WHAT TO DO & WHERE TO STAY IN AMSTERDAM
A city totally different from anywhere I have ever been before, Amsterdam is the small and quaint capital of the Netherlands. The streets are full of bicycles and beautiful gingerbread-style homes lined along the canals. I’ve got you covered with the best places to see, eat and stay on your trip to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam isn’t the cheapest of cities to visit, but there are definitely ways to keep your budget low if you want. The closer you stay to central Amsterdam, the more expensive it will become, although a lot more convenient. However, with plenty of hostels in and around the center of Amsterdam starting from €20pppn, there are a whole host of options available for a cheap weekend break.
You’ll also be able to find hotels for approximately €70+, especially if you book enough in advance as cheaper places can get booked up quickly. Many hotel sites, such as Agoda, offer great features to adjust your budget.MIDDLE RANGE:
Having experienced Mr Jordaan myself, I can highly recommend staying here. For roughly 100 USD per night, you’ll be staying in a really trendy 3* hotel. Mr Jordaan offers a huge communal downstairs workspace, complimentary coffee, a very spacious room and bathroom with his and hers sink - add these features with its downtown location, and Mr Jordaan is very good value in Amsterdam.
If you're looking for something on the more premium within Amsterdam, and you like staying in modern places, W Hotel is somewhere a great place to stay. At 220 USD per night, the rooms have a modern, chic, industrial-style feel. It’s pretty close to Dam Square, so right in the center of Amsterdam, with everything within walking distance, you won't even need a bike.
I am sure you have heard it before, but Amsterdam’s bicycle culture is on another level; everyone - the young, the old - travel by bicycle, year-round. Bicycles can be rented almost everywhere and will cost you around €15 for 24 hours (if you’re saving the pennies and there are two of you, squeeze both of you on the bike, it’s a fairly normal sight). You’ll most likely have to pay a deposit of approximately €50, so if you want this deposit back, use two locks; one on the wheel and a chain to avoid it being stolen! Once you hire a bicycle, I guarantee you'll feel like a true Amsterdamian.
Public transport is also a great way to see Amsterdam. With multiple ticket choices, the tram system, in particular, is a great way to get around, especially if you're not staying right in the center.
Head out for lunch at Piqniq - here you can pick the number of items by how hungry you are. At €22 for a really good lunch for two, this is very cheap by Amsterdam standards. Next, head for a little dessert at Winkel 43 - supposedly the best apple pie in the whole of Amsterdam. The whipped cream is superb and we shared a really tasty apple pie (4.45 Euro ~ 5 USD) - just be aware it will be cold, but aside from that it was very good.
Take a visit to Anne Frank's House; not a feel-good moment in Amsterdam but definitely something you'll want to do. This is where she hid during the war with the Nazi Germans, along with seven other people in a very tiny living quarter. Unfortunately, right at the end of the war, they were caught by the Nazis. 7 were killed in concentration camps, including Anne. Only her father managed to escape. In her diary, Anne talked about her dream of being a famous writer - today her diary is one of the most read books in the world.
Next, head to Amsterdam Central. This area is more like what you would expect from a European city and a lot more touristy, but worth exploring nonetheless. Amsterdam is well known for having amazing cheese, you’ll find cheese stores everywhere in the center - the best part is you can try it, like every flavour out there!
Head through the central shopping area to Dam Square, a big open courtyard-type setting, on the way to the Red Light District. For me, this district is not my kind of side to Amsterdam; nonetheless, it’s what people know of Amsterdam and whether you want to explore it or not is totally up to you. You walk through these very narrow alleyways with red lights everywhere - these are used above the doors to show if a lady is available for business - you'll see them waiting by the window, eyeing up what they hope might be their next customer.
For dinner, you have to check out Bleu. We literally found this place by accident. For steak, mussels and a dessert each, it was about 65 Euros ~ 72 USD for two, which seems like a lot, but worth every penny.
Head out for brunch at the Pancake Bakery, but expect to queue - sometimes the good places require a little waiting. For really tasty crepes, coffee and juice for two, we spent 40 Euro ~ 45 USD. As I mentioned, Amsterdam isn’t the cheapest, but I can see why it was busy. If you’re coming to Amsterdam, I would really recommend checking this place out because the food is amazing.
Bike over to De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets) - called this because it has 9 streets connecting the canals. It’s a very trendy area for shopping, full of brands, vintage stores, and independent boutiques, along with coffee shops and eateries; a popular place to explore.
Five minutes away from Nine Street by bicycle is the flower market on the southern end of Central Amsterdam. This place would definitely be best visited in the spring or summer, when it’s tulip season, as it will be a lot more vibrant than when I visited in winter. Continue to bike around exploring places like Museumplein (home to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum) and Vondelpark, taking in the sites as you go.
If you're an avocado fan (although they do offer other options like acai bowls), grab a late lunch/early dinner at the Avocado Show. Lunch for two, including two chai lattes, was 26 Euros ~ 30 USD. Everything was really really good, in particular, the sweet potato with chicken and the chai latte!
A really popular thing to do in Amsterdam is taking a boat out on the canals, particularly during the warmer months, day or night. There are many ways you can do it, from boarding a canal cruise to hiring your very own uber style boat through the many apps available, it’s a really relaxing way to get to know the city.
Grab some cocktails at Tales & Spirits in the evening (again expect a bit of a wait). When you get the menu, every cocktail has its own little story associated with it, they even do a ketchup cocktail, if that's your thing! It’s slightly off the beaten path and a bit of a local gem, definitely worth checking out!
After a few drinks, you always need a snack right? And no trip to Amsterdam is complete without trying some famous fries. Pick up a cone at Mannekenpis, with mayo or any other of the 22 sauces they offer. For a portion of large fries, expect to pay around 2.70 Euro ~ 3 USD.
Before leaving Amsterdam, grab some food. We checked out Ree7 on The Nine Street. Not top of the places we ate, rating it a 7/10 but it’s a really trendy place with amazing looking Instagrammable desserts and the chai latte was 10/10!
If you’re fancying something a little different head for some street food at one of the many markets in Amsterdam, in particular:
Albert Cuyp street market, open Monday - Saturday 9:00-17:00. This is the largest outdoor market in the Netherlands with a laid back vibe, perfect to pop by for a stroopwafel, or a little shop before you leave.
De Hallen, open daily from 7:00 till late, a relatively new indoor food market to check out. With lots of street food from valued restaurants around Amsterdam and a cinema and shopping, this place would be perfect for a rainy day!
Check out my Amsterdam video based on this itinerary, showing you the accommodation, the sites and the food we devoured during our time in this city: How to Travel Amsterdam.
Let’s get lost again in the next one!