When u first think of Amsterdam, you might envision sex shows and “coffee” shops. But there is so much more to Amsterdam then the stereotypical drugs and nudity.
The beauty of Amsterdam is built around intricate canals, breathtaking architecture, and modern technology. It is a city vibrant in culture and has a strong presence of healthy living. Everywhere you turn, people are commuting by bicycle, sipping coffee on outdoor patios, taking in Museums, socializing with friends over great food and wine, and shopping at the many wonderful boutiques.
If your lucky enough to visit Amsterdam, be sure to take in all it has to offer. Here are 10 ideas to help make your trip perfect!
#1- Stay at a chic Boutique Hotel.
Amsterdam has a wide variety of places to stay, ranging from low budget hostels to high end 5-star hotels. For a unique experience, check out the Banks Mansion Hotel. It is conveniently located in the center of Amsterdam city, and offers friendly service and staff. Many of the rooms overlook the beautiful Herengracht Canal and feature decor from the 1920’s. This boutique hotel brings luxury to its guests through a complimentary breakfast buffet, unlimited use of the mini bar in rooms, wine and cheese socials in the evenings, and unlimited use of the self-service bar in the main lobby area.
#2- Rent a bike and explore the city.
The minute you arrive in Amsterdam, you will be sure to notice that everyone travels around by bicycle. Renting a bike will not only keep you in shape while traveling, it will also allow you the opportunity to freely explore the city. Check with your hotel or visit one of the many local rental spots to get set up with a bike. Don’t forget to ride safe! Side roads are very narrow and sometimes bumpy, canals aren’t always securely fenced off, pedestrians fill the streets and electric street cars are zipping around everywhere.
#3- Sip coffee on an outdoor patio.
Regardless of season, people are always taking advantage of the many outdoor patios. While in Amsterdam, be sure to start your day off sipping coffee with the locals. Check out one of the many cafes like Cafe Winkel or the Herengracht Restaurant and Bar. Both offer great food and delicious coffee. Tourist beware; when seeking out a great place to indulge in caffeine, be aware of the word “Coffee Shop”. In Amsterdam, many of the local cannabis shops are labeled as such! Not to worry though, just follow your nose. It will be very clear which of these shops are serving coffee and which are serving up a little more then a jolt of caffeine.
#4- Check out one of the many museums.
Whether you’re looking to explore the Van Gogh or visit the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam is home to some of the worlds most famous museums and galleries. There is something to suit the interest of everyone, whether it be artwork, sculptures, fashion or cats. If you’re hoping to check out more then one museum on your visit, purchase a Museumkaart, otherwise known as a Museum pass. The Museumkaart is a cheap way to explore Dutch museums, and is valid for a year. Visit Amsterdam.info for more information and for a list of local museums.
#5- Ride a boat through the famous canals.
Amsterdam is uniquely built around more than one hundred kilometres of canals, 90 islands and over 1,500 bridges. Dug during the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, these canals encompass all of Amsterdam City. Cruising through the famous Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht canals, is the perfect way to take in all the sights and learn about local history. Depending on what your looking for, there are various boat cruises to choose from. You can cruise the canals by day or night, indulge in gourmet food and wine, rent a private boat to enjoy on your own, or relax over music as you sail along. Check out Amsterdam.info for more information.
#6- Wine and dine at a cozy cafe or Michelin-starred restaurant.
Amsterdam is a city that prides itself on being diverse, therefore it’s no surprise that the food options are the same. The city is home to food from around the globe, ranging from Dutch, French, Mediterranean, Japanese, and so on. You can choose to dine at a beautiful Michelin-starred restaurant, or venture to a more modern and relaxed eatery. With the right research, your food experience in Amsterdam should not be a disappointing one. For some great ideas, check out reviews on Bon Appetite, Timeout Amsterdam or Fodors. You are sure to find something to inspire the appetite of every traveler and budget.
#7- Shop the trendy boutiques.
Classic, upscale and put together, European style is always on point. While in Amsterdam, explore the various boutiques along De Negen Straatjes, known as the nine streets. Here you will find boutiques, vintage stores and jewelers. For more upscale shopping, head over to the P.C. Hooftstraat, where you will find brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, DKNY, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren, and more within a few short blocks. Leidsestraat street has the more exclusive shops like Filippa K, Karen Millen, Paul Warmer and Shoebaloo, while Kalverstraat street is home to all the shops you would expect to find in a large European city like H&M, Mexx, Zara and Esprit. Finally, if you prefer department stores, check out De Bijenkorf located in Dam Square.
#8- Visit the Flower Market.
Whether you like flowers or not, be sure to take a walk through the floating Flower Market while in Amsterdam. This market is open all year round and is located on floating barges along the canal. The barges represent the days when flowers were shipped from the fields by boat into the canals of Amsterdam. The market sells flowers of all ranges, varying from Traditional Dutch tulips, to exotic varieties. Even if you don’t plan on buying a bunch of flowers for your long flight home, the Flower Market is a place of history and beauty that shouldn’t be missed.
#9- Explore the beautiful architecture.
Amsterdam boasts some of the worlds most beautiful architecture. Whether you are traveling by foot, bike or boat, be sure to take some time to appreciate the buildings around you. Structures vary from 13th century designs to the more modern 21st century styles. The intersection of old and new has created a breathtaking city enriched in elegance. No matter where you choose to venture in Amsterdam, you are sure to be surrounded by the beauty and history of impeccable design.
#10- Get to know the locals.
Whether it’s your hotel concierge, bartender, shop owner, or tour guide, getting to know the locals is the best way to learn about any city. One of the perks of traveling in Europe is that people generally know how to speak several different languages, making it easy to find someone who can speak your language. People living in Amsterdam tend to be very friendly and are always willing to share some local tips about where to dine, shop and explore. Getting to know the locals will ensure your trip extends beyond the typical “touristy” activities, making for a more authentic trip that highlights the real Amsterdam.
Do you have a favorite activity or travel tip for those visiting Amsterdam?? Please share below!