Well hello to you my reader chums! If you're a regular reader of this blog then you'd know about my love for travelling. A place I've always wanted to visit was Amsterdam. The endless canals, biking way of life and its historic significance had a place in my heart that I wanted to explore. My boyfriend and I found a fab flight deal (only £46!) so decided to make a trip there. We arrived home on the Sunday just gone and loved every moment. With only 2 and a bit days in the city, we made a plan and researched everything we wanted to see.
Here's my take on a 48 hour guide to Amsterdam...
Lines of colourful bikes, canals at every turn and bursts of nature all around, you can't fault the natural beauty of Amsterdam. Everywhere you look it's a picture moment, whether that's a bicycle propped up against a canal, the twin buildings or blooming flowers, it's a city not to miss.
There's 101 things you can do in Amsterdam from the museums, endless walking paths, restaurants, shops to sightseeing, bike and boat tours, you need to prioritise what you want to see if you're there on a short-term basis. With this guide, I'm going to run through my must-sees and tips, to help make your planning a little bit easier.
We arrived in Amsterdam on a Thursday night and delved into hopping on a tram, to get a general idea of how the public transport worked before out two big days panned out. A tram stop was outside our Air b'n'b which stopped in Central Station, the prime location to hop onto any tram for each region of Amsterdam.
On the first day, we headed straight to Westermarkt where the famous Anne Frank House stands, a landmark I've always wanted to see. If you use the tram to reach this location, the stop is only a 5 minute walk from the house. I'd recommend booking online tickets with a time slot to visit the house, otherwise you could be queueing up for hours to get in. Anne Frank's House was beyond any words. She's such an inspiring young writer and through reading her diary, I really related to her love of writing that when I walked through the house I couldn't help but feel emotional. It was a moving yet an insightful experience to what hiding was really like during the war. I was astonished by the size of the annexe they lived in and the gruelling reality that happened. This has to be my number 1 must-see to any Amsterdam newbie.
The surrounding Westermarkt was stunning; its beautiful canal boats and quaint cafes warmed my heart, I could walk round the area forever to take it all in.
When in Amsterdam, you can't not visit one of their famous museums. The Museum Quarter is home to their top three, the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum as well as the big I AMSTERDAM letters. There's also cafes and restaurants surrounding the area if you'd like to stop off for a bite to eat.We first made a stop at the letters to get a candid snap of each of us in them then took ourselves around the area. Out of the three, we chose the Van Gogh Museum to visit as I knew the most about his work.
The Van Gogh museum was ever so interesting. I've never been a major art enthusiast, however seeing his work and learning more about his background was truly eye opening. His drawings are amazing to witness in person and I loved finding out the inspiration behind each one. I'd highly recommend visiting!
Only a short stroll from Central Station stands Dam Square, a bustling area for locals and tourists. The centre features the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace), Madame Tussauds and the National Monument that's opposite the palace. With hundreds of restaurants, cafes and shops, it's a focal point of Amsterdam and we loved looking around, absorbing the busy city vibe.
On a quieter note, Jordaan is the opposite of Dam Square with a much calmer vibe and less going on, however a charming location for a lovely stroll. I'd describe it as the 'Brooklyn of New York' because it's more residential than tourist-based and doesn't feature as many restaurants nor shops. It had that quiet appeal with the Amsterdam beauty shining through. We took a walk through here before heading back into central for dinner.
Sometimes you can't beat a charming little walk in the park and that's exactly how we began our second day in the city. Vondelpark is a hidden gem of Amsterdam and it's not raved about enough! The draping trees, quaint streams and ongoing bikes create a calm atmosphere you wouldn't want to leave. There were dog walkers, best friends cycling through and old couples chatting along on benches as the morning passed by; it was beautiful.
Amsterdam has natural beauty at every angle so wherever you are, an historic building or stunning canal will take your eye. Even if you're there for a short amount of time, take a break from the agenda and walk around to get a glimpse of hidden gems and see what you can discover.
Bloemenmarkt (Flower market)
Amsterdam is renowned for its tulips so when you're there don't forget to take a stroll down to the Bloemenmarkt. Its located in a charming little area with bakeries, cafes and shops. The flowers are a treat to admire as they smell amazing and look even better. You can purchase your own seeds, real produce and fake ones, whichever floats your boat.
Amsterdam has thousands of canals running through the city so what better way to see it than a canal cruise? In the tourist centre, they offer various different tours from 1 hour cruises, hop on/hop off to dinner and a cruise. We chose the hour option, as it gave us the opportunity to go round the canals and learn a bit about the city's history. Riding along the canals, it felt so peaceful and the views were phenomenal; I loved every minute.
Red Light District
Amsterdam has a weird and wild side to it, that being the Red Light District. We took a gander around in the afternoon and it was everything I thought it would be. There's the sex museum, erotic shops and ladies waiting in the window, something you don't see back in England. I can imagine, it's a bustling and crazy atmosphere at night but unfortunately we didn't have time to visit in the evening.
Before the trip, we saw a 'Glow in the dark' mini golf in Amsterdam advertised on Facebook and added it to the 'must-sees' straight away. When we arrived, we discovered it was in the downstairs of a pub and couldn't wait to begin. They gave you 3D glasses which made the game extra fun but also a little bit hard. It was so inventive and I loved the different experience!
Tips and tricks
- Public transport is easy - We took the tram everywhere in Amsterdam as we found it was the most accessible way to everything we wanted to see. You're able to buy a 48 hour pass for only 12.50 euro and you'll definitely get use out of it. If you're ever in doubt of which direction to go, take a tram back to central station and go from there or ask one of the tram drivers which is the best route as they are always incredibly helpful
- Walk everywhere- Yes we got the tram a lot but also found for a few things, going by foot was best. This way you can take in the ambiance and discover new places you wouldn't have seen before.
- Look out for bikes - I underestimated how significant bikes are in Amsterdam. Every single resident practically rides one so watch out as you're walking or they could knock you over. As you go throughout the city, you'll see thousands parked up ready for their owners to collect.
- Know the difference between coffeeshop and café - Coffeeshops are cannabis cafes and cafes are your usual coffee shop.
- Use an Uber instead of taxis - Taxis can be pretty expensive in Amsterdam so if you'd prefer to get round my car, order an Uber as they're efficient and much cheaper.
- Beware of pickpockets - Like in every city, pickpockets are around. Always keep an eye on your bag if you're at a bar or restaurant and know the whereabouts of your important personal belongings.
Amsterdam was everything I could have wished for and more. The picturesque views, calm canals and safe environment made you feel at home. I loved learning all about Amsterdam's history, talking to locals and immersing myself into somewhere new. Amsterdam, I will be back!
I hope you enjoyed this 48 hour guide to Amsterdam. Have you ever visited?
Thank you for reading <3