A Mini Guide to Amsterdam

A Mini Guide to Amsterdam on The Travel Hack

Photo credit: Red bicycle

Everyone thinks they know what Amsterdam is going to be like before they visit and I’ve spoken to lots of people who love Amsterdam and lots who hate it with equal measure.

Personally, I love it and I think it’s a great city for a long weekend break. Parts of Amsterdam are very touristy and there are some people just there for the weed and others just for the Red Light District but there’s so much more to this incredible city.

So get on your bike, it’s time to explore!

How to get there

Flights to Amsterdam can be really cheap, particularly if you can be flexible with your dates and departure airport. As always, I’d take a look at Bravofly and select up to 5 months worth of dates to travel. I’ve just had a look for flights in June and they’re £42.10 return from London! Travelling from Wednesday to Saturday is usually your cheapest option and 3-4 days in Amsterdam is perfect.

Another option would be to take the ferry. I did this a few years ago as I took the overnight ferry from Harwich to Holland. I left on a Friday night arrived by 7am on Saturday and then hopped on the train to Amsterdam for 8am. This isn’t the cheapest option but it’s a lot of fun and due to the timings of the ferries you get full days in your destination and don’t lose half a day travelling.

 

Where to stay

Stylish Hostel – Generator Hostel

Generator is opening in 2015 so if you’re planning a trip this year, hopefully it will be open in time for your trip. I stayed in Generator in London and loved it (and that’s coming from someone who generally hates hostels).

 

Boutique Hostel – Coco Mama

I know I shouldn’t put two hostels on the list but Coco Mama looks more like an affordable boutique hotel than a hostel. Situated in an old brothel, this uber cool hostel has rave reviews and 6-bed dorms start from around €27. They also have family rooms and deluxe doubles.

 

Affordable Luxury – Hotel Vondel

Hotel Vondel has single rooms right up to family apartments. If you’ve got a small group of friends then the family apartments are a really affordable option.

 

The quirky option – Houseboat

I love this houseboat option on Airbnb. It’s really affordable too! Airbnb has so many great options for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam

A Mini Guide to Amsterdam

What to do in Amsterdam

1. Hire a bike

Cycling is the best way to get around Amsterdam so hire a bike as soon as you arrive. They’re really cheap to hire but the longer you have it, the cheaper it will be.

Check out Cycle Routes Amsterdam for some great cycling options. If you only have time for one, make it Cycle Route 9.

 

2. Get the I Amsterdam Pass

If you plan to visit a lot of Amsterdam’s museums, it’s worth buying the I Amsterdam Pass to save money on entry fees. This also includes a canal tour and public transport so is definitely worth it if you’re not cycling.

 

3. Avoid the Heineken Museum

This might be a controversial one but I don’t understand the fuss about the Heineken Museum. Save your money and go to a pub where you’ll be able to buy much more beer without having to sit through an ‘educational experience’ in order to enjoy it.

 

4. Amsterdam’s Markets

Amsterdam’s markets are amazing. The locations can change but you’ll always find vintage clothing, local crafts, antiques and amazing food and drink. There’s more info here about which markets are on which days and where.

Don’t miss Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market.

Waterlooplein fleamarket, held daily in the old Jewish quarter, Jodenbuurt, is also worth a wander.

An Mini Guide to Amsterdam

 

5. Free Walking Tour

If you only do one cultural/touristy thing in Amsterdam, make sure it’s the free walking tour. It’s a great tour and there’s a lot of interesting things going on behind those wonky doors that you’d never know about without a local guide.

 

6. Visit the Jordaan

The Jordaan is next to Amsterdam’s city center and is a really cool area packed with cafes and bars.

 

7. Check out Anne Frank’s House

There are SO MANY museums in Amsterdam but my favourite is definitely the Anne Frank House. See where she went into hiding and learn more about her experience.

 

8. Stroll through Vondelpark

This 47 acre park is gorgeous no matter what season you visit.

 

9. Hang out in a coffee shop

If you chose to smoke anything it’s up to you but you can’t visit Amsterdam without at least poking your head in!

 

10. Visit the Red Light District

I hated the Red Light District but, as with the coffee shops, you need to have a peak while you’re in Amsterdam. I wrote about Sex and Drugs in Amsterdam with a little insight into how much prostitutes actually earn.

An Mini Guide to Amsterdam

An Mini Guide to Amsterdam

 

Where to eat in Amsterdam

I haven’t included any recommendations for places to eat in Amsterdam because restaurants and cafes change so quickly. I always think it’s best to go to an expert destination blogger for foodie recommendations so here are some of my favourite foodie bloggers based in Amsterdam.

Your Little Black Book – An awesome blog, not just for foodie recommendations but also shopping and things to do.

Awesome Amsterdam – With so many recommendations this could potentially be a little overwhelming.

Amsterdam Porn Guide – Don’t worry, this link is safe to click, even if you’re in work! We’re talking food porn here with just a little bit of good old-fashioned nudity.

As the Bird Flies – My blogger buddy Frankie lives in Amsterdam so she has loads of great insights, tips and recommendations.

Spotted by Locals – I love the Spotted by Locals app. It’s one of the few apps that is well worth paying for so buy this before you even consider buying a travel guide.

An Mini Guide to Amsterdam

Do you have any Amsterdam recommendations to add to the list?

 

 

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (24)
  1. I haven’t been to Amsterdam in forever and really want to get back but I think Bruge will probably be next on my city break list so it’ll have to wait.

    Which is probably a good thing as the new Eurostar trains come in the new year and I think I heard that you’ll be able to travel non-stop to Amsterdam then too, so I’ll probably wait for that.

    (ps. looks like your auto-correct has changed brothel to brother in the Coco Mama section)

    1. Thanks Penny. ‘a hostel inside an old brother’ definitely sounds a bit weird!

      Eurostar to Amsterdam will be awesome. I always wondered why that wasn’t an option when it’s such a popular destination. Hopefully that will be up and running in time for next trip to Amsterdam too 🙂

      1. Yeah, staying in an old brother would certainly be a bit different experience, hehe.

        And indeed, it’s such a pain to change trains – it’s not even about the time it adds, I just like to stay comfy and settled for a journey until I’m at my destination.

  2. Great list! I’ve only ever been to Amsterdam for the day but I managed to squeeze in five of the things on your list, plus the sex museum (curiosity got the better of me!)

  3. Great mini guide!
    If you stay at a hostel it’s worth asking if they hire out the Amsterdam Museums card. I was able to from the one I stayed at and it saved me a heap of money. I rented it for one day and visited as many as I could.

  4. A great little guide here Monica! Will keep it bookmarked for when I eventually book my trip there hopefully later this year. The idea of just cycling around fir a few days soaking up the sites sounds like my cuppa tea!

    Gem x

  5. I’m in the love Amsterdam camp. I used to have to go there for work often too. Everyone is very friendly.
    I definitely recommend a wander as well as cycling. It’s full of gorgeous, quirky buildings and although I haven’t been with the kids yet imagine it is definitely child friendly,

  6. De Foodhallen (http://www.foodhallen.nl/) is one of my favorite spots and get dim sum between 12-4pm at the Sea Palace (http://www.seapalace.nl/) for a great deal and delicious food. De Foodhallen is in the west, but buses and trams go everywhere, but the Sea Palace is near Centraal Station.
    I’m all about the food in my new home of Amsterdam 🙂 Love Awesome Amsterdam and Your Little Black Book, but didn’t know about the other links. Thanks!

  7. The Bols Museum is great (the Dutch version of gin), it’s in the museum quarter. The ticket includes a cocktail and 2 shots of flavoured Bols, a great post-museum stop!

  8. Saving this for later! I have heard oodles about Amsterdam, but I still can’t really imagine what it’ll be like when I get there. I just know I want to ride a bike around those beautiful canals (and maybe smoke a little weed). Thanks for the great overview! 🙂

  9. I’m desperate to go back and visit Amsterdam. I only spent a day there on my way to Nairobi and I’ve not stopped thinking about it since. I actually did a free walking tour though, and not only was it loads of fun, I made a very good friend who was also doing that tour. That’s how we met and I consider her to be one of my best friends now 🙂

    1. Ahh that’s such a nice story! I met a girl on a free walking tour in Berlin and we’re still friends now too! I bet there are loads of friendships around the world thanks to those walking tours.

  10. I loved the article. I plan to travel in December with my husband and nine year old son. How’s the weather? Is it okay for children to vist? Family fun etc.

    1. December will be cold and probably wet too but there will be so much Christmassy stuff going on, it’ll be magical! I’m sure your nine year old will love it! And yes, there’ll be a lot of family-friendly stuff going on!

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.