As a Belgian, I’m pretty lucky. With Brussels as the European capital, loads of people travel in and out of the city. Which results in cheap flights, trains and busses. Which results in cheap flights, trains and busses out of the country as well. Which makes my traveling heart jump up and make a little dance. Possibilities to travel closeby aplenty and Amsterdam is one of them. A couple of hours on the train and a new city awaits. But what to do in Amsterdam? – I know, you probably think ‘coffee shops and the Red Light District… not for me –
First of all, walk around. Wander through the city and dream away. Take a boat – very touristy, but meh, it’s fun – and admire the crooked old houses along the waterside. No worries, I haven’t seen one of them collapse. Not yet. You could rent a bicycle and discover the city by bike. Walking is fun, but cycling brings you further without aching feet by the end of the day. Still, walking is a good option. It gives you the time to look around you and discover old buildings, maybe there’s a leopard on the wall. Or a funny sticker. Ever saw the hooks on the top of the roofs? Catch the atmosphere of the city. Go to the floating flower market on early sunny spring days and buy some tulips. Take a selfie on one of the gazillions of bridges. Visit Artis, one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe.
Depending on the weather, you might want to grab some food and have a nice picnic outside. The Vondelpark is huge and a great option for outside lunches. With an Albert Hein filled with delicious fruits, veggies and fresh juices – don’t forget the heavenly ‘Tony’s chocolonely’ chocolate – you have everything you need at walking distance from the park.
Amsterdam has plenty of outstanding museums – of course, what did you expect from me? No museums during a weekend trip? Come on! – so picking one might be a challenge. I haven’t visited them all yet, which is a good reason to visit Amsterdam more often. The Rijksmuseum is supposed to be one of the highlights – and I agree with that statement – and the Van Gogh museum is pretty awesome as well. Only spending an hour in there makes you see colours for the rest of the day. Other options might be the Anne Frank House – still on my to-do-list, just like the next two in line –, the Stedelijk Museum or the Hermitage. The Sex Museum is an amusing in between, but has a pretty lousy set up according to me.
Do you rather like to go on a shopping spree? Vintage and second hand lovers, hear me. Amsterdam has a couple of absolutely amazing second hand shops, some of them located at the Negen Straatjes. – which are also great for finding the perfect lunch and dinner places, and has a lot of coffee bars – The most fabulous clothes and shoes, vintage purses and shiny dresses are only a search away. I even found some real Japanese kimono’s, too bad they weren’t my size. Plenty of shops to spend half a day looking for the perfect buy.
I must say, my cousin – who studies and therefore lives in Amsterdam – once took my to the Vapiano restaurant in the national library and I’m sold. Normally I don’t really like chain companies, but Vapiano has my approval. Delicious Italian food for a delicious price and huge glasses of wine in a cosy atmosphere. A magnificent view on the water and the lights of Amsterdam.
A visit to the Red Light District is a good start for an evening out in Amsterdam. Yeah, it’s filled with tourists, but it gives you an image – I’m speaking as a woman – on one of the oldest jobs in the world. The atmosphere is cheerful most of the times and it’s a good start before you head into a bar or a club to dance away the rest of your day in Amsterdam.
Have you been to Amsterdam recently? What’s your favorite part of the city?