The City of Canals and Millions of Bicycles: Amsterdam
But first…. SIDE NOTE TIME: The Netherlands is so beautiful! Wowza! I wish we had more time to visit other cities including Rotterdam and Nijmegen, but you can easily do Amsterdam in a few days just like I did. Definitely spend time exploring the tulips (at the right time of year) and Dutch foods in other towns if time allows.
I was lucky enough to spend a month solo traveling before I began my masters course, and I was even more lucky when my absolute best friend of 13 years decided she wanted to hop across the ocean to spend time with me in Europe (woop woop, shoutout to you Paris). We knew Amsterdam was a MUST for us!
Amsterdam blew us away from the minute we made it into the city and off the train. The city is filled with historic buildings and there are canals everywhere. Oh, I mean it when I say the city is made of more bikes than people! I think I bumped into more of those than anything! You can easily rent bikes and roam around the city at your leisure, but we chose to walk everywhere we went.
As we only had a few days, we didn’t explore as much as I would’ve liked to, but here are some memorable parts of this absolutely adorable city!
In terms of food and drinking culture, there is lots to try! I think my favorite meal I was able to enjoy was the Dutch pancakes for brunch. We went to one of the most popular brunch spots in Amsterdam: Pancakes Amsterdam Centraal.
I honestly was so impressed with the meal I got, and they have vegetarian options for people who need that! Stroopwafels are another sweet treat that you must try. I would describe them as thin waffle cones with a syrupy flavor. Herring is another typical food in this country to eat! Amsterdam is luckily like any big city with so many food options, which is wonderful for picky people or people with dietary restrictions (like vegan me).
As far as drinks go, I would recommend beer as this country is known for a number of different beers. We asked bartenders what type of drinks they would suggest, and wine is not something these women recommended to us. Beer is a safe bet here! Heineken is very prominent, and Amstel is another good choice. I am not a beer expert, but I tried some while I was visiting! You might end up liking it like I did!
ADVENTURES AND MUST SEE THINGS
Amsterdam is home to very beautiful, historic architecture and lots of buildings to explore! Museums are a must do! Unfortunately we didn’t have the most time for museums, but I know the Van Gogh museum is one that was recommended to us.
The most impactful activity we were did was the Anne Frank house! DEFFO get tickets well ahead of time because (when we were there) it was required to pre-book spots ahead of time. The line outside the door was crazy long, and I wasn’t surprised. It takes hours to get through the whole house. It is an eye-opening experience reading about Anne Frank and her family. The house makes you realize how small of a space they had to hide in. I got the chills just being able to absorb all the information and feel for myself how narrow the stairs were and how claustrophobic it must’ve felt. Reading parts of her diary and learning more about her family members is something that the narration devices provided for us, which was very informative! This activity really does require the few hours of your afternoon that you should spend because there is much to learn.
We were able to walk into a number of bars and try beer (even though my friend and I are not beer lovers) and walk into some vintage shops to treat ourselves. It is truly worth it to walk around the city and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the bikes, the colored houses, and the canals.
I am a BIG fan of hostels for so many reasons (stay tuned to find out more in later posts!). I usually pick a hostel that seems to look relatively modern and has a good rating (on HostelWorld), but that is just my preference. We stayed at the ClinkNOORD Amsterdam hostel. It was super fun because there is a bar area and tables in the lobby for people to play games or do homework. The rooms and bathrooms were clean, and I was overall impressed. We did have to take a ferry across the water each time we wanted to go into central Amsterdam, and the other side led straight to Amsterdam Central Station, which is an easy way for you to get around the city or out of the city. It wasn’t that far of a walk once we got off the ferry, and it runs pretty much all hours, so that was very nice and convenient for us to leave the hostel to explore the city.
These are my few nuggets of knowledge and Ria wisdom I can provide for all you lovelies wanting to explore The Netherlands:
- Please take more time to explore the other cute cities that I didn’t have time to see
- Definitely try hostels if you want to save money and meet new people!!! (i recommend that for everywhere in Europe)
- Make it a priority to see the Anne Frank House and a bunch of museums
- The Red Light District is a popular place to be for nightlife, and if that is your cup of tea…explore it! (We didn’t get the chance to do that either!)
- TRY THE BEER! Honestly worth it!
Amsterdam is a perfect destination for people wanting to experience new foods and for those of you wanting to learn some history. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could right now! If this is your first time going to Europe, definitely make The Netherlands a priority!
The word that honestly describes this country to me is cute! It is really so historic and beautiful!
Get yourself a bike and start exploring y’all! I know you’ll feel the same when you experience the Dutch winds, too.
P.S. like a lot of European countries, English speaking is common in The Netherlands, so fret not. You won’t struggle to communicate with people here! The Dutch are quite awesome at English!