Amsterdam Travel Guide
The Venice of the North
Amsterdam is one of Europe's most charming cities -- between the vibrant architecture, fun-loving attitude, and picturesque canals, it's hard to not immediately fall in love after your first visit.
And I've fallen madly in love with Amsterdam.
It's one of my favorite cities in the world and one I would move to in a heartbeat. There's something about the warm glow of the sunsets, the still-life beauty of the city's flowers, and the endless rows of quaint houseboats that just makes me want to pack up and move over there permanently.
It's European sophistication without the snobbery. It's culture, art, community, cuisine, and architecture all bundled into one stunningly beautiful yet oh-so-walkable city!
What To Do & See
Amsterdam is a city of layers and history. There's SO much to do and always something exciting going on.
Amsterdam has some of the world's best museums, best paintings, best river cruises, and best parks so make sure you plan time for them ALL!
The Netherland's most visited art museum isn't to be missed on a trip to Amsterdam! After almost 10 years of STUNNING renovations, the Rijksmuseum reopened to the public in 2013 and it's well-worth a visit just to see the incredible remodel. It certainly helps that it's housed in one of the most architecturally stunning buildings you'll find in all of Europe and has some of the world's best art pieces on display, most famously Rembrandt's 'Nightwatch'.
Beyond paintings, the museum is brimming with stunning furniture from the Dutch Golden Age as well as clothing, armor, and countless homages to Amsterdam's maritime past. And the Rijksmuseum library (in the above shot) is truly one of the most stunning libraries in Europe.
I'm working on a full Rijksmuseum post to show you why I love this museum so much -- stay tuned!
Amsterdam's Best Coffeeshops
"Pass the joint, man..."
Don't be fooled! Coffeeshops and coffee shops are NOT the same thing in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has long been a progressive haven for cannabis lovers around the world. And while you can easily avoid the legal cannabis in Amsterdam if you DON'T want to participate, there are TONS of spots to choose from if you do. Just make sure you understand the difference...
Coffee shops are where you go buy lattes.
Coffeeshops are where you buy cannabis.
But not all of Amsterdam's coffeeshops are created equal -- some are beautiful and swanky while others are... in a word, terrifying. Choose wisely and be sure to follow this list of charming Dutch tips on responsible cannabis consumption.
Where To Eat
Like most European cities, Amsterdam's food scene is a buzzing hybrid of old and new. Traditional Dutch fare meets spicy Indonesian food (a holdover from colonialism) meets some of the world's most Instagrammable street food.
It's literally a foodie paradise incarnate (and the perfect place to cure any munchies from the above mentioned coffeeshops!).
Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf Astoria
For my 30th birthday I KNEW I wanted to spend it in Amsterdam with my closest family and enjoy it over a really lovely afternoon tea. The Vermeer-inspired tea room in the Waldorf Astoria (truly one of Amsterdam's most beautiful hotels) is not to be missed and made for a truly memorable birthday experience.
The selection and afternoon tea themes change seasonally but are ALWAYS beautiful and delicious. Not to mention Instagrammable!
Hubby and I first started coming to Amsterdam for one very simple reason: it's such an easy place to travel to in Europe!
And a lot cheaper than spots like Rome, London, and Paris.
Not to mention the charming yet terrifying swarms of bicyclists you'll see EVERYWHERE.
HOW TO GET AROUND
The best ways to see Amsterdam are via bicycle, canal cruise, or just plain walking. This tiny city shouldn't be seen from the back of a car unless absolutely necessary.
Amsterdam is a very walkable city with so many small, secret streets to explore. Generally I don't even bike when I visit, I walk EVERYWHERE!
WHERE TO STAY
Schiphol is one of my absolute favorite airports. While it is confusing at times (the exits are poorly marked so don't be afraid to ask for help -- almost everyone speaks fluent English!), the restaurants are solid and the cute Dutch shops are always a fun distraction while traveling.
I highly recommend stocking up on stroopwafels as a snack for your flight home!
It's no secret that I absolutely adore Amsterdam. It's quaint yet wild, delicious yet humble, stylish yet unpretentious, and accepting of everyone -- what's not to love?
So here's a short selection of my favorite posts from my favorite city, Amsterdam:
10 Of My Favorite Things To Do in Amsterdam
Walk Through the Streets of the Jordaan Neighborhood at Sunset (With Ice Cream, If Possible)
Getting a Caprese Pancake at The Pancake Bakery
Sip a Shisha Cocktail at The Tunes Bar
Take a Morning Walk Through Vondelpark
Shop for Souvenirs at &K
Get a Fresh Stroopwafel at Albert Cuyp Markt
People Watch from a Café In The Red Light District (You'll See The WILDEST Things)