So, me and Sam booked 4 days off and decided to finally head for a mini-break to Amsterdam. We had been wanting to go for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint!
After seeing so many photos and hearing from numerous people at work what it was like, I was happy to finally see for myself the beautiful canals, all with different personalities, sample the delicious Dutch food and nearly get trampled by cyclists(!).
We arrived at Centraal Station at about 8.30am (local time) on the Tuesday and left at 9pm on the Friday so we had 4 full days which was plenty of time to fit in all from our itinerary.
- Van Gogh Museum
- Vondel Park
- Sex Museum
- Red Light District
- Cheese Museum
- Jordaan area
- Heineken Experience
- Canal Cruise Tour
I don’t know too much about art but we really wanted to head to Van Gogh because of how famous it was. We cued for over an hour to get in and when we finally got in it was really good. For me it was so interesting reading about his life and seeing all the paintings he did, particularly because he thought he wasn’t good.
The Sex Museum and Cheese Museum (which is free, yay) were awesome! The latter was filled with free cheese, awesome history and a giant cow, what more could you want! The Sex Museum, well, it’s an experience, let’s just say that – I don’t wanna ruin it for you! I will tell you though that it’s only 4 Euros.
Heineken Experience and Canal Tour
Advice #1 – Buy your two tours at the canal place (opposite the Heineken tour) because a) it will be cheaper and b) it means you don’t have to cue for the Heineken as you have a pre-paid ticket! *thumbs up emoji*
The Heineken Experience was amazing! It was so interactive, you got to experience so many things and found out lots of interesting facts. Free beer was pretty good too ;).
The canal tour lasted 75 minutes and took you round the main canal ring past all the amazing sites. It was really helpful to do the tour because even though you weren’t having a tour of the streets, when you were walking you felt you knew where to go based on what you could remember from the canal edge. We had audio throughout so we found out lots of facts, for example; ever wondered why houses in Amsterdam are so thin? Well, back in the day the Dutch taxed on width of house, so the local took out the stairs, made their home smaller and transported goods up levels via a pully at the top 🙂
On our first day, because we had our luggage, we ventured to Vondel Park to relax, soak up the sun and as it happens explore a huge rose garden.
The park is the equivalent of Hyde Park or Central Park so it is massive! It is so beautiful and full of greenery, lakes and lovely cafés (with wifi). The rose garden had over 90 species of roses and it smelled amazing! It was so relaxing and a brilliant start to the holiday.
Red Light District
So this was somewhere we were abnormally excited to visit, I mean it’s just somewhere you have to go! We really liked it, the atmosphere was actually really lovely and we felt completely safe. I mean there are some crazy shops down there and the red lit windows can’t be ignored but it is such a cool place to be. It’s buzzing with energy and just people having fun – it’s a definite visit if you want to let loose.
This was a really nice area with kitsch, vintage shops and lovely places to eat. We settled on a ‘brown café’ which is a traditional Dutch pub with amazing food and great views of the canals.
Tips and tricks
- It goes cars – trams – cyclists/mopeds and then pedestrians. You are low on the list of people to care about, so watch out for all the above!
- You really will feel safe in the Red Light District, it is the safest street in Amsterdam and the things that might put you off there are legal, so it’s actually really calm.
- Be prepared for a lot of walking and to get lost, it is easy to do so! We stayed about a 45 minute walk away and my legs will confirm that.
To sum up Amsterdam in a sentence: it is a place where you can be whoever you want to be, dress however you want and like whoever you want and will be welcomed with open arms. Everywhere you go reminds you of that and it’s lovely.
Okay, that was 2 sentences.