Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Amsterdam City Guide

// why Amsterdam? //

Amsterdam was a city I had been dying to visit for ages and when I stumbled across crazy cheap plane tickets I knew I couldn't miss out. So last February I gathered up a group of some of my favorite ladies and we took our very first European adventure together!

So why Amsterdam? Amsterdam is a city full of old world charm combined with cutting edge trends.  While most infamously known for their lax attitude towards drugs and sex it is so much more than that. It's a charming city full of canals lined with crooked houses. The city isn't just picturesque but it's chock full of history, Instagrammable cafes, cool boutiques, and so much more.

The city is also beautiful year 'round! We went during the dead of winter, February, and it was still breathtaking, but I am dying to go back in the spring and see the city in bloom! 

// what to know before visiting //

Starting with the basics Dutch is the primary language in the Netherlands, but have no fear because everyone speaks English too.

Next coffeeshops are not what you think they are. Unlike the rest of the world in Amsterdam there is a clear difference between coffeeshops and cafes. A cafe is where you go if you're looking for somewhere to sip a cappuccino. Whereas a coffeeshop is where you'll want to go if you are looking to get your hands on some marijuana.

Be careful when crossing the streets! You may have heard that Amsterdam is big on bicycling and this is no joke!   Don't loiter in bike lanes and make sure you don't just look for car traffic but also bike traffic when crossing streets. Take note that some of the main streets you have to check for the oncoming bike, cars, and trams.

If you decide to take a peak at the Red Light District just know that photography is not only disrespectful but also illegal.

Finally my favorite, make sure to try some of the local cuisine. Some of the famous street foods in the city are fries, stroopwaffles, and pickled herring. Bitterballen is another great dish, which is basically balls of fried gravy, sounds weird but it's so good! And make sure to pick up some Tony's Chocolonely and Wilhelmina Peppermints!

// getting around the city //

Getting around the city was really straightforward. Starting with the train directly from the airport to the city center. The train station is attached to the airport and it was super affordable and the ride was maybe 20 minutes max to get into the city.

First Amsterdam is fairly walkable. It isn't a huge city and a lot of the big tourist attractions are near each other, so depending on how you plan your days you'll probably barely need to use public transport.

 Amsterdam has a mixture of trams, buses, a small metro, and ferries. We found the tram to be the most efficient way to get around the city and you just purchase your pass from the conductor as you board.

Last if all of that is too intimidating there is always Uber. We did use Uber a handful times, when we just wanted to get somewhere or when it was too cold. But just like in any city Uber is not always the cheapest or most efficient way to get around.

// where to eat //

We enjoyed Pluk so much that we actually ate here twice! Pluk is an adorable cafe that serves everything from sandwiches, smoothie bowls and cakes to the most adorable selection of home goods!

The atmosphere of this place is absolutely amazing. This cafe is in a renovated cinema that was built during the '20s! The architecture of the building is breathtaking and the decor is both tropical/beachy and industrial which sounds odd but it somehow works. The food was insanely good too. Another great option with sandwiches, juices, and a variety of hot breakfast items. 

This was one of our first food stops on the trip and it is a must! Another place that is again aesthetically beautiful but also a great place where everyone can get what they want. Also pay a visit to the Kanarie Club for a drink and to enjoy the stunning decor.

Yet another cafe but again totally worth going to. This place was not even a block from our Airbnb and had amazing coffee. It's a great spot for a quick breakfast and a beautiful Insta pic.

If anywhere on this list is Instagram worthy it's this place. Not only do they have a nice variety of sandwiches and breakfast items but also the most insane cakes and milkshakes that are begging to be shared on the 'gram. We stopped by the cafe for a mid-afternoon snack and sampled some of their cakes. While the cakes were a little bit dense, the presentation and atmosphere made it totally worth it.

We ate here on our last night in the city and it's a super cozy spot to go if you are looking for a traditional Dutch meal. Perfect for a cold winters night! 

We came here right before we left for the airport on our final day in the city. It was the perfect place to stop by and fuel up for our long travel day ahead of us. The coffee was good, the atmosphere was great, and we highly recommend the pancakes!

// what to do //

We did this on our first day in the city and it is a great way to get an introduction to the city.

One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and you will not regret visiting, as it is breathtaking.

The building itself is stunning and it holds a huge selection of stunning art. Don't miss the dollhouses and library!

Visit Dam Square

Dam Square is one of those places you can't not go while in the city and it's also a great place to head towards if you're looking to do some shopping!

Make sure you buy your tickets in advance as they sell out, you can purchase them two months before your visit. The Anne Frank house is 100% worth visiting. The exhibit is really moving and really well done.

Wander the City

As I have previously mentioned the city is absolutely beautiful and it's worth it just taking some time to get lost in the city and discover the city on your own.

This super cool museum is in a gorgeous townhome right across from the Rijksmuseum.  It holds a cool variety works from artists like Banksy, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. 

// where to stay //

Airbnb's are always a great option if you're looking for a good deal and to get the most of your money. This is the route we went as we were on a tight budget and was better suited for housing 4 people in Europe. Just make sure to properly do your research and read the reviews! This is the Airbnb we stayed at and it honestly couldn't be more perfect for our stay, we highly recommend!

Despite not staying here we did stop by the bar for drinks one night and was blown away by the hotel. 
It's absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth the visit if just for the bar (FYI we were also survived by a cute British waiter so...) And the hotel is surprising not outrageously overpriced for how pretty it is.

This is another hotel that we stopped by the bar for drinks one night and this hotel again is an absolute dream. It is a bit on the pricier side but if you're looking to treat yourself I would definitely look into this hotel.

Thanks for reading!!


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