1. Jordaan, 2. Koukenof, 3. Museumplein,
Amsterdam is known for its seventeenth-century buildings, bikes, canals and of course, the decriminalisation of cannabis.
As I arrived into Amsterdam Centraal Station at 7am, fresh off a 26-hour sojourn I could already smell the strong scent of weed wafting through the city. Pulling my suitcase across the cobble stoned streets (keep in mind this is no simple task), I gazed ahead in awe at the beautiful buildings right in front of me and was buzzing with excitement for the next 5-week journey I was about to embark on.
For obvious reasons, Amsterdam is known as a huge party city. However, being a lone female traveller (and Amsterdam hostels often don’t have a common room to make friends as the buildings are so narrow), I didn’t feel comfortable going out alone at night which was a shame. So this is a guide for those more interested in the cultural side to Amsterdam.
4. De 9 Straatjes, 5. Rijksmuseum, 6. Amsterdam Centraal, 7-8. Vondelpark,
What to do-
- Museumplein- This is a public square in Amsterdam where all the museums are located. There are lots of museums in this square to choose from, and all are extremely busy and popular. So, if you do your research beforehand and book your tickets online (for the same price as buying there) you can avoid hour queues! I picked the Van Gogh museum, as it has the largest collection of Van Gogh art in the world. I also went to the Rijksmuseum, which is a museum dedicated to Dutch art. Both were fantastic, but very busy which takes away from the atmosphere surrounding the beautiful art you are seeing. The Van Gogh museum will set you back 17€, and the Rijksmuseum 17.50€, which is quite pricey for a museum. I spent about 3 hours in each museum. If you are short on money or time, I would probably opt for the Rijksmuseum as it was bigger and had a varied array of Dutch artists and styles of works, not just one famous artist!
- Vondelpark- This is a big park close to Museumplein. Spend some time walking through the area to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
- Walking tour- There are a lot of companies running walking tours throughout the city. I opted for the free walking tour run by Sandemans. There are multiple English tours throughout the day, and some in Spanish. Check the link to see the running times available. You meet at the National Monument, and they go for 3 hours. At the end you give a tip, it can be as big or small as you like. As a lone traveller, I normally give 5-10€.
- Canal cruise- There are a few different types of canal cruises to choose from. I opted for the Round Trip Canal Cruise for 1.5 hours. There are also hop on, hop off options as well. The canal cruise started from the canal near Museumplein, costing 19,50€. If you have a nice sunny day and your feet are tired from walking, this is a nice, different way to see the city. I wouldn’t say it is a necessity, as simply walking around is just as nice and a lot cheaper!
- Bike ride- As soon as you arrive in Amsterdam you will realise that just about everyone in the city rides a bike. This is another way to view the city and feel like a local. I didn’t do this, but I think you could rent a bike for the whole day for about 10-12€.
- De 9 Straatjes- If you’re into shopping or enjoy looking at local stores, this a street filled with quaint and quirky shops. They are located right near the canals, so they’re just nice to walk through even if you don’t want to spend any money.
- Jordaan- This is probably the most well-known area in Amsterdam, filled with beautiful canals and houses. You can spend hours just walking through the streets, taking hundreds of pictures like I did!
- Red Light District- The party area, and funnily enough, one of the safest areas of Amsterdam! This is due to being a highly patrolled police area at night. Walk through and see the ladies in the window, but don’t take their picture.
- Koukenof- This was probably my favourite thing I did in Amsterdam. It was a huge area filled with beautiful flowers, especially tulips! I also rode a bike out to the tulip fields in Lisse, before the farmers sell them to flower stores/markets. Of course, flowers don’t bloom all year round and you only have a small window to see these amazing flowers. Based on the past couple of years the best chance to see the blooming at the Keukenhof is the last 2 weeks of April and the first week of May. This will set you back 24€.
- Bikes- As mentioned before, everyone in Amsterdam rides a bike. I have heard that there are more bikes than people in the city. So, be careful when crossing the roads (I looked twice before crossing just to ensure I wasn’t run into by a bike).
- Museums- Book your tickets in advance, to avoid long queues.
- Getting to Keukenof- There are organised tours you can go on for 50+€. Or you can get there yourself for much cheaper using public transport. Wherever you are staying, get the train to the airport for around 5,50€. From there, walk to the Starbucks and in the bookstore opposite you can buy a Combi ticket for the bus and entrance to the park for 24€. I found this much better, as with the tours you only have a set amount of time you can spend at the park.
- IAmsterdam- The IAmsterdam sign is in Museumplein! Wake up early to get your snap without 100 other tourists trying to get the same one.
23. Iamsterdam sign, 24. Canals,
I stayed in Central Station Hostel. The location was excellent as it was 10 minutes walk from Amsterdam Centraal and right in the heart of town with shops and restaurants on your door step. However, there was no common room to make friends if you’re a lone traveller, only the people in your dorm room.
- As I was travelling alone in Amsterdam, I didn’t eat in any of the restaurants. I did eat at Beans and Bagels for breakfast one morning where I got a bagel, tea and orange juice for 5,95€ which I recommend!
- Buy stroopwafels, and lots of them! They will change your life for the better.
- Frites- Ask for ‘patat speciaal’ for a mix of curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onions.
- Poffertjes- These are like fluffy little clouds of doughy goodness. You can get them in restaurants or pancake goodness, but we all know the best and cheapest ones come from the street market vendors!