Back in the summer I went to Amsterdam for a long weekend as I’m lucky enough to have a family friend who lives in the city and conveniently has a spare bedroom – cheap and short flights, free accommodation, yes please?! Being an Amsterdam native, she made sure to give me lots of tips about how to get around and the best places to visit that I definitely wouldn’t have found otherwise!
I was staying in the suburb of Amstelveen, so although not strictly part of the city it was only a 30-minute direct tram ride into the city centre. As the main form of transport in Amsterdam (apart from the 1000s of bikes!) the trams are sooooo super easy to use, there’s more stops than you will ever need so you’ll never be far from one if you get lost and the trams run extremely frequently all across the city! It’s cheaper to use a single or return pass than a week pass generally speaking, just hop on and ask the driver for a single/return ticket to your destination! There’s also a great little app called GVB, which is run by the main transport operator and allows you to plan a route in advance or how to get somewhere from your current location, a definite must have for navigating the city! There are also plenty of shops for bike hire as this is a very popular way to get about, although I stuck to trams to save me almost certainly losing my bike somewhere.
If you want to cover a large area of the city in a short amount of time then a canal cruise may also be a good idea. They usually last for about an hour and take you through the narrow canals before going out into the harbour and many also feature a commentary to let you know more about the city as well as a glass roof to protect you from the weather! Cruising along the canals offers you a slightly different view of the city and is a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon. I used this company for mine and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Places to Visit
I was only in Amsterdam for a couple of days so didn’t get to do everything on my list, in particular visiting the Vondelpark, Anne Frank Huis, Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, as I wanted to make the most of my time exploring the city and not standing inside or in long queues. However, if you do want to visit any of the museums, make sure to book up online in advance to skip the queues when you get there!
Begijnhof – this is a beautiful enclosed courtyard made up of many historic buildings and a central garden. The homes were originally inhabited by Beguines (similar to nuns) but are still inhabited only by females who live completely secluded from the rest of the city, more information can be found here. It’s free to enter and definitely worth a trip!
Dam Square, The Royal Palace and The National Monument Dam Square is the historic centre of the city and one of Amsterdam’s main tourist hotspots and always has numerous street performers to keep you entertained! The imposing Royal Palace stands at one end of the square and often plays host to large state events, although it is open for visitors too! Opposite the palace stands The National Monument, a 1956 monument commemorating World War II, at 22m high and arguably Amsterdam’s most iconic monument it is really worth a visit on your way around the city!
The 9 Little Streets – these quaint, narrow streets are one of the more unusual shopping areas in the city, and are full of unique clothes boutiques, interiors stores and cafes as well as more specialist shops. The streets are named after the original craftsmen and trades that could be found within them and this quieter area is slightly more off the beaten track, so if you want to find a quirky souvenir or gift, the 9 Little Streets should be high on your list! Find out more about the streets here
Kalverstraat- this is the ‘Oxford Street’ of Amsterdam, a long pedestrianised street running from near the Flower Market up to Dam Square. There are numerous shops, many of which are your usual high street stores, although there are also some that are a bit more typical to the city!
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)- Amsterdam is famous for its tulips and these can be found in abundance in the flower market. The Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world and is one of the most colourful parts of the city! As well as stocking fresh flowers and bulbs there are also wooden tulips and clogs on offer for a more traditional and long-lasting souvenir!
Amsterdam is definitely up there with my favourite cities and I’m sure I’ll be heading back before too long, so let me know if you can recommend any more places to visit down in the comments! Don’t forget to like and subscribe to keep up to date with my future posts!