Amsterdam is one of those cities that’s been on my Travel Bucket List for years, so when me and my boyfriend were trying to decide where to go for a European city break this autumn, it seemed like a no-brainer.
We flew out on a Thursday evening then headed back on a Sunday morning, which meant we had just over 2 days for exploring. I thought I’d put together a mini city guide of where we stayed, what we did and a few of the bars and restaurants we visited!
Where we stayed
After researching prices online, we decided not to stay in the centre of Amsterdam. Instead we booked to stay at the Inntel Hotel in Zaandam, which is less than a 15 minute train journey from Amsterdam Centraal Station. I think this is the coolest hotel I have ever stayed in! And it worked out so much cheaper than staying right in the centre.
We booked through Expedia and it came to around £230 per person for 3 nights (Thursday to Sunday), including return flights from Birmingham. The trains are so reliable that we never had to use taxis. I think we paid around €10pp for a return to the city centre, and they run late into the night.
What we did
On our first full day we took the train over to Zaanse Schans, which is a cute little village north of Zaandam and Amsterdam where they have loads of windmills. We were lucky as the weather was beautifully sunny that morning, so I managed to get some amazing photos. Only one of the windmills (the paint mill) was open to go up to the top, but it was lovely to spend a few hours walking around taking in the sights. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something to do outside the city. It’s super easy to get there by train.
On the Friday afternoon we headed into Amsterdam city centre, and our first stop was the Sexmuseum. We paid €5 each to get in and probably spent around an hour wondering around inside. It was definitely entertaining, and I happily had my photo taken with a giant penis statue!
After grabbing some food we then headed over to the Red Light District where we hopped from bar to bar until the early hours of the morning. Walking around here was such a surreal experience. I don’t think you can appreciate it unless you actually see it for yourself. I wish we’d had time to do a proper organised walking tour, as I would have loved to hear the history of how it all came to be. But then I guess that just means I have a perfect excuse to go back to Amsterdam some day!
On Saturday we slept in until late morning, so didn’t actually leave the hotel until after midday. I think we were both pretty tired after the Friday, so it was definitely needed (although I did feel guilty that we could have spent that time exploring more of the city).
The only thing we’d planned for that day was the Heineken Experience later that evening, although I also really wanted to see the Rijksmuseum and I amsterdam sign. Unfortunately it was raining, so all the pictures I have look really dark and dreary (although I’ve tried to fix them as best as I can in Photoshop).
One of my favourite parts of the holiday was The Moco Museum. We were torn between visiting here and the Van Gogh Museum. They’re right next to each other but we only had time to do one. The Moco currently has a Bansky Exhibition (on display until May 31st 2018) which is what swung it for us in the end. I’m not usually big on art, but it was fascinating to look around and I’d 100% recommend it if you’re visiting Amsterdam any time soon. They also have a Roy Lichtenstein Exhibition at the moment which is pretty cool (make sure you check out the life-size pop art room near the exit!)
Where we ate (and drank!)
I’m going to be completely honest here… we weren’t very adventurous when it came to food. We ate breakfast at a cafe opposite our hotel, then on the Friday evening we stumbled into the first restaurant we could find (I believe it was called “Pasta Pasta“) as we were starving after skipping lunch.
The best meal we had was on the Saturday evening at a place called Geflipt, which is near to the Heineken Experience and Rijksmuseum. They have a small and simple menu but the veggie burger was delicious and they served amazing craft beer and ale. When I’m on holiday I always feel like you can tell a restaurant is good when you can hear the locals are also in there having a meal!
We also stopped off at a place called Manneken Pis (near to Centraal Station), which claims to have the best fries in Amsterdam. Now we didn’t try any other fries in Amsterdam… but OH MY GOSH they were delicious. I had my chips with peanut sauce and it was like a party in my mouth. The queues were pretty long, but it was so worth the wait!
Drinking-wise we did pretty well. The Red Light district in particular has loads of amazing bars, but my favourite was Het Elfde Gebod. It’s fairly dark inside and they weirdly have carpets covering the tables, but the atmosphere was warm and friendly and they had a fantastic range of beers.
And so concludes my Amsterdam Travel Diary! Hopefully this has inspired you to visit Amsterdam some day. I know I’d definitely like to go back at some point!