My friend and I decided to book a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam one day, only for it to become one of the best trips I’ve been on to date. If you’re ever looking to go, let this be your sign! Amsterdam is a trip you have to do in your lifetime if you can. We were only there for 2 nights (3 days), so we had to make the most of it. Here are my top picks:
- The Van Gogh Museum
Our first stop on arrival: we were staying near the Rijksmuseum, so the Van Gogh Museum was a walk away. The area around there is beautiful too: a really calm, scenic area with multiple museums and shops dotted around. There was even an ice skating rink next to one of the café bars! The Van Gogh museum is packed with the history behind the man, his paintings, and work from the artists that inspired his well-known masterpieces. I was surprised about how many different styles he had that I didn’t know about: obviously there were the classic still-life pieces, but it was interesting to see his work inspired by peasant life, and even some nods towards his Japanese inspirations. If art tickles your fancy, or you just want to know more about the man himself, this is definitely worth a visit.
- The Moco Museum
So close to the Van Gogh Museum, it’s a must. If you’re not so interested in classic art, why not try the Moco Museum? It’s filled with modern and contemporary art, with, at the time of going (January 2020), holds a lot of Banksy pieces, which my friend and I showed a particular interest towards. His art in particular was so stimulating to the mind: so simplistic and modern, yet truly awe inspiring and so so clever. For a fun, quirky museum with all kinds of art (no spoilers!) give this a try.
- The Canals
Did you even really go to Amsterdam if you didn’t go to the canals? They’re everywhere! And they’re truly beautiful. Make sure to get lost in the city: take a walk and really take in how stunning yet quaint the city is. The buildings lining the canal are old fashioned and all different, which really highlights the city’s best features. We found a really beautiful and quiet alignment of canals when hunting for Dutch pancakes (food recommendations coming to the blog soon!) a short walk away from Elandsgracht tram stop. If you really want a full view of the city, why not try a canal cruise? There’s the option of a day time, night time and a light festival cruise (only available for a limited time). It’s really beautiful and gives you a full tour of the city from the water.
- The Red Light District
When walking towards the area, the narrow streets are lined with medieval buildings and not really much indication about what you’re going to approach. But when you get there, prostitution services are found one after the other, highlighted signs everywhere, red lights glooming over multiple windows. We went during the day, so there wasn’t many prostitutes at the window when we were there. However we did visit Red Light Secrets, the museum of prostitution. If you want to know more about the profession, all the questions you could ever want to know are answered there, lead via audio by one of Amsterdam’s most famous prostitutes. You’ll find out the good and the bad, and you’ll get to have a laugh at the hilarious confession wall, written by the public, at the end. If you don’t go for the museum, go to explore the beautiful buildings, café’s and shops around the area.
- The Shops and Café’s
A lot of our time was spent walking round, exploring the city and what it has to offer. So, I thought I’d share my two favourite locations to walk around, with canals, shops but mostly restaurants and café’s: the area around Elandsgracht was beautiful as it had cute, aesthetically pleasing shops and is filled with coffee shops if you need to stop and have a drink. My friend and I bought a little souvenir to remember the trip by (we both got rings) in a shop called ‘Pretty Things’, which provides jewellery and other beautiful and dainty souvenirs. The area around there is beautiful more a morning/afternoon stroll too, with lots of canals, churches and other beautiful sights. My second pick is the area around which we stayed, near the Rijksmuseum: there’s little parks scattered around, lots of shops, museums (as mentioned before), all with beautiful architecture and just makes for a wonderful walk round. Nearby the Heineken Museum (we didn’t go, but I heard it’s great!), there are plenty of well-known café’s, restaurants and even a huge market during the day, called the Albert Cuyp Market, located in the De Pijp area. If you’re looking for a more central shopping area, I would recommend Amsterdam – Centrum.
- The Anne Frank Museum
This is a must. Anne Frank was such an inspiring young girl, who went through so much and had such big dreams. She had so much hope, which I think is something we all need more of. In this museum, you see extracts from her diaries, her goals, ambitions and you get to walk through the annex she was hiding out in with her family. Its mind blowing really, thinking about how they were actually there, where everyone ate, slept, wrote, how careful they all had to be. It’s led via audio tour, telling you about the Nazi’s moves, rules, how Anne documented everything and eventually, how it all ended. If you want to know more about the war, or just want to get to know Anne Frank in more depth, this is something you have to visit.
If you’re going to Amsterdam for a weekend, these are my top recommendations. Travelling around is easy too: there are plenty of public transport links (we used a 3-day travel card, which works the same as an Oyster card, if you’re from London, which allowed us to use all methods of transport) which you can use to get around pretty much the whole city. It really couldn’t be easier! If you’re looking for a city break, this should definitely be top of your list.
All pictures are my own unless stated otherwise.