Okay, honestly speaking, when I think of Amsterdam, I think of weed. While that is often the main draw for tourists to venture to Amsterdam (at least the ones I know lol), after visiting I now understand that there is so much more to this city than that.
Things to do in Amsterdam
1. Cafe Winkel 43 – After hearing from friends that this was the best apple pie they ever had, I knew I had to make a visit here. It did not disappoint and I may have ended up going back twice. Warning, it is pretty decadent so be sure to leave some stomach space for this!
Noordermarkt 43, 1015 NA Amsterdam, Netherlands
2. Heineken Factory – Take a tour of the famous beer maker’s factory, complete with a tasting room! Two drinks are included with the price of the tour (16 euros for adults) and the package deal even offers a cruise of the canal. You can book online and might even be able to score a discount of 2 euros if you book with the tour agencies near the town center.
Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands
3. Anne Frank House -It is one thing to read the book, but another thing to see the famous house in person. My advice is to go early or get tickets in advance online as they usually sell out! We weren’t able to get tickets but I have heard fantastic things about it from every single person who’s gone. Don’t make the same mistake I did…make sure you go!
Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. Van Gogh Museum – As a kid who grew up painting copies of The Starry Night, seeing this museum that housed Van Gogh’s treasures was a real treat. The line for this was pretty long when I went mid-afternoon (there is definitely a theme in this post with the long lines lol), so we didn’t really have that much time to enjoy his art, but it was still an awesome experience.
Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
5. I am Amsterdam letters – These iconic letters are the perfect place for a photo op. There are four sets of these letters: one is at the Amsterdam Airport, another changes location around the city, and the third set can be found at the Amsterdam Museum. There is a fourth set (pictured below) right in front of the Rijksmuseum, which is conveniently listed as number 6 on this list. Two birds, meet one stone.
6. Rijksmuseum – The Rijksmuseum, also known as the State Museum, is more than 200 years old and is beautiful to behold. It is a popular tourist spot, known for its works from Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and other famous Dutch artists.
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
7. Coffeeshops (you didn’t think I’d leave this off did you?) – There are over 250 coffee shops in Amsterdam so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one. Coffeeshops are basically cafe-type establishments that sell cannabis (weed, hash, marijuana) to adults that are over 18 years old. There was a scare back in 2012 when government was considering only selling to Dutch locals, but to the relief of tourists and coffeeshop owners everywhere, the legislation was dropped. You can find a list of the best coffeeshops here.
There are a couple of options when it comes to transportation in Amsterdam.
- Biking – This is one of the most popular options in getting around the city. The city was practically made for bicyclists and there are designated bike lanes pretty much wherever you go. Fun fact: thousands of bicycles have to be retrieved from the canals of Amsterdam each year…maybe because of BUI’s?
- Amsterdam Travel Ticket – The Amsterdam travel ticket offers unlimited travel on all buses, trams, metros, and ferries run by GVP. I personally didn’t use one but if you plan on going back and forth across the city a lot, it may be useful for you.
- Walking – I stayed in the Red Light Distrct (RLD) so never really had too much trouble going from place to place. Walking was preferable because it allowed me to really soak in the city at a slower pace. Even getting lost was fun in a weird way because you got to explore parts of the city that you might not have. At night I walked around with some friends, so I never felt too unsafe.
- Taxis – Taxis are also another option for transportation. They are not terribly popular but can be useful if you need to go somewhere after the trams have stopped running or if you are traveling to and from the airport. In times of high traffic, however, public transportation may be a quicker option.
Getting into/out of Amsterdam
To get into Amsterdam, I took the high speed train from Frankfurt. It took about four hours and costs about 60USD. I really loved the train system in Germany as the trains were always on time and super clean. If you have the opportunity to take one, I would highly recommend it!
To leave Amsterdam and begin my journey to Morocco, I took the train from Amsterdam Central Station to the Amsterdam Schipol airport. The train takes about 15 minutes and costs around 6USD.
For housing, I decided to save money by staying at a hostel. I ended up choosing the Warmoesstraat hostel because it is known to be a great place to meet other travelers. It also sits right next to a club so if you are looking for bomb nightlife right on your doorstep, this is just the place for you. In 2014 prices, I paid 110USD for 2 nights in an 8 bed female dorm. As Amsterdam is a popular travel destination in Europe, expect prices to be on the higher side.
- Red light district – The usual debauchery can be found here, with no one around to really judge. You can find a mix of prostitutes, sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and coffeeshops.
- Fries with mayonnaise is the go to drunk food in Amsterdam. To be honest, it didn’t sound that appealing at first but it wasn’t bad.
- Free walking tours with Sandeman’s are a great way to get to know this charming city better. They offer different types of tours such as a general tour, a RLD tour, and a city bike tour. If you’re traveling solo, it is a fun way to get to know other tourists too.
Amsterdam is a city to indulge, but also a beautiful city to explore whether it is by bike or foot. I didn’t expect to find so much history, art, and culture in this city and if you have the chance to, I definitely think it’s worth a visit!
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin. But in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” – John Green