* Click ‘continue reading’ to see pictures!
I’ve always been fascinated by Amsterdam.
My first memory of hearing about the mystical city (where everyone rides bikes and eats waffles for breakfast) was from my mum and dad who went on their honeymoon to Holland over 22 years ago. As small-town-newlyweds who had never been on a flight before, they spent their whole weekend in Amsterdam with significant hearing loss and pain after their ears popped on the plane. The clueless little 20-somethings didn’t know anything about cabin pressure at the time – rookies. (Hard-boiled sweets and earplugs are essential for flying.)
Growing up, I also heard about the infamous city in relation to its more, shall we say, “liberal” side. Famous around the world for its tolerance towards drugs and the purchase of sex, many frown upon Amsterdam as a city where acts that are condemned and illegal in other places are not only allowed, but often advertised with pride. (I’ll admit that after visiting Amsterdam, I can say that I think this side of the city is exaggerated a little. Yes, there are “coffee shops” and the globally known Red Light District, but I think Amsterdam has a hell of a lot more to offer in terms of tourism, culture, food, sightseeing, history and activities.)
My most recent revelation involving Amsterdam came last year when I went to the cinema to see The Fault In Our Stars. I later read the book that the film is based on and soon became more and more curious about visiting the city that Gus and Hazel flew to in search for answers to the questions surrounding the mysterious ending of their favourite book. It was when watching this movie that I learned about the Anne Frank House. I had learned about Anne Frank’s life and about her diary in school but not in any great depth. I had assumed that Anne Frank’s famous account took place entirely in Germany and had no idea that the city of Amsterdam played a part in her tragic story. It was when I saw Hazel struggle up the stairs of the house, carrying her oxygen canister, that I knew I wanted to visit that very place.
Out of every city I have visited, Amsterdam (joint first place with the beautiful Belfast) has been my favourite. With everything from the utterly lovely and pleasant nature of the locals; to the 50+ museums and tourist attractions; to the kitchy pastel pink bicycles whizzing past me on the pavement; to the syrupy sweet waffles covered in Nutella chocolate spread for lunch; to the souvier shops and “earthy” smelling smoke radiating from passing yuppies, Amsterdam has something for everyone.
Have a look at some of the pictures from my trip and book up yourself. It’s only an hour and a half flight and you’ll love it – I promise!
Things we did and saw (and would recommend):
- Anne Frank House – try to book tickets online as early as you can if possible or get there early to avoid queues, about an hour to an hour and a half before opening should do it! Prices are cheap at only 9 euros for adults and it was by far my favourite attraction. 5/5
- Van Gogh Museum – tickets can easily be booked online and I would highly recommend it as there was what resembled a mob of people outside when we arrived but we luckily got to skip right to the front of the queue! 17 euros, so a bit pricey but an amazing exhibition of hundreds of paintings and drawings by the incredible Vincent Van Gogh. 4/5
- Vondelpark – Amsterdam’s equivolent of New York’s famous Central Park. Lovely scenery and a great place for a cycle.
- I am Amsterdam letters
- Blue Boat Company Canal Cruise – a great way to see Amsterdam through it’s famous canals. Earphones provided allow you to listen to a tour guide in your own langauge and hear interesting facts about the city (e.g. the houses are so tall and narrow here because they were taxed according to the width of the building so, since it was cheaper, everyone built their houses UP instead of along). Book online and get a complementary drink and bowl of nuts at your table.
- Magnum Amsterdam – design your own Magnum ice cream for only 3.99 euros. You get to choose three toppings, your choice of chocolate and a chocolate drizzle on the top. While it might be a bit of a novelty activity, it is fun and tastes amazing!
- Flower market
- Shopping (there are loads of shops!)
Other points of interest:
- Diamond factory
- Madame Tussauds
- The Amsterdam Dungeon
Have you been to Amsterdam? Let me know what you thought during your visit in the comment section below!