In May, I travelled to Amsterdam for work, and so I made an extra special attempt to see as much of the city as possible considering that it would be the May trip of my 2017 Travel Challenge.
If I’m being honest, I’m a bit of a prude, so Amsterdam was never a place that I wanted to visit. So, it’s funny that I’ve now been there twice and I’m not necessarily finished with the place either!
Prostitutes and drugs are what I associated Amsterdam with, and while there is a lot of both, you would honestly need to go looking for it. You could stay in Amsterdam for weeks and not come across either. Now, you will get a smell of the funny stuff every now and then but that’s the extent of it. I felt really safe there and I was over there on my own this time, so that should speak volumes.
Hopefully for those that are travelling to Amsterdam, this post will help you. For those that aren’t planning a trip there, hopefully this post will show you that Amsterdam is a beautiful city with so much history and beauty to be explored.
Amsterdam is a short flight away at just under 2 hours. My flights and accommodation were paid for by work but Ryanair and Aer Lingus are always doing sales on seats to Amsterdam. I’ve seen them for as little as €9.99. Subscribe to Ryanair and Aer Lingus emails and you’ll be kept notified of their sales. Alternatively, you could just follow them on social media.
The Meininger Hotel
The first time I travelled to Amsterdam, I went with 5 other people, Darren and 2 other couples. We stayed in The Meininger Hotel just outside of the city. Considering there were 6 of us, we thought it would be better craic if we all stayed together, so The Meininger Hotel offered the best type of accommodation for this, at an affordable price. After we came home from the city each night, the party was still going at the hotel, so if you’re looking for something quiet and relaxing, The Meininger Hotel probably isn’t for you. I wouldn’t recommend it for couples either and certainly not families. It’s really a place you’d stay with a group of friends in my view.
The Jaz Hotel
On my most recent trip, I stayed at The Jaz Hotel. It’s right beside my company’s Amsterdam office, so it suited best. In saying that, if I was to go back to Amsterdam, I would definitely stay there again. It is outside of the city centre which means I had to get a Metro, but it’s only about a 10 minute journey. The hotel room was average sized with a lovely bathroom and a huge bed, I mean HUGE. It’s right beside Ajax’ Stadium (Amsterdam’s football team) so you could see if there was a football match on while you were there or if there was a Champion’s League match on, it’s the perfect place to stay!
Travel Tip: The accommodation in the city centre can be expensive so consider staying just outside, especially since the public transport is so quick and reliable.
Like most European cities, the public transport in Amsterdam is extremely efficient and reliable. I got a 3 day ticket that included the Metro, trams and buses; I was delighted with myself. They don’t include trains but the only time I used the train was from the airport. It was cheap too, under €5 one way, whereas a taxi would have cost roughly €40 (you don’t have to worry about the traffic when you’re on the train either).
I would usually say that cycling around a city is the best way to see it, but the roads are manic in Amsterdam with literally thousands of cyclists on the roads at any one time. It’s crazy (see picture below) and it doesn’t look safe at all, so it’s not something that I’d recommend.
Travel Tip: The queues at the train stations to buy tickets are ridiculously long. You can skip them by using the self serve terminals. However, these terminals only accept coins and the shops around the main terminal don’t give out change. So save yourself the stress (and sweat) and get change in one of the shops before you get into the main terminal.
Price: €17 for a 72 hour ticket and you can buy it from any Metro station.
Things to See & Do
There is so much to see and do in Amsterdam, you would never get bored that’s for sure! Here are some things that I’ve done or have tried to do (I’m a disaster sometimes!).
I did this twice and it was completely different each time. When I went with my friends, we went on the one that serves drinks so needless to say we didn’t listen to the tour guide.
Travel Tip: Try go in the evening time when it’s still bright but late enough to watch the sun set. The time that happens depends on the time of year but definitely bear it in mind.
Tickets: When I bought my ticket from ticquets.com for the Heineken Experience (below), I got a coupon for 45% off the canal cruise so my ticket only cost €9.90.
Anne Frank’s House
Twice I’ve been to Amsterdam, twice I’ve gotten the bus to Anne Frank’s House and twice I turned straight back around because the queue was too long! I went to the top of the queue and asked how long those people had been waiting, and the answer was an hour and a half! That’s one thing about me, I have absolutely no patience.
Travel Tip: Book your tickets online but bear in mind, it is online ticket submissions only from 9am to 3pm, after that you have to queue with everyone else.
Price: €9.50 and you can buy the online tickets here.
The Red Light District
The Red Light District is part of Amsterdam’s culture, so of course I visited both times I was there. It’s not as chaotic or as sleezy as I imagined. I even ventured down on my own this time! There’s not much else I can say, you’d have to go see it yourself.
Travel Tip: Visit The Red Light District.
The Sky Rooftop Bar
This place has to be one of the best views of the city as well as home to some of the best food. You know by know that I am a very fussy eater and I can honestly say that the food was tops. We ordered loads of tapas style food, mini hamburgers, duck with pancakes, chips (of course), and some fancy beef stuff that the boss ordered. It was delicious and very reasonably priced. You can visit during the day and sit outside if the weather is nice. In the night time, there’s music playing too so even if you don’t want to eat, The Sky Rooftop Bar and Restaurant is the place to be! You can read the full menu here.
The Ice Bar
I visited The Ice Bar on the first visit with my best pals and we had a ball! You’re given 3 coins when you arrive which entitles you to 3 free drinks for either the bar outside or when you go into the Ice Bar itself. We had a drink while we were waiting for our turn to go in. We were called after a few minutes to be suited and booted before we entered The Ice Bar. It’s so cool (pun intended :p). Absolutely everything is made of ice, even the glasses, and it was bleedin’ freezing at minus 9.5 degrees celsius!
The music was great too, so we had a little dance to warm ourselves up. The one thing I will say is that you’re not in the bar itself for very long. I’d say we were in there for 20 minutes at the very most.
Tickets: Buy here.
Dine on the Canal
Having dinner on the canal was probably my favourite part of my most recent trip. The sun was shinning, I had just finished my work trip and I was so content. I went to Cafe Loetje (full menu here) for dinner just before I left for the airport. I had a steak and chips, the food was grand, it was the experience that I loved.
The Heineken Beer Museum
This is a disaster story! Ajax were playing in the Champion’s League Final that day and by the time I finished work and made it across the city, I had missed the last tour (17.15). I heard it’s great though so I thought it was worth letting you all know about it.
Tickets: As I said above, I got a great deal from tiquets.com for this ticket and the canal cruise ticket.
Shopping is not something I do when I go on holidays (I do enough of that at home!). I just think shopping is something you can do anywhere and even when I’m browsing, I feel like I’m wasting time. However, if you like to shop when you’re away, Amsterdam is a great spot for it. They have every high street brand you can think of including a MASSIVE Primark (like huge!). There are about 7 floors and the biggest beauty section I’ve ever seen in a Penneys/ Primark.
If you’re looking for more unique shopping and things you can’t necessarily get at home, when I was on the canal cruise, the tour guide mentioned Neigh Strides. He said the streets in that region are full of boutiques and vintage stores with really unique clothing and accessories.
There are so many museums in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh and Rembrandt ones being 2 of the most famous. We visited the Torture Museum and The Sex Museum and they were gas! There’s also a museum of Bags and Purses!
Where to Next?
We have some really exciting trips coming up including a 2 and a half week trip around China! Until then, you can read about this years previous trips here or follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (livelavishlycom).