I just got back from 2 whole weeks of Backpacking and I’ve never felt more alive!
My entire journey covered 4 major cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and Budapest.
I spent a total of 4 days in Amsterdam, the city of canals, the cycle city, whatever you may like to call it and trust me when I say that I still haven’t had enough of the city. This was my second visit to Amsterdam and there are a million reasons why it won’t be my last.
Also, before we begin this post, I’ve had a lot of questions about where I stayed in Amsterdam so I will first address that.
We were 3 friends traveling together so we decided to stay at a Hostel. A lot of people recommended The Flying Pig Uptown so that’s where we put up. It was much pricier than the rest of the hostels we stayed at but completely worth the money because of its amazing location, service and because Amsterdam on a whole is a little expensive! I would recommend booking directly from their website because then you get free breakfast as well.
Here are a few things you must do if you’re in Amsterdam:
1. Walking Tour: Walking tours are the best way to get to know any city. We chose Sandeman’s New Europe because I had read hundreds of blog posts saying they’re the best and they did not disappoint.
It was a free tour where we had to tip the guide whatever amount we felt was fair at the end of the tour. Our tour guide was very informative and made the experience a lot of fun with his witty jokes and sarcasm.
We also met so many people from all over the globe. It was a great way to be acquainted with the city while meeting lots of new people.
I would recommend doing this on your very first day there. Make sure you wear your most comfortable clothing, walking shoes and carry a bottle of water because the tour will run for about 2-3 hours.
2. Heineken Rock the City: If you’re a Beer Lover, then this is just the thing for you! If you’re not a beer fan but are curious about how beer is made, then you should join in too.
The Heineken Rock the City tour comprises of 3 parts.
Part 1 is where they take you on a tour of their brewery and show you how the beer is made. It’s a very interactive experience and is so fun! At the end of the Brewery tour, they give two whole glasses of Beer which you can enjoy at the bar while chatting it up with people you meet there.
Part 2 of the Rock the City tour is the Canal cruise which takes you through the beautiful canals of Amsterdam. Make sure you carry a few Munchies and keep your camera charged because you will definitely get some amazing shots from the boat! The boat ride ends on the Noord side of Amsterdam which takes us to the third part of the tour: The Amsterdam lookout.
Part 3 of the tour is Amsterdam Lookout or as most people call it A’dam Lookout. This is the highest point in all of Amsterdam. It’s got an indoor and terrace observation deck with a bar and an over the edge swing which I was super excited to try out but didn’t get to because it was full at the time we went. Its an extra 5 euros, but worth it according to me. Make sure you register for it the moment you enter Adam lookout because the wait time could be an hour or so.
We went here during sunset and the view was gorgeous! After you’re done, you can take the free ferry back to the city.
This entire Heineken Rock The City experience will cost you about 30 euros and you can book it on the Heineken website.
3. Visit a Museum: Amsterdam is home to many museums, some of which include the Rjiksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. History and Art lovers would go crazy here! We decided to check out the Van Gogh Museum because Van Gogh really fascinated me more as a human than a painter. The whole cutting his ear off and everything.
The Museum itself told the entire story of Van Gogh as an artist and displayed some of his work. I mainly went there to see his famous ‘Starry Night’ but to my disappointment, the painting was in possession of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and not in the Van Gogh Museum. However, most of his work is here in the Van Gogh Museum, so if that sort of stuff interests you, go ahead and book your tickets.
Also, after the museum, we hung out at the park right in front of the I Amsterdam sign. The weather was so pleasant, we didn’t wanna move, so we spent an hour just laying in the grass, watching the clouds go by. I’d recommend taking a blanket and a few snacks to munch on.
4. Do a Day-trip: There are so many day trips you can do from Amsterdam- The Hague, Zaanse Schans, Rotterdam, etc. This was the best part of our trip to Amsterdam.
We decided to do a Day-trip to Zaanse Schans which is a historical Dutch landmark. I will be writing a whole new post on Zaanse Schans, so stay tuned for that.
5. Visit ‘Coffee Shops’: Most tourists visit Amsterdam because of its open culture when it comes to Marijuana. Marijuana is legal here and is mostly sold at ‘Coffee Shops’ which are located in abundance all over the city.
A few that we visited were Bulldog Cafe, Grey Area Coffeeshop, The Original Dampkrink. They’re all very cool in their own way.
Bulldog is very famous and a tad bit touristy but all of their merchandise is very cool and could perhaps double up as a souvenir to take back home. Also, they’ve got very tasty Space Cakes if you’re into that kinda thing 😉
Grey Area is a smaller establishment, but the walls are completely covered in rolling paper, posters and so much art! The place was very hipster and edgy.
The original Dampkring is the one that Oceans 13 was shot in. This one is a little more sophisticated than the other two and doubles up as a bar as well.
6. Red light district: No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a trip to the Red light district located in the De Wallen district. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and prostitutes here work as freelancers which means there are no dark practises like pimping and trafficking. All these women work at their own will.
The red light district also has some pretty cool pubs and strip clubs that you can go to. It’s most definitely an experience!
7. Space cakes at Vondelpark: Vondelpark is one of Amsterdam’s biggest and most beautiful parks. It’s where you’ll find the locals riding their bikes, chilling after work or meeting up with friends. If you have a free day in Amsterdam, get yourselves some space cakes from the nearest coffee shop and spend the day watching the ducks or laying in the grass and watching the clouds float by at Vondelpark. It’s an experience you won’t regret.
8. Foodhallen: Every foodie’s paradise, Foodhallen is a food court serving street food of all kinds! Plan your trip to Foodhallen on a Tuesday and you can enjoy live music with your meal. We tried out Burgers, Sushi and Dimsums here, all of which were delicious!
9. Try out Dutch Food: Dutch food is nothing short of Magnificent! I’d recommend trying out Cafe Sonneveld in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. They’ve got indoor as well as outdoor seating. Since the weather was quite pleasant, we decided to dine outdoors. We tried out their Bitterballen and the Stamppot of the day and we were bowled over! Dutch food is complete comfort food! Definitely a place to visit if you’re in the area.
10. Anne Frank Huis: One of our best experiences in Amsterdam was the Anne Frank House that told the story of how Anne Frank and her family hid from Hitler and his army for two whole years. It was such an emotional experience but a definitive must!
You get to see how Anne Frank lived in a secret house behind a book case without any fresh air for 2 whole years before the family was discovered.
There usually is a pretty long wait time if you don’t book your tickets in advance so if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, make sure you book these tickets first.
That pretty much sums up my trip to Amsterdam! I covered all this and more in 4 days and on a budget which means you can do it too. If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam and need any more help, don’t hesitate to DM me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.