A Mini Amsterdam City Guide
Some of you might remember that way back in May, I took a little trip to Amsterdam with Sam and Beverley. We had the loveliest weeking just wandering along the canals, eating ALL the good food and stopping to take pictures of just about everything. Honestly - Amsterdam is a beauty. This was my third trip to the city and it really confirmed that it's one of my favourites in Europe. Amsterdam can get a bad rep for being a bit seedy, but if you steer clear of the red light district then you'll be hard pressed to find a better city break location. It's easy to get to, it's a lot cheaper than other European cities and there is so much to do that you'll never get bored.
I've put a mini Amsterdam city guide together for you to convince you even further... enjoy!
A little fun fact for you: the first time I visited Amsterdam, I actually hitch hiked! It was way back when I was at university and a group of my friends and I decided to take part in a charity hitch hike to the city - we caught the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge and then caught lifts all the way to the city. While it was certainly an experience I'll never forget, it definitely wasn't the easiest way to get there!
You can fly to Amsterdam from most major UK airports and if you're flexible, you can bag flights for as little as £45 return. The airport is well connected to the city centre - it's as easy as jumping on a train.
Alternatively, you can now catch the Eurostar to Amsterdam too. Sure, the train journey is longer than flying, but when you factor in airport security and check in times on top, it's probably not all that different, so it's well worth considering if you're London based.
Once you've arrived in the city centre by whichever mode of transport you prefer, I would thoroughly recommend buying a multi-day ticket for the trams. You can choose the number of days you'll be in the city for and it does save quite a bit of money. Rather than trying to fiddle about with tram maps, we used trusty Citymapper to help us navigate our way around - just don't do what we did and miss the last tram home because you're having too much fun eating and drinking!
Where to stay
We stayed in a private room at the Generator Hostel during our trip and I would thoroughly recommend it. Our room was really spacious and had everything we needed (including very Instagrammable wallpaper!), and the rest of the hostel was great too. The staff were friendly, the price was reasonable and the whole vibe was super cool - there was even a nightclub in the basement! We found it to be the perfect base for our weekend, with two tram stops within spitting distance and the beautiful Oosterpark right on our doorstep.
If you're looking for something a bit more upmarket, Jess from The Travelista recently reviewed the Pulitzer hotel which looks totally dreamy - definitely on my list for next time!
When to visit
Having been to Amsterdam a few times now, I would say that there really isn't a bad time to visit. I went just before Christmas a couple of years ago and it was gorgeous to see the city lit up with twinkly lights, and our most recent trip in May was perfect for idling along the canal without having to worry about wrapping up warm.
The weather tends to be pretty similar to what we get here in the UK, so my advice would be to research what you'd like to do in the city and find the time of year that lends itself best to those activities.
What to do
There is so much to do in Amsterdam that you can easily fill a long weekend without ever getting bored. I've tried to pick some of the things I've enjoyed doing most in the city - let me know if you think I've left anything off the list!
Get lost along the canals
By far my favourite thing to do in Amsterdam is to wander along the canals with no particular destination in mind. Every street you turn down is just gorgeous, to the point where when I visited with Beverley and Sam, it would take us forever to get anywhere as we were constantly stopping and taking photos.
You can also hire bikes to explore on, but everyone seems to be such a cycling pro there that I've always found it a bit intimidating!
I'll caveat this recommendation with a warning that Museumplein is often teeming with tourists. However, there are some fantastic museums here, so if culture is your bag, it's definitely worth a trip! Also, if you're visiting during the winter months, you'll find an ice skating rink here too, as well as a little bar where you can buy mulled wine to enjoy while watching people fall over. Bliss.
Stroll around Vondelpark
Vondelpark was recommended to me so much when I told people I was visiting Amsterdam in the city, and I can totally see why - it's gorgeous! I'm a big fan of parks in cities and Vondelpark is a really lovely one, complete with a lake, an open air theatre and a really pretty bandstand. It's the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon and if you're lucky, you'll also get to spot lots of cute dogs. What could be better?
Visit Anne Frank House
If you're only going to visit one museum in Amsterdam, make it the Anne Frank House. I'm fairly sure pretty much everyone read Anne Frank's diary at some point during their school education, and it is such an incredible experience to be able to visit the hiding place that she writes so much about. Be warned that this is a very moving experience, but an important one too I feel - you will learn so much about the persecution that Jew felt at the hand of the Nazis during the Second World War.
The queues are often long so make sure you either get there early or book tickets online.
Hop on a canal boat cruise
If it's your first time in Amsterdam, I would really recommend taking a canal boat cruise. Not only does the city look completely different from the water, but I always find that bus and canal tours are a great way of getting your bearings in a new city. Plus, the tour guide will always point out things that you would inevitably miss if you were making your way around on your own.
Indulge in a Dutch pancake
When in Amsterdam it would be rude not to try some local cuisine, and who really needs an excuse to indulge in pancakes??? Dutch pancakes are more like giant crepes topped with loads of delicious ingredients. You can go for classics like chocolate and cream, but my favourites are always the savoury pancakes - so yum!
Take a trip to the floating flower market
Okay, so a floating canal boat that sells hundreds of types of tulips and cacti - is that not what blogger dreams are made of?! This place isn't huge but it's well worth a wander for the pretty photos alone - plus, if you're a keen gardener you can pick up some tulip bulbs to plant when you get home.
Explore De Negen Straatjes
De Negen Straatjes, or Nine Little Streets to you and me, is probably my favourite place to visit in Amsterdam. Made up of nine little alleys that are criss-crossed with canals, this area is teeming with great cafes and quirky shops. It's a brilliant place to wander around, stock up on gifts and indulge in a great coffee.
Wander around De Pijp
De Pijp is a former-working class area that has been transformed into the most "happening" area over the past couple of years. A lot of the recommendations you'll find in my food guide are located here, and you'll find that the area is teeming with trendy restaurants and bars. We also stumbled across a little market on one of the main streets here and there were plenty of design shops too. Definitely an area worth adding to your list.
So there you have it, my mini Amsterdam city guide. Have you visited the city before? Do you think I've missed anywhere off the list? Let me know in the comments below!