I visited Amsterdam just over one year ago now, in the March of 2015, it was still absolutely freezing and I think this was the reasoning behind my initial dislike to the city. You see, Amsterdam is very much an outdoors city, for a city with its own legal red light district it is still beautifully elegant, a place perfect for strolling or riding around admiring the rows of mismatch buildings but in a row look just right. Amsterdam is a perfect place for a weekend break.
Looking back if I had to describe it is in one word it would be wonderful, like Copenhagen, Amsterdam could easily be a setting for a folk fairy tale. With flights as cheap as £60 return, Amsterdam should be considered for a short break away from London with a partner or friends, it is more than a destination for a stag party.
As I previously mentioned, the dutch city is very much a walking or bike riding city, so I would recommend visiting between late Spring to Autumn in order to catch the best of the weather. In late April, the people of Amsterdam take to the streets dressed to celebrate King’s day and the city becomes a sea of orange, although this may be a busy time to visit, it would also be an incredibly fun time to visit.
Hop on a Bike
Bikes are everywhere in Amsterdam and are the perfect way to get around. The streets are designed to be perfectly safe for cyclists and most hotels/hostels will have bikes to rent for their guests. For those like myself, that do not have the best sense of direction, there are numerous guided bike tours available.
Take a canal cruise
Amsterdam is a city tied to the water and the buildings of the city have perfectly moulded themselves around the canals. I always find you get a completely new perspective from the water, so making use of one of the many boat tour companies to take in the views.
The Heineken Experience
For someone who is not a beer drinker I actually really enjoyed this, it is a bit of fun and you get a free beer along the way. The experience itself explains the history of Holland’s national beer through the form of a ride, film, and various interactive exhibits, finishing off with a bar and the opportunity to pour and enjoy your own pint. If you book yourself on to the VIP tour you get also get the addition of a selection of cheeses to accompany your beer as well access to a private bar with views of the city.
Indulge in Waffles
No trip to Holland would be complete without trying their incredible fresh waffles and in Amsterdam there is no shortage. Maybe it is due to cannabis being legal in the coffee shops of Holland but there seems to a different dessert or snack shop every few buildings. Fresh waffles with various toppings are something they do extremely well in Amsterdam especially alongside a coffee on a colder day or enjoyed with a fresh fruit smoothie during summer.
Make new friends on The Cat boat
For all my fellow animal lovers that read my blog, I had to mention the cat boat. The cat boat is quite literally a floating boat of cats, that plays refuge to the stray and abandoned cats of the city. Although I did not find out about this until after I visited the idea of this completely warms my heart, if you visit please spare at least a small donation to help support the wonderful people that are helping to give the cats a second chance.
Visit the Bloemenmarkt
The world’s only floating flower market and is the most fragrant place in all of Amsterdam. Not only is it incredibly beautiful for your eyes and your nose, you can also purchase tulip bulbs to take home and plant as a great alternative souvenir.
Take in The Red Light District
By day you may not even realise where you are, but by night this area of the city literally glows red and evolves. My prudish self really did not enjoy this part of town however it is something you have to experience when you are there, as it will probably be like nothing you have seen before. A brief walkthrough is probably all that is needed for most people, however, there are also a number of humourous sex museums in this district for those looking for an immature giggle.
Relax in Vondelpark
If you are looking for a place to chill out on a warmer day than Vondelpark is the largest park in the city. The vast open space is a popular place for locals and tourist alike to enjoy a rest. during the months of June, July and August there is an open air theatre that offers free admission to all its performances, however, some performances are particularly busy so tickets will need to be reserved.
Get spooked at the Amsterdam Dungeon
More one for a visit in the colder months, but much like its brother in London, the Amsterdam Dungeon is well worth a visit. Not necessarily scary and more dark humour but definitely worth a visit if you have a spare afternoon.
Stay on a houseboat
What better way to take in the culture of the city than to stay in the centre of the action on a canal boat. Air BnB offer a whole host of wonderful boats at a variable price range. If I visit again ( Which I plan on!) this would be my preferred accommodation.
With a very short flight time from London, Amsterdam is a very accessible city for a weekend or mid-week break away. With so much beauty and culture, the legal highs and red light district are just a tiny portion of what this timeless place has to offer.