“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”John Green, The Fault in our Stars
Amsterdam is such a friendly, diverse, inclusive city. And it is a food lovers paradise!! So many different cuisines to choose from that you can literally travel the food world there.
We home based in Amsterdam during our first European vacation and took 3-day trips to Paris, London, and Germany (more on them later). We came back to Amsterdam each time but spent the first and last 3 days in Amsterdam in addition to 1 day between trips. It became home for us and we enjoyed coming home every time.
This trip was booked through Delta Vacations and we had the hotel in Amsterdam booked for the full 18 days so we did not have to travel with our luggage and didn’t have to change hotels. It was a great deal since, after deducting the price of the airfare, the hotel only averaged a cost of $89 per night!!! Play with dates and hotel options and you can find awesome deals!!
We took a non-stop flight from SLC to AMS, at around 3pm, which arrived in the morning the following day. We shuttled to our hotel, Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre https://www.apollohotels.co.uk/leonardo-hotel-amsterdam-rembrandtpark/ which was in a quieter area outside downtown Amsterdam. It was right next to a main tram stop and across from Rembrandt Park. We wanted someplace quiet and out of the center of the city since we were going to be there for an extended length of time.
Now, there are different opinions on what to do after traveling long distance- do you take a nap or do you stay up? I subscribe to the latter while my husband totally thinks a nap is the best thing…. So, therefore, he took a nap and I went exploring!!! I found a local grocery story and brought back dinner and some snacks to carry around while exploring. I always carry an apple or protein bars or nuts and a bottle of water while traveling.
Getting around Amsterdam
Amsterdam has an excellent transportation system and you can get just about anywhere on the trams and boats. You can also rent bikes if you want. The main city center train station is conveniently located and city trams spread out from there to the various parts of the city.
Amsterdam is a major transportation hub to various other cities and countries and you can catch high speed trains that will have in Paris, London, Cologne, Brussels, and many others within hours. This was a big deal for us since we would be visiting several of these on this trip.
TIP: Get an OV chipkaart so you can ride public transportation inside the city. You can purchase them at the airport or train station- it is a loadable card that you tap when getting on and off the trams. Super easy system. Each tram has a booth you can purchase a ticket for your ride but that easily costs twice as much than if you use your chipkaart. I believe I put €20 on each card and never refilled them while we were there.
TIP: Make sure to walk in the walking lane. The bikes have their own lane and if you walk in this lane you may get ran over- they move pretty fast. At intersections, everyone has their own light- vehicles, cars, and pedestrians- so make sure to watch your light. It is a very green city and bikes FAR outnumber vehicles there.
Of course you must take canal rides while in Amsterdam! There is no better way to see the beauty of the buildings and architecture of Amsterdam than taking a ride leisurely through the canals. There are several companies that offer canal rides, boat rentals, paddleboat rentals, private rides, dinner cruises, etc. And there are multiple routes they take so don’t just take one option. We took a canal ride the second day we were there and did a couple more toward the end of the trip also.
Coffee shop vs Café
In Amsterdam, the coffee shops DO NOT sell coffee. If you are looking for a nice cup of coffee, make sure to hit up a restaurant or café. The coffee shops, which are pretty much everywhere, sell marijuana products and are pretty cool to go check out.
Where to begin?! We had so much fun visiting different restaurants in Amsterdam and had some amazing food. Our favorite was pretty close to our hotel, Café Zurich- everything we tried there was incredible. Check them out https://cafezurich.nl/en/. There are so many places to eat in Amsterdam, both chain and independent restaurants- try as many of them as you can! Also, Amsterdam is kind of known for their excellent Indian food- however, my husband does not care for Indian food so I did not have a chance to try one out…. But all my travel research raved about them, so definitely try them out while you are here.
We spent a full day visiting the museums in Amsterdam. They are mainly concentrated at Museumplein or Museum Square near Vondelpark. The Museum Quarter is the cultural center of Amsterdam with lots of activities and it a beautiful area of the city and definitely worth the time. You can easily spend the entire day here, there are restaurants, shopping, and a large park and gardens where you can eat and relax also. https://www.amsterdam.info/museumquarter/
The Rijksmuseum is huge and is a must see, especially if you love the classic Dutch painters (which I do). The building is magnificent, inside and out, and they have an impressive collection inside and outside in the gardens. They boast the world’s largest Rembrandt collection, including Nightwatch, and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, as well as so many other famous works.
Van Gogh has his own museum located behind the Rijksmuseum (https://www.amsterdam.info/museums/van_gogh_museum/) which takes you through his life and works chronologically, and includes his works of art as well as letters and drawings. I LOVE VAN GOGH, I always have so this was amazing!!
There are also several other museums there- the Stedelijk Museum of Moderm Art which is in the shape of a bathtub, the Stichting Diamant Museum is a diamond and jewelry museum with a jewelry store if you want something sparkly :),and the MOCO Museum features modern and surrealist art.
The Anne Frank House is not in the Museum district- it is located on a canal near Westerkerk, in the Central area of Amsterdam. There is always a line to get in the Museum and you have to buy your tickets online for a specific time slot- tickets become available 2 months in advance. They generally sell out so make sure to get them if this is on your list https://www.annefrank.org/en/
“Zolang dit bestaat, en ik het mag beleven, deze zonneschijn, die hemel waar geen wolk aan is, zo lang kan ik niet treurig zijn”
“As long as this exists, and I may experience it, this sunshine, that sky that doesn’t have a cloud, I can’t be sad that long”Anne Frank