Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands is known for its ‘crazy’ side, but the city has so much more to offer than just legalized drugs and prostitution. In today’s blog, I will show you the softer side of the city.
The amazing architecture, the canals, the museums and the lovely little markets are just some of the reasons you should visit this fantastic city.
Falling in love with Amsterdam is easy when you know where to go and what to look for.
WHAT TO DO
Canal Rides – Very touristy, but still the best way to get to see the city and learn lots of historical facts. Sit back, listen to the commentary and enjoy the spectacular views.
Rijksmuseum – This museum is the best place to view world-famous paintings and works from the Dutch Masters.
Van Gogh Museum – Right across from the Rijksmuseum you can find ‘The Van Gogh Museum’. This is a multi-story building which hosts the world’s largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork. If you have time to go to both, I suggest you buy a “combo ticket” as this will save you some money.
Anne Frank Huis – In this world-famous house you can go on an informative and fascinating tour, showcasing you the spaces where the famous Frank family and friends hid during World War II.
This attraction is an absolute must-see!
Top tip: Book-entry tickets in advance, because you’ll often find a long queue of people lining up for tickets upon arrival.
Vondelpark – The cities largest park is a must-see on a sunny day. People from all walks of life chill in this lush park.
Hortus Botanicus – One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, the Hortus Botanicus is home to a variety of greenhouses and a fantastic outdoor garden.
Bike tours – A great way to get to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time is to take a bike tour through the city. A few of the most notable bike tour operators include Mike’s Bike Tours, Bike Tour Amsterdam, and We Bike Amsterdam.
WHERE TO SHOP
The Kalverstraat in Amsterdam’s city center is one of the main shopping streets. Another shopping street is Nieuwedijk-Kalverstraat, about 1 km full of shops. This is a pedestrian area, which means there is no traffic, other than a constant stream of tourists, students, scholars, excursionists, and locals.
On Sundays, you can shop in the city center, Kalverstraat, Damrak, Leidsestraat, and near the Noorderkerk.
Albert Cuyp Market – Is a typical Dutch market with lots of great offers and varieties of food, flowers, and touristy trinkets. The prices are among the cheapest in Amsterdam and great for a bargain deal. Do keep in mind that the market gets very crowded especially on a sunny day and Saturdays.
WHERE TO EAT
LOCAL TREATS YOU SHOULD TRY
- Stoopwafels: A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle (YUM).
- Poffertjes: Poffertjes are very small Dutch puffy pancakes about 5 cm (2 inches) wide that are mostly flat, but are puffed up a little bit. They are made from white wheat flour, butter, milk, eggs, yeast and salt and then typically covered in soft sugar and butter… (my Aussie friends who have tried these say “they are the best”!)
- Kroketten: The common English translation of kroket is croquette. A typical Dutch croquette is made of meat ragout (or salpicon) covered in breadcrumbs, and deep fried until golden and crispy.
- Pudding broodje: Is a sweet roll filled with a vanilla cream pudding and dusted with powdered sugar.
24 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM
You’ll be surprised how much of Amsterdam you can see in just 24 hours. So arm yourself with comfortable shoes, a good map and a good plan. Here is what I would do if I only had 24 hours in this city.
09.00: GET SOME FUEL – BREAKFAST TIME
Start the day right with a fresh coffee and a big breakfast – you’re going to need it.
The city is filled with quaint little bakeries where you can order a high fuel breakfast.
I can give you some examples: but depending on where your hotel or B&B is, there will be loads of little bakeries in your area. Just follow the locals, they know where to eat.
10.00: CANAL CRUISE
Hop on one of the many canal cruises available in the city. They are a great way to get a lot of knowledge in, as well as seeing a fair bit of the city as well.
A few of the most notable canal cruise operators include Lovers, Canal and Holland International.
11.00: BE LIKE THE DUTCH – RENT A BIKE
Cycling is the quickest, easiest and an incredibly fun way to get around Amsterdam, and allows you to cover much more ground than what walking would.
Cycling in the city can be hectic, especially if you’re not used to Amsterdam-style traffic! Here are a few things to keep in mind after you hire a bicycle. (Very useful and very funny)
11.15: BIKE AWAY
Now that you have your bike, it’s time to start exploring. Cycle through the canal ring and enjoy the amazing architecture. Keep going until you reach Amsterdam’s most famous park, Vondelpark. Continue until you reach the vibrant suburb ‘ De Pijp’.
13.00: GRAB SOME LUNCH
In De pijp, you can find tons of great little lunch spots.
From traditional Dutch food to Indonesian, Indian and much much more.
14.00: SNIF UP SOME CULTURE
After lunch, head to some of the worlds best museums like the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. You’ll want to spend a few hours here, admiring the work of some of the worlds best artists.
The Van Gogh Museum is open until 7pm, so visit this one last if you can.
19.00: DELICIOUS STREET FOOD
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time for dinner. Amsterdam is truly a dining out paradise, with something on the menu for everyone. If you’re struggling to choose, then a restaurant that really does have something on the menu for everyone’s taste buds is Foodhallen.
Various restaurants will serve a selection of small (signature) dishes for locals and tourists to enjoy. With over 20 different stalls, varying from Michelin star concepts to international ‘streetfoods’, the Amsterdam ‘Foodhallen’ is an international foodie-hotspot like no other.
After eating you can decide if you have wandered around enough and go back to your hotel and take a relaxing bath. If you still have some energy left then you can head out into Amsterdam’s famous nightlife. With a global reputation for partying, there’s always something great going on somewhere in the city. If live music’s your thing, then Paradiso, Melkweg or Bitterzoet are great shouts.
And there you have it, if I had 24 hours in Amsterdam this is how I would spend it, ENJOY!
Language: Dutch, though English is spoken pretty much city-wide
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1
Electricity: Type C two-prong plug. Electrical power in the Netherlands and in most of Western Europe runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt, alternating current.
Currency: Euro (€). The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro (€, EUR), which is used in almost all countries within the European Union
Tipping: Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.
Weather: Keep an eye on the weather report, as Mother Nature can be finicky in Amsterdam. Even in summer, there is a possibility that you might need a jacket.
Getting around: Save your cab money. From Schiphol Airport, the fastest and cheapest way to get into the city center is by train. It’ll take you just 20 minutes and cost you a few euros. Once in the city, Amsterdam is easily accessible by two feet and two wheels.
WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW
English is pretty much everywhere in Amsterdam (as well as the rest of the Netherlands). Tourism relies on it so much, that they have to speak English in order to work and live in Amsterdam. It is however considered very polite to know a few words in the local language, no matter where you are in the world. So here are a few simple words that you can be useful for you.
- Hello/hi: Hallo/hoi
- Thank you: Dank je wel
- Bye: Dag/Doei
- Sorry: Sorry (same, but good to know)
- Good morning: Goede morgen
- Cheers: Proost
- Bon appétit: Eet smakelijk
Are you going to visit Amsterdam soon? I hope that these tips were useful.