The best thing about Europe is that once you’re there, you’re just a short train ride away from another bucket-list destination. We took a trip out to Paris and while we were there, we caught a two hour train ride to Amsterdam. We stayed for four nights. Here are the things we did.
#1) The Albert Cuyp Market
This market started trade in 1904, it is now one of the largest open air markets in Europe and is open Monday through Saturday. With over 300 stalls along the street, it sells everything from traditional herring fish, to cosmetics, to flowers. Rain or shine, this market is in business. As you can see in the photos below, it was a cloudy, sprinkling day, and there was a sizable crowd to wade through.
#2) Rent Bicycles
Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of the world. It’s no joke, you really have to watch where you step otherwise you will get hit by the zooming cyclists. As a bunch of tourists riding around, I will say, the people of Amsterdam were very polite and nice to us; even when we cut people off by accident or caused traffic jams… in any other city, I feel like we would have been cussed out.
There are so many places and options for renting a bike. We walked into a shop the day of, without any reservations and went through a quick introduction and we were off! I was so impressed by all the outfits the women of Amsterdam were sporting while riding on their bikes – dresses, heels, clogs… it inspired me to wear some of my more feminine articles of clothing on my commute to work in San Francisco when I got back home.
#3) Walk through the Rijksmuseum Bicycle Passage
Biking through this passage is of course what it was intended for, but then you would miss all the action. The Rijksmuseum Bicycle Passage is more like a tube that runs through a museum. Classical music is blasting and street buskers add to the mix. The architecture that surrounds you as you walk through is amazing, and it makes you feel that Amsterdam just knows what they’re doing, from combining the new with the old, that’s what makes Amsterdam such a trippy city – I kept describing it as Disneyland without the kids.
#4) Visit the Avocado Show
For all you avocado enthusiasts out there, you will want to check this place out. Everything on the menu has avocados in it. Just around the corner is The Avocado Show Boutique where you can find all sorts of Avocado souvenirs. They pride themselves on their transparent supply chain of avocados, supporting family owned businesses in Chile, Mexico, Peru and South America. The food was beyond picture worthy, but I was too hungry to snap a photo. Be aware, the wait is long, and there are no reservations.
#5) Venture into Amsterdam’s Famous Coffee Shops
As a California kid, I was eager to check out what Amsterdam had to offer in their marijuana scene. THIS is what we are missing out here on the west coast, a place to socialize while enjoying a spliff. Take some to go, sit down inside and order some delicious food, this coffee shop scene was a lot of fun to experience. It definitely leveled out the crowds as people in the Red Light District would come out of the bars smashed and mix with the super stoned crowd while walking down the tiny streets, Amsterdam, again, you have got it ALL👏FIGURED👏 OUT👏.
#6) Hang out in Vondel Park
Vondelpark is the largest, and most famous park in Amsterdam. People can horseback ride along the paths, stroll, read, do yoga, picnic… they even have hidden play structures and mazes that made us question – is this for the adults or the children? …Given the amount of legal psychedelics in this town.
Long days of lazing on the grass is what this atmosphere is all about.
#7) Get on the Hop-on-hop-off Canal Boat
We booked tickets the morning of when we decided to get in the canal and experience it from a boat. We looked at a few private tour options but didn’t want to break the bank.
After poking around the web, we found Stromma Hop on Hop Off Boat. It only cost twenty five euro for a day pass and we were able to take it all over, all day long. It was great. You can even bring food and drinks onto the boat, we brought a bottle of champagne, why not.
#8) Visit the Anne Frank House
This was one of the more sobering moments of our trip. I don’t think I need to justify much of why you should go visit this museum. It was a very chilling experience to physically be in this space of which I heard and learned so much about as a student. You can actually look into the attic and annex of where her family was hiding all those years. It’s such a juxtaposition as well with the vibrant city life going on outside, which goes to say that, anything can happen — just like it did to Anne Frank and her family, and many other victims of the Nazis.
Amsterdam was such a great city to visit as it provided a modern contrast to ancient, romantic Paris. We were only there for a few days, so we couldn’t fit everything in. Below are some more places we visited, and others we didn’t have time for. The Heineken Museum requires reservations ahead of time, which we didn’t make so we had to skip that. At the Van Gough Museum, we were able to buy tickets the day of, but it was kind of hectic with the crowds so I recommend purchasing those ahead of time as well.
Other Honorable Mentions:
- The Heineken Museum
- The Van Gough Mueseum
- The Red Light District
- Take a bus tour out to the Tulip Fields