time of year and while I visited there was even a light festival and a televised Christmas Carol Concert taking place while I was there so it is worth looking up what is going on when you are due to visit beforehand.
  • amsterdam view

    But my main tip is just to enjoy yourself, it is a beautiful city, with stunning buildings, gorgeous bikes (and LOTS of them) and interesting graffiti/street art all over the place. It is definitely one of those cities where it is the finer details that make it interesting, so keep your eyes open all the time!

    Have you been to Amsterdam before? What are your recommendations?
    If you enjoyed this, take a look at my other travel posts!
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