If you haven’t been to Amsterdam you should for sure put it on your bucket list! I would like to share some of the great finds that I enjoyed in Amsterdam. I have been there 4 times and prior to each trip researched what to do and sent out messages on social media asking for other’s advice of their favorite places. After each trip to Amsterdam I was left at the end with not wanting to leave. There is so much to see and do that it always leaves me wanting to go back. So I am excited to be there again in May 2020 to spend a few nights prior to going on our bike trip. I hope my blog will inspire you to visit Amsterdam!
Amsterdam has great public transportation but I think the best way to see it is by foot! There are so many canals and bridges and gorgeous views throughout the city. Rows and rows of gorgeous canal houses that I never get tired of looking at – they all have their own unique markings, pieces of art work on them. Very cool! When walking be careful!!! that you don’t get hit by a bike or tram! Bikes rule the roads in Amsterdam – pedestrians do not! The other must you should do is go on a canal boat cruise. They also have the hop on – hop off bus which is just like a bus but on water!
There is a great park in Amsterdam – Vondelpark! As one website says “it bursts into life!” and that it does. It is a bike through-way during rush hour with everyone going to downtown Amsterdam to work. It is a very long and narrow park but has lots of green space, water, and paths. This is a great place to walk, bike or people watch. In the warm weather there will be 100’s of people just relaxing and laying around!
The Bloemmarkt (flower market) is the world’s only floating flower market So many stalls selling tulips and tulip bulbs galore. This is also the best place to get your dutch souveniers as they are so reasonably priced – much cheaper than other places. They also have some nice little cafes and restaurants where you can get some lekker (yummy!) dutch pea soup or a kroket (crouquette) sandwich, or a dutch toastie (which is like our grilled cheese sandwich). I will blog more later about dutch food!
Centraal Station is a must to see inside and out. If you go through it and go out the back you are on the waterway where all the cruise boats dock. You can take a waterbus across to what they call “New Amsterdam”. We went across on our last trip, paid to go up the tower at “The Eye” – I wouldn’t spend your money on this as there are way better views other places (and for free!). We ate at the restaurant there but food/service was not great – way better restaurants in old Amsterdam.
For a great free view of the city go to the Doubletree Hilton SkyLounge. They are located right near Centraal Station. They have a restaurant on the roof that you can almost get a 360 degree view of the city. Spend your money on enjoying a drink here, rather than paying to go up the new tower near “The Eye” in New Amsterdam.
Wynand Fockink one of the oldest pubs in Amsterdam (1679), and keeping with 17th century traditions, we participated in the drinking of their liquors. You bend down and sip from a tulip glass full to the brim. You will never find this place unless you fell upon it, or someone told you about it, as was our case. Bart’s cousin told us about it as he was introduced to it when he was in his teens, and it is now the first stop for him every time he visits Amsterdam. I think I will make this a tradition as well. CHEERS!!
Where to find Wynand Fockink? – When in Dam Square go behind the National Monument and down the back alley and you will find it!
Dam Square is in the heart of Amsterdam where the King’s Palace is. I talked about this in my last blog.
Another bar I want to mention is In’t Aepjen. (for those of you who know me well know I LOVE monkies!). My brother-in-law Hank who we were travelling with one time in Amsterdam, found this one. In’t Aepjen has provided ales, jenever, food, and lodgings since 1519, and is one of Amsterdam’s oldest bars. “In’t Aepjen” literally means “In the Monkeys,” and refers to a time in the golden age of the Dutch Empire, when sailors returning from such distant colonies as Indonesia, and finding themselves short of guilders, would offer up their newly acquired pets as payment, often literally paying their bills in monkeys. Soon the In’t Aepjen was overrun with so many monkeys that customers began to complain of the fleas. The monkeys were given to a regular customer at the tavern, Gerard Westerman, who kept them in his large garden in the east of the city. Westerman’s animal garden would eventually become Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo, one of Europe’s oldest.
Today the venerable old tavern is decorated with monkeys everywhere you look; carved statues, vintage posters, and oil portraits hanging from the bar. You may no longer be able to pay your bar tab with one, but one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam is still very much “In the Monkeys.” Unfortunately the bar is SO small and SO busy that we couldn’t stay to have a drink! But I hope to go here in May 2020!!
MuseumPlain – This is where all the museums are. A must is to go to the Rijks Museum. It has been recently renovated and reopened. The great dutch master artists from the golden age are featured in the Rijks Musuem, but also so many other pieces of art are displayed. We spent probably about 4 hours here so we had to research and be picky about what we wanted to see. If you have limited time, go to the Great Hall first where Rembrandt’s Night Watch is displayed along with all the other greats!
I also went to the VanGogh museum which was really good but if you can only handle so much art museums, for sure pick the Rijks!
If you like beer and liquor then you might like the Heineken museum or the Bols museum. Of course, I went to both! In the same day! lol. The Heineken is a great historical building and it is an experience going through here. They often have bands playing at different locations through the brewery. Lots of fun! The House of Bols gives you the “Cocktail and Genever Expereince”. In Canada we only see very few flavours of Bols eg. Mango, Apricot, Curacao, Advocat…..but in Amsterdam there are so many different flavours. Look at them all in the pic below at the Bols Bar. At the end of the tour, you get 100’s of cocktail choices to pick from. Also great fun!
Coffeeshops in the Netherlands is not the same as our coffee shops in Canada e.g Tim Horton’s. LOL. Their coffeeshops are
establishments where the sale of cannabis for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities. Hmmmm….now that cannabis is legalized in Canada, I wonder if we will see similar coffeeshops popping up here? I walked by many many coffeeshops when in Amsterdam but did not visit so I can’t share the experience with you, but if it is your thing…..then you have lots of places to enjoy it!!
Next you will have to take a walk through the famous Red Light District. Just DO NOT take pictures when there. They do not tolerate it. Legalized prostitution seems like such a sad thing. It is much less than what it used to be and there is a desire to have it removed from the Netherlands but I am not going to talk about this here – that is a whole blog I could write about. But research it and read about it if you are interested. Whatever you think about it, when in Amsterdam you for sure have to go check it out!!
There are still so many things that I could still write about Amsterdam and where to go – the antique district with so many great little shops, China Town, Leidseplain for the nightlife, etc. and all the places I still look forward to explore. Please share your favorite places in Amsterdam with me.
I save the best for last. If you are only to go to one place in Amsterdam, I would pick the Anne Frank House. I have been there twice and it is a very emotional experience. The story and history of this is very close to me as my family lived and experienced it. The 2nd time I went through there was a lady in front of me that had experienced the dutch occupation in World War 2 and other than her sobbing, you could hear a pin drop as 100’s of people slowly walked through the house. Both my parents and my husband’s parents experienced World War 2 in the Netherlands. So so sad.