Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destination in Europe and it’s not a surprise why. Before visiting Amsterdam I didn’t have any desire to visit the city. Partly because whenever I ask anyone about Amsterdam they talk about drinking, weed and the red light district, and for me those things hold no appeal. Of course this is part of the culture, but could there be more to this amazing city?
Let’s be honest, the answer is of course yes. Otherwise why would I have even written this travel guide.
I went in November with my partner and some friends for 3 and a bit days and we all fell in love. Not only is the city beautiful, but there’s so much to it: history, culture and plenty of good food. What’s not to love?
Here is my travel guide of where we visited and what I would recommend.
We arrived at around 10am, so we had almost a whole day to explore this amazing city, but first we headed to the hotel to drop off our bags. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express next to Sloterdijk station which is one train stop away from Amsterdam Centraal, perfect for making the most out of our short time in Amsterdam. Seen as we would be using the train quite a bit to get around we purchased the Amsterdam travel ticket valid for 3 days, which worked very well as this included trains, trams, buses and metros. You can purchase this from the tickets and services centre at the stations.
Our first stop had to be brunch, because what’s better than pancakes when you’ve just flown to a new city. I did some research before the trip and discovered a place called Mook, and all I can say is that you need to visit this pancake house! Not only does the place have a trendy vibe without being too trendy, but the pancakes are incredible. There’s something for everyone whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer something savoury.
After eating my weight in pancakes walking around the city seemed like a good idea, and it did not disappoint – seeing all the leaning buildings, the lovely cobbled streets and of course many canals. After wandering the streets for a while we had a pit-stop at a bar, sadly I don’t remember it’s name, but it was by a church that had an amazing chocolate shop attached to it called Ganache that sold the most tasty chocolate covered coffee beans. For dinner we headed to The Butcher for burgers, and I can say that the veggie burger was pretty good as were the sweet potato fries.
No day starts better than with a Starbucks, and one of the best Starbucks is in the Amsterdam Centraal station near the main entrance on the first floor.
Could we visit Amsterdam without going to the Sex Museum? Nah. This is museum is quite famous and was entertaining to visit, and the entrance fee was only €4 making it a pretty affordable tourist attraction.
The aim was to try and eat at a pancake place every day (I clearly love pancakes a little too much), we tried and failed to get into a very busy pancake place. However the one thing I loved about Amsterdam is that there is something round every corner, especially little eateries that can only be described as holes in the wall. The one that caught our eyes was called Café de Pels, situated amongst many shops and boutiques. The café offered a variety of food choices, as well as a selection of Netherland beers. Bare in mind that these types of places have different opening hours to what you might be used to. Café de Pels is only open from 9am – 1pm.
The next place on our list to visit was the Food Hallen, a place that offers a magnitude of different mini-restaurant stalls, or you could just visit to wander round and eye up all the tasty food, or have a drink at one of the bars.
The day before we found a restaurant called Café In de Waag that resides in a small castle that was originally build in 1488, so naturally we had to go here for dinner. This restaurant is architecturally stunning and uses around 300 candles to illuminate it, giving it a light romantic atmosphere. Café in de Waag was a little more pricey than other places we visited, but not too expensive, and offered a variety of options on the menu. Overall it was well worth it in my opinion.
Later on we walked around the Red Light District. I’ve heard and read about this but to be honest I wasn’t shocked by it. I don’t know if it was the season we went – November was not as touristy compared to going during summer, or perhaps I don’t get shocked easily.
Another day, another place for pancakes. For breakfast we headed to Pancakes Amsterdam a place that offers traditional Dutch pancakes and American style pancakes – another pancake place you need to add to our list.
And because one coffee with our rather large pancakes weren’t enough we headed to Starbucks to plan out the rest of our day. As it was our final whole day we had to do a canal boat tour, I mean when in Amsterdam you kind of have to due to the number of them. The tour lasted an hour and offered great views and history of the city – great for first time visitors like ourselves. Afterwards we walked around city and may have ended up in a Selfridges-like store called de Bijenkorf, which obviously meant I had to pop in and accidentally purchase something from Charlotte Tilbury… oops.
We booked up to visit the Van Gogh museum earlier that day and headed back to Amsterdam Centraal to catch a tram to the museum. As we arrived early for our designated visiting time slot we had coffee at Blushing which is located near the museum. This place does the best almond milk vanilla latte I have ever had! And is somewhere I would go back to if I get to go back to Amsterdam.
After visiting the Van Gogh museum we were heading back to Amsterdam Central, but when we were on the tram we passed an area that looked interesting and decided to get off earlier. We ended up having dinner at In de Buurt, which again had a great range of food and everyone agreed it was an amazing restaurant. Throughout this trip we had such a great foodie experience, which obviously makes me want to go back and explore even more.
Our flight departed just before noon, so there wasn’t much we could do before the flight, but because of the hotel’s location there was no need to rush and it was pretty relaxed – definitely a plus with staying at the Holiday Inn Express.
Although our trip was short, it was the perfect amount of time to explore and get to know more of Amsterdam, and it’s definitely somewhere I would recommend for a long weekend break.
Have you been to Amsterdam, if so is there anything you’d recommend?
If you need anymore enticement to explore different countries / cities why not check out my post about why travel is a great investment.