In December 2019 Lois and I spent 4 days exploring the city of Amsterdam.
Here is a little City Guide with 10 Things we'd recommend you to see & do if you ever visit the Dutch capital...
1) Canal Cruise
The very first thing we did after dropping our bags at the hotel and reaching the centre of Amsterdam is jump on a canal cruise boat. Most tours are about an hour long and cost between £10-£15 per person. A canal cruise is a great way to see the city and you get some really interesting facts played through the speakers to you as you cruise down the many canals. We really enjoyed it! It's a relaxing way to see a lot of the city in a short space of time, and you can get some great photographs out of the window too.
2) Try Out The Street Food
The street food in Amsterdam is awesome! Some savoury, some sweet, some both combined. There are quite a few big street markets in Amsterdam such as - Albert Cuyp Market, Foodhallen, Westerstraat, & Noordermarkt. Just a quick Google search will give you directions to find each of these.
Street Food to TRY!
Oliebollen (deep fried sweep dumplings)
Bitterballen (deep fried crispy meatballs traditionally served with mustard)
Crispy Croquette (with potato and cheese or meat)
Pofferties (mini dutch pancakes with topping of choice)
Stroopwafel (wafer caramel cookie)
3) Visit The Vincent van Gogh Museum
The Vincent van Gogh Museum was a great experience. We both studied his work from our school days in Art lessons as I'm sure many of you have done the same. So it was a little bit of a through-back for us. His story is very interesting as well - so even if you're not massively into art, reading about his story and then browsing through his work is well worth doing.
Approx. £20 for an adult ticket.
4) Eat Good Food!
Places To Eat // Amsterdam had a great choice of cool places to eat! Food is one of the things we enjoy most in life - and we were really impressed with the quality of food in the following places, that we can recommend.
*Breakfast at The Breakfast Club. With a great menu inspired of London, Mexico City & New York:
*Lunch at BLUE. A panoramic glass rooftop bar and restaurant:
*Dinner at The Pantry! Traditional dutch food with a cosy and very friendly atmosphere!
*Or if you fancy something with a bit more of a punch - get yourself down to BIRD Thai. A traditional Thai restaurant which is quite often queuing out the front door! It was great!
5) Visit The Anne Frank Museum
You can't really go to Amsterdam without visiting the Anne Frank Museum. It goes without saying really. It is an inspiring, yet heartbreaking story that deserves to be seen, understood and appreciated. So don't miss it off your list!
Approx. £10 for an adult ticket.
6) Rent Bikes - Explore The City & Parks
Before going to Amsterdam we were a little apprehensive about riding bikes in the city. We had heard it can be quite dangerous with how busy it becomes! But we soon realised that wasn't really the case, as long as you stick to the rules of the road and read traffic signs as you would if driving a car. There are bike lanes marked out on most major streets, so it did feel safe.
Fun fact: there are more than 880,000 bicycles in Amsterdam. That's more bikes than residents.
Renting bikes was a fantastic way to get around and see the city and the city parks too. You can rent bikes from most hotels or find a bike rental shop quite easily. Always make sure you have a bike lock on your bike too, as you will want to stop off quite a lot. We rode through the woodland parks, past the lakes, stopping off for hot chocolates in the park café. Then on through the city streets and stopping off at the little markets on the way. Both of us hadn't rode a bike in years, so it was nice to experience again in a characterful city such as Amsterdam.
7) Visit Katten Kabinet (Cat Museum)
Yes.. that's right - a CAT museum.
If you really love cats then this place might just blow your mind.
Personally I'm not a huge cat fan. I can take them or leave them. But Lois on the other hand loves cats. I've called her the crazy cat lady for years now. Everywhere we go she seems to attract them and they love her. So this place was clearly on her list!
Katten Kabinet is basically a house of all things CAT. It has paintings, photographs, clocks, sculptures, ornaments and household objects ALL featuring cats! It sounds pretty mental doesn't it.. and well I guess it is to be fair. They even have a mummified cat on display for goodness sake!
I'm not sure if I'm selling this to you or not, but it's a random place to visit if you're in the area.. There are also actual real cats inside that live there and walk around the place judging you. So it's not just dead mummified cats. Yay!
Approx. £10 for an adult ticket.
8) Go to Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Gardens)
After spending a few days in a city, sometimes it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours and look at some plants. So that's what we did. We love a botanical garden and this one was pretty awesome! It had a whole room dedicated to cacti! Which (if you know me) is kind of a big deal!
The Hortus Botanicus also has a little butterfly breeding room and a café on site to sit down for a coffee afterwards.
Approx. £8 for an adult ticket.
9) A'DAM Lookout & EYE Film Museum
Both of these are located across the main river near the city centre. You can jump on a free ferry boat that departs from behind the Central Train Station in Amsterdam. Ferries run about every 15/20 minutes.
A'DAM Lookout is a rooftop bar and restaurant with a open air observation deck on top. It also features an over-the-edge swing if you're in to that. The A'DAM lookout provides a great view over the city and is a nice place to enjoy a beer or cocktail whilst watching the sun go down.
Approx. £10 for an adult ticket to enter A'DAM Lookout.
Directly next to the A'DAM Lookout building is the EYE Film Museum.
The film museum features old equipment used in film and cinema. It takes you through the years of development in this industry and shows the various techniques that have been used. Being someone who is interested in photography and videography, I found this all quite fascinating!
Approx. £10 for an adult ticket into the EYE Film Museum.
As well as the permanent presentation of film equipment, there are other exhibits from artists and film-makers (that of course changes over time - about every 4-5 months). When we were there the exhibit was by Francis Alÿs which featured various videos of children playing simple outside games in different parts of the world. We actually really enjoyed watching them - it reminded us of simpler times, playing little games as kids.
Overall we'd recommend visiting both the A'DAM Lookout and the EYE Film Museum on your visit.
10) Explore The Jordaan Area
Recommendation number 10 is to simply explore the Jordaan area. Out of everywhere we went during our time in Amsterdam, there was just something about the Jordaan area that we loved more than anywhere else. It was a little quieter than other places and had some beautiful spots for walking. It just felt more quaint and authentic.
We found a number of cosy little pubs in the area which we returned to more than once! There were some nice little shops, quiet canals and the odd art gallery too. It was just A BIT OF US... so that's why we'd recommend exploring it.
I hope those 10 recommendations are of use to you, if you ever visit the City of Amsterdam.
And ONE LAST RECOMMENDATION:
We stayed at The Olympic Hotel in Amsterdam which was just a 15/20 minute tram ride from the centre. I can't recommend this hotel enough! Mainly because of the view from the room. Here are a couple of photos...
If you've got any questions feel free to drop us an email.
We hope you've enjoyed reading the "10 Things To See & Do in Amsterdam" blog.
Thanks for reading.