AMSTERDAM CITY GUIDE
Amsterdam has been one of my favourite stops in this European tour -- I have fallen in love with the city in its entirety and Chad & I are already plotting our move there. Everyone in the city carries such a relaxed vibe, and there is a new place to explore at every turn. Every piece of the place is filled with beauty and history, and is definitely a must see while on this side of the pond! This post is a compilation of a few of my favourite spots and top tips if you're planning a visit!
WHAT TO DO
CANAL BOAT TOUR
My favourite room in the entire museum was the library - it was so beautifully lit and the shelves were lined with endless colourful books, and the whole room seemed like a place in a story. There were people on the bottom floor of the library studying and reading, so if you are looking for a peaceful place to hit the shelves, this is the place for you!
The Rijksmuseum is a must when visiting Amsterdam if you love history, art, architecture, or all three. It is positively MASSIVE and has multiple floors filled with endless treasures and art. Be sure to give yourself 2.5+ hours to see everything, as it is very easy to get lost in history here. Buy your tickets ahead of time online if you want to skip the line, as it can get a bit hectic at peak times! Tip: if you are on a particularly short trip and can only visit one museum, choose this one over the Van Gogh, as some of his paintings are also in Rijksmuseum!
There were no cameras allowed in here, so these photos (and the video clips in the vlog) were taken with my life on the line. The palace is right in the centre of Dam Square, and boasts an entire preserved floor that can be wandered aimlessly at your own pace. The price of the ticket also comes with an audio guide that explains every whozzit and whatzit that you could dream of. I loved the fact that this palace was one of the few that is actually still used by the Royal family. The weekend following our visit had a closure of the palace due to a royal event -- that kind of made seeing the palace and wandering through the rooms that much more special! IT'S ACTUALLY A PALACE IN USE!
Take a break, pack a picnic, and head to the Vondelpark for an afternoon of lounging and relaxation. This park was jam packed with people listening to music, laying out, and having a great time in the sun. We spent a few hours one afternoon laying out by one of the many ponds, and just enjoyed the view of the ducks flapping about in the water. It was very busy yet peaceful at the same time, and it seems to be a favourite local spot! There is also a really cute cafe in the middle of the grounds if you fancy a snack or drink while at the park.
Lastly, I urge you to wander. I could spend hours strolling through the streets and canals that flow through the city.; there is something incredibly magical about this place and I found myself being able to get lost for hours. Take photos, pop into shops, eat the food and breathe in the fresh stroopwafel air -- you never know what you might find :)
If anyone is wondering why I didn't mention the Anne Frank house (which is one of the most visited museums in Amsterdam), it is because we failed to buy our tickets ahead of time and were sold out for the entire 4 days that we were in Amsterdam. Though you don't necessarily need a ticket after 3pm, we refused to stand in the three-block extended lineup. If this spot is on your to-see list, make sure to book your tickets VERY MUCH in advance!
WHERE TO SHOP
We didn't do too much shopping as we tried to see as much of the city as possible in our short stay, but I obviously couldn't resist sneaking in a few hours of mozeying around! The store We Are Labels was fantastic and was a basic clothing lovers DREAM. I loved every single piece that was in the store and Chad had to stop me from spending every dollar in my bank. If you are looking for some really great Danish & Dutch brands, this is the place for you.
Other shops that carried unique brands and had some fab finds are "Sissy Boy and "MenAtWork" that are both located in the Magna Shopping Plaza. All three are within walking distance from one another and I definitely recommend heading in their direction if you want some great local brand shopping in Amsterdam.
WHERE TO EAT
I couldnt' understand why so many blogs and travel sites said that Amsterdam was not a city for foodies - we ate at some amazing places that had even better food. Here are a few of my favourite spots...
- BLEU BRASSERIE BISTRO -
The Bleu Brasserie Bistro was a lovely spot for a quick lunch and had FAB decor that I couldn't help but photographing 1xbillion times.
Chad ordered the Croque (pictured right) and I had MAJOR order envy -- that little puppy was one of the cheapest options on the menu and was simply divine (&cheesey A+++). I had the chicken mixed salad which was equally as delicious. They also offer a ton of daily features so be sure to ask what the special is - don't say no to their daily soup special - its fab.
- SKEK -
Skek restaurant was one of my favourite eat spots in the city. They have such a diverse menu with a bunch of veggie options and spectacular daily specials. I had the ravioli and Chad had the Skek burger, and both were delicious. The service was also exceptional and the ladies who were working the evening were really helpful with tips and recommendations for both the restaurant and the city. This is a must-eat place, and don't forget to ask about the 30% student discount if you have a student card on hand! (saving dollas holla)
Skek also has an excellent drink selection and feature tons of local beers - my personal favourite was the Brouwerij't IJ Natte beer.
We had a splurge-y lunch at the Seafood bar one afternoon, and while we didn't take exceptional photos inside, it is definitely a spot to hit if you are a seafood lover. They have really well priced seafood and offer very diverse combos that offer tons of options. Chad & I ordered the Deluxe Plateau Plate for Two and it came with a TON of fish that was definitely enough to stuff us both full. The service wasn't that great but the atmosphere and the food made for a really nice experience!
We are a bit bias with this restaurant choice as it was conveniently located in our hotel, but the food here is incredible and we would definitely recommend coming here for a fantastic meal. Some of our favourites were the Lobster Risotto (pictured right), the Roasted Lamb, and the Braised Meatballs. Our server Dano was such a fun fellow and made our dinner experience so wonderful! The restaurant is housed in one of the refurbished canal houses from the 1600's and I just fell in love with the food and the whole vibe of the place.
- THE SEAFOOD BAR -
WHERE TO STAY
We had such an amazing stay at the Pulitzer Hotel and will definitely be planning a trip back someday. We were welcomed with champagne and a lovely hand-written card in the room, and everything about the stay was so well done. Chad wrote a beautiful full review on the hotel here, so check out that post if you want to see more about our stay!
- Cafe means coffee & Coffeeshop means weed. The muffins work & the brownies don't ;)
- Walking can get you everywhere. If you are lazy like me, then buy the three day travel pass that lets you use the metro and the tram! Or if you're bike savvy, rent a bike. People aren't joking when they say that everyone in Amsterdam bikes. EVERYONE IN AMSTERDAM BIKES. And lookout, they will run you over if you walk in their bike lane.
- ^ on that note, stay outside of the city centre for a cheaper trip and use the metro - it's fabulous, easy, and fast
- I hadn't previously read anything about the Red Light District, but in short, there are naked ladies standing in doorways for many blocks
In short, Amsterdam has become one of my favourite cities on the planet and I hope that everyone can have the chance to visit the city in their lifetime. You can check out the vlog of our entire visit here, and I hope that you enjoyed reading this post! Until next time...