Amsterdam is one of the cities that I’ve had on my bucket list for a while. When my husband asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day, I told him I wanted to go on another trip and he booked me round-trip flight to Amsterdam. I had to say though I had read a little bit about Amsterdam prior to going, I was pleasantly surprised at how awesome, eclectic, free-spirited and friendly it turned out to be.
Arriving in Amsterdam:
I flew out of Seville International Airport into Lisbon before switching planes to Amsterdam. The flight was a short two and a half hours but the seats on the flight did not recline so that was a little inconvenient. Upon arriving at the airport I grabbed my bag from baggage claim and headed towards the train ticket kiosks.
For 4.50 Euro you can get a one-way train ticket to Amsterdam Central which is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way into the city. If you try to take a taxi from the airport it can run you up to 39 Euro. I boarded the train and a short 25 minutes later I was in Amsterdam. From there I boarded the Free ferry across the water to my hostel Clink Noord.
When you arrive on the other side, immediately take the first left and cross the small pedestrian bridge headed towards the Adams lookout. The hostel is in a small brick building behind the lookout. This hostel is perfect for travelers of all ages and included: a bar, common area, full breakfast buffet for purchase, bike rentals and more. I paid about 200 euro for 4 nights with breakfast each day of my stay. I would recommend if you’re not a big breakfast person or you have plans that start early in the morning, you just pay for the breakfast each morning if you’re going to be there. (I really only utilized two days of the breakfast buffet.) After dropping off my stuff, I went back across the water and found a discount bike rental shop and rented a bike to explore the city. I paid 27 euro for three and a half days and also paid an additional 30 for bike insurance. (Definitely recommend getting insurance because bike theft is one of the most common crimes in Amsterdam.)
Biking in Amsterdam:
Biking is huge in Amsterdam and considering there are three times as many bicycles as there are people, Biking around the city can get pretty complicated. There are designated bike lanes all throughout the city but there are certain areas where biking is not allowed and that is usually in public tourist areas or pedestrian walking spaces. You must be mindful of all the signs and warnings, so you do not end up getting a 50 euro ticket or getting your bike confiscated or stolen. Additionally, you will have to contend with cars on some of the smaller side roads as well as other bicyclists during their commute. The people of Amsterdam are very friendly but they will get extremely annoyed if you are not a competent bike rider or just generally getting in their way. It’s my recommendation that if you haven’t ridden a bike in a while that you stick to the metro because biking can be very intimidating with all the traffic and pedestrians.
There are tons of shopping opportunities in Amsterdam, with the 9 Streets being one of the main shopping areas. With shops like Sephora, H&M, Zara, Nike and more. It was in this area that I found a small Asian clothing store named Uniqlo.
I traveled to Amsterdam at the beginning of March and was vastly unprepared for how cold it was compared to Spain. I ended up wandering into the store and finding thermal leggings and undershirts that helped me survive my trip.
There are lots of opportunities to find cute gifts within the Jordaan district as well as closer to the red light district. I found a number of little shops that had everything from furniture to jewelry to tiles and pottery.
One of the cutest little cafes / shops I found was Blond Amsterdam. There you can get brunch or coffee in it’s ultra-feminine pink dining room as well as shop for cute handmade pieces of pottery.
Another cute shop I found was called cotton house and it is located near the Albert Cryp Street market. There you can find fair trade goods such as pottery or hand-painted makeup bags.
Also when it comes to off the beaten path shopping opportunities, the Albert Cryp Street market is definitely worth checking out as well as the foodhallen which also has a number of shops featuring items made by local artists. It just so happened that when I was there they had a giant vintage Street market with tons of vendors. One of those vendors was Uncover Lab which creates personalized engravings on anything from cutting boards to tapas plates. (They also ship internationally!).
Eating in Amsterdam:
Now we come to one of my favorite parts of traveling… The food! There are literally tons of places to eat in Amsterdam. Our Dutch food tour guide said at last count, there were over 3,000 restaurants within the city. From Indonesian to Japanese to Argentinian to Italian you can literally find whatever you are craving. Surprisingly, one of the most popular food choices is Indonesian. Being that Indonesia was a Dutch colony, there are tons of Indonesian restaurants as well as a very heavy influence of Indonesian cuisine within the city. One of those places that I went to on our food tour was Swieti Sranang in the Jordaan district. This small family-owned Indonesian restaurant had some of the best and most affordable Indonesian food in the city. For 8 Euro you can get a giant plate of whatever meat and rice combo you want as well as a drink.
When visiting Amsterdam there are very specific things let you must have: stroopwafels (best when served warm), pofferjtes (little fluffy pancakes), bitter balls, fries, and Indonesian food.
Traditional Dutch pancakes are huge, sometimes taking up the entire plate but poffertjes are the perfect alternative for a quick breakfast. These tiny little pancakes are served either with butter and syrup or with Nutella or powdered sugar and are perfect for a quick bite.
Bitter balls are a croquette style snack served in pretty much every Brown bar in Amsterdam. (Brown bars are old pubs or dive bars that haven’t been changed much since they first opened, hence “brown” for the aging effects of time). These delicious little fried snacks go perfect with a beer or glass of wine and come served with several different sauce options.
Fries are definitely a must when visiting Amsterdam and you can find plenty of stands selling them. You can choose from a number of different sauces such as cheese, garlic aioli, ketchup and more. Definitely a good choice for the late-night munchies.
There are so many options for places to eat that you can spend your entire day just sampling everything. I definitely recommend checking out a cheese shop and having some Gouda as well as ordering apple pie at one of the many brown bars. I can’t rave enough about the Street markets and food Hall because I always believe that that is the best way to get your meals on the cheap as well as experience the local culture. I also recommend booking a food tour through booking.com so you can get an in-depth perspective of the food scene in Amsterdam. Our tour guide Rudolph was super knowledgeable about not only the many restaurants in the Jordaan district but also the history of the city and the Dutch people.
Things to do:
Amsterdam is known for having a plethora of museums. The most well-known being the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum. But if fine art isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options such as the sex museum, the Moco and more. Right across from the Rijksmusuem is the Moco, which house has a number of pieces from Banske to Warhol.
This small little museum was by far one of my favorite things about Amsterdam. Admission was 13 euro and in my opinion was well worth the money. There was also an entire basement full of instagrammable opportunities for your basic b**** like me.