Amsterdam, the liberal city built on water, is definitely a must-visit destination for anyone who enjoys beautiful architecture, a green lifestyle, and excellent food. Not to mention all the amazing museums and other tourist attraction you can visit there! I have to say, my spontaneous three-day trip to Amsterdam in August 2017 was the highlight of this summer. My advice to you, however, is to plan this trip in advance, for 3 days is certainly not enough, and if you want to visit many museums, you might have to make reservations at least a month in advance. Without further ado, here are my top 7 recommendations for what to do while in Amsterdam!
1.Save on accommodations by camping out!
If you are visiting in the summer then I strongly recommend staying at a campground. It is cheaper and the air in Amsterdam is so fresh that you will be able to luxuriate in a picnic right outside your tent with a mesmerizing view. I stayed at Camping Zeeburg and the place was fantastic, we only paid 51 Euros for two people for 2.5 nights, which is a bargain compared to what you would pay for a hotel. Also, the staff there was super helpful and friendly – I’d return for sure!
2. Rent a bicycle!
I must admit, this is what I most regret not doing during my visit. Every single road in Amsterdam has a bicycle path, and renting a bicycle is cheaper than taking the public transport. Besides, it is not a very big city, so you can get to anywhere you want and enjoy the smooth trails and beautiful architecture. There are more bicycles than people or cars in this city, it’s incredible. So rent a bike and go explore the beautiful city, I’m sure you won’t regret it!
3. Make reservations for museums!
I was disappointed when I found out that to visit the Anne Frank house, you have to make reservations at least a month in advance! Well, now I know that next trip to Amsterdam is going to be carefully planned (planning is fun, right?). However, it is possible to buy tickets a few days ahead to most of the museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, the Moco Museum, and others. If you are visiting Amsterdam in the near future, I recommend visiting the Moco Museum – Banksy Amsterdam; they currently have three exhibitions -from Banksy, Roy Lichtenstein (both open until May 31st, 2018) and Salvador Dali (open until October 28th, 2017). The entrance was only 10 Euros, and I must say it was an inspiring exhibition. I am sure many other museums are worth going to as well, sadly I didn’t have enough time to see them all!
4. You must taste the best cookies ever!
Taking into account that everything you can find to eat in Amsterdam is absolutely delicious (do try the french fries, stroopwafels, and pickled herring) it should come to no surprise that you can find the best cookies in the world here. Perhaps it was partially due to the munchies, but the Van Stapele Koekmakerij cookies were quite true to their claim. They ensure that their cookies are always freshly baked out of the oven and they use only top quality ingredients, and A LOT of chocolate, so it’s hard to go wrong there! Imagine a rich cocoa, double chocolate chip cookie, perfectly soft and chewy with crispy edges and an ooey gooey melted white chocolate center. It was so good that I forgot to take a photo before finishing it! Their business card is still safely stored in my wallet for future emergencies.
5. Buy your green goods outside of the touristy center!
As you may already know since Amsterdam is famous for this, you can legally smoke weed almost anywhere and there are even special shops (called coffee shops) that you can go to and look at a Weed menu. Yes, they have actual Weed menus just like a regular bar has drink menus; it’s pretty amazing. My first touristy mistake was to buy weed in a coffee shop right in the old center of Amsterdam, when in fact *surprise surprise*, you can find it for almost half the price in coffee shops outside of the center. And Dutch weed, my friends, is some of the best stuff, so just include it in your vacation itinerary (if you’re into that kind of stuff, of course). If not, don’t worry, in Amsterdam everyone is friendly, open-minded, and accepts that we all have different views and opinions. It is the city of love and tolerance!
6. Buy a new wardrobe at Primark!
If you don’t have this wonderful store in your home country, you must take a look! I guarantee you’ll be spending at least a few hours exploring their wide range of fashionable and totally affordable clothing. I couldn’t believe how cheap everything was and am astonished that we don’t have such a store in my hometown, Riga. I highly recommend only packing an outfit for your first day, and then going to Primark and buying any other clothes you need. I only spent 30 Euros and came out with 2 T-shirts, a pair of shorts, new PJ’s, a hoodie, and a pair of leggings – a kind of bargain unimaginable in any store other than thrift shops in Riga. So yes, not everything is expensive in Amsterdam! I’ll just leave the address right here: Damrak 77, 1012 LM Amsterdam, Netherlands.
7. Go to The Avocado Show!
And last but not least, if you are an avocado lover as myself, don’t miss The Avocado Show! They are a restaurant that specializes in healthy and exquisite dishes containing the magical fruit avocado. However, if you want to enjoy their critically acclaimed deliciousness, you have to arrive at the restaurant before opening time (9.00 AM), because the line gets long fast. Again, I sadly didn’t have time to stand in that line (also because my travel partner and I were already starving), but I will definitely go back someday just to try their mouthwatering poke bowl or avo burger. The restaurant is aslo environmentally concious and only uses fair trade ingredients, so you can feel good about eating there. If you do try it out, I’d love to hear your reviews!
Of course, there are many other things to do in Amsterdam, but these are my top recommendations for you! It is a mesmerizing city, and anybody can find something of their interest there. I know I will certainly return in the future and see and experience all the things that weren’t possible to do in just 3 days. I hope you found this article informative and you will surely consider visiting Amsterdam if you haven’t already! My warmest regards, dear readers.