Amsterdam certainly is the land of loopholes – coffee shops aren’t quite coffee shops and window shopping is given a whole different meaning. There are three bicycles to every car, trams around every corner and some of the flattest land in the world. A quick Google search informs me that some parts of the city are 4 metres below sea level. I’m not quite sure what that means as my GCSE Geography days are behind me but I can only gauge that the Dutch know what they’re doing.
What to expect?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before visiting, one part of me thought it was going to be seedy and gimmicky but reflecting upon my time there, my attitude has completely changed. The Dutch certainly know how to live life right. From cleanliness, efficiency, to the relaxed laws, I began envisioning a life here whilst I tried to blend in during my short weekend.
How to get there?
If you live in the UK or Ireland, the flight is roughly 45 mins. By the time you take off it’s time to land, so I would play around with flight times to ensure the journey is worth it. I paid £96 return for a bank holiday weekend in May, which isn’t too bad, but if you go mid-week or off-peak you can flights as cheap as £33.
You can also get the Eurostar, coach or drive… but I’m more of a get in and get out kinda traveller as I like to maximise my annual leave. But if you have time on your side, it may be worthwhile changing your travel method to save a few coins.
Getting from the airport to the city-centre takes around 20 mins, so even if you’re staying right in the centre or further out, you’ll be there in no time. You can get around by tram, metro, bus, bicycle and of course taxi. I’d recommend getting the metro as it takes around 20 minutes and it’s much cheaper than a taxi.
We stayed in the Novotel Amsterdam City which was just by Amsterdam RAI station and around 15 minutes from Schipol airport. One thing I have to say is that hotels in ‘Dam are are EXPENSIVE. We paid around £440 for three nights, which split three ways isn’t too bad but if you’re going to go solo it can be steep. Of course there are other alternatives like AirB&B and hostels, but my advice would be to book in advance, book direct and use cash back websites.
The Pizza Bar by the old church near the Red Light District. Not very helpful as I didn’t take note of the name, but you’ll know it when you see it. The pizza is fresh and it’s not overly expensive either.
Might look like its a slightly odd location and the decor inside is what I’d call interesting, but if you’re a carnivore like me, you’ll appreciate this little tip:
Book on The Fork (Via TripAdvisor) and you can get 20% off your meal including drinks.
Sky Lounge at The Hilton Doubletree
A great way to see the sunset disappear into the Amsterdam skyline. I came here on a Sunday evening and there was live music, no queue to get in and no pretentious dresscode either.
Bakers & Roasters
Be prepared to wait for a table but it is SO worth it! One of the best brunches I’ve ever had.
The service wasn’t the best but the food wasn’t too bad for a quick bite. This place is pretty touristy though.
There are so many I didn’t visit but when I go back it’s definitely going to be a cultural trip.
Red Light District
Famous for a reason, go a night to see what it’s really about and remember no photos!
This is NOT the one based on Paris OR the movie. You’ve been warned.
Who doesn’t love a China Town?
Or how about some shopping?
Get the FREE ferry across to The Eye Museum a see another ‘side’ to Amsterdam.
The ‘luxury boat trip’
This is more adults only and for €15 it takes you around the beautiful canal system whilst your guide tells you all the secrets of ‘Dam.
The best way to discover a new city or place is on foot. Getting lost is exactly what you need to do. We’re force-fed maps from our smartphones and perhaps the beauty of taking a place in is gone. We’re in a rush to tick things off, take a photo and move on. Immersing yourself in the world’s wonders is fading. I know you can do both, take photos and be in the moment, but as I’ll always say, what was life like before we started documenting everything?