*See Here for a map of all of the places we went, and a few more that were recommended to me*
Just a few weeks ago (right before Thanksgiving) my boyfriend and I took a mini Euro-trip to Amsterdam, Brugge, and Brussels, and it didn’t disappoint. I had been to Amsterdam before for a very short trip, so I wanted to go back and do it right. I LOVE this city, it’s so beautiful and the fall colors made it even more magical. There is so much more than just “coffee shops” and the Red-Light district, though both are definitely a draw for some people :p
Where We Stayed: I prefer hotels, but I had some trouble finding a reasonably priced “nice” hotel, so I turned to Airbnb. We ended up staying in this cute little studio that had breakfast included.
General Tips for Amsterdam:
- There is no language barrier for English speakers, everyone in the city speaks English, and they speak it well
- Take the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal, it’s much easier and faster than getting a taxi or uber.
- If you’re on a budget, plan where you’re eating because it’s an expensive city.
- If you will be there for more than 3 days, consider getting the i Amsterdam City card, which gives you unlimited entrance to a few of the most popular museums/tourist attractions.
- Take a day trip to a Dutch town if you can, we didn’t have time 🙁
Day 1 – Wednesday
I had left our itinerary pretty open for this day because I knew we would be tired since we landed at 7am, and figured we could spend time walking around, getting familiar with the area, and taking in the sights. It was such a nice day, so we spent a few hours wandering around the Jordaan district and popping in to stores and cafes along the way.
Later in the afternoon, we decided to head over to the Heineken Brewery Experience for a tour. The brewery was fun overall but some of the “tour” is kind of silly. I would recommend stopping by if you have time but wouldn’t go out of my way. After hanging out at the tap room (you get 2 free drinks with your tour!), we decided to head back to the Airbnb to shower/rest for a bit.
Right next to the brewery is this delicious restaurant called De Carousel that specializes in poffertjes, mini Dutch pancakes. I went last time I was in Amsterdam and definitely recommend stopping by there if you can.
We headed back to our place to rest/get ready for the night. We were surprised to find that we were a 5 minute walk to the Red-Light district! It’s really interesting and not seedy or anything, there are actually a lot of good bars and restaurants in the area. It’s pretty crazy that the women just sit in these little boxes and wait for customers to knock! We ended up at a bar called Cafe Corso which had fun music and great service. By the time we were hungry for dinner, it was late and most of the local restaurants had stopped serving food. We found a Chinese restaurant called Hoi Tin that was pretty good, and finished the night at a bar near our Airbnb.
Day 2 – Thursday
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but we slept until 11am – ah! We were so exhausted from missing a night of sleep the day before, plus the night out didn’t help. The Airbnb included breakfast so we quickly ate and headed out. We had a free walking tour scheduled for 1pm, so we went to Caffe Il Momento to grab coffee before the tour started. There is a cheese store next door called Reypenaer Cheese – so good! I also got some fries from Febo, which is essentially a giant vending machine of fast food, and “popular with drunk people” according to our tour guide.
We took the tour with “Free Walking Tours Amsterdam” and really enjoyed it (even though it was like three hours!). Free walking tours can be a hit or miss depending who your guide is and we fortunately got a good one. Also, it’s obviously not “free” because you have to tip, but it’s still a really great way to see any city in an affordable way.
After our tour, we continued to walk around and stop in some stores at cafes. We had dinner reservations a bit later so we stopped at a cafe and had an order of poffertjes to hold us over.
For dinner, we went to a Dutch restaurant called The Pantry. Even though it was a bit touristy, the food was SO good and prices were reasonable. Since we had made reservations, they gave us a nice window seat. I got bitterballen as an appetizer and their “oven dish,” which was sort of like a Dutch Shepard’s pie. My boyfriend got one of the pre-fix menus with goat cheese balls as an appetizer – YUM. After dinner we were so stuffed so we walked 30 min back to the Airbnb.
I guess we’re getting old because we decided to stay in with a bottle of wine, we were exhausted! Don’t worry, we made up for it during the rest of the trip.
Day 3 – Friday
Friday was our last full day, so we decided to make it a museum day! After breakfast and coffee we headed over to the Van Gogh Museum. I recommend reserving a time in advance because it’s one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam. It’s really well done – they take you through different stages of Van Gogh’s art and have some of his best work on display. We got the audio guides which were so worth it. They also had an interactive exhibition going on that was supposed to immerse you in Van Gogh’s thought process and work – very cool!
By the time we were done it was around lunch time. so we headed to the De Pijp location of Cannibal Royal. There are a few locations across the city, and they were ALL booked for dinner which is why we decided to try it for lunch! It was pretty calm when we went, but I can see what it’s a popular night spot. The decor is moody and dark, but still trendy. For some reason we weren’t thaaaat hungry so we split the burger and some more bitterballen and had a drink. Yummm.
I know I said it was a “museum” day, but we ended up not going to any more (lol). I had been to the Anne Frank museum before, and I 100% recommend visiting if you’re ever in Amsterdam, it’s a must see (sorry to my bf who didn’t get to go). We decided to explore the De Pijp area, and visited the infamous Albert Cuyp Market. The street was full of stalls with cute handmade things like scarves and hats, and of course, plenty of food. We got a homemade stroopwaffle and it was AMAZING. Hands down one of the best things we ate during the trip.
At this point, it was FREEZING, so we started walking back to where we were staying to get ready to go out to dinner later. It was so cold that we stopped at two bars on the way back to warm up. I wish I wrote down their names because they were so cute and cozy!
After resting up at home for a bit, we headed out to our first stop – Wynand Fockink, a jenever liquor bar. Jenever is a Dutch gin that you drink out of a little tulip shaped glass. You have to bend down and pick it up with your mouth to drink so you don’t spill it, it’s a tradition! We hung out there for a bit and bounced around to a few bars before getting dinner at Cafe Bern where we had made reservations earlier. The restaurant is known for it’s fondue – so cheesy and delicious. We got that with bread to dip, plus their steak dish and we stuffed our faces. I think I had two full loaves of bread, I wish I was joking. We also had some more wine which probably wasn’t necessary, but when in Europe…Please excuse the blurry pictures, it was the best I could do at that point.
After dinner we continued the night popping in to different places and stayed out pretty late – so fun, plus we had to make up for the night before!
Day 4 – Saturday
Today ended up being more of a travel day to Brugge, but we got to get some brunch before we left. We went to a place called Betty Blue, which I loved – it was very airy and had really yummy healthy food. I could see myself going to a place like this in New York. It was nice to have a light meal for once on this trip and not feel like a gluttonous vacation monster!
After brunch we got our bags and headed back to the train station to catch the train to Brussels, then on to Brugge! More details to come in my Brugge post. If you have any questions or want some reccos for Amsterdam, please comment or shoot me an email 🙂