Okay so the title is cringy but this is the best way to sum up this amazing city. Parks, canals, a vibrant city core, cute suburbs and all the coffeeshops you could want – whats not to love about Amsterdam, especially as a student!
Photo credits to my beautiful and brilliant friend, Charlotte.
There are tonnes of museums in Amsterdam and below are just a selection of the best (in my opinion). These are situated on Museumplein (which is worth a visit in itself) so you can dabble from one to another and do them all in a day if necessary!
- Van Gogh Museum – pretty self-explanatory, the museum is dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh and showcases some of his best work. From ‘Sunflowers’ to ‘Almond Blossoms’, you can witness these iconic paintings in their original glory.
- Rijksmuseum – the museum is dedicated to the arts and history in Amsterdam and the building alone is impressive. In the space of a couple of hours you can learn immense amounts of cultural history about Holland so its definitely worth a gander.
- Stedelijk Museum – this museum is so fun! Its a modern art museum and shows a stark contrast to the other museums on the square. Situated in a stunning glass building, the museum shows off a diverse range of interesting pieces from sculpture, photography, video art and much more.
Top tip: okay so this is a bit of cheat way BUT if you get your tickets ahead of time you will save hours of your life when queuing….additionally all the museums above let 18s and under in for free and they don’t usually question it so………..just bear that in mind.
This place is hella pretty and hella big too. Tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of city life, the 120 acre park is rich with flowers, water fountains, ice-cream, lakes and even a shallow swimming pool! On a hot day this is definitely the place to be! Make sure you explore the whole of the park – its absolutely huge and there are plenty of places for a good photo op!
3. Anne Frank’s House
I really think that everyone must go and see Anne Frank’s House – not only is it a great tour and is racked with information, the experience itself is mind-blowing. Having read Anne Frank’s diary (which I recommend to anyone and everyone), seeing the places Anne described in real life was worth every penny.
Top Tip: book your slot online ahead of time to avoid queuing for hours! We rocked up a couple of minutes before our designated slot and didn’t have to wait at all.
4. Red Light District
This neighbourhood is wild, wacky and worth a gander. A place where the windows are racked with porn and the shops sell every kind of dildo you could think of (who needs an Eiffel Tower dildo?! What sort of fantasy could that possible acquaint to!?). This is also one of the cheapest things to do in Amsterdam (providing you don’t go to a Brothel) – just have a mooch and soak up the utter madness of the area.
Okay this is another go-to. Coffeeshops (aka Weed cafes) laden the streets of Amsterdam like a flies on cow shit. My advice is don’t just go to the first one you see, pretty soon you’ll realise there are hundreds, and I mean literally hundreds, of places to explore. BuzzFeed have an excellent article here for anyone who isn’t accustomed to the art form/ don’t want to look like an idiot when going in, so check it out!
Top tip: Don’t buy any weed products (‘space cakes’ etc) from corner shops….they are NOT gonna get you high.
In true Anna’s Avocado style, I also have some advice for getting the most out of your culinary experience in Amsterdam. When you arrive you’ll notice there are lot of takeout places and a few things in particular rack the the shelves; pancakes, waffles, Heineken and cheese. The Dutch pancake is best described as thicker than a crepe but thinner than an American pancake and there are a lot of pancake houses in Amsterdam you can try it! We went to De Vier Pilaren (which translates to ‘the four pillars’) but there are plenty of other places to try! As for waffles, literally just walk down the street and find yourself an amazing waffly creation – average prices are about €7 per waffle and they are more expensive in the city core (which is the case with most eateries and weed cafes actually). I add cheese to this list just because we went into a lot of cheese shops and tried A LOT of free cheese! I highly recommend going into Cheese and More by Henri Willig and trying the green pesto cheese…its incredible!
Also, if you haven’t yet – check out my review on the Avocado Show!
Whilst in Amsterdam we visited two daily markets at the weekend and the flower market which is on every day of the year. If you are staying in the city on a Saturday or Sunday then these are definitely worth a gander! Market atmosphere is a cultural experience in itself (plus you can pretty much feed yourself for free on the amount of samples of bread, cheese and chutney).
- Noordermarkt – every Saturday the Boerenmarkt (‘farmer’s market’) takes over the square where you can sample everything from sausage to bread to cheese or buy yourself fresh orange juice, coconut water, pulled pork cobs or crepes. In addition to the food, there are also various antique, jewellery, clothing, furniture and odds and ends for sale. You really get a sense for the Dutch culture here!
- Museumplein Sunday Market – now this market occurs every third Sunday of the month so this is pot luck as to whether or not it is on when you visit. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon Museumplein on the third Sunday of the month you will find it utterly transformed from the typical tourist hotspot into a bustling, diverse utopia of craft, jewellery, clothes, food of every kind and smiling faces!
- Floating Flower Market – hard to miss, the flower market is situated in the city centre near Muntplein. Its a stunningly beautiful and vibrant place to walk through and, although as a traveller flowers might not be on your souvenir list, there are also plenty of magnets, t-shirts and other nicks nacks to sale.
Top Tip: take wigs to the food market to appear less conspicuous..!
8. Hired transport
If you are looking for a fast and fairly cheap way to see the city then hiring boats and bikes should be added to your list. On average, a bike can cost as little as €7 to hire for an hour (and thats from one of the big names) and I can assure you that it doesn’t take long to get your feet off the ground and navigate through the city on the clearly defined cycle paths. As long as you stay vigilant and aware, your biking experience will be fun filled. As for boating, being in canal-country it would be a huge loss if you didn’t jump on the bandwagon and indulge in the beautiful waters the city has to offer. There are lots of canal cruises and tours you can do if you want an easy ride round on the water, alternatively a cheaper (and funner) option is hiring a peddle boat. It costs €9 pp but look out for vouchers in your hostel or hotel which offer €1.50 pp off the price. I definitely think its worth exploring the canals this way – we cruised along to my friend’s throwback playlist without a care in the world.
9. Iamsterdam sign
This is the most touristy thing you could possibly do in Amsterdam BUT it is also the cheapest! Located near behind the Rijksmuseum, the 23.5m wide sign has become a city icon since its installation in 2005. On average the sign is photographed 8,000 times on a sunny day! Be part of that incredible statistic, climb upon the letters and find new ways to pose with the structure.
10. Sites and scenery
This is a very vague category which can definitely be separated into many, many, many subcategories but time is of the essence so I’ll sum up.
- Canals – for the love of God I will challenge someone a thousand avocados to go to Amsterdam and NOT see a canal. Legit its impossible. But they are beautiful so its okay.
- Graffiti – look out for the quirky graffiti and punny signage around the city. There are plenty of photo ops to get your hands on.
- Pllek – this isn’t really a ‘site’ or ‘scenery’ but this stop on the free ferry is worth visiting on a sunny evening. You may think, upon disembarking the boat, that you have stumbled across an abandoned dock, but go round the corner and you’ll find Pllek, aka Amsterdam’s own city beach bar, and climb to the top of the Botel to get the perfect sunset shot!
- Dam Square – GO FEED THE PIGEONS, I know it sounds gross but its great. If the rice guy is there, go over and smile politely and if you’re lucky he’ll give you some white rice and suddenly your a pigeon’s best friend. Oh and Dam Square is pretty cool too.