On our last stop on our European vacation a few weeks ago, we checked out Amsterdam, a destination that both Matt and I have been dying to see! I absolutely fell in love with the city and cannot wait to return. Instead of my usual travel guides, I decided to list out the top 10 reasons why you MUST put this charming city on your bucket list.
1.The Canals -Whether you are walking the canals or taking a boat tour, they are hands down the coolest things about Amsterdam. Absolutely beautiful and they add SO much character and charm. One morning, we opted to take a canal tour and our Captain was amazing and filled with knowledge. It was such a fun way to see Amsterdam from the water and learn loads of information. Three of the things I found most interesting are:
- The house boats that line the canals are quite expensive (upwards of $1-2 million, which you would never guess that from seeing the outside)
- Marijuana is not legal, just tolerated. Once it is in the “coffeeshops” it is, however, legal from someone to purchase.
- Education is extremely important and all schooling is paid for!
2. Anne Frank House – I feel very fortunate to have been able to visit this important piece of history. Matt read that the tickets sell out way in advance and the line to get in on the day of is hours (as in people wait like 5-6 hours before they will even begin to let non-ticket holders in), so the minute we booked out flights, we looked to reserve tickets. We got very lucky and snagged the last two tickets for the entire time we were in Amsterdam (and we booked over 2 months out).
3. Van Gogh – Like the Anne Frank house, you need to book your tickets to this museum in advance (otherwise I understand you will be waiting all day to get in). Admittedly, I’m not the biggest museum person, but I really enjoyed this one. I loved that it was focused on one artist, and truly took you on a trip through his life and career (which was an amazingly short career, given all he accomplished). We also booked this museum roughly two months out.
4. Amazing rooftop views – Something that we weren’t sure we would get while here was a view of the city from up high. But to our surprise (and a lot of you were asking about this photo on instagram), the W Hotel where we stayed had one of the best views from their terrace.
5. Tulips Everywhere! – If you don’t know, Amsterdam is known for all their beautiful tulips. While the weather was on the cooler side while we were there, you could still find tulips all over, lining the canals and scattered throughout the park. I am still dying to get to the tulip festival in Holland, but we didn’t have time on this trip to make it there.
6. Cute Cafes – There are so many cute cafes and cozy restaurants around the city! Coffee & Coconuts in De Pijp, a hip neighborhood that reminded me of Brooklyn, was one of the cutest restaurants and cafes I have ever been in. While there was a bit of a que (a line) to grab a seat, it did move fast. The decor was warm and welcoming and the second floor was filled with natural wood, tables strung by rope and exposed brick. If only I could transplant this place back to the city!
7. Rent Bikes – Amsterdam hands down the biggest biking cities I’ve ever seen. There are hundreds of bikes everywhere you turn – in fact, there are more bikes than people in the city. While on our canal tour we actually learned that they are trying hard to get rid of ground transportation and they are able to accomplish this by making the cost for parking and having a car in the city nearly unattainable. One thing to note, always make sure you lock up your bike as bike theft is at a high. We also learned that dozens of bikes get thrown into the canal each year and no one really knows why, but they joke that the canals are made up of 1/3, bikes, 1/3 dirt and 1/3 water. Out hotel arranged our bike rental and it was a very affordable daily rate and a great way to get around the city.
8. Try a Dutch Pancake – This was out first meal in the city and one I am still dreaming of. We snagged a seat at The Pancake Bakery and they had an entire menu dedicated to both sweet and savory pancakes that are literally the size of your plate (but on the thinner side). I went for the bacon and banana and Matt had bacon and cheese. They were both absolutely delicious. We arrived around 9, right when they were opening, to avoid a long line.
9. Shop – Oh my gosh, I was obsessed with so many different shops while we were here. The textures, decor and overall inviting environment had me popping in and out of almost every store we found. Also, I noticed that many stores also have tiny coffee bars set up inside where you can grab a flat white and small bite to eat. My favorite shops of the trip (and highly recommend checking out) are:
COTTONCAKE (I picked up a dress here)
We Are Labels (Matt snagged a bunch of stuff from here)
Pluk (more home and accessory focused)
Things I Like Things I Love (pretty much wanted every interior item they sold)
de Weldaad (Antiques/Vintage)
SUKHA (Home focused)
Probably my favorite area to shop here was the “9 little streets,” which was conveniently located right near our hotel.
10. Grab a beer! – Heineken was born in Amsterdam, but dare I say ditch the Heineken and enjoy one of the many craft beers that Amsterdam offers? Matt and I found ourselves in several different pubs with the locals trying out different beers on tap. A little known fact about myself, I am a beer gal and very much enjoy trying out different beers, especially when traveling! I always ask the bartender for their favorites or what is local to the area and it is a fun way to experience the culture just a little bit more. I wish I could remember the names of more of the pubs we visited, but we just popped in and if I didn’t remember to take a picture of the name, I completely forgot! But from what I experienced, you couldn’t really go wrong.