When you don’t have much time to explore a city, it’s highly recommended to be prepared before leaving. So this ultimate guide that I put together will help you to choose as many or as little things to do and places to go while visiting Amsterdam.
Honestly I did wish we had more time there, but considering we didn’t have that part of the trip planned (going to Amsterdam was decided last minute), I’d say we did a really good job exploring in only 2 days (yes, instead of 1 we decided to stay 2 days because we really enjoyed it).
So let’s go for the Introduction:
Amsterdam is Netherland’s capital. As you may know, most of the country is below the sea level which makes Amsterdam, just like Venice, a ‘water city’. With narrow streets most of the population uses bicycles and boats as their transportation. Amsterdam is known for it’s artistic heritage, history, erotic scene with unique attractions, and coffee shops that are mostly marijuana shops where it’s NOT legal, but allowed (yup! not sure what that really means, but ok). Great food in every corner and with over 1200 bridges around it’s 165 canals, Adam (one of the city’s nickname) has a lot to provide plenty of entertainment.
- Where to stay / How to get around
Amsterdam is a very touristy place, which means you have plenty of options.
Hotels, Airbnbs, etc.
We got a hotel close to the train station (since we were coming from Brussels), we wanted to save as much time as we could, and honestly it was easy to get around the city (everything was very close with a little walk / bike ride). Amsterdam is the perfect wandering place, so DO NOT rent a car! The streets are super narrow, too many people walking around, there are bikes everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE! I actually got hit by one, It was of course a tourist and the locals got pretty mad at her, so please, be reasonable and if you want to rent a bike, make sure you are CAREFUL and you actually know how to ride one!
- What to do
OK, this list is actually pretty big, so I’m going to ask you to stay with me here, ok?!
What did we do:
- IceBar – I thought it was a cool experience, literally hahaha ok, bad joke! It was nice, I feel like hubby liked it more than me, haha it’s a relatively quick in and out for a bar, since you can’t stay too long on the low temperature, but there is a dry bar, just nothing special about that one. The Ice bar is worth to check it out though, because, why not?
- Coffee shop – if you didn’t already know that, they actually don’t sell coffee in those places lol. We found one that really tricked me. It looked like a legit “cafe” place, and since I needed a pitstop, I thought it would work, but no.. just another marijuana spot. haha it was interesting to see it though. So for the curiosity, it’s worth to go in, but there’s nothing else to do there besides smoke / eat weed candies, so I just used the bathroom and moved on, haha.
- Sunset Boat Ride through the canals – This was my favorite part, I absolutely enjoyed every second of it. It was a private tour and the company we used its called Electric Boats our captain Haico was explaining every little thing of the city and it was absolutely phenomenal, highly recommend it.
There are many other companies that you can do excursions with, but we decided to go for the private sunset tour.
- Red Light District – I confess I felt a little uncomfortable at night, but during the day it’s actually fine, completely different. Just keep in mind that you’re going to the prostitution part and no photos allowed!
- Rooftop Sky lounge – Very nice view of the city from the top, not very picturesque, but wonderful drinks, appetizers and music. A nice spot to hang out and lookout.
- Cheese shop (Henri Willig) – this was paradise to me, ended up broke after this visit, lol just kidding. You can taste different cheeses, see how it’s made and there are other items like jams, crackers, etc..
- Jordaan neighborhood – Italian food and cute streets + not so busy
- What to eat / Drink:
Ok, if you don’t know by now, Amsterdam it’s THE place to eat. Good food is everywhere. Not that we had that much time to say this properly, but not 1 bad experience and it was all we have heard from others.
Mr .Rabbit – (super awesome restaurant with yummy breakfast food options)
La Perla – Pizza place, super delicious and cute set up, just make sure you book a table or get there early, it gets pretty busy!
Joselito Cafe Tapas – such a great spot for a cocktail and appetizers, heck! even dinner depending on the mood for the night.
I’ve heard good things about these places but didn’t have the chance to go, adding to the AMS return list:
Polaberry – crazy awesome chocolates and cakes
Van Wonderen Stroopwafels – Stroopwaffels is a must in Amsterdam, I completely forgot and we didn’t have it hahaha next time (this is what happens when you go to places by surprise haha)
Mama Kelly restaurant
Bucket list for next time’s visit:
- Anne Frank’s house – still can’t believe we didn’t do it, I remember reading her book / diary, it would’ve been so cool, but there’s just so much you can do in 2 days.
- Van Gogh Museum
- Heineken Experience – not a HUGE fan of beer, but my husband would appreciate it, plus.. it’s Heineken, haha
- Royal Palace of Amsterdam
- NEMO science museum
- The National maritime museum
- A’DAM lookout – over the edge swing
- I Amsterdam sign
- Tulip farm / gardens – they were not open anymore, it was the end of the tulip season.
- Chin chin club
This is the map that we used to plan our tour around the city:
- My final conclusions:
Amsterdam is definitely a wonderful place to visit, open minded and modern. Its mostly a busy touristy city with plenty of things to do.
I confess Red light district left me a little uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel unsafe for not even a second.
I would for sure go back, more prepared and I’d chose the spring time again, but a little earlier so I can do see the flower fields.
Amsterdam is a place that I’d highly recommend to visit!
I really hope you enjoyed my list and make sure to save it for when you’re planning to go or share with someone that you want to take this trip with!
Leave your comments with other suggestions or questions, let’s chat. 🙂
Happy Travels everyone!
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths” – Walt Disney