A first date with Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city to fall in love with at first sight. Ah, those lovely winding canals and crooked houses, cobbled narrow streets and romantic arch bridges, thousands of bikes and tons of tulips… If you happen to be in Amsterdam – get the most out of it! Here are a few ideas on how you can do just that.
Free walking tour
Start exploring the city with a free walking tour. It’s quick, perfect for getting your bearings and it won't ruin your budget. Of course, these tours are not entirely free, since you’re expected to tip the guide at the end, but it is still a budget-friendly option, considering that you’re the one who sets the price.
Free tours are led by locals, which lets you discover both famous sights and something off the beaten track. What is even better, there are no hidden secrets! You can find out the country’s stance on marijuana or how much the girls in the Red-Light District make per night.
The next thing on the list is visiting a museum. Amsterdam is home to more than 50 of them, including some world-famous ones. It would be a crime to leave the city without crawling through the hidden door in The Anne Frank House, or seeing Van Gogh's Sunflowers (Van Gogh Museum) and Rembrandt's Night Watch (The Rijksmuseum). Given the number of visitors, make sure you book tickets online so you can skip the queue at the entrance.
Also, keep in mind that many museums don’t stick to the nine-to-five routine. The Anne Frank House, Stedelijk, FOAM and the Van Gogh Museum have extended working hours on particular days of the week, which means you can avoid the rush hour crowds.
With the Dutch cycling culture being famous all over the world, one of the things to add to your Amsterdam bucket list is exploring the city on two wheels. However, it is something that’s better to do outside the city centre. The Dutch learn to ride bikes shortly after learning to walk, which means they are incredibly good at it. Unless you have the same experience, don’t try to compete with them.
Rent a bike and head out of the canal ring to get lost and find your way back again – all at your own pace. Even though bike rental in Amsterdam is pretty expensive, prices vary significantly depending on the company, so it’s always possible to find something on a budget. Check out Discount Bike Rental for what are probably the cheapest (but still solid and sturdy) bicycles in town.
Bird’s eye view
Don’t miss a chance to see the Dutch capital from above. Head to Blue Amsterdam for the most authentic experience. Located in the heart of the city, the cafe provides charming views over the rooftops of Amsterdam. Moreover, there are binoculars available for free, so you can see the slightest details of the city skyline.
Those looking for the wow factor should visit A’DAM Tower. Its lookout sits at nearly 100 metres above the ground and is home to the highest swing in Europe. Finally, there are two more viewing spots worth mentioning: the roof terrace of NEMO Science Museum and the top floor of the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam. Both are free to visit.
Croquettes, poffertjes and stamppot are just some of the names on the list! Taste traditional thick Dutch fries with mayo or buy some raw herring if you dare. Try bitterballen, they pair just perfectly with a glass of local craft beer. Speaking of which, choose Brouwerij 't IJ, Butcher's Tears, Beer Temple or Oedipus instead of Heineken and you won’t be disappointed!
Those who have a sweet tooth should definitely go for a stroopwafel. Head to the Albert Cuyp Markt to have a delicious freshly-made one! And last but not least, Van Stapele Koekmakerij makes heavenly melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cookies. Those are not a traditional Dutch food (yet!), but you can’t miss them whilst in Amsterdam.
Wonderfully unique houses
Amsterdam is a city with a story, and every single building is a part of it. Due to high taxes on frontages, people used to build extremely narrow, tall houses. The canal house at Singel 7 is officially the narrowest one in the world, not just Amsterdam. Its facade is just one metre wide!
However, appearances can be deceiving, and whilst the house at Singel 7 is indeed the narrowest, it’s not the smallest one in Amsterdam. That honour belongs to the building at Oude Hoogstraat 22, which is just two metres wide and six meters deep.
And if that’s not enough, the Dutch have mastered life on the water, with over 2500 houseboats lining the canals. Take a peek inside at The Houseboat Museum or even rent one of the houseboats on Airbnb. Everything is possible in Amsterdam!
What are your favourite things about Amsterdam? Let us know in the comments!