I'm writing this post about a week after being back from holiday, and missing it so much already! It was rather odd to come back to London's hustle-bustle from Amsterdam's calm and quiet. The two cities make you feel so different, the former driving you to get your act together, and hustle hard; the latter making you potentially want to buy a cycle, a boat (you'll see why) and just sit by a canal eating dutch pancakes all day long. That does sound fantastic, but there's also a lot more the city has to offer, so keep reading to find out!
WHAT TO DO:
1. Bloemenmarkt (aka flowermarket) is not to be missed. A complete burst of colour, featuring souvenirs and a vast amount of tulips/gardening related supplies. You will not leave without a dozen magnets in your hand, contemplating what's the ideal number of Amsterdam magnets that would look cute on the fridge...
2. Take a day trip to Giethoorn! I first read about this beautiful village in an article on Country Living long back, and made sure to bookmark it just in case. Thank god for that, because I would have been devastated to miss out going here. Giethoorn is a surreal place, right out of a fantasy storybook. It takes about an hour and a half to reach there from Amsterdam, so be sure to set out as early as possible. What makes it so special? Well, the streets are made of water! The only way to explore is by renting a boat and that's exactly what we did. Little did we know that a 1 hour boat ride (map provided), would turn out in us getting extremely lost on a huge lake, and only making it back to the starting spot after several hours of hunger, cold and numb legs haha. But it was so worth it, Giethoorn has the most picturesque cottages, beautiful little bridges and charming cafes. Every house is almost like a little island on its own, and while boating around you can take a look at their owners gardening away to glory.
3. Keukenhof or The Tulip Gardens luckily opened just the day before we were leaving. It was a sunny day and pretty much the perfect time to wear a pair of sunglasses, an embroidered skirt and leave the jackets behind. Each pavilion had the most gorgeous displays of flowers and cute spots for taking pictures. I'd definitely recommend bringing a picnic if the weather permits!
4. An obligatory canal tour lasting for about 75 minutes will take you around Amsterdam and its scenic buildings.
5. WALK! Honestly the best way to explore this place is on foot. Each street has something new to offer and its easily missed if relied on public transport. Try getting up early and wandering about as there are fewer people by the canals. The traffic rules are a bit weird here, so literally look around a million times before crossing unless you want to be run over by an angry cyclist!
WHERE TO EAT?
I could dedicate an entire blog post on this since I spent an insane amount of time on Instagram, hunting down the best places. If you travel with me one thing is guaranteed, we would never starve. Strangely, almost a lot of cafes and shops close by five or six pm in Amsterdam so I was glad I did my research, since I had more than enough places in mind for dinner.
1. Metropolitan Cafe: Eat here if you want to have hearty portions, delicious crepes and a quiet spot for getting some work done.
Corner Bakery: Eat here to find potentially the most Instagrammable food ever, adorable interiors and yummy donoughts.
Lavina Good Food: A really healthy spot for some brunch, with friendly staff and a tropical wallpaper that will lead to a ridiculous number of snaps on your phone.
Some other places that should definitely be on your list are the Sea Palace restaurant (a floating restaurant with an orinetal chinese ambience), Saturnine (for the yummiest Italian food) and PLUK (a cosy spot, also selling funky stationery, homeware and accessories).
I hope you found this mini (or not) Amsterdam Guide useful. Maybe I'll get to travel there again and do a part 2, we'll see! I haven't included things such as going to the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house because they are pretty obvious. All in all, I had the best time exploring this city, running into the sweetest people and some not so sweet ones, and taking in the happy atmosphere. One last tip, do not leave without devouring some pancakes, you can thank me later.