Saturday, 27 June 2015

7 Things To Do In Amsterdam

You may know from my abundance of Amster-spam, that the other month I took a week off to escape to Holland. I had an amazing holiday, and got quite a few questions from you guys about my time there, so thought I'd put together a couple of pointers for any of you that may be curious about where to stay, eat and visit. Please keep in mind that I've only been to the city twice, so haven't yet explored every corner or know much of the ~underground scene - this is just what I found whilst wandering around, and after doing a little research beforehand, so it may just seem like bog-standard touristy sites to any of you locals!  Anyway - on with the list!


DON'T GET RIPPED OFF BY HOTELS
  
I used Airbnb for my stay in Amsterdam, and I can't believe I've paid extortionate prices for such shabby hotels before.  I paid the same amount for a box room in the armpit of Paris, as I did for a whole apartment in Amsterdam!  It's the perfect way to experience the city as a local, and saves money as you can eat breakfast at home and bring lunch out with you, rather than buying every meal out, which is what I had to do in Paris.  The website is very user-friendly, and it's so easy to compare different locations and prices, and you can choose from renting a single room, to a whole house, depending on your budget!
My hosts were so lovely, and even left a little welcome pack for us, with advice and recommendations for places to visit, and I had their number in case I experienced any problems.  Our apartment was spotless, the hosts stuff just put away in cupboards etc, and they even cleared out some space for us to use, which I thought was very considerate - all you have to do is be respectful that the place you're using is someone's home, we cleaned up after ourselves and left the apartment as it was when we arrived.After your stay, you can leave a review, and you also get one from the host.  These are very helpful for deciding which place you'd like to stay in on the website.
Airbnb is not just for travellers though, you can easily rent out your own place to make some extra money while you're away - you could even get your whole rent, or pay for your holiday by being away for a week, and your home is insured by Airbnb in case anything goes wrong - I know I'll be looking into it when I'm living in London and might be going away!  You can also travel all round the world, it's not just based in Amsterdam, I love checking back at their blog to see their features on different Airbnbs, some of the places are absolutely breathtaking - I'd love to try some of the places in Thailand, they look gorge!

PS. For £14 Airbnb credit, just sign up here!


HIRE BIKES
  
Both times I've been to Amsterdam I've rented bikes, and I definitely will carry on doing so.  The city is based around cycling, so there are dedicated lanes which are safe, and I found it was easier to get around on a bike than walking!  It's a small city, so you can easily cycle from one side to the other, and it saves you spending all your money on trams.


ELECTRIC LADYLAND NEON MUSEUM
  
I scouted Electric Ladyland out on TripAdvisor (something I'd definitely recommend for planning your trips!) and tried visiting during my first visit to Amsterdam.  There was no answer at the door or the phone, so we assumed it was closed and sadly, left.  The second time, the same happened, but we wondered if they did tours on the hour and waited around - turns out that was the case so I was over the moon!  Entry is €5 and it's only a small basement, but it's got an incredible neon structure, built by the owner, as well as an incredible selection of naturally bioluminescent crystals.  The owner is a specialist in all things neon, and is a fountain of knowledge on everything related - he does a really interesting talk on how hidden graphics are used on passports and such for security purposes, and the photos are only visible under certain wavelengths, some of the designs are so pretty, it's a shame you can't see it under regular light!  It's hard to explain and I'm not sure I'm doing it very well, but I honestly thought it was amazing and would recommend!


PICNIC IN THE PARKS
  
They always say the best things in life are free - we picked up some nibbles and monged around Vondelpark for a good few hours.  It was a beautiful day, and when you're on a busy city break going from attraction to attraction it can get exhausing, so a chill-out day is perfect to balance things out.


KOPJES CAT CAFÉ
  
Polly was actually the one to scout this one out - she was eager to visit a cat café so just googled it, and luckily, Kopjes opened while we were out there!  It was our first time visiting one, and I will admit that the food/drink was quite expensive (plus there was an entry fee they didn't tell us about when we came in!) but I loved the experience, plus the decor is so on point.  You do have to book slots for this, so make sure you organise in advance. 


WATERLOOPLEIN MARKET

If you're an avid bargain hunter like myself, you'll fall in love with Waterlooplein market.  As with any market you do have to sift through a lot of crap (literally, just clothes piled high on mats), but you could stumble upon some gems, and the prices are ridiculous - Polly picked up a ton of patterned blouses (her fave) for €2 a piece!  I made a deal on a load of old band tees, one of which being a 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge' one, which I obviously had to have.  There are also a couple of vintage shops around, some of which being pay by the kilo, but they were all a little expensive for us! 


WHERE TO EAT
  
Funnily enough I didn't really plan much in sight of places to eat, we just decided while we were there.  The only place I made it my mission to go to was Ramen-Ya, as I'd seen it on Gh0stparties Instagram and it looked incredible.  I got the Sesame Chicken and was not disappointed - been dreaming of it ever since and will definitely be going back the next time I'm in Amsterdam!  I also had an amazing chicken & avocado bagel from Village Bagels - right opposite where we were staying.  We picked up our coffee from their every morning too which was divine, however don't expect drink portions to be particularly big most places you go, it seems to be the norm in Holland, you do usually get a free biscuit though which I guess makes up for it.
I can't talk about food without mentioning the generic Dutch food - make sure you pick up some chips with fritsaus (delish!!) and maybe one of those dodgy looking croquettes from Febo.  Stroopwaffels are also a favourite, I haven't actually tried one yet but I hear they're amazing.


OUR LORD IN THE ATTIC
This might not be up everyone's street, as it's quite an expensive museum to visit - as much as I hate to admit it, I only went in for the Instagram opportunity - I scouted it on TripAdvisor and thought it was too pretty to pass up!  Adult tickets are €20 but we got away with €5 as we told them we were under 18 (heh heh).  As the name suggests, it's a secret church built across a series of attics - there was a lot of story behind it, but we got a little bored with the audio tour and just wandered round instead.  The altar section is breathtaking but a lot of the museum was under renovation which was a shame.


GENERIC TOURIST STUFF
      
Of course, you can't go to any country without doing all the generic tourist stuff - which I'm not ashamed to admit that I love!  Take a trip down the Red Light District (no photos though unless you want your camera thrown in the canal) and go on a pub crawl, have a giggle in the Sexmuseum, chill out in a coffeeshop, visit their many museums and the Amsterdam monument, take a boat tour etc etc.  We were lucky that there was a fairground in Dam Square (only there in April & October) and we had a blast wandering round, and had a go on one of the huge rides.
If you're there in April, make sure you join in on the Kingsday celebrations - sadly it was after we'd booked to go home, but it looked like so much fun!  It's basically a day everyone dresses in orange and gets hammed to celebrate the Kings birthday - gutted we missed it!

Writing this is making me want to go back to 'Dam so bad - it's such a beautiful city and there's still so much I haven't seen!  If you've got any Amsterdam recommendations, make sure you leave them in the comments below so I (and any readers) can make a note of them, and let me know if you liked my little guide - as it's something I'd love to carry on doing in the future.

Most of these places feature in my Amsterdam vlog - so make sure you give it a watch if you're interested!
AMY X
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15 comments:

  1. such a lovely post Amy, I've only been to Amsterdam once and admittedly haven't even been to any of these places you've mentioned so now I have a good guide and idea where to go when I visit again sometime :) thanks for sharing them <3
    oh, did you visit the Anne Frank Museum too? The next time you go back to the city, visit the Red Light Museum, it's of course a very different type of museum but so interesting and you really get to understand the trade and the lives of the people who work on the Red Light District :) just a suggestion anyway :)

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  2. Ow yeah, gotta love Amsterdam. Going there tomorrow to look for a room I can rent permanently. Love the city! X
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  3. I went to Amsterdam recently and visited Electric Ladyland Neon Museum too which was bonkers but also very interesting! The Red Light Museum of Prostitution in the Red Light District is real interesting too. One of our favourite days were spent just jumping on the tram and travelling from one end of the city to another since we had a travel card - we stocked up on snacks and it was an alternative way to see the city. I did a blog post about some other things worth checking out whilst there if you want to have a look! It's @ http://inspire-magazine-online.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/Amsterdam-things-to-d-.html.
    Your post was really helpful - we had no idea they have a fair during certain months of the year or that they've just opened a cat cafe there so we'll definitely remember that for next time we go back which will hopefully be sooner rather then later x

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  4. I loved going to the Bulldog cafe, I'm sorry to have missed out on the market that looked like great fun!

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  5. Oh so beautiful ~ I want to go !!! ~

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  6. planning on going to Amsterdam soon so i'll definitely keep all this in mind :)

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  7. Such a useful post! I will make sure to check out some of these places when I visit Amsterdam (hopefully, soon)! :)

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  8. The electric ladyland neon museum looks really fun ! I want to go! :)

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  9. oooh my god, this is an AMAZING post. really wanna go to Amsterdam now! All my friends just go to smoke weed and I never heard anything about these cool markets and so on. Also LOVE your flat, air bnb is really super cool! xx

    dresses-and-travels //@susandollparts

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  10. I loved reading this, deffinitley going to check out some of those paces next time! I did a '5 things you have to do in Amsterdam' post a while back. You can find it here if you fancy a look! http://www.gracebee.co.uk/2015/05/5-things-you-have-to-do-in-amsterdam.html?m=1

    Grace xx

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  11. I'm in Amsterdam regularly since I live in The Netherlands, but it's like 3 hours by train for me to get there

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  12. So many good memories "chilling out" in Amsterdam during my uni years...

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    xx

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  13. Wow, fantastic website structure! How extended have you been blogging for write my paper for me? you are making blogging glance easy. The whole appearance of your internet site is magnificent, not to mention the information material!

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