Have you seen the movie The Fault in Our Stars? In the film, the main characters take a trip to Amsterdam to meet with one of their favorite authors. They wander the canals hand in hand and fall madly in love, all to the tune of an awesome soundtrack. And honestly, I can’t blame them! Amsterdam is charming, chic and romantic. I didn’t have another person to fall in love with (insert tears here), so I fell in love with the city. Keep reading as I share more about why I enjoyed Amsterdam so much, and a few tips and tricks to make your visit equally as enjoyable!
Why Amsterdam? How much time do you have?! I could write about the reasons to visit Amsterdam for hours, but in a nutshell, Amsterdam is unlike any other city I’ve ever traveled to. It’s a mix of old and new, chic and industrial, energetic and peaceful. It is centrally located, well connected, and teeming with culture. Plus, who doesn’t want a pair of wooden clogs to wear around the house?
Transportation I took a five hour train from Hannover, Germany to Amsterdam Centraal station. From there, you can easily walk to most of the popular sights in the city center. Everything is very well marked with signs on nearly every corner. If you’d rather not walk, here are a few options:
- Bike– Riding a bike in Amsterdam, although it is a bike friendly city, is still very intense (and this is coming from a girl who grew up driving the Los Angeles freeways). I almost got taken out several times while crossing the street! Plus, I am not the strongest bike rider, so I opted to pass on bike rentals. But if you decide to go for it, there are rental shops on nearly every corner that can’t be missed.
- Tram- I mainly walked or took the tram. It coset 2.50 Euros per ride, so you may want to look into a day pass, which you can buy on board. The signage is clear and well market, and you can hop on right in front of the central station when you first arrive.
- Boat- Travel by boat is not a major way to get from point A to point B, but I do recommend taking a canal tour. I took an hour and a half cruise through the main canals, and the captain pointed out sights and shared about their history. It’s a nice way to get your bearings and see things you might otherwise have missed.
Accommodations It might feel impossible to visit Amsterdam with out declaring bankruptcy, but I promise it can be done! It is not a cheap city by any means, but there are always cheaper options. I rented a room in an apartment through the popular hosting website Airbnb. The place was twenty minutes outside the city center, and since everything is so well connected, I would highly recommend looking for something a bit further out to save some money. Also, many museums have discounts for kids, families, and people under 19 years old. You can buy tickets to several attractions online in advance, which saves time and money.
Must See Spots
1. Anne Frank House– This is arguably the most popular sight in Amsterdam, and for good reason! The tour through the Frank’s hiding place and attached museum at the end are very well done. The line to get in can wrap around the block and stretch on for ages (like Disneyland!), so I would recommend checking for tickets in advance online if possible. I didn’t have tickets, so I showed up at 8am, an hour before it opens, and was admitted around 9:15.
2. Van Gogh Museum– If you are an art nerd like me, this museum is heaven! It is extremely comprehensive and interactive, and features not only a vast collection of Van Gogh’s work, but also the work of other artists who influenced him throughout his life.
3. Rijks Museum– The Rijks museum is right next door to the Van Gogh museum, and the building alone is a masterpiece! This museum features art, crafts, and historical objects from the years 1200 t0 2000. The famous IAMSTERDAM sign is directly in front of the museum, so be sure to snap an iconic picture perched atop one of the letters before heading in!
What to pack I visited the first weekend in July (along with the rest of the world), and it was crazy hot. I seriously considered jumping into a canal for a quick cool down swim. So if you visit in the summer, be sure to pack a sunhat and sunscreen! Also, wearing comfortable walking shoes is always a good idea (duh, Micah).
Anything Else? The majority of these photos were taken along the Prinsengracht Canal, the third and outermost of the three main canals. It marks the start of the De Jordaan neighborhood, filled with beautiful 17th century houses and shops. When you think of Amsterdam, this is the scenery you probubly picture. Be sure to take you time to wander through and experience the charming atmosphere. Lastly, don’t leave without trying a delicious Dutch pancake!
tower houses of Amsterdam!
^Be sure to check out the Albert Cuyp flea market on Saturday morning from 9am-5pm.
^The Rijks Museum.
So, after reading about this amazing city, can you blame me for falling head over heels in love? I may not be in The Fault in Our Stars Cast, but I definitely share their affinity for this beautiful place. So what are you waiting for, friends? Hop online and book a ticket to Amsterdam…or better yet, book two so I can come along!