Saturday, 23 July 2016

Amsterdam City Guide

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If you're all caught up with my most recent posts, you will know that at the end of May I headed over to Holland for a long weekend in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. And today I finally have my mini (maybe not so mini now I've written it) city guide for you...

If you just want to see a long ol' photo diary you can find that here, or you can check out my vlogs of each day we spent in the city here. Once you've caught up on all that, I'll get started with my little mini guide...

What To See

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The Nine Streets
This lovely little shopping area across nine streets (as you probably could tell!) is perfect for a spot of browsing in independent shops and for picking up things you wouldn't find in the large department stores or chain stores. The streets themselves are beautiful and are definitely a must see for those wanting a unique shopping experience. A couple of my favourite shops included a book shop named Mendo, the clothing store Sam Friday and a knick knack everything store named Nieuws on Prisengracht.


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Anne Frank House
Visiting this is an absolute must when in Amsterdam. It's my second time visiting and it still has the same impact. It's such a powerful exhibition about the life of Anne Frank, the people that lived in the secret annexe with her, and all the victims of the concentration camps in the Second World War. Just make sure to book in advance. You can book a time to enter between 9.30am and 3.30pm, if you haven't booked, from 3.30pm until close you have to stand in the countless hours-long queue outside.  Ain't nobody got time for that. Book well in advance because this is something you can't miss.


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Westerkerk Church
Just a few moments from Anne Frank House is the Westerkerk Church, you can't miss it, it's the one with the huge tower. I had read about this in the guide book and was really interested in going as I had loved the Berlin Cathedral so much. You can just go into the church for free, but the main attraction is to climb the tower. For this you need tickets. It's first come, first served on a day-to-day basis, and only 6 people are allowed on every tour. It's only a few euros to do, but you need to go early in the morning on the day you want to do it in order to get yourself a ticket. We arrived at 11am and couldn't get a slot until 3.30pm.

But it is definitely well worth it. The climb is a bit hairy if you're a bit wobbly on heights and climbing like me as its small wooden ladders and winding staircases, but once you get to the top you won't regret it. The view is incredible. Possibly one of my favourite things we did on the trip. Even if I do get jelly legs at those heights!


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Albert Cuypmarkt
The largest outdoor market in the city was another of my favourite things on the trip. Open from Monday to Saturday, this huge market sells everything from food to clothes to vintage furniture. Two of the best things we ate were found here so it's worth a visit even if you're just a bit peckish and fancy some street food. Just don't go first thing on a Monday morning, barely any of the stalls are open and you'll wander around aimlessly like we did. 


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Moco Museum
We accidentally stumbled upon this new museum and Luke was so glad we did. The first exhibition to be held at this new modern art museum was a side by side display of Banksy and Andy Warhol's work. With Banksy being one of Luke's favourite artists he was over the moon to see some of his work up close. It's only a small place but it's a really unique art museum and is right on Museumplein just a stones throw from the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk. I think the Banksy/Warhol exhibition is on for a little longer, so if you're going to Amsterdam soon and want to check that out definitely look it up. 

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Vondelpark
We couldn't go to Amsterdam and not hire bikes, it's pretty much a do-not-pass-go Amsterdam tourist thing to do. I wasn't quite brave enough to hit the streets properly so instead we cycled around Rembrandtpark and the famous Vondelpark. It was absolutely beautiful and had the perfect Sunday vibe we were looking for. Whether you want to chill out or getting some exercise in, the Vondelpark is a beautiful place to spend a morning, afternoon, or even all day! And make sure you find the original Picasso sculpture while you're there!


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Rijksmuseum
Admittedly we didn't get quite enough time here because we only went in an hour or two before closing. It's like Amsterdam's version of the V&A in London, which happens to be one of my favourite places, so naturally I loved the Rijksmuseum. The architecture is stunning and there are so many different rooms of art and design to get yourself lost in. I could have easily spent all day here because there's so much to see. This place is firmly on my list to re-visit next time.


What To Eat

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The Pancake Bakery
Just along from Anne Frank House you will find The Pancake Bakery. It's named as the best pancake place in Amsterdam by some and although it is very busy and is probably the most tourist-y due to its location, the pancakes were uhhh-mazing. They were also pretty fairly priced, I would have eaten there every day if I could.


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Stroopwafels
Make sure to try a stroopwafel or two when you're in Amsterdam. You can pick them up pretty much everywhere but nothing beats freshly made hot ones straight from the street vendor. They're like super thin crunchy waffles with sticky caramel inside and they're super cheap!


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On the Canals
There are so many dinner cruises on offer in Amsterdam and we hadn't really thought about going on one until we spotted that the Hard Rock Cafe did one. Now if you've been around here for a while, you'll know of my deep adoration for the HRC. So obviously when I found out this was a possibility, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to eat from my favourite restaurant chain on the canals of Amsterdam. You can find out about the HRC dinner cruise here. Whether you go for this one, or would prefer something a little posher, I would hugely recommend looking into doing one. There's nothing quite like eating your dinner, cruising the canals, watching the world go by while the sun goes down.


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Wallys Wafels
One of the foods I mentioned that we picked up at the market was this dreamboat of a waffle. We couldn't decide which chocolate we wanted on it so we went for all three. It was only a couple of euros and it was absolutely deeee-lish!


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La Perla
I really wanted a pizza one night, so I looked up the best pizza places in Amsterdam. We tried one of them one night but it was packed, so we gave up on that one. Another night we decided to give another of them a whirl. Luckily for us we just managed to scrape in a table before 7pm when all the tables were reserved. So bear that in mind if you want to pop in for a meal, it might be worth ringing up to book. We did also get slightly confused because they have a takeaway shop on the other side of the street with the same name, and before we noticed the restaurant we did think we'd got it wrong and there wasn't a restaurant. So if you can't get a seat in the restaurant you could just get a takeaway one and eat it sitting by the canals. The pizzas were amazing and I would definitely go again even just to get a takeaway.


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Potato Stick
I have no idea of the actual name of these so we shall call it potato stick thingy. Another snack from a street vendor, they grab a potato, whirl it around into a spiral and then stretch it out onto a stick. Dip it into a fryer, then take it out and dust with a flavour of your choice. I think it was only €3 and it was an ideal little snack when we were feeling a bit peckish in-between meals.


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Monte Pelmo Ice Cream
After leaving the pizza place, we kept spotting people with ice cream and I was desperate to get my hands on some. So I semi-stalked a few people along the streets until I found the source. And boy did I find a good source. The ice cream was beyond amazing. I got Bueno flavour and it has chunks of Bueno in it. It was so freakin' good. Do not miss this!

How To Get About

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Trams
I just briefly wanted to talk about the trams because this is pretty much how we got around the whole time we were there. A 4 day ticket for unlimited travel on the trams was only €21.50, they were super easy to navigate and run until quite late in the evenings. Just make sure to tap in and tap out when you get on and off so it registers your journey properly. 


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By Boat
You can't go to Amsterdam and not go on a boat, it's just breaking the rules or something. Unless that kind of thing makes you violently ill, in which case, I'll let you off on this one. Anyone apart from that you must go on a boat! It's such a peaceful way to travel and you see the city from such a different perspective. There are so many different trips, tours and types, you're sure to find something to suit you. The only thing I need to tick off next time is going on one at night. With the sun not going down until well after 10pm, this wasn't really a possibility while we were there. Another thing just to add to my next-time list!


This mini guide has turned into quite a maxi guide I think. But I hope you have found it a little helpful if you're off to Amsterdam, or even if you're not then I hope you've enjoyed having a nosy into my recommendations and favourite things.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? What were your favourites?


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1 comment

  1. Love a travel post!! This is such an interesting guide, my boyfriend and I are planning a weekend here so this is perfect! Hard to know how to make the most of your time when you're only there for a few days. Also I have major, major food envy for that waffle.
    Thanks for sharing, great post!
    Jess

    www.almostchic.co.uk

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