We recently took a long weekend off to go to Amsterdam for the first time and here’s what I thought! Disclaimer: I was fighting an infection whilst here – that’s why there are very few photos and we kept it quite low key – however I absolutely loved Amsterdam and am so keen to go back to enjoy it to the maximum!
I saw some advertising for the first direct Eurostar trains to Amsterdam and luckily found tickets leaving London on Friday at 5pm and arriving in Amsterdam at 10pm local time. It was so easy to get there and I’d chose this over flying any day! There’s no hassle, no mad rush and no transfers either side to the airport to worry about and I found great rates for £100 each return.
Day 1: We spent the morning walking around Amsterdam and getting our bearings of where we were. We stayed at City Hub Amsterdam which is in the quieter West suburbs of the city. It’s quirky and different with small pods that you sleep in and a hostel vibe otherwise with communal amenities and social spaces, cool for a night or two but we wouldn’t stay there again as it was too small for two people for three nights.
Amsterdam’s Oud–West is a beautiful neighbourhood which reminds me of Paris and Greenwich Village in New York but with more greenery everywhere and canals bordering the streets. We had pancakes to start the day and then found our way to the Flower Market, Dam Square and then the Amsterdam Museum. I’d recommend going here if you don’t know the history of the city/country (we didn’t really) in order to appreciate what’s happened in the past to make it the glorious place it is today. The museum’s pretty modern with good tech to keep you interested and you get a free audio guide in the price to connect with the interactive displays. There was a pretty funky mirror room at the end of the exhibition and a beautiful courtyard in the middle of the grounds.
After some fried and dutch mayonnaise (obligatory) we found an Irish pub and watched the football come home for England that afternoon against Sweden. We spend the best part of three hours in an Irish pub full of other Brits with the England victory to top it off. We then stumbled over to Cannibale Royale which was recommended to me by a colleague – for sure the best burger I’ve had in a long time! Definitely go here if you’re a burger lover. We then went back to the hotel and ended up accidentally napping until about 10pm and completely messing up our sleep patterns. We wanted to make the most of Saturday night in Amsterdam so we went out again to Bourbon Street Blues Bar that we noted earlier in the day. We watched a live jazz band play until around 3am then took our last long walk back to the hotel in the early hours. We cleared around 26 thousand steps that day and vowed the next day it was bikes or nothing!
Day 2: We had brunch at The Breakfast Club nearby our hotel and Huevos rancheros was just what we needed! We then went and hired bikes for the day and went over to Amsterdam canal to the 22 storey A’DAM Tower in the North of the city. There was a long wait for ticket slots so we took the ferry back across and stayed along the riverside to wait. We eventually went up the tower and there’s an awesome open terrace – The Lookout – with beanbags, a DJ, a bar and the highest swing in Europe, 100 metres off the air. I’m not usually scared of heights so we did it for a thrill and I swear to you, I would never do that again for love or money. Never. Again. Here is photographic proof (comes free with the ticket cost) of me grimacing in fear. At least H got to laugh at me in terror for the 5 minutes we were suspended up there! When we were back on terra firma we rode the bikes to see Anne Frank’s house and then for the best apple cake in Europe at Winkle 43. I was also recommended this place by a friend and wow – this cake is on another level and must be tried if you’re in Amsterdam! We ended the evening in the East part of the city at the Brouwerij ‘t IJ – Windmill brewery and then had an amazing dinner nearby at Hummus Bros. So good seriously! On the ride back to the hotel we stopped to have a look at the Red Light District… what to say about that! I was not prepared to see all the ladies IRL behind the windows and felt uncomfortable walking around. Maybe other people would love it though!
Day 3: We took the bikes on one last outing for breakfast and then stopped at the Rijkmuseum. Even though it was a Monday it was so busy around there that below is the best we could do for a picture! We didn’t go inside but definitely will next time! We then had to give back the bikes, check out of the hotel and make our way to Centraal Station – fitting in a stop at Wildernis Amsterdam en route) before starting the journey back to London.
Things we learnt/ found out:
I won’t beat around the bush – Amsterdam is very expensive for a city break. On average most things were around twice as expensive as we’re used to and it’s maybe not somewhere to choose if you’re on a tight budget.
If you’re staying at City hub Amsterdam – there’s a Foodhallen right next door that we didn’t go in but looks pretty cool! Read this area guide if you’re going – I wish I did more research! https://awesomeamsterdam.com/neighborhood-guide-amsterdam-oud-west/
We were also right next to two Mosques which I didn’t realise at the time and would have liked to have visited had I known!
Please let me know what you would suggest for a second trip to Amsterdam and when is a good time to visit, when it’s not quite as busy or hot?! On my list so far to see/do is Vondelpark, Rijkmuseum and Banksy Museum.