“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy” – Anne Frank
When a lot of people think of Amsterdam they picture the sin city of Europe. A place to go wild, get high, and maybe engage in some legal prostitution. They picture hipsters hanging around in the coffee shops all day and getting drunk in the clubs all night.
Amsterdam is so much more than all of that. While it was a very liberating destination for me, it was not for the usual reasons. I am the type of person that loves to plan. I like making an agenda and checking things off the list. Amsterdam changed that mentality for me in the areas of my life it would be beneficial. When I went to Munich I stuck with my agenda and did exactly that. It worked out over there because that is how the culture is. Over here the culture is much different. You can have an agenda, but you will appreciate the lifestyle better if you allow for more spontaneity. Explore the city and allow it to guide where you need to be.
Amsterdam can be a bit pricey, but if you save your money on certain things you will have the ability to splurge where it counts.
Here are some of the things I did and more!
- Bike Tour- Amsterdam has more bikes than people, literally, so it is nice to be a part of that community for a few hours, and it is not as easy as it seems. Luckily, I had experience from my bike tour in Munich, so I was riding through those little streets like a little speedster. Bikes even have more of a right of way than pedestrians, so tourists must be considerate of that. This is a great way to see a lot of the city within a few hours and get ideas for where to eat or hang out. I went through Mike’s Bike Tours Amsterdam because that is who I went through in Munich and they have the best reviews. Feel free to shop around though.
- Anne Frank House- If this is something that interests you then buy your tickets ahead of time or else you will be spending an entire day standing in something like this… Anne Frank House Waiting Line.
- Make sure that when you buy your tickets ahead of time it provides a certain time slot for you to be at the door, so you do not have to get in line at all.
- Canal Tour- Only do this if you are willing to pay the extra money to be on a small boat that provides a personal experience. I originally bought my tickets as a package when I bought my Anne Frank House tickets. The canal tour company would not accept my tickets from my iPhone, and I felt so bad because I bought my friend’s ticket as well. I was running around trying to find an Internet cafe and overreacting like I ruined everything! He finally had to tell me to forget about it and chill the hell out. We ended up grabbing a few Belgium style Duvel beers (sorry, Dutch beer is not the greatest) at an outdoor cafe right next to a canal. I had the time of my life.
- The rest of our crew met up with us after their canal tour and they said it was TERRIBLE! It was crowded, big, slow, and it explained each landmark about 7 times in 7 different languages. Blah! I guess things really worked out for my friend and me.
- Vondel Park- Want to take a couple hours to relax? Lay down in Vondel Park or take a stroll. There are a few cafes in the park too to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view.
- ALL THE MUSEUMS! My post would be longer than you would have appreciated if I described each museum that is worth checking out. Here are some of the main ones, but when you are here do some research on your personal interests because there is a good chance you will find something that tickles your fancy.
- Here is something that tickled my fancy (sorry, I just like that saying)
- Rijksmuseum: The Museum of The Netherlands – This newly renovated museum houses art from all over the world! I almost went here, but admission was about 18 Euros and that was a little steep for me at the moment. They are always getting new pieces, so check online what is there before you buy your ticket.
- Nemo Science Center– This is a science and technology museum for all ages. It is really fun because there are so many hands on activities!
- Iamsterdam.com – This website lists all the museums in Amsterdam and provides an abundant amount of information for visitors.
- Everyone has different experiences in Amsterdam, so it is good to check out some other perspectives.
- Nomadic Matt– Matt provides several posts about Amsterdam with information on things to do and money saving tips.
- Anthony Bourdain has an entire episode on Netflix about his experience in Amsterdam. He is so entertaining. I loved that episode!
Transportation, Lodging & Dining
- Getting to Amsterdam- I flew to Amsterdam from Prague for about 120 dollars on Czech Airlines. Flying is usually cheaper because the Amsterdam Schipol Airport is such a big hub for connecting flights.
- Getting around in Amsterdam- This is a walking type of city. Everywhere you need to go is in the central part. Amsterdam is like a big circle. A transportation pass would be a complete waste of money. You only need to buy a train ticket from the airport to downtown and back when you return.
- Hostels & Hotels– Lodging is very expensive in Amsterdam, so chances are you probably wont be crazy about your hostel or hotel. I stayed in a very small boat hostel. Yes, on a boat. I enjoyed it because I got to sit on the deck and eat breakfast on the boat, but be prepared for a tiny room. I stayed on the Anna Maria II. for about 20 Euros a person, so this little room costed between 80-100 Euros!
- Check out Trip Advisor for other hostel boats. They move around all the time, but they seem to always port by the Nemo Science Center.
- Airbnb– We originally wanted to stay in an Airbnb residence, but something happened with a background check or credit approval. I was not in charge of those arrangements, so I cannot give precise details. I do know that they can be a bit trickier than just booking a room at a hotel. There are different kinds of fees you must pay as well. I think this is a great option for Amsterdam because residents are so welcoming and you might make a new friend! Just make sure you check their ratings and ask any questions you might have ahead of time.
- Ethiopian Food- A lot of Ethiopians resettled in the Netherlands because they were granted automatic citizenship. This means that the Ethiopian restaurants here are authentic and some of the best in the world. So, wash your hands and dig in!
- Stroop waffles & waffles
- Stroop waffles are so delicious when they are freshly made. Place it on top of your cappuccino and enjoy!
- Asian- Wok to Walk – These little Chinese fast food places all over Amsterdam. You choose your noodles, meats, toppings, etc. Once you get your medley creation in a large oyster pail box you walk over to a canal, dangle your feet off the edge and eat your food. Pure bliss…
- Stroop waffles & waffles
- Drinking & Nightlife
- Windmill brewery– Instead of visiting the Heineken Museum my bike tour guide led us to this Windmill Brewery. It was quaint and a nice way to get away from the crowds.
- House of Bols– The house of Bols is a cocktail and genevere experience museum in the heart of downtown. You start off by tasting different types of liquors and learning how it is made. The tour ends with a free cocktail that you custom make on a computer.
- Kristen from The Blonde Abroad posted a video on her experience there! Check it out!
- Party with a Local app provides a post for the Top 5 Clubs in Amsterdam.
Language, Culture & Customs
- Language-Everybody speaks English plus a couple languages on top of that, so no language barriers here!
- Culture-Amsterdam locals are really proud of their policies and freedom. They also, do not take it for granted in any way. With that said:
- It is not okay to smoke weed while walking along the streets. The locals respect the children and the people who are not a part of that.
- Know your limit. It is very easy for someone to get very twisted here in the clubs. Just be aware that if you have marijuana in your system you are going to react differently when you are mixing it with alcohol. If you want to try out the ganga make sure you tell the host that it is your first time, so he/she can offer some pointers.
- Respect the working ladies… and men. They pay their taxes and are running legit businesses while practicing safe sex.
- Virtual Tourist- Amsterdam Local Customs
- $ Money Saving Tips $
- Amsterdam restaurants can be a bit pricey, so I advise to check out the casual fast-food type places. No, not McDonald’s. I am talking about the local boutique cafes where you order at the counter.
- Do not splurge on a hostel because it seems too small, or run-down. You should not be hanging around in your room anyways!
- There are tons of free stuff to check out such as the cheese museum, and free concerts during the summer.
- The New York Times- Amsterdam-Best Money Saving Tips
Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post useful for your Amsterdam adventure! If you have any tips you would like to share as well please leave a comment!