4 days in Amsterdam
So this is a non-scoliosis related post (sorry!) But I have just got back from 4 days in Amsterdam with a friend and thought I’d write a post about what we got up to. It was our first time in Amsterdam and I have to say, I really enjoyed it!
Amsterdam is a very pretty city with endless canals, and is fairly relaxed in parts. That being said, other parts (i.e the Red Light District) are plain crazy and have to be seen to be believed! This post shows what we did in 4 days, which may help if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam in the future. 🙂
Here are a few things we got up to in our 4 days in Amsterdam…
Free Walking Tour – Sandemans
I find a great way to get your bearings in a new city is to do a free walking tour. I have been on the Sandemans free walking tour several times in other cities and have always really enjoyed it. The Amsterdam free tour starts in Dam Square every day (at various start times) and takes around 2-3 hours. We booked online in advance (recommended) and chose a start time of 12pm. It was a fantastic tour and gave us a great overview of the city and main tourist attractions.
Raw Herring: Frens Haringhandel
After the walking tour we wandered around a bit and were a bit peckish so decided to try the local speciality – raw herring! Served with gherkins and onions, it tastes a lot nicer than it sounds trust me… We came across the Frens Haringhandel stand which served Herring and other kinds of fish just outside the flower market. I have to say, it was truly delicious and you should definitely try this when in Amsterdam.
The huge flower market in Amsterdam is famous, so we thought we’d check it out while we were in the area. Not really that much to say about it but worth a visit if you have an interest in plants!
Evening Canal Tour
With over 160 canals in Amsterdam, a canal tour is a must! There are many boat tours to choose from, however we chose an evening cruise (Blue Boat tours) and pre-booked online as it was cheaper. Overall, it was good value as it lasted a couple of hours and included a free drink. It was very relaxing and I would recommend doing a canal tour at night as all the bridges are lit up and it looks so pretty!
Leidseplein (Leiden Square)
As we were in the area, having got our canal cruise from here, we decided to have a drink afterwards and went to the Hard Rock Cafe bar. There are loads of restaurants and bars round here (and a casino). It seems like a popular area for a night out.
Hire a Bike!
When you arrive in Amsterdam, one of the first things you notice is the number of bikes!
It is said that there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam and I can believe it. Amsterdam is a very bike friendly city and cycling is the main way that the locals get around. There are cycle lanes EVERYWHERE. Bikes tend to have right of way and they even have their own traffic lights. For these reasons it is fairly safe to ride around the city on a bike, you just have to watch out for other cyclists and pedestrians. Also, as a pedestrian you need to be on the constant lookout for bikes when crossing the road etc!
So on day two we decided to hire a bike from our hotel (14 Euro for 24 hours) and explore the city like a local. You can also do a bike tour and there are many available (including Sandemans).
We cycled from our hotel (which was about 40 mins out of the city center) through Rembrant park and onto Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park. We spent some time here cycling round the park and I really enjoyed it. There were so many bikes though!!! The picture above shows the Picasso Fish sculpture at Vondelpark.
I Amsterdam Sign
As Vondelpark is close to the Museum quarter, we cycled there to check out the famous I Amsterdam sign. We chained our bikes up and took a few pictures while we were there. It was crazy busy with people climbing all over the sign! I reckon you’d need to visit very early to get a decent picture with only you on it.
Red Light District
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a wander through the Red Light District. After enjoying the Sandemans free walking tour so much on day 1, we decided to book onto their Red Light District tour. This is a two hour tour of the Red Light District, starting at 7pm on Dam Square. Of course, you can just wander around the area yourself if you didn’t fancy paying for a tour. I found the Sandemans tour really interesting though, especially hearing about the history of the area and stories about the prostitutes that work there.
All in all, I found the Red Light District fascinating (if a little disturbing in places!)
After a drink near to the Red Light District area, we headed to a Dutch beer bar called Arendsnest, which does hundreds of different Dutch beers. I’m not a big beer drinker, in fact I don’t like beer at all! However, we asked the bar man for a recommendation for a sweet beer and the one he recommended was amazing. The first beer I have ever legitimately enjoyed. 🙂
When in Amsterdam it is a must to try some pancakes. We found a really cute pancake place (called Mook Pancakes) quite near to our hotel via Tripadvisor. It was honestly AMAZING and they were the best pancakes I have ever had (I had their breakfast pancakes!)
After breakfast we headed to the highly recommended Rijksmuseum. We spent about 3-4 hours here in total and it was very enjoyable. A highlight for me was the Rembrant collection but the museum features a large collection of other Dutch artists.
Ok, so this one was a little less cultured but hey, when in Rome and all that. The Sex Museum is a bit of fun and it only costs 5 euro, so why not? Be warned though – this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and is definitely not suitable for those under 18.
For our evening meal we decided to wander into China town and see what was about. It was quite small but there were a good choice of restaurants. Afterwards we headed to one of Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops (Abraxas) near to Dam square.
We found another cute place for pancakes called The Happy Pig. You can take away or sit in to eat and they have a variety of sweet and savoury pancakes – yum!
Albert Cuyp Market & De Pijp
We decided to explore this area as we hadn’t been to this part of the city yet. The Pijp area is really nice and seemed less touristy – it’s near to the Heineken experience. The Albert Cuyp market is a huge street market selling all sorts including traditional Dutch food.
We bought some Stroop waffels from the market (called The Super Strooper… lol!) which were ah-may-zing. Afterwards we had a stroll round the park nearby (Sarphatipark) which was nice and chilled.
In the afternoon we headed back to Dam Square and did some shopping, we also found the smallest house in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank House.
Smallest House in Amsterdam
This is actually a tea room but it’s so cute! We came across it by accident really, it’s off a side street near to the Red Light District.
Anne Frank House
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go inside the Anne Frank house as the queues were ridiculous. You have to book months in advance and people queue round the block! We did however sit outside it and take a picture. It was interesting and also sobering just to see it from the outside.
The Jordaan area
In the evening we headed to the Jordaan area as we heard that there were some nice restaurants here. It was a really pretty area with lots of narrow streets and nice houses. It seemed quieter and less touristy than the Dam square area. It’s a nice area to grab a bite to eat but I would recommend booking in advance somewhere as the places get quite busy. Also, it was pretty expensive round there. Although Amsterdam in general is very expensive, so if you do go, take plenty of Euros.
So, all in all, we had a busy few days. One thing I missed is on our first night we visited Foodhallen which was a short walk from our hotel. It’s basically a large food hall/indoor market type place where you can buy all types of food and drink. Recommended!
Other places we didn’t visit due to time/money etc include the Van Gogh museum and Heineken experience. I’ve heard both are good, depending on your interests! There are also loads more museums about if you have the time.
How did my back cope with all the walking?
In all honesty, my back did hurt quite a bit. I found that towards mid afternoon after walking round for hours it really started to hurt at the bottom. My memory foam trainers were a lifesaver! I found when I didn’t wear them one night my back hurt almost immediately so for me, they really helped.
If you are interested in how I cope when travelling with scoliosis check out my post – travelling with scoliosis – my 5 top tips.