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Netherlands Travel

We Are Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous for a lot of things: beautiful canals, eating raw herring, smoking marijuana (legally), the Red Light District and much more. Needless to say it is a very cultured and vibrant city that is not to be missed! Going to the Netherlands had been on my list (Christina) for several years. I have always been fascinated by the country, which started with my favorite soccer player who happened to be Dutch, Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Then I realized my favorite DJ, Tiesto, was also Dutch. I became friends with a few people from the Netherlands and eventually I knew I had to visit. Though it rained almost the entire time during our visit, it was still fun and exciting and fulfilled my longing desire.

Couchsurfing in Amsterdam

Adam and I were couchsurfing for the first time! Couchsurfing is a great way to meet locals and enjoy a destination with a local guide (aka your host). Another great accommodation option is to stay in a hostel in Amsterdam – they have plenty of great ones.

Our couchsurfing host was Jim, originally from the United States. Jim was a very nice guy and had a lot of valuable knowledge that anyone would have thought he had lived in Amsterdam for years. We really recommend couchsurfing if you are on a budget or want to explore cities from a locals point of view. It was an incredible experience and you can read more about our couchsurfing experiences here.

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Our amazing host, Jim

Getting around Amsterdam

In our two day experience in Amsterdam we learned and believe that biking and riding the canal bus are the best ways to see and enjoy the city.

Biking in Amsterdam

As we said, Jim was a very nice guy, not only did he have a spare bedroom for us, but he fixed up two of his bikes so that we could bike around the city. Seriously, he was the best! Biking around Amsterdam is the best way to see the city and the most common mode of transportation. In fact, it is the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. There are also more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are people! With so many bikes in the city we saw a number of unique ones that made you look twice. Adam swears he saw a bicycle garage.

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With all this being said, it is definitely a must do while in Amsterdam. People can rent bikes, go on bike tours or if you are lucky like us borrow one from a friend. Biking in Amsterdam is as easy as driving. Next to the car lanes are bike lanes with their own stop lights! It is also the fastest way to see the city and very enjoyable. However, as a pedestrian  always look both ways when walking, especially when you cross a bike lane. We almost died many times from bikers (not exaggerating).

Taking the Canal Bus in Amsterdam

Nowadays every city has a hop on hop off bus that allows tourists to stop and see what they want along a scheduled route. Essentially, this is what a canal bus or cruise is. There are several companies that offer canal bus rides that offer: a day, 24 hour or 48 hour tickets. A day ticket is valid for only that day, whereas the 24 hour ticket is valid for a full 24 hours. Prices vary, but are around 20-30€. Some canal buses also offer complimentary audio guides that you can listen to as you are passing by historical sites.

There are also several different routes to choose from and the map provided will allow you to plan your day accordingly.

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Using the canal bus is not as fast as biking, but enjoyable, more relaxing and it is beautiful to see the city via canals.

Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

Coming off four busy days in France we decided to take it easy in Amsterdam. After exploring so many historical places, museums, and monuments in Paris, we felt wiped out. Therefore, we only visited one museum out of many in Amsterdam. Most of our time in Amsterdam was relaxing and seeing the city by bike or canal. Even in the rain we really enjoyed our two days in Amsterdam.

I amsterdam Letters

The first bit of sightseeing, or shall we say “activity” we did was climb the I amsterdam letters outside the Rijksmuseum and took some awesome photos.

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The I amsterdam letters have become an iconic picture and staple of visiting Amsterdam. It is almost as fun to watch other people climb on the letters as it is to climb them yourself. It also looks easier than it is, so be careful.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House museum was something we definitely did not want to pass up. We both enjoy learning about WWII history and events and in addition to that, the story of Anne Frank is so inspirational and noteworthy it really was a must see for us. The first thing anyone needs to know about visiting the Anne Frank House is that it sells out fast! The museum is open daily, but only visitors with reserved online tickets (available for purchase exactly two months in advance) may enter from 9am to 3:30pm. From 3:30pm until closing it opens for guests to buy their ticket at the entrance. If you do not reserve your tickets online expect to wait in line for at least two hours.

The museum is unique and like no other museum in the world as the exhibit is inside the actual house where the historical event took place. Though it is a small museum it feels large because of its content. There are guides available in several different languages that takes you through a tour of the house, which includes information about every room, different artifacts and includes quotes from Anne. As you slowly travel through the house to the famous hidden door behind the bookcase you feel a sense of magnitude for the events that happened. It is a very moving museum that is not to be missed so book your tickets as soon as you can.

Bloemenmarkt (flower market)

If you cannot make it to the Netherlands’ Keukenhof Gardens for tulip season, the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam is a nice alternative. Yes, it was a little unauthentic witht the fake tulips (that looked very real), but it was still beautiful and fun to walk through. After walking around five tents they started to repeat themselves with the same souvenirs, flower seeds, plants, etc.

If we had more space in our luggage we would have purchased a lemon tree! So instead I stepped into the biggest wooden clogs in the store and took fun pictures. Later we found out that we were technically not allowed to do that….oops!

Vondelpark

Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s equivalent of New York City’s Central Park and it is beautiful! We biked through Vondelpark twice because we loved it so much. There is so much to do at the park with many ways to stay active by renting inline skates, biking, walking and running on the paved paths. Children and adults are often found playing soccer or other fun sports. If exercise does not suite you than you can relax in the park by dining at one of the four restaurants, having a picnic on the lawn or if your like us take a nap.

Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)

We heard that the skinny bridge was cute and a classic wooden drawbridge to see – so we did.

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We biked our way to see the well known bridge and were lucky enough to encounter a boat passing through that opened the drawbridge. We had to patiently wait for the boat to pass and the bridge to close again so that we could bike across. In the end it all felt romantic and we hear that it is truly romantic lit up at night.

Amsterdam Public Library

We made our way to one of Amsterdam’s hidden gems – the public library. It is a hidden gem because tourists do not visit the library to read, but to get a beautiful scenic view of the city. When you make your way to the top of the Amsterdam public library, you are rewarded with spectacular views.

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Red Light District

Yes, we went to see the well known Red Light District and it was literally a site to see. It’s one of those situations where you shouldn’t look and yet you can’t look away. Amsterdam is definitely a different culture here for sure and you should see the district with your own eyes and experience the culture first hand.

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See Amsterdam at night

After we checked the Red Lights District off our list we biked our way back to our host’s house. On our way we were able to see the city at night and it was very refreshing after seeing the Red Lights District. Amsterdam at night is beyond beautiful. There are lights hung along the canal and along the bridges. It is so picturesque we stopped several times so that we could take pictures and enjoy the moment.

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Things We Wish We Had Time For

As we mentioned before, we really relaxed during our visit in Amsterdam and did not go inside many museums. Amsterdam has a lot of museums that are worth seeing and we will have to see them next time. Two mentionable museums are the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum. Both are well known and are the most popular museums to visit in addition to the Anne Frank House. We have heard nothing but great things about both museums and that they are enjoyable whether you are fans of the artists or not.

Tips for Amsterdam

  • We said it once and we will say it again LOOK BOTH WAYS WHEN WALKING. Or you will get hit by a bike, or close to it.
  • Buy a map – our map listed and located all the picturesque sightings of Amsterdam.
  • If you enjoy museums, Amsterdam has plenty of them and it is wise to get an I amsterdam city card because you can save a lot of money.
  • Amsterdam is a lot like the United Kingdom – expect rain at any time during the entire year. We experienced rain on both of our days here.
  • Coffee shop = marijuana. Coffee house = a cup of joe

To read about everything we ate and drank while we were in Amsterdam click here.

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0 COMMENTS

  • Marcie

    The canal bus sounds super fun! I think my 3yo would LOVE that! I keep hearing about Amsterdam lately and I really want to go in the next few years!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      You know what?! The captain of our canal bus let a little girl maybe around 5 years steer the wheel! It was cute and everyone on the canal bus applauded her 🙂 Maybe y’all will be that lucky!

  • nicolelabargecm

    I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times and I just really love to walk around the city (or bike of course). It’s so true you have to watch out for the bikes!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Haha right?!?! What recommendations do you have for us for the next time we visit? We may have a layover in Amsterdam on our way to South Africa!

  • Adrenaline Romance

    Wow! That’s a lot of sights in Amsterdam. We first heard about the city in the movie Eurotrip (yes, it’s inaccurate), but the beautiful night scenes were etched in our memory. No sex and drugs though. LOL!

    It’s really great that there’s a bike rental in the city, and we agree with you. Biking is the best way to get up close with the city without blistering your feet.

    Hopefully, we’ll have the chance to visit Amsterdam.

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Scotty doesn’t know!!! haha You will love Amsterdam and biking through the city. Hope you get to visit soon!

  • [email protected]

    I was in Amsterdam on a layover and had just enough time to wander around (no visiting) to know that I have to go back! I love any city with a bike culture so, of course, Amsterdam and I were meant for each other! 😉

    • OurSweetAdventures

      We might be having a layover in Amsterdam this fall and hope to see the city some more! I think you are 100% correct you were meant to be in Amsterdam. You will LOVE IT!

  • Anja / Womanhattan

    Lovely guide. It will be very useful for us when we finally come to Amsterdam, since we’ve planned many time, but somehow never made it there.

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Thank you. And aww I do hope y’all make it there soon. It is very lovely 🙂

  • kjaroundtheworld

    Great post. There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam. Glad you mentioned the things you guys didn’t get to do, traveling is tough sometimes you have to visit a place more than once or even twice. The Van Gogh museum is at the top of my list after the Red Light District. I still don’t understand the purpose if it, but I guess I have to experience it in person. Amsterdam is certainly at the top of my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your awesome tips.

    • OurSweetAdventures

      We are so glad to hear your enjoyed our post, thank you. We did want to go to Van Gogh museum at first, but we were so wiped out and we had gone to Claude Monet’s house and Gardens in Giverny, France and decided that was enough for us this trip. I understand and agree with you on the Red Light District, it is truly just something to experience and see for yourself 🙂

  • I’d love to go to Amsterdam, I used to think it was all about the Marijuana & red light district but there is so much more to do! The canal tour looks like fun, and the Anne Frank museum is important to visit to remember what atrocities happened in Europe not so long ago. And then brightening your day with flowers – it sounds perfect!!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      I thought the same thing when I was in high school watching Euro Trip (Scotty doesn’t know). We were both surprised with how much there was to do in a small, but popular city. We hope you get to visit one day and see these awesome sites yourself!

  • Maria

    I’m planning to visit Amsterdam this year. I’ll be taking your tips into account while planing my trip there. Thank your for sharing!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      You are very welcome and we are delighted to hear we helped. If you have any questions we would be happy to answer them.

  • amsylvester

    I still haven’t made it to Amsterdam but I’m really excited to visit and this guide has got me even more hyped! There’s so much to see and do in this really unique city and you did such an incredible job of capturing it all in words, photos and videos. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Linger Abroad

    We were in Amsterdam this past winter and did many of the things you listed on here! The Anne Frank Museum was definitely a profound experience for us and everyone should go there during their visit. We also checked out Bloemenmarkt (by accident) but being out of season, there were no tulips to be seen. Womp. We’re going to have our post down but we wouldn’t have too much to add since you covered so much! The only thing unique about our visit was the Lights Festival every winter, which are interesting light exhibits in the canals that do look very pretty.

    PS. We went to a coffee shop ?

    • OurSweetAdventures

      HAHAHA that’s awesome how was it?!?! We look forward to reading your experience of Amsterdam – we love your stories!

      • Linger Abroad

        Well, it was interesting. I went with my brother to one and we both practically know nothing about smoking weed. The coffee house has a menu of different kinds of weed (of varying levels of intensity) and has ones that are pre-rolled. So, I guess we got the joint for beginners to try out or maybe the lesser intense weed. Our coffee house had a separate room for smoking with lounge beds and flat-screen 3D TVs. Cool huh? We lit up the joint and both took several hits. For me, I barely felt anything (maybe higher tolerance). My brother said it was hitting him hard; said he felt really slow and he did act pretty slow. On the TVs, they were showing “Mad Max.” I will say that for whatever reason, the 3D looked particularly amazing and sharper. Maybe it was the TVs.

        But at least it was an experience. There are shops that sell like weed brownies, beer, chocolate, etc. We bought some of those thinking we might feel something. When we ate/drank them, we felt nothing. We looked at the labels and they all did not have any THC. LAME, LOL!!! They just tasted weed-like, that’s it. Waste of money!

        • OurSweetAdventures

          Haha this has been the best comment response ever. That is a very funny and entertaining experience. Mad Max is a great movie! I can only imagine what your cinematic experience was like haha.

  • thewanderingmontanan

    Loved the information thank you! I’m heading there in June so I’m at the stage where I’ll take any bit of information I can get! ✊? I’ll definitely be renting a bike to see the city like you guys did, seems like the local way to go as well (I mean there are just a couple bikes in the Netherlands right?! ?). Have any favorite cafes or coffee shops you would be willing to share?

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