Amsterdam is such a special city and it is self-explanatory why I love this city. Not only because do I live here, but also because it is so beautiful and unique in every corners. The typical brick building, the canals, the bikers, the park in the middle of the city, the modernism, and it is culturally rich. You can see the balance of every thing in Amsterdam. This is the place where you can see a church stands steadily in the middle of Red light district. There will always be something to discover in this city, small gems in all its corners. Seem like any duration can never be enough, but let’s start somewhere.
During the day
When the weather is incredibly nice with a blue sky, you should consider to do a Canal Tour as opposed to the Hop on Hop Off bus. The city is just to special on its water to go on the road. You can also go with Hop on Hop off boat if you wish.
If you want to go road trip, do it by bicycle. Several canal tours are located right in front of the Amsterdam Central station, it starts every day at 10.00. It is better to start earlier than later as there will be lines and you have to wait approximately 25-50 mins.
With the normal canal tour, you will go through the canals for 1 hour. The history of Amsterdam is intimately connected with water. That is what makes the canal ring recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is one of the most memorable ways to discover the beauty of the city. Some of the most famous trademarks are between the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel canals.
(Free) Walking Tour
After you come back to Centraal, you can walk down the city center or follow the free walking tour. It gives you a general overview of the city and landmarks. Not only that, but also a lot about history and culture. You will learn about how Dutch people live their life, what is the culture and the reason behind a lot of things you might notice in the Netherlands. The tour meets in the main square and lasts about 2-3 hours. It is called free, but be so kind to give the guide a tip! Always good to cultivate some good deeds right?
Museum Square (Dutch: Museumplein)
Do you know the famous I AMSTERDAM big red and white letters? I am sure you have seen it somewhere. It is a must-visit place to take pictures at, to show that you have stepped on your foot in Amsterdam. When the weather is nice, you can sit down, have some ice creams, smoke a little bit and just enjoy the sun. This square is called Museum square, because it is circled by a lot of popular museums in the Netherlands. There are Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Also, in amongst the stylish hotels and cafés, lays the majestic Concertgebouw.
Walk in the Joordan area
I like walking through here at night, the light and the canal are just too beautiful to miss. It is Amsterdam’s most beautiful and storied residential neighborhood the Jordaan. This walk will guide you through hidden courtyards, cozy cafes, beautiful canals and 17th/18th century architecture.
Red light district at night
You’ll definitely see things from different perspectives. Beware that it is not allowed to take pictures! 😉 Have dinner in the china town around there. Recommended place is Bird (Thai restaurant), New King (Chinese restaurant – order the pecking duck!), Oriental City (Chinese Restaurant – Dimsum is a must).
Then maybe a bit taste of Dutch local coffee shop (which they do not sell coffee but marijuana). If so, go to the proper ones -> Grasshoper, Barney’s or Dolphins.
During the day
Keukenhof. It opens on the March 23rd to May 21st. This is also outside of Amsterdam, more to the The Hague way. You need to take train in order to go there. However, there is a special bus that will take you from Amsterdam CS to Keukenhof.
Visit its site here. It is a huge (32 hectares) garden full of tulips and flowers in general. Definitely worth visiting to get some taste of Dutch Spring season. There are more than million bulbs bloom in this field.
Leidseplein. Have dinner at Saigon Caphe (Vietnamese – take the PHO or vietnamese Salad) then crash to one of the cafe there to enjoy the night away.
Zaanse Schan in Zaandam
I always recommend this place to whoever ask some suggestions for Netherlands/Amsterdam short visit. This place is a little bit outside of Amsterdam, in the city of Zaandam. Basically you can cover all what you need to see in the Netherlands, from windmills, cheese factory, the first Albert Heijn (a typical dutch supermarket), clog factory, pancake restaurant, etc. Zaanse Schans is a residential area in which the 18th and 19th centuries are brought to life. Just stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere. You can sail or bike there as well. And there is no entry fee for the area and a few museums, however you have to pay for entering mills and some museums.
To get there? You can take sprinter train with Uitgeest destination and stops in Zaanse Schaan station. Or go to the Zaandam station, enjoy the landmarcs a bit and take bus 69.
Click here if you want to have some more info
What to eat?
Make sure to try the following snacks that are typical Dutch
- Haring and Bread
- Pannekoeken and Poffertjes
- Patatje met oorlog or pinda sauce (literally the Indonesian peanut satay sauce). Dutch lovesssss pinda sauce.
- Croquettes from vending machine
Caution: BE CAREFUL ON THE WAY! Bikers are crazy in Amsterdam, first priority on the road 😉