It’s been 4 months since I visited Amsterdam, and I’ve been putting off writing this post because I knew I would get all sad and start missing Amsterdam again as I looked through images for this post. Out of all the places that I have ever visited in the world, Amsterdam was the one that looked exactly like I pictured it. Amsterdam was on my bucket list, and while I really did want to see it in the spring, when the tulips are blooming, it just worked out that I went to visit it in the early autumn. While I’m sad I didn’t get to see the tulip fields(that still on my to-do list some time), I’m so glad I got to see this magnificent city in the early fall, filled with the beautiful autumnal colors.
As usual I’ve compiled my top things to do in Amsterdam, most of which I did myself. We spend 3 days in Amsterdam, which wasn’t nearly enough and I feel like I could have easily spend another week in Amsterdam-there is just so much to do and see! There’s a direct flight from Johannesburg to Amsterdam through KLM, but we visited the city via Brussels, taking the Eurostar train (it was about 60 euro each way). In terms of accommodation, Amsterdam is not cheap! I struggled to find anything under R1000 per person, per night, and we ended up paying about R1500 each a night, but that was also due to the location. There are cheaper options available, but I don’t regret paying more to stay right in the center of the city. We stayed at the Edison Hotel and I do recommend to- it’s very small but clean, neat and located in one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of Amsterdam.
Now let’s get onto things to do in Amsterdam and their costs! Before I start I should mention that if you plan on doing a lot of sight seeing, it might work out cheaper to get the IAmsterdam card. The card starts at 60 euros per day, the 2 day card is 80 euros, and 3 day card is 95 euros. The card includes free entrance for the majority of the big museums(such as Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Artis Royal Zoo and much more, 60 museums in total). It includes a free canal cruise, most of the public transport and lots of discounts. Decide how many attractions you want to see and then work out if it will be cheaper for you to get the card.
Enjoy the picturesque neighborhood of Jordaan
As I mentioned, this is where our hotel was, so we spend a lot of time in this neighborhood. If you have always pictured Amsterdam as lots of tunnels with pretty bridges- this is the neighborhood! Originally a working class area, Jordaan’s narrow streets and quaint buildings now make up one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, dotted with independent art galleries, antiques shops, courtyard gardens and atmospheric bars and restaurants.
We didn’t have a map or a plan, we just got lost and wandered around Jordaan for half a day. We stopped for the most delicious pancaked at Pancakes Amsterdam, popped into vintage stores, got gelato, had a drink, and walked some more.
Cost– Free! We got an Uber from the Central Station and that was about 10 euros, but wondering around Jordaan will just cost you a lunch(around 20 euros per person).
Visit the Stedelijk Museum Of Modern Art
The Stedelijk Museum is the largest Dutch museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design. The collection contains extraordinary pieces of art by world-renowned artists, including a great number of works by major twentieth-century Dutch artists. The collection comprises modern and contemporary art and design from the early 20th century up to the 21st century. It features artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Karel Appel, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Marlene Dumas, Lucio Fontana, and Gilbert & George. If you are a fan of Modern Art, then 18 euros is a small price to pay to see the works of some of the most amazing artists of the last 2 centuries. There are also plenty of different exhibitions on at the museum at all times, so check out their website and plan to spend at least half a day here, exploring and marveling at the beauty that will unfold in front of your eyes.
Cost– 18 euros per person.
Take a canal cruise
There are many ways to explore Amsterdam, and one of them is by a boat. After all, the city is built on water and is known for its fascinating history, iconic architecture and sights that date back to its Golden Age beginnings- so what better way to see it but from a lovely canal cruise?
Most canal cruises take around an hour, in which you’ll explore Amsterdam’s UNESCO protected canal ring and see the city from a different view, all while discovering interesting facts about it. Most cruises are about an hour but there are other types of canal cruises available such hop-on-hop-off cruise(very handy if you want to explore everything by boat), romantic candle-lit tours, child-friendly adventures and intimate guided boat tours for smaller groups. It’s really beautiful, especially on a sunny day to just sit back, relax, have some stroop waffles and enjoy this view of Amsterdam. All of the pictures below were taken while we were on the cruise, and I loved seeing the city from the angle.
Cost– A few of the operators include Stromma, Blue Boat, and Lovers-we used the latter, and the boat cruise was 20 euros per person. They have multiple “stations” along Amsterdam, so just put it into your Goggle Maps and you will find them.
Eat All Of The Stroop Waffles
This was a must-do for me, and I had Stroop Waffles for breakfast lunch and dinner. They start at 2 euros for a pack, and there are so many variations, all over the city. I even bought 2 big packs home which cost me 10 euros and trust me, the Woolworths Stroop Waffles have nothing on the original Dutch Stroop Waffles.
Visit The Van Gogh Museum
This was high on my to-do list because I love Van Gogh and his art. He is my mom’s favorite artist, so growing up I would always admire his work, so to see it in person was a dream come true. The museum houses the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world. It’s a stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum, and forms part of Amsterdam’s Holy Trinity of culture along with the Stedelijk Museum next door.
The post-impressionist painter is one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art, and his use of bold colors and broad, expressive brushstrokes remain as captivating today as they were in the nineteenth century. In fact, viewing his works side-by-side showcases his unparalleled genius and unique talent – something that I will never forget.
Cost- 18 euros per person, and you have to pre-book your tickets online.
Visit De Hallen
This is a super trendy (and tasty) part of Amsterdam, where you’ll encounter the city’s thriving food scene. What began as an old tram depot is now Oud-Wests very own quirky culinary corner, with over thirty food stalls and bars. Seriously, if you can’t find something you want to eat here, there is no hope for you! Take your pick from dim sum to top-notch tacos, gourmet doughnuts and kick-ass smoky barbecue. If the sun’s come out, then park yourself on a bench outside – where the size-able terrace can fit all of your best buds too. Plus, while the food is great, you’ll find a great selection of drinks in a separate little section of De Hallen. This is a cool place to go to with friends, especially if you all have different tastes in food and are looking for somewhere vibey to go.
Cost– I had a miso bowl that was about 10 euros, stroop waffles for 5 euros and a cherry beer for 5 euros. All in all, it’s about 20 euros per person but its self-service so you don’t have to tip!
Rent a bike and have a picnic in Vondelpark
Amsterdam is ruled by bicycles, and they dominate the road! Don’t underestimate the bike culture in Amsterdam, they are everywhere and even people with children, pregnant woman and men in suits are riding their bikes everywhere. I wasn’t brave enough to ride a bike in Amsterdam because the bikes there are ridden fast, so you gotta keep up! Some of our friends however rented bicycles for the day and it is a lot of fun because bicycles get right of way in Amsterdam! Why not ride the bike to Vondelpark for a relaxed picnic then? Vondelpark is also a popular bicycle thoroughfare and is a lovely route to ride on a warm day. Pack your picnic basket(or visit one of the cafes inside the park), rent your bike, and enjoy the beautiful nature of Vondelpark.
Cost- Renting a bicycle for the day will cost you about 10 euros a day and entrance to Vondelpark is free!
Visit Anne Frank’s house
Another amazing place to visit in Amsterdam is Anne Frank’ house. The Anne Frank House is a writer’s house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. For more than two years Anne Frank and her family lived in the annex of the building at Prinsengracht 263 where Anne’s father, Otto Frank, also had his business. The Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer hid there with them. You can visit the house where the journey takes you from the ground floor up many steep flights of stairs to the secret annex– Anne’s room has been preserved with pictures of movie stars and magazine clippings adorning the walls. It’s a very moving experience, so make sure to book your tickets to visit online in advance.
Cost– 10 euros each.