‘Queen’ a film about self-discovery abroad might have evoked many free-spirited single women to crave a trip to Paris and Amsterdam. Although, this destination is famous with backpackers and singles, we (my husband and I) planned this vacation, on our way back from Mexico to India. As our transit was via Ams, we just got our Schengen visa, to be able to visit the city.
Amsterdam It Is!
Canals, Cannabis and the Red light district- These are the first things that pops on to the mind when we think of Amsterdam. But, there is much more to Amsterdam than drugs and nudity. It is a city vibrant in culture with awe inspiring architecture built around intricate canals.
After reaching Schipol airport, we left our luggage at the baggage storage area, which is near the arrivals. We wished to roam stress free without having to worry about the safety of the luggage all the time, and this made our vacation effortless and easy, so once tucked away securely, we were ready to begin!
Tip: Plan to store your luggage based on the size and time of your stay, as there is 30-day baggage depot and 7-day storage lockers. You can find more info in the link below.
From Schipol Airport to Amsterdam Central
Right below the airport arrival hall, is the metro station to go to Amsterdam Central, with frequent access of trains and with continuous display of train information, there are machines to buy tickets using either credit or debit cards. We didn’t find any difficulty getting in to the train, as there were guards everywhere who are solicitous and speak fluent English.
When you are in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask people around you for some information. Especialliy, before boarding a train it is better to ask, rather than taking the wrong train. Dutch are one of the nicest and warm people, Amsterdam’s culture is a proof of that.
However, traveling within Amsterdam is very convenient and is connected quite well.
Tip: OV-chipkaart is the name of the transport cards that is valid for all the public transport network and you can purchase and recharge this at airports, stations or supermarkets.
Few minutes walk from the Central station to our stay wasn’t tiresome at all. There are great views everywhere! All you need to do is keep your eyes open! After a quick check-in, we were back on the streets, eager to explore the city. The walk from 123-year-old Amsterdam Central station to the Dam Square, the historical center of Amsterdam, with many notable buildings and monuments, is one of the busiest routes with tourists.
To get around the various neighborhoods and sights, you can choose from train, tram, metro, bus, ferry which are available or as the locals mostly do, via bikes! (The best way to explore the city!!). Even kids find it safe and fun here.
Tip: Also, try Tram route 2 in Amsterdam which is one of the most stunning routes in the world. This route from Central Station to the Hoofddorpplein takes you along plenty of sights worth seeing, such as, the Vondelpark, the canals, the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk and Van Gogh museums. A day ticket will cost your kitty € 7.50 .
Best time to visit
There is a Dutch joke that you can experience four seasons in a day. And this is quite true, we carried raincoats as well as sunglasses, as weather was unpredictable here. Generally, July and August are considered the best months to visit the city, being the warmest months of the year with average temperatures of 21°C (70°F). Here, the sun doesn’t set until 10 PM, which gave us plenty of time to soak in the sights. No wonder, nights are young here 😉
Where to stay
Stay anywhere in Amsterdam, it never disappoints. There are many bed’n breakfast places, houseboats and luxury short-stay apartments too.
We stayed right in the center of the city in a bed’n breakfast place, and hear me when I say this, compromise on your luxury and you end up swapping the coolest stories with a complete stranger in a few hours, that’s the beauty of Amsterdam.
Throughout our stay, after breakfast, we were on the picturesque canal streets, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the well crafted city. The reason why we chose to stay in the central area is, its in an easy striking distance to many attractions and the epitome of nightlife, also there are many options to get around easily.
Tip: If you plan to backpack and mingle with likeminded folks, a nice hostel stay within the city center or in one of the outer suburbs will give an experience you can never forget as you befriend travelers from across the world. Don’t forget to book in advance, if you are planning to visit Amsterdam in summer months.
Check out our website for the most cheapest flights to Amsterdam.
The 165 canals were built over centuries and floating down these Amsterdam’s canals is one of the most enchanting ways to discover the city.
We booked a canal boat, and all along, we got to hear cool short stories about the history of canals and the architecture of the buildings with some drinks on board.
Tip: The ‘Hop-on-hop-off’ service is an excellent option to break up your tour for sight-seeing. And also Candle-lit dinner cruises are the most romantic and exciting way to see the city lights of this modish city with some wine to stir your spirits.
When in doubt, pedal it out
One cannot miss the city’s infamous bike culture. We saw the local people dressed up formally (and casually) using bicycles to get around. If you are here as a traveller and not a tourist, renting a bike or joining a guided cycle tour, will open up ways for sporadic adventure. Feel free to soar like a bird here.
You need not be a hardcore biker as there are separate dedicated paths for cycling, which makes traversing in the city a breeze.
One of the things I loved in Amsterdam are the outdoor coffee patios, which are good to spend some quality time watching the world go by. The famous Dutch apple pie along with some coffee is an awesome combination to have on a rainy day. Probably the best thing you’ll ever treat yourself with!
Don’t confuse yourself with coffee shops and cafés here, you don’t get coffee in coffee shops. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are legal cannabis smoking places where you see people laughing insanely for no reason :-D. If you want to sneak in and try some stuff, just don’t hesitate. You won’t regret it later. What ever happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam 😉
Visiting the Red Light District (Literally red lights !)
This could be the only place where men don’t whine about window shopping *wink wink*. Avoid visiting during times when the area is packed with people which is generally after dark. Sometimes, it can get seedy and so you need to watch out for your own safety, especially when traveling alone.
Most interestingly, there are museums about prostitution in the middle of the area if you want to know more about the oldest profession in the world. Frankly, which other city has that? A must visit if you ask me. Don’t be shy get a glance!
Tsk Tsk: Put your cameras down here, you are not allowed to take any pictures.
Muse and Museums
Being an art lover, visiting these world famous museums was one of the must do things on my list. Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Anne Frank museum needs no introduction. The audio guides of these museums helped us understand the paintings more. We booked our tickets in advance almost a month before, expecting the huge crowds of tourists during the summer months and we were not wrong.
My favorite of them, ‘Anne Frank house’ will leave you wretched to witness the plight of Jews during the second world war. However, the tickets to Anne Frank house needs advance booking at least 2 months before the planned travel because of the limited entry due to space restrictions within the house itself.
Tip: Below, are the links to buy online tickets of the the three touristic attractions and don’t get stuck in the line !
Pancakes and dripping cheese!
I am not a big fan of pancakes, but pancakes in Amsterdam are draped in heavenly cheese and fruits, quite different than their American counterparts. Thin and big, they can be topped with fruit or cooked with ham & cheese for a savory breakfast. Super yummy, I could have them any time of the day!
Also, any food tastes good once you are high ..Ahem Ahem!!
“Gouda-Netherlands” is the most popular exported cheese by the Dutch. Try to head to ‘De Kaaskamer ’ which is a famous place where you can try some of the various Dutch cheeses or you can also check out the plenty of cheese mongers in the local markets if you want to choose from. There are free samples everywhere!
There is more than just Heineken
Heineken might be Netherland’s most popular beer, but there are many craft beer spots to taste some of the country’s best beer. Navigating Amsterdam can be a thirsty work, and there are a lot of options to choose from. So, I’d strongly suggest to enjoy a nice Dutch beer along the canal side while you’re here.
‘Craft & Draft‘ is one such place, very close to Vondelpark, which offers more than 40 types of draught beers, if choosing from this might seem overwhelming, just ask the friendly bartender for some brilliant tastes.
Heart of nature -Vondelpark
Vondelpark is an oasis of green space in the heart of the city. Ideal for a stroll (anytime of the day), enjoy marvelous view of the quaint bridges over the small waterways, take a nap on the luscious green gardens with birds around to keep your ears sweet. Cafés along some of the ponds have beautiful views and gets more serene during summers with sunlight dappling through the canopy of trees.
Guys, this is just a recapitulation of few of the many things to do in Amsterdam. There are many off-the-beaten-path activities that you could tap into your itinerary, everything depends on your fun appetite. I, personally could spend countless hours just walking around without doing nothing but watch the beautiful city as it goes by.
To quote Calvin and Hobbes, “There’s Never Enough Time to Do All the Nothing You Want” – (in Amsterdam!)