This post is so overdue - I can't believe it was all the way back in March that I went to Amsterdam!
Chris and I knew we wanted to go on a nice week long holiday this year (as we didn't last year) but we decided to take our longer holiday towards the end of the year. Needing a bit of a break from work regardless, we chose Amsterdam for a quick three day getaway.
Last year, we actually thought about moving to the Dam; only for a little while - we'd planned three months. Though when the new year came around, we had a long hard think about it and the risk was just too great for such a short time living there. We instead resolved to make the most of our free time and try to get away more and see more places. As Amsterdam was where we'd considered moving to, it was top of our list for a fun city break.
I didn't take my big camera with me so these snaps are just from my phone. I'll allow the pictures to (mostly) speak for themselves...
Be sure to check out my top Amsterdam tips at the bottom of the post!
Black longline coat - Boohoo
Cowlneck jumper - Label Lab @ House of Fraser
Leather backpack - Oasis
Ripped knee jeans - ASOS
Trainers - Adidas Stan Smiths
Grid print playsuit - Boohoo
Day OneOur first day in Amsterdam was probably the busiest. Having got the earliest flight that we could, we arrived at a good time in the morning, excited to explore the city!
After finding and checking into our hotel, we got our bearings and set about deciding what to see first.
We determined that the Albert Cuyp market (one of the city's biggest) wasn't too far from our hotel so headed there first. The market seemed really authentic and local. There were lots of food stalls selling things like freshly cooked chicken, Dutch cheese and 'stroopwaffles' - which are well worth trying in Holland - as well as lots of clothing and accessory sellers.
For lunch, we came across 'Geflipt', a quirky little burger place with a bit of seating outside. We had a few Dutch beers and an amazing blue cheese burger. A great place to catch a quick bite to eat. We then browsed a few cool shops in the area. While in Amsterdam, I found several 'second-hand' clothes shops. These weren't charity shops but were really cheap and sold mostly vintage clothing - I wished I'd got more luggage space!
Stomachs full, we decided to head to the museum quarter ('Museumplein'). We walked through Rijksmuseum (probably the largest and most famous museum) and spent a bit of time walking around its gardens. We decided against going in as the queues were pretty big and there was plenty more we wanted to do in the city.
We moved on to 'Vondelpark': Amsterdam's beautiful city park. The weather was lovely and we walked around the park and sat by the water with an ice cream.
After that, we headed to the 'Heineken Experience'. We're both beer drinkers so this was a must do! It was great to tour the brewery and learn about the processes. As part of the price, we got a couple of Heinekens and a glass to take away as a souvenir which was a nice touch.
In the evening, we were a bit stuck on where to eat and after walking around for ages looking for somewhere around Spui square, we came across an Italian called Vasso. Being nearly 10pm, we were ready to eat anywhere at this point and it actually turned out to be an amazing meal! The chef and staff were Italian and I had the most amazing fresh seafood linguine.
After our first cheeky visit to a 'coffee shop', we headed back to the hotel.
Day TwoAfter an awesome buffet breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Dam Square for some touristy photos outside the Royal Palace and the surrounding monuments. We decided to walk up to the Anne Frank museum, taking a route through the 'nine streets' (a famous collection of streets which are lined with independent shops - mostly fashion and jewellery).
When we reached the museum, we were greeted with one of the biggest queues I've ever seen! I'd definitely recommend booking this one online a few months before your trip if you are keen to go. We decided to skip the queue, which was clearly a couple of hours long at least, for something else. We went to hunt down some Dutch apple pie and coffee while we planned our next move.
Having read quite a bit about NDSM Wharf, an area across the water opposite Central Station, we thought we'd take the free ferry over there to check it out. We actually didn't find a lot there; having spoken to people, you really need to do some research into what's on before heading over as there's often flea markets, club nights and outdoor film screenings there but you have to be there at the right time.
After a few drinks back over on the mainland, we went to the Sex Museum (close to Central Station) for a bit of a laugh in the afternoon - it was quite good fun and pretty good for the price (only a few Euros) I thought!
The second night's dinner came courtesty of a recommendation via Twitter from Reena of Fashion Daydreams. So many places in Amsterdam seemed to do Argentina-style steak so we were really pleased to get a recommended steak restaurant. We headed to Cau with little expectation and were blown away. INCREDIBLE. Better still, we found out that they have some restaurants in the UK too!
After our amazing dinner, we hit up the Red Light District (a must, right?) and visited another coffee shop.
Day ThreeOur final day in Amsterdam was much more chilled. We started the day without knowing what we wanted to do and just planned to enjoy a casual day.
We spontaneously decided to hop aboard a canal tour which was really enjoyable - we learnt so much more about the city's history and landmarks. Thinking about it, we probably should have done this on day one!
While crusing around Amsterdam's canals, we spotted the famous floating flower market and resolved to find it again once we got off the boat. The flower market was super pretty to see on what happened to be quite a dull day weather-wise. We also found an awesome pancake house just by the market which I was made up by as I'd been on the lookout for Dutch pancakes!
We continued the day by casually walking through the city, venturing into areas we hadn't seen over the previous two days. We stumbled across the Waterlooplein market which turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the trip. This market was markedly cooler than the others we'd been to and mostly sold vintage clothing, antiques and records. There were also a few vintage shops lining the nearby street. In one of these, I picked up an amazing black real suede fringed jacket for the bargain price of (what worked out to be around) £17!
We grabbed a late afternoon lunch and picked up some stroopwaffles to take home before reluctantly heading back to the hotel to collect our luggage and set off to the airport after what had been the most incredible break.
My Experience and Top Amsterdam TipsWe were so glad that we chose the hotel we did. We stayed at an independent (we usually go for a cheap chain hotel for trips like this) called Hotel V (Frederiksplein). We enjoyed everything about the experience there - the staff were amazing, honest and knowledgable (we even got a staff map which had been printed by the hotel, featuring the staff's Amsterdam recommendations); the rooms and throughout the hotel were beautifully decorated and the breakfast was plentiful and high quality.
We stayed a good 15 minute walk from Amsterdam's proper centre, though even if we'd have stayed right in the middle, I found Amsterdam to be pretty spread out and to walk everywhere can eat up a lot of the day and is frankly quite tiring if you're not used to walking so much! We liked to get around by tram which were quick and frequent across the city. A day pass was just 5 Euros and I would definitely recommend getting around this way. The tram drivers were so friendly too - not like the bus drivers in Manchester...
Another tip - watch out for cyclists! They are EVERYWHERE. You expect to see a lot of bikes but there are more, trust me. We didn't ride any bikes during the break but if you're confident in cycling on the road already, it's a really good way to get around as the city actively promotes cycling and fully caters to those who choose it - the bike lanes are twice as wide as the pavements! There are plenty of places that hire bikes out by the day - including many of the hotels, like ours did.
Last one, for god's sake, please double/triple check your phone plan for going abroad. I used my internet data allowance for the first two days after thinking I was opted in for a Euro traveller plan and was stung by an £80 phone bill when I came home - fuck you Vodafone.
The Dam definitely stole my heart thanks to the friendly locals and laidback vibe of the the city. It's safe to say that I definitely left my heat in Amsterdam!
*This post forms entry to Get Your Guide's #ILeftMyHeartIn city break campaign. Bloggers can also enter the competition, here. Also check the site out for great resources for planning your next getaway!
If you have any questions about Amsterdam, feel free to ask; or if you've been to the city and did something amazing that I didn't, I'd love to know!