If you’ve visited our travel page or read our blog on where it all began, you may know we visited Amsterdam as a couple for the first time in 2016. It was the first stop on our Europe trip and what a great place to start. If you haven’t already had the chance to visit the Dutch capital, add it to your wish list now! It’s FANTASTIC! With something for everyone, Amsterdam is a great place to visit, and only a very short flight from the UK.
You may have noticed the title of the blog says part 1… That’s because this is a throwback to our trip way back in 2016, and you may (or may not) know that it’s the next destination we will be visiting! Our first trip in 2019 and almost three years since we last visited. This time it’s going to be even more different as it’s not just the two of us going! Whilst we absolutely adore our trips together, we thought it would be nice to start sharing some of our experiences with friends / family. So next week, we’re off to the Netherlands with Marcus’ brother and his girlfriend! We’re SO excited to be going away with another couple!!
An overview of Amsterdam 2016
We spent three days in Amsterdam at the beginning of our Europe trip. It was the last weekend in July and Pride was the following week (not that we knew), so Amsterdam was quite busy this particular weekend and accommodation was v.expensive! We still loved our time there nonetheless and couldn’t wait to go back to explore more (this weekend break is long overdue!).
Flights and Accommodation
Our flights to Amsterdam cost around £20 one way (we were heading straight to Cologne so no need for a rtn) but you can usually get a return flight for around £30-40pp, so it’s definitely an affordable location to get to. As for the accommodation, if you want to stay in the centre it can be slightly pricier… but it’s to be expected if you want to stay amidst the beautiful canals and cobbled walkways! This on top of the fact it was the run up to Pride, meant that all we could afford was a private room in an apartment hosted on Airbnb. We were slightly skeptical of this BUT it was amazing, the room was completely separate to the main apartment, bar the shared stairway, with it’s own private bathroom. It was perfect for what we wanted. Unfortunately the room is no longer listed but there are plenty of other great looking rooms / apartments to rent on airbnb!
Things to do
Amsterdam is very diverse, and there’s no surprises it’s one of the top rated European cities to visit! There’s a huge variety of things you can do whilst in the dutch capital. Here’s some of things we got up to:
- Dam Square
- Anne Frank Huis
- Canal boat trip (we hired a pedalo)
- Iamsterdam sign
- Vondelpark (we hired bikes to get around)
- Heineken Experience
- Ice bar
- Canal walk
- Ferry ride to the other side of the river
- Red light district
Dam square is a square (obviously) located in the heart of Amsterdam. It’s lined with beautiful architecture and is the central hub that leads out to various different locations, including shopping malls, Central station, the red light district and many more. Although there isn’t a huge amount to do there, it’s definitely worth a visit just to see its beauty and take in the surroundings. Plus – it’s a great place to people watch!
Anne Frank Huis
I think pretty much everyone knows Anne Frank’s story, so the house is well worth a visit if you get the chance. It’s an amazing insight into the life Anne Frank lived with her family and provides a better understanding of the living conditions she describes throughout her diary extracts. Even if you’re not that into history, it’s definitely worth going!
Tip: during peak times, the house gets very booked up. If you don’t book a ticket in advance, be prepared to queue for a long time (like we did!)
Canal boat trip
We visited Amsterdam in the summer, so it was slightly warmer and drier than usual! On the one day it didn’t rain during our stay, we decided to hire a pedalo to explore Amsterdam and its canals. It was great fun – although be careful to avoid the bigger boats as they have right of way!
Nb.: There are alternative boat trips available. We are planning to do one of the others when we go next weekend so will provide an update as to what these are like when we return!
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been to Amsterdam and not taken a picture of / with the Iamsterdam sign! It’s iconic and a must (we even went twice!). It can get very overcrowded though so if possible try to visit the sign earlier in the morning when less tourists are about!
Like I said previously, the weather should have been warmer and drier when we visited, however for two of the three days it rained constantly… but we couldn’t not hire bikes and cycle round Vondelpark whilst we were there! So we sucked it up, put our rain macs on, and hired some lovely bright green bikes (I think they cost around 8euros each for two hours). The park itself is beautiful – although i’m sure it’s much nicer in the sun! The perfect place to go for a nice relaxing walk or cycle whilst remaining within the city centre.
As you may know, we LOVE our tasting experiences, and when we’re abroad, we will always try the local specialities. Amsterdam is the home to Heineken beer, so who were we to turn down the opportunity of a tasting session! The tour costs around 18euros and you get two free pints of beer, we also got a personalised bottle with our names on the label that we kept as a memento of our trip.
The final thing we did in Amsterdam was visit the church next to Anne Frank Huis, Westertoren. I’m not sure if it’s on the trip advisor top things to do in Amsterdam, but if it’s not, it certainly should be! We only went in to have a look around but soon realised you could do a tower climb and see Amsterdam from the viewpoint at the top. We love view points, so we were VERY keen for this! Those who’ve read Anne Frank’s Diary will also be aware that Anne regularly refers to the sound of this very bell tower! There was only around 8 of us and an enthusiastic guide, who was very informative. We took the numerous spiralled stairs to the top to take in the views of the city, and learn more about the history of this wonderful piece of architecture. It was beautiful (despite the gloomy weather). A must do in my opinion.
Now it’s not for everyone, but we found the red light district in Amsterdam SO fascinating. After doing a module at uni relating to sexuality in the city – I loved seeing the red light district in the flesh (pardon the pun) and actually getting a feel for what is classed as one of the safest red light districts in the world. Although (unsurprisingly) we never actually went inside any of the buildings, we were never once made to feel uncomfortable – the red light district is a big part of Amsterdams cultural history! Plus, there are plenty of lovely little cafes and bars within the red light district, so it’s not all seedy! I don’t actually have any pictures of the red light district (didn’t feel that comfortable getting my camera out / it’s not allowed in most areas!) but it’s definitely worth a visit if you are interested in understanding a bit more about Amsterdam’s alternative culture!
Food and drink
Amsterdam is well known for it’s beer, making it the perfect location for tasting sessions. We made sure we got a good feel for all the different beers on offer and when we go back are hoping to do a full tasting experience rather than just hopping from one bar to the next… Another thing we loved were the numerous cheese shops across the city centre. The sheer variety of cheeses on offer was overwhelming but also SO yummy! As we were on quite a tight budget – recently graduated and poor – we decided to stick to the cheaper eateries but still had some pretty yummy food, including finding an amazing burger joint right by our airbnb!
Amsterdam – take 2
We’ve both been dying to get back to the Netherlands since our first visit but just haven’t had the time, so we’re more than excited to be heading there next weekend, and this time with another couple!
We will be sure to post our new experiences from our next visit to Amsterdam on next week’s blog post!
Adios for now,
Love Char & Mar xxx