Amsterdam is one of the most visited cites in Europe AND in all of the world. It ranks high as a tourist destination point. Maybe because it’s so hip and trendy, maybe because the locals are friendly and welcoming, or maybe because there’s tons of coffee shops where they allow the recreational use of marijuana. Who knows?! But what I do know is that I felt right at home. The locals are so liberal, nonjudgmental, and they actually care to spark conversation. The city is always lively, and full of fun and excitement. And don’t even get me started on the food! Amsterdam can easily become a home away from home.
What To Do
Take a Canal Tour
Instead of taking a “hop on hop off” ferry, take a boat tour around the canals. You’ll have a tour guide entertaining you and teaching you some Amsterdam history. Most tours last about an hour and cost about twenty euros. They also have dinner cruises for ninety euros or more. Make sure you take an open boat cruise so that you can enjoy the views and take clear pictures instead of trying to take them through a glass window.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a museum/house dedicated to the life and story of a Jewish diarist that hid in an attic from the Nazis for two years. First and foremost, if you plan to visit the Anne Frank House, make an online reservation one month in advance or sooner. This way, you have a scheduled time slot. Time slots are assigned from 9am to 3:30pm. If everything is booked, don’t worry, you can still attempt to enter. But, only after 3:30pm. Both tickets are the same price, the only difference is that all the people that didn’t get a time slot will start forming a line early in the day, and that line will go on FOREVER! I waited approximately two hours to enter. 😐 Although the wait was 100% worth it, try to save yourself some time and schedule ahead. Tickets are only nine euros, not bad, right? So you have no excuse to skip the wonderful story of Anne Frank and to experience her reality as a Jewish girl and her life during World War II.
* I apologize for the lack of pictures. The Museum does not permit any photography.
Rent a Bike
WARNING: Amsterdam bike traffic is CRAZY! Haha! In all seriousness, riding a bike in Amsterdam was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I have never seen more bikes in my entire life. But it did cause some hilarious moments. Like being left behind or hysterically laughing at my sister when she hesitated to cross a street swarming with bicyclists. Or not being able to stop because I was too short to reach the floor. 😀 My point is, as scary and overwhelming as it might seem, do it anyway! You can’t go to Amsterdam and not ride a bike. You just can’t!
Visit the State Museum (Rijksmuseum)
If you want to visit the state museum, prepare to be there for a good three hours…or more. The museum is HUGE! There’s so much to see and so many intertwining rooms, you literally get lost. That explains the 2.4 million visitors the museum has welcomed. It’s that popular!
Swing Over the Edge of a Building
This was something spontaneous. We learned about this attraction while riding a boat through the canal. Good thing we took that canal tour! Basically, it’s a huge mechanical swing that rocks over the edge of a twenty-story building. Admission to the observation deck is 12.50 euros. The swing is an extra five euros. I guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth. Even if you don’t ride the swing, the views are mesmerizing!
Lay at The Fault in Our Stars Bench
If you haven’t watched the movie, The Fault in Our Stars, watch it before visiting Amsterdam. It’s quite moving and poignant. Then, go find the famous bench from the movie and sit on it, take pictures, attach a love-lock to it, or write a love note on it. This will be especially romantic if you do so with a loved one.
There are more bridges and canals in Amsterdam than there are in Venice. Get lost and explore as many as you can! They are never ending and there’s something interesting happening at all times. There’s even cute little boat houses to admire.
Where/What to Eat
The Breakfast Club
It’s a great place for breakfast and brunch. The interior design looks retro-ish, it literally reminded me of the movie, The Breakfast Club. If you haven’t watched that one, don’t worry, it has nothing to do with Amsterdam.
Fries in a Cone
Enjoying some fries in a cone is another thing you must do when visiting Amsterdam. The fries are served in a paper cone and topped off with your choice of sauce. My mouth is watering as I type this.
These pancakes are not like the ones back in the US. These are traditional Dutch pancakes topped with something sweet or something savory. I would compare them to crepes. They are delicious and people have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s never a bad time to have Dutch pancakes!
How To Get Around
Walk: Like I said earlier, get lost. Walking is the best way to see Amsterdam. The city isn’t too big, anyway. All walking distances are reasonable.
Bike: Another way to get around is by biking everywhere. But renting a bike can quickly become too pricy, especially if you plan on staying for more than three days. The best option is to rent an Airbnb room that offers access to the host’s bikes. Most hosts provide bikes because they know how helpful they are and they already own some anyway.
Public Transportation: Instead of paying for each bus, tram, and metro ride, purchase a city card called iAmsterdam. You can choose from a 24, 48, 72 or 96-hour card and order it online. Typically, this will be much more affordable because it includes all public transportation rides. Additionally, it includes admission to most museums and other attractions.
Uber: Uber does operate in Amsterdam. If you find yourself far from home in the middle of the night, this is your best option. Some the best travel tips and advice came from my Uber drivers. Plus, people in Amsterdam are so friendly — I had some great conversations with locals during my UberPool rides.
What To Expect
Language: The official language is Dutch, but everyone speaks English. The great part is that most locals don’t even mind speaking English. They enjoy it! So you can travel to Amsterdam without the worries of a language barrier.
Currency: Euros are accepted in Amsterdam. Debit and credit cards are all accepted, as well.
Weather: It can be unpredictable, at times. One day it’s warm and sunny, rainy and gloomy the next. Always carry an umbrella no matter what your weather app says.
>> Tipping in Amsterdam is the same as it is in most of Europe. You can leave a euro per person or ten percent of your bill. Begin so used to tipping in California, I like to leave a little more than that. Either way, they will be happy that you even left a tip at all.
>> It is always a good time to visit Amsterdam. But try to avoid winter as it gets too cold to walk or bike anywhere. Winter season is from November – late February.
>> Drink responsibly and smoke responsibly. Even though it’s legal to do both, if you get carried away and act out, authorities will interfere. And being a tourist with no rights, you’ll want to avoid trouble.
>> Everyone gets curious about Red Light District. If you’re unaware, it’s the area known for prostitution. There are ladies inside buildings, dancing along glass windows for all pedestrians to see. It’s fine if you want to go take a peek but just make sure you don’t take any pictures of them. You’ll end up in trouble or in an altercation with one of the ladies.