Amsterdam is one of my fave places ever, because every time I’ve been, I’ve left wanting more. That sounds a bit odd, but there’s just SO much to do, you leave feeling like you’ve barely scraped the surface! Here are some of my fave things to do that hopefully don’t tick the classic ‘I’m-a-tourist-in-Amsterdam box’.
1. Go on a (non-touristy) boat trip
In a place that’s 50% canals, you’d be mad not to see the city by boat. There are hundreds of boat trips with tours in every language, but try and scout out a different, more unique trip. I managed to go on a beautiful wooden 1920s boat, driven by a lovely Dutch man called Arnout. Seeing the city via water is really beautiful way to experience the canals and all the pretty side streets and bridges. Plus it’s a great way of peering into all the cool houseboats if you’re nosy like me!
2. Have a slice of Apple Pie
Apple pie is basically synonymous with the Netherlands. I had this gorgeous slice in Zuivere Koffie, a little cosy café on Utrechtsestraat (a beautiful street for shops and cafés), but you can literally get it everywhere. I refused to leave Amsterdam until I’d had a slice!
3. Walk the streets of Amsterdam by night
Amsterdam is beautiful by day, but my god, at night it’s magical. It’s a custom in Amsterdam to leave your curtains open (apparently if you have them closed, it shows that you’ve got something to hide!), so it’s a joy to walk along the canals at night and see all the lights of the canal houses twinkling away. The reflections are magnificent as well.
4. Go in a canal house (if you can!)
I was lucky enough to stay in a canal house, so it was very easy for me to go in one, but there are a lot of cafés, restaurants and bars that are based in canal houses, just do a bit of research! The little canal house loft I stayed in was on Airbnb and it was beautiful, click here to see!
5. Go in (at least!) one independent shop
It wasn’t until I was in Amsterdam that I really appreciated how nice it is to go in a string of independent shops and not see the same old thing. Don’t get me wrong, the main chain shops are there too (although I completely avoided them) but it’s the independent shops you really need to experience. The window displays make you want to go in every bakery and every chocolate shop. Even a shop that sold buttons, and only buttons, took my eye (bloody love buttons). Make the most of it though, because it’s depressing when you get back to the UK.
Hutspot was my absolute favourite. It’s a café, come shop, come barbers – it has it all. Beautiful books, gifts, unique jewellery, clothing and there’s even an edgy black and white photobooth. There’s a few Hutspots dotted around so make sure you visit one!
6. Go to (at least!) one museum
It’s overwhelming how many museums there are in Amsterdam. Van Gogh, Anne Frank’s House, and the Rijksmuseum arguably being the most famous. It’s impossible to do all of them in a couple of days, but pick one and do it well. I focused on the Rijksmuseum, because apart from anything else, the building was meant to be extremely beautiful. Try and see at least one Van Gogh as well if you can, because Amsterdam has the largest collection of his paintings in the world!
7. Go to a Dutch supermarket
I LOVE going out for dinner, but sometimes it’s just as fun to pick whatever food you fancy in a really nice delicatessen/supermarket, prepare it with a glass of red wine, and eat it in front of a cosy fire! It’s not cheap, but for a one-off meal, and the convenience of eating it in your little apartment, I’d say it’s pretty special.
Amsterdam is the best. If you’ve never been before, I highly advise you to book a flight right now. It’s a beautiful, unique city, filled with culture and food and canals, and I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.