Summer is coming and it’s that time were people want to spend 2 weeks away lying on a sun lounger on the beach. But to me, that’s no fun, I would much rather spend 4-5 days in a beautiful city seeing the sites and being a tourist. So if you’re like me and would rather go on a city break but don’t know where or you have a short trip planned to Amsterdam coming up then this is for you.
I went to Amsterdam almost 2 years ago now, it was my first time traveling abroad alone as a teenager so I had a mixture of nerves and sheer excitement. We went for 4 nights, which gave us enough time to do everything that we wanted to do, and I think we covered everything!!
There were some things that I enjoyed more than others but seeing a whole new country was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to go back some time soon. When you go to Amsterdam I think there are certain things that everyone must do, and no this isn’t the stuff like ‘smoke week’ (which I didn’t do) or ‘go to the Red Light District’. This is things you can do that make the city a unique place.
1. The Anne Frank House / Museum.
This was my main priority when visiting Amsterdam, I have always been so intrigued by war and I read Anne Franks diary growing up as a child so seeing where she grew up and survived most of her war years. Even if you don’t have that much interest in war I would suggest going because being inside the house really makes you realise how lucky you are. The stories, photos and documentaries are nothing compared to seeing the real thing.
If you do wish to visit the Anne Frank house then I would suggest buying tickets before you visit, or getting there as early as possible to queue. We arrived around 10.30am and didn’t get into the house until about 12pm after queueing for almost 90 minutes. It was worth the wait, but if you can then get tickets beforehand.
2. Canal Cruise
This is the best way to see parts of the city without the rush of tourists on the road. When in Amsterdam we did two different types of Canal Cruises the first being around mid-day in a paddle boat, the two of you would have to work together to peddle and steer your boat around the canals following the routes that is given to you on a map, it’s good fun and a great way to kill some time (and build some leg muscles). Make sure to give enough time to move out the way or oncoming tourist boats also in the canals because these peddle boats don’t move as quick as you think.
The second type of cruise we did was an open top evening cruise. This was a boat that had been transformed into an open seated area with a large plush area at the front of the boat. We decided to do this on our last night and see the city lit up. It was incredibly beautiful so see the city in the dark and also seeing the canal tunnels lit up with lights around the edge. The tour guide was also incredible and definitely knew what he was talking about.
These can both be paid for on arrival on the day, but if you plan on going on a normal canal cruise, you can book them beforehand depending on the company you travel with.
Amsterdam has these huge IAmsertam signs around the city, I think we saw three while we were there, they are based in large locations including outside the airport and near the Van Goh Museum. I mean did you really go to Amsterdam if you don’t have a photo of you in front of one of these signs?
When we went it was a busier time due to it being August meaning that there was a lot of people around the IAmsterdam signs but that didn’t mean we couldn’t get photos. If you’re up for it you can also climb on top of these signs, this is done regularly by locals and tourists for great photo opportunities. You don’t have to be super tall to get up these letters, I am 5”0 and managed to climb up and get a photo.
4. Visit the Markets
Amsterdam is known for their Tulips, cheese and clogs, and located all around Amsterdam are small stalls that sell tulips and other little items that represent Amsterdam. We must have spent hours walking around these little shops and stalls looking as what they had to offer. They were incredibly bright and beautiful to look around.
If you don’t get to go during the tulip season then this is a close second, it’s also a great opportunity to learn a lot about the culture in the Netherlands.
5. The Heineken Experience
Now I am not one for beer, never have been and I don’t think I ever will be. But Heineken offer a tour of their factory in Amsterdam, for a fee you can walk around and see the different machinery used to makes the famous beer. There is the option for you to make your own personalised Heineken Bottle about half way around the tour.
At the end of your tour you get to spend as much time as you like in their rooftop balcony where you can treat yourself to 2 free beers and relax in the sun, there is also an inside area if the weather is not too good or you are not one for heights.
Again, beer isn’t my thing but it was interesting to see how the stuff is made and we had a good time up on the rooftop balcony, so if you get the chance then I would suggest go.
Amsterdam in an incredibly beautiful city to see, even if you are managing to travel on a budget. I mean we managed to eat pizza and pasta for 5 euro each night and it was pretty good. So if plan and budget well you can visit the city for very cheap!
*All photos used in this blog post are owned by me. If used elsewhere please ask first.*