So I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m pretty much an expert on Amsterdam, after only being there for approximately 4 days.
Okay, maybe ‘expert’ is a bit of a stretch. But I pretty much saw everything that Amsterdam has to offer in those few short days.
I’ll start with the most obvious topic; the canals of Amsterdam.
Oh how they are beautiful, and literally everywhere! I suppose the name “the Venice of the North” isn’t handed down lightly.
If you want a laid back holiday, relaxing and eating while sitting by a canal, you’ve come to the right place. That is, if you’re not like my friends and me and make it your mission to see the whole of Amsterdam by foot.
We did and saw some absolutely amazing things. But I can still picture myself sitting on a canal, greeting those who passed in boats, grinning from ear to ear. And THAT is my favourite memory of Amsterdam.
The most interesting outing in Amsterdam for me was the Anne Frank House. And since I’d got in about a month early and booked tickets, there was no queueing for us. There’s my advice, book a ticket online as soon as you book your holiday, and for me, the earlier on in the day, the better. We found that in the morning we were able to walk straight in with no worries. While later on in the afternoon even people with tickets were having to wait.
We thought we would be in there for maybe an hour or so, but 3 hours later I was still making my way through the house, and in total shock I might add.
I don’t want to give everything away for those who still want to experience the Anne Frank House, and I definitely recommend doing it. So I’ll just give you a short introduction.
Walking through the house was a great way for me to piece it all together, since the explanations in Anne Frank’s Diary had confused me a little. It was great to be able to see where Anne’s Father’s shop was, and then see the famous bookcase which hid Anne, her family, the van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer during World War II.
It’s almost unbelievable to me that so many people were able to hide away in that house for so long. It’s heartbreaking to learn the story of life in the ‘secret annex’, with no natural light, little to do and the constant fear that they would be seen or heard.
Now I’m not reeaally one for much in the way of history. I don’t find much of it interesting, and that’s just me. BUT the Anne Frank House blew me away. So whether you’re a lover of history or not, I would still put this on my list when visiting Amsterdam.
Another great tourist attraction for Amsterdam, other than the canals, is the size of it. It’s small enough that you can see everything by foot. And that we certainly did. We didn’t end up using public transport once, just our feet and bikes. And there’s my second tip for you all, hire a bike and travel as the locals do, at least for 1 day.
We rode all around the outskirts of Amsterdam and stopped at Vondelpark, the famous Iamsterdam sign, (a total tourist trap, but we HAD to see it!) and on to Oosterpark, before we had to return our bikes. I would definitely recommend riding around the parks. It’s a great way to ride without having to worry about traffic, and the parks are just beautiful. I can still picture myself, with a massive smile on my face, ringing my bell… not because people were in my way, just because it made me happy.
The parks are pretty much the furthest point that you need to go from the city centre, still only being a 20 minute ride max.
It’s said that Amsterdam has more bikes than people, which I believe 100%. The locals ride everywhere. With their kids for the school drop offs. With the groceries in their basket. In their suits and dress shoes on their way to work, and even on their way to the airport, dragging suitcases along behind them. So it’s great fun to act like a local for a day and join the trend.
My only tip is to stay safe and enjoy it. The roads in Amsterdam have pedestrians, trams, cars, buses and bikes, so just be careful when crossing roads. There are bike lanes on most roads, which makes it easy.
During our short time in Amsterdam, we also squeezed in the Van Gogh Museum (interesting), a canal cruise (relaxing and peaceful), the Red Light District (let’s just call it eye-opening), and countless meals eaten beside a canal. We also visited Dam Square, the Old Church, the Flower markets and got the free fairy over to the NSDM Shipyard.
I don’t believe we could have possibly fit anything else into our 4 days, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely adored Amsterdam, and hopefully I can one day make it back to this amazing city.