I went to Amsterdam, and I didn’t smoke anything. I’m not saying that because my parents read my blog, I swear. It’s just that, from my point of view, if you want to get high, you might as well do it at home ! It’ll be less expensive than traveling all the way to Holland and paying for a room.
Some might say I’m just not cool, but no news there, I never ate at the cool kids table. Meanwhile, I had a blast in Amsterdam, discovered the city, made new friends and went out of my comfort zone with a biking trip through Holland’s beautiful countryside. I’m not sure that the girl I saw puking in the main street around midnight will have that many memories of her trip to Amsterdam, if any.
But I’m not judging, anyone should travel the way they want to, and for those of you who want to actually discover the city, here are 10 things to do in Amsterdam when you’re not high :
1. WALK ALONG THE CANALS
In winter, summer, fall, by night or by day, the canals of Amsterdam are just gorgeous and they know it. Pick one and just enjoy. Try to resist taking pictures at every turn. I recommend the famous one at the center starting in front of the Centraal Station, but also the less frequented canals in the museum district !
2. RENT A BIKE
More than half the locals are traveling by bike, so this is a must if you want to blend in and experience the city from a local point of you. It will also help you get a bit further away from the center to less touristy places !
3. ATTEND A FREE CONCERT
There’s a free concert almost every day in Amsterdam. You’ll find mostly classical or jazz music. Ask around and you’re sure to find some good tips, whatever the month !
4. GO TO THE FLOWER MARKET
The floating flower market along the Singel Canal is a must for any Amsterdam visitor ! It’s very colorful and exotic, and it almost convinced me to buy a flower in one of those cute little cans. Then I remembered that I live in a tiny apartment with no heat and that I’m around only half the time. Let’s just say that one cute little flower escaped an early death when I changed my mind !
5. SAMPLE CHEESE
I made sampling cheese my specialty while in Amsterdam. I wanted to buy some at first, but it was too expensive for me. But at that point I had already become addicted and was always looking for my next fix in the form of a sample bowl. You can find a lot of cheese shops offering samples in front of the flower market, so those two things definitely should go together !
Still, please don’t take this recommandation as “make your meal with those samples and eat the whole thing”. You can still sample like a lady (or a gentleman) and take just one piece of cheese by bowl, and have a look on your face like it’s your first piece of that particular flavor and you’re savoring it. Don’t make yourself too much at home, otherwise they’ll just stop putting out samples and that would not be good news for us poor people.
My favorites : Green Pesto and Champagne !
6. EAT A WAFFLE
Talking of good food, you can very much feel the influence of the neighboring Belgium when you see fries and waffles at every corner. I found the tastiest looking waffles in Amsterdam, topped with everything from strawberries to a huge pile of whipped cream. Yummy.
7. TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR
What best to start your visit in Amsterdam than a free walking tour ? Sandeman’s organises tours every day, you can even book on their website. The walking tour will take you through all the main sights of Amsterdam center, including the begijnhof and the red light district, and teach you a lot about the history of the city as well. It lasts about two hours and their guides are seriously awesome (thanks Rob !).
8. SEE SOME VAN GOGH
The museums in Amsterdam are crazy expensive, and I was really disappointed not to get to see this one. Van Gogh is a legend and I’m sure it’s one of those artist where the real thing looks way different than the printed work. So, if you can afford it, go to the Van Gogh Museum ! It’s at the same place than all the big museums in the museum district, and it’s 17€ for an adult.
If you plan on seeing a lot of museums in Amsterdam, take a look at the i Amsterdam City Card, it can save you a lot of money !
9. EXLORE THE ALBERT CUYP MARKET
For really good deals on food, clothing and everything, go to the Albert Cuyp Market, open Monday to Saturday from 9H30 till 17H. There was not a lot of tourists there, and lots of little shops on the side streets to explore as well.
10. TAKE A BREAK IN VONDELPARK
Vondelpark is a huge park near the museum district. It’s the perfect place to take a break and drink a cup of tea. Lots of flowers in the spring and, I hear, some exotic birds to see (but I didn’t, it must have been too cold) !
Finally, before leaving Amsterdam, head over to the huge library on the right side of the Centraal Station. Go all the way to the top, through the restaurant and on to the balcony. There you’ll have an unforgettable view on all of Amsterdam, the perfect place to say your goodbyes to this beautiful city !
Who’s been to Amsterdam ? Got any more tips ?