Take a guide through Amsterdam.
One of the most talked about European holiday destinations. Home to the famous network of canals, legal marijuana consumption and the Red Light District. Amsterdam is a place suited for a variety of getaways.
I went for one night. I didn’t sleep the night before my flight, taking off at 0600 and being on Dutch ground by 0800 local time (it’s only a 45 minute flight). The airport has its own train station beneath it, you can take the ‘Sprinter’ from platform 2 straight to Amsterdam central for 11 euros return. You’ll be walking along the canals within the hour from stepping off the plane.
Amsterdam is perfect for both short and longer stays. The range of hotels on offer accommodates for all budgets. I went for a budget escape on £200 (including changing £ into €). Which for two days away in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe isn’t bad at all! Of course the more money you throw at the hotel the nicer your stay will be. A quick hotel guide to Amsterdam: If you want a luxury stay ‘The Ambassade Hotel’ is worth a look. Or if you are on a budget like I was the ‘City Hotel’ was pleasant enough for the night. Located 5 minutes from Amsterdam Central station.
The best way to explore the city is by bike. With plenty of hire facilities available all around the city – bikes are available to hire for €10-€15 per day ‘Donkey Republic‘ have a handy app that will help you find a bike. Discovering hidden treasures is perhaps easier on foot, as you don’t have to worry about concentrating on the millions of people zooming past you on their bikes. If you only read this bit it will save you in Amsterdam: “DO NOT WALK IN THE BIKE LANE” – they are painted red and are to be avoided. There is no rhyme or reason as to how this network of busy lanes should work, just avoid them when exploring on foot.
While you are bound to find some of the most beautiful cafes, sights and attractions just walking around the city, here are a few ‘ByOllie B Guide To Amsterdam‘ hotspots to visit:
Rijksmuseum – The Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh Museum, and after years of renovation, it’s now beautifully remodelled. The museum still features an extensive Rembrandt collection, and you’ll be able to see the famous painting “The Night Watch.” This is also where you’ll find the huge ‘A M S T E R D A M’ sign you see people crawling over on Instagram.
Anne Franks House – I didn’t go inside as I arrived too late in the day and didn’t have enough time to stand waiting to get inside. The building isn’t a pretty picture either, there are hoards of people inside and outside, so if you wan’t to go make sure you book tickets online to skip this large queues. I have heard great things and its an iconic place in Amsterdam; worth a visit if you have the time (don’t forget about pre-booking those tickets).
The Red Light District – Though much tamer than in previous years, the Red Light District manages to balance sex and seediness with being a major tourist attraction. During the day, it’s a quiet place. If it wasn’t for the red lights and sex signs everywhere, it would look like any other part of the city. But, at night, the area becomes awash with drunk, gawking tourists moving slowly down the street as they stare at the girls in the window while going from bar to bar and coffee shop to coffee shop. It’s a place to see and experience for a very brief time.
Fact: The red light workers pay to hire their window spaces within the district, pay taxes on their income and have dedicated schools they take their children to when they go off to work.
Vondel Park – One of my favourites in my guide to Amsterdam. The cities largest and most popular park ‘The Vondel Park’. It is a great place to walk, bike, people-watch, or relax. There’s a playground as well as places to play sports, and numerous areas for kicking back. During the summer, Vondelpark is filled with people, especially locals who hang out at the café ‘t Blauwe Theehuis for drinks in the center. I actually met a few friendly locals while exploring the park: A chef who writes his own rap music, and a Jazz saxophonist from London!
The Canals – You can’t miss them. They are everywhere. I wouldn’t say you necessarily have to visit one in particular, just wander around them – the photo opportunities are never-ending.
Zanse Schans – The highlight to my guide to Amsterdam: A little ‘Sprinter’ €5 & 20min train ride out of the city center to a traditional, idyllic, windmill village ‘Zanse Schans’. I went here on my second and final day before returning to the airport (which FYI is the best in Europe – it was a pleasure waiting for my delayed flight there. staff are so friendly and the shopping was just as good as the city!). Zanse Schans is like something out of a film. The luscious green fields, iconic operational windmills and beautiful open waters tick that final box of ‘visiting a Dutch windmill’.
Which European city guide should be next?