Of all the places that Aaron and I have traveled to together, Amsterdam is the one place that as soon as we landed – we both felt most at home. The vibes coming from Amsterdam are amazing and the city feels like it’s humming with things to see and places to eat. I swear you could walk (or bike) around Amsterdam forever and never grow old of the perfectly architectured streets. There are endless shops, markets, restaurants and coffeeshops for you to get lost in. It really is a wonderful place to be. With all this being said, here are five things you must do when in Amsterdam.
I know it sounds cliche, but renting a bike to get around Amsterdam is the ultimate experience. This city was built around bike riders – literally: bike lanes are as wide as the lanes for cars and bikers ultimately have the right of way when crossing paths with vehicles. (This is a vast difference from the bike vs. car experience in Philadelphia.) Not only do you get a great workout in, but you really get to see the city. You can effortlessly go from riding down a quaint street to navigating a scenic route in one of their stunning parks (I highly suggest riding through Vondelpark – it is amazing.) Bike rentals can be for one day or more and there are always spots to park your bike when you want to hop off and stroll around by foot.
The only other thing you must do when renting a bike is remember what is looks like and where you locked it up. Seriously – Aaron and I wandered so far on foot one day that we ended up spending over an hour trying to remember where we parked our bike and which bike of the hundreds was actually ours!
While Aaron and I enjoyed lots of yummy food from amazing restaurants in the city center, we also marveled at the food from local vendors. We bumped into at least 3 street markets during our day of biking in the city and each one was packed with local vendors selling the freshest products. From produce to cheeses, and even candy (my fav) – there was something for everyone and all of it was delicious! This is also essential for people who opt to stay at an Airbnb with a kitchen.
This tip may vary in its appeal (depending on your opinion of marijuana), but regardless of your views, you really should stop into a coffeeshop in Amsterdam. Yes, there are coffee shops that serve just coffee, but Amsterdam is famously known for their coffeeshops that are also legal dispensaries for marijuana While I am not an avid smoker myself, it was really intriguing to see the cultural difference in their approach of cannabis and selling it in a public setting. In visiting a few shops, the experience was mostly the same: there is a staff who you order from and a menu with assorted strains to choose from. Most shops also sell food; however, you will notice that alcohol is not sold inside the dispensaries. The workers at every shop we went to were incredibly knowledgeable on the various strains and were so helpful to customers opting for an edible version which is recommended to be eaten is doses. The vibe of the coffeeshops is very casual and it was really refreshing to see the stigma that is usually attached to the plant disappear.
As someone who loves to travel, I try to blend in rather than stand out as a tourist in places I visit. However, when it comes to Amsterdam, there are just some things you have to do. Stand in line to explore museums, go on canal rides, and check out places like the Anne Frank House (Hint: Be sure to buy tickets in advance. They sell out quickly and it’s rare you can just buy them at the door.) All of these things may feel touristy, but they are some of the most special aspects of Amsterdam.
I should pre-warn you that this tip here will likely be on every travel post I make about any place I visit. However, it is especially true when it comes to Amsterdam. I was surprised by how many amazing restaurants there were to choose from. Not only were they aesthetically pleasing to be in (seriously, you could be IG famous just by posting pics of these eateries) but the food was incredible. Almost every meal we ate was made with fresh local ingredients (including the 1am pizza stop we stumbled on while waiting to find an Uber) and their brunch options are to – die – for!!
All photos are originals and property of RachelInFlight.