Amsterdam is not quite how I imagined it at all. There are of course the coffeshops, red light district and plenty of stag and hen dos. But there are also endless canals, museums, galleries, and wonderful green spaces too.
After a quick, 2 hour, train journey from Brussels, we arrived into Amsterdam central station at about 3 pm. We bought 3-day transport passes for €17.50. Before, quickly dumping our bags at the hostel and heading out to start exploring the city.
Grabbing a hot dog from a little stall to fuel us for the evening, we then headed towards the IAmsterdam sign.
A few photos, and some people watching later we stumbled into the Rijksmuseum’s gardens. They’re free to enter and were a lovely way to spend some time relaxing in the sun before they closed at 6.
They’re open every day from 9 am and I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area.
After a little walk, we stopped for a drink at one of the many Irish pubs in Amsterdam. This one overlooked a canal, and in the evening sun, it made for a pretty nice view. No better way to spend an evening than watching the canal boats sail past with a drink in hand.
We then went for a little evening stroll around the canals to stretch our legs, fully taking advantage of the golden hour for some more photos! All before heading for a few more drinks and eventually bed.
I had already pre-booked a visit to Anne Frank’s House for our first morning in Amsterdam. So after a quick breakfast at the hostel, we headed to the museum. Stopping for many a canal picture along the way! (You may be starting to spot a theme here…)
The museum was top of my Amsterdam bucket list and I’m so glad we decided to go. It’s incredibly moving but well worth a visit. Particularly if you’ve read Anne’s Diary and want to experience the annex and emotions of it all first hand.
My only complaint was the number of people they allowed in at one time. As you can imagine the rooms are quite small, but there are so many people crammed in. At some points, you can hardly see the displays let alone move!
This, however, is mainly in the downstairs rooms. As you enter the attic where Anne lived in hiding you have to form a single file line. Meaning there are a lot fewer people around and you’re able to properly experience and take everything in.
Tickets are €10.50 (including the booking fee) and need to be bought online prior to your visit. Your ticket is for a specified time and it took us about an hour and a half to see the whole museum.
After the museum, my lonely planet guidebook recommended stopping at Pancakes Amsterdam for, yes you guessed it, pancakes!
I opted for the traditional Dutch pancakes (much like the ones we make in the UK) with strawberry sauce for €8.30. They were very very good, I want more just thinking about them. Perfect for a mid-morning snack.
We then headed more towards the city centre, passing not only canals but wandering upon Dam Square, a little by accident.
After a stop at the pub to watch some football (blame that one on Mark), we spent some time relaxing in Dam square. Grabbing some food and drink and sitting down amongst the hustle and bustle of it.
The square is home to Madam Tussauds, the Royal Palace (both of which you can visit if you want) as well as the National Monument, which was built to remember those who died in WWII.
Our last stop of the day was the famous floating flower market – Bloemenmarkt.
Although slightly more touristy than we were expecting – think lots of typical souvenirs like wooden clogs and tulips. The first few shops were filled, floor to ceiling, with flowers and I’d love to go back when they are more in season.
After all that wandering it was time for some food. We headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for tea – something Mark has done everytime he has visited Amsterdam. Although it wouldn’t have been my first choice, the food, atmosphere, and view were very good. Fairly expensive but if you want something familiar it’s a good pick.
All that was left to finish a very busy day with a few drinks before bed.
I was really happy when I found out our hostel was right on the edge of Vondelpark. So on our final full day in Amsterdam, we decided to spend the morning exploring the park.
I’m a big lover of green spaces in cities and I couldn’t quite believe how big Vondelpark is! It’s a very pretty space with plenty of fountains, lakes and hidden spaces to discover. You could easily spend an entire day here just relaxing and watching the world go by.
There are also several cafes in the park, perfect for a cup of tea in the sunshine.
Now, after all those incredible waffles in Brussels, I couldn’t leave Amsterdam without trying a stroopwafel.
After getting a tram back into the city centre I hunted down Van Wonderen Stroopwafels. They were incredible. On the suggestion of the woman serving I had an oreo one and it was divine. Still warm and chocolatey and can someone please bring me one now?
The stroopwafels cost €3.95 each and there’s a range of toppings to choose from.
When deciding what do that afternoon I looked up the A’DAM lookout. As a sucker for a good view, I couldn’t resist going up the 80m tall building for the promised 360° views of the city.
We bought online tickets for €18.50 that included two drinks in the bar at the top and a gift, which turned out to be a bottle opener. Standard tickets cost €12.50 online. Add another €1 to any ticket if you’re buying in person.
To get to the lookout you have to take a short 5-minute ferry ride across the river behind the main train station. The best part, this ferry is absolutely free, just try not to get run over by bikes on the way off!
The views from the top were as incredible as they say. The pictures do not do it justice.
The atmosphere was incredibly chilled and it was a lovely way to spend our last afternoon in Amsterdam. Although according to the barman we got very lucky with how quiet it was.
If you’re feeling brave you can also have a go on the swing that’s perched right on the edge on the building!
After catching the ferry back, we stopped for a quick drink before grabbing food and heading back to the hostel.
After a pretty full 3 days, an early night was in store ready for our train to Berlin in the morning…
Amsterdam was never really somewhere I wanted to visit, I didn’t think it would be very me. (If you get what that means!) But I was pleasantly surprised. And I also kinda want to go back now, so I guess you can say Amsterdam definitely won me over. I think that the most important thing is not ruling a place out just because you think you might not like it. You don’t know until you get there and see for yourself.
All my love,