What to See & Do
Founded in 1862, The Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market. It’s an instagramers dream. Although it is a flower market, you’ll also find some Dutch souvenirs here if you want any to take home. You might also want to note the Dutch take their flowers seriously (tulips in particular) so be prepared to be told off if you touch anything. After all, it is their pride and joy so just be respectful. And on that note, I totally did not know photos are a no-go after taking around roughly 937467. Whoops!
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is possible one of Amsterdam’s biggest attractions and even though it’s open everyday, you’ll still find a long line of people waiting from the early hours. It is the house that was her hiding place during World War Two as well as where she wrote her famous diary entries. Definitely worth checking out and somewhere you wont want to miss if you’ve already read her diary!
I haven’t personally done a canal tour but it is what most people do when first arriving to get a feel of the city. There’s day tickets you can buy for hopping on-and-off as many times as you want, instead of a round trip! Either way, it surely beats the bus.
Red Light District
Love it or hate it, the Red Light District is has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance in Amsterdam and is clearly an iconic part of the city. Even if you go just to say you’ve been there, done that. Keep an open mind!
Vondelpark is one of my favourite places of Amsterdam and really comes alive in the summer. It’s lovely for a morning or afternoon stroll, but even better experienced if you grab a friend/s, some wine and enjoy the afternoon to sunset. It’s what a lot of the locals do too and so well worth it!
Rent a Bike
Considering it is the main mode of transport around the city, why not join in and live like a local? Keep in mind if you’re not a strong bike rider, you might want to avoid the main roads because it’s complete chaos.
Explore the Jordaan District
If you’re looking for that idyllic canal photo, you absolutely must visit Jordaan! It was once a poor district used to house the working class that underwent a large renovation. It is then the Jordaan district was discovered by a new generation of artists which changed it from a slum area to one of the most expensive areas of the city. It’s an oasis of peace and a labyrinth of narrow streets and pretty canals, boutiques and galleries.
I amsterdam sign
You can’t go to Amsterdam and not get that iconic photo! Make sure to get there early (preferably before 9am) to avoid a crowded photo. You can find the letters located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein, right next to the tram stop. After taking all your photos, walk down next to the little market stalls near the water for some of the best hot stroopwafels!
Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh museum
I put these two places together since they are directly next to each other and most people seem to visit both! The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands’ premier art trove, splashing Rembrandts, Vermeers and 7500 other masterpieces over 1.5km of galleries. It’s best after 3pm to avoid the crowds! The Van Gogh Museum is, as you guessed, the world’s largest Van Gogh collection. There are also paintings by contemporaries Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Bernard.
Visit a Coffeeshop
A coffeeshop is different to a cafe in Amsterdam because a coffeeshop is where you can smoke. I’ve left this until last because I know it’s not for everyone, but still a major attraction of the city.
traditional Dutch foods you must try
Lanskroon – For some of the best stroopwafels, head to Lanskroon, a very popular bakery that make them with thicker, crunchier wafers and almost cookie like. Whichever flavour you choose, the fresh, sticky and delicately sweet honey is considered the most traditional, although I tend to prefer the caramel. However my absolute favourite place along with many locals to find stroopwafels is from “the guy in Albert Cuypmarkt” (map). He makes them fresh and right in front of you. Sweet, warm and soft – exactly how a stroopwafel should be in my opinion. Grab a few and eat them sitting by the canals!
The Pancake Bakery – You cannot miss The Pancake Bakery while visiting Amsterdam. They serve sweet and savory Dutch pancakes as well as traditional poffertjes with melted butter and powdered sugar. There are no words…
Ice Bakery by Nutella – I feel as though the name says it all but yes, this bakery is made by Nutella and you can find just about EVERYTHING Nutella. Try the waffles and add your own toppings – go crazy!
Vlaams Friethuis – This place serves Amsterdam’s famous fries in a cone although you can find others alike at every corner of the city. With over 25 sauces to choose from, the most popular and cheese and mayo. Seriously addictive/dangerous.
coffee, cocktails & more
Noorderlicht – Hop on the free ferry behind Central Station to NDSM Wharf and you will find yourself at a rather unique outdoor bar called Noorderlicht. It’s essentially a large greenhouse draped in fairy lights and festival bunting. It’s the best place to chill out on long summer nights with it’s waterside beer garden, live music and even a large campfire. I’m so shattered I didn’t get to see this one for myself last time I visited, but I heard from friends it was just as incredible as it sounds!
Edel – A canteen style cafe restaurant with one of the most beautiful terraces in the city. It’s located right on the water in het Sieraad, making it a wonderful spot for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks.
SkyLounge – For some of the best views over the city, head over to Sky Lounge for some evening cocktails at the amazing rooftop bar. It’s impossible to have a bad time at a rooftop bar that serves over 500 (!!) cocktails, right?
Scandinavian Embassy – A great place to relax, drink coffee and eat some delicious pastries. It has a minimal meets cosy interior and their coffee is just too good!
Where to Stay
We stayed in a couple of places in Amsterdam, but the only one I would recommend is Quentin Golden Bear Hotel. It has clean, simple rooms with everything you need and is affordable, so a great option for students or young travelers! It’s also in a fantastic area in the city next to shops, cafe and nightlife, and minutes walk from Bloemenmarkt.
For something more luxurious, I highly recommend The Toren and Ambassade hotel. Both are as gorgeous as each other, set in 17th century townhouses along the canal and rooms are traditional in the modern sense. Plus, the location doesn’t get more perfect!
Alternatively, you could choose to stay in an Airbnb to get a real feel of living like a local!
When to visit? Summer (June to August) is peak tourist season, with warm weather and lots of daylight for cycling. Keep in mind that June can still be cold. We went during the second week of June and it was quite chilly (average of 18°C) and raining most days. Although the summers don’t get very hot in Amsterdam, I would still say it is the best time to visit despite everything being more expensive. March to May is tulip time so there is lots of excitement and hype around the city for it.
I would avoid visiting around November as it’s the wettest month and January as it’s the coldest (an average of about 3°C).
How to get around? Either catch the tram (highly recommend buying a day pass – the tram literally goes everywhere), rent a bike or get a hop-on-hop-off day ticket for the canal bus. I wouldn’t recommend catching cabs as there is ALWAYS some kind of hold up and traffic due to the one-way roads and narrow streets.
Official languages of Amsterdam: Dutch, Frisian, and Papiamento, although nearly everyone you meet will have a good understanding of English.
I would love to know – have you ever been to Amsterdam or is it on your travel bucket list? Also if you have been, feel free to share any of your recommendations in the comments!