Just a quick 45 minute flight from the UK, Amsterdam is the perfect weekend break for any traveller. Bursting with art, bikes, boats, canals, rambling passageways, tulips, brown cafes and history, this is both a fun and fascinating city. We chose to stay for just three days (two nights) and so had to be selective with what we saw. After some careful research before we visited (regular followers know how much we like to plan) we decided to visit the following places:
1) Anne Frank Huis
This was top of our list to see in Amsterdam (it gets nearly one million visitors a year) and really is an unmissable and powerful place to visit in the city. The tour of the house in which Anne Frank hid for two years, alongside her family and friends to escape deportation by the Nazis, was a melancholy but fascinating experience. The tour allows you to see a reconstruction of Anne’s bedroom, with her diary sat poignantly in a glass case. To get to the secret annexe you pass through the famous revolving bookcase and up a steep, rather claustrophobic staircase. What strikes you is the dark and stuffy atmosphere of the annexe in which Anne silently spent each day. The windows remain blacked out (this was done to avoid suspicion).
2) Canal trip
Fun fact: Amsterdam has more canals than Venice! So, what better way to see the glistening waterways on a sunny summer afternoon than on a canal cruise! The cruise also turned out to be unexpectedly informative, with a full history of the canals and housing system in Amsterdam (did you know house tax is based on the width of a house!) Our favourite part of this trip was chugging past the flower filled houseboats that dot the sides of the canals: there’s over 2,500 of the them in the city.
3) Van Gogh Museum
If you love art (well to be honest, even if you don’t) then the Van Gogh Museum is a definite must on a visit to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, I (Claire) had managed to contract the world’s worst cold by this point, so memories of this museum are a little vague. The museum houses the largest collection by Vincent van Gogh and consists of over 200 canvases, which take you through Van Gogh’s somewhat troubled life and mind.
4) A sneak around the Red light district!
We were a little apprehensive about visiting this part of town. Mainly because we weren’t part of a hen or stag party, or looking for some hook-ups with exotic ladies. It was, however, a very fun jaunt, taking in some very entertaining shop windows. The famous window display of Condomerie was probably our favourite, who knew there was such a range…
5) Vondel Park
If you’re after a little downtime after immersing yourself in the city sites, we recommend you take a stroll around Vondel Park. In summer, this is a beautifully green space, sprinkled with ponds, English styled gardens, interesting art work and bridges. The park is also home to cafes and restaurants, to enjoy a refreshing mint tea or something more substantial.
6) Heineken Experience
If you’re after a bit of fun in Amsterdam whilst chugging back generous free half-pints of beer, look no further than a visit to the Heineken Experience! This very polished self-guided tour takes you on a history of the world-famous brewery and ends with a quite random but fun ride, in which you experience what it’s like to be a bottle of Heineken beer as it’s shaken, sprayed with water and heated. Perhaps it was all the free beer but we found this to be very amusing!
7) Stroll around the Jordaan neighbourhood:
Jordaan is a quirky and pretty neighbourhood filled with tiny lanes, independent shops and picturesque homes. Once the worker’s quarter, this area is a beautiful place to waste an afternoon, exploring its enticing passageways and shops.
We must also mention one amazing restaurant in Amsterdam that we would highly recommend! De Belhamel sits at the head of the Herengracht and offers delicious French and Italian food. On a summer’s evening, watching cyclists idle by, this was a beautiful setting with equally beautiful food.
Due to the short amount of time we had in Amsterdam and my cold virus sent from hell, we didn’t explore everything we would have liked. In particular, the Rijksmuseum (which we must go and visit) should also be high up on your list whilst in the city. We can’t wait to go back to Amsterdam; it really does offer an abundance of activities and sites, whatever your interests. The perfect city break!
Arriving in Amsterdam: Schipol airport is the most convenient and accessible airport that we’ve ever flown into! With the station directly below the airport, you can jump on a train every 10 minutes,which transports you to the city centre in 25 minutes. Easy peasy!
Getting around: Amsterdam is a very walkable (or cycable city) and wandering along the canals is one of the city’s greatest charms. If your feet start to get tired, however, then the city offers a very easy-to-use tram that allows you to jump on and off at points throughout the city.
Money: As city trips go, Amsterdam isn’t particularly expensive. It offers a huge range of food, accommodation to suit most budgets.