A walk through Amsterdam
Updated: Jun 13, 2020
The travel guide on how to experience the Dutch culture and what not to miss when visiting Amsterdam
1. Where to stay
Amsterdam has many different pockets that each have their own characteristics. In this city, no matter where you stay everything you need is close by. We went with an airbnb instead of a hostel or hotel only because of preference on how we like to travel.
The airbnb was in the neighbourhood called “Hoofddorppleinbuurt”. I have no idea how to pronounce the name of the area, but what I can tell you is that it was a very homey and accessible neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood we had two very walkable grocery stores, one being only a 2 minute walk from our door. You can also find cute and small coffee shops. It is a little bit of a walk from this neighbourhood to get to the city but the walk is a wandering journey when you are walking through Vondelpark (that I will talk about soon). It couldn’t be more scenic.
Click HERE for our airbnb
2. How to get around Amsterdam
Amsterdam is known for its bike traffic, but it is also very walkable and has great public transit.
Bike- some airbnbs provide the guests with bikes which is amazing but if not there are many areas in the city where you can rent one, or do a bike guided tour.
Click HERE for a bike rental and tour company
Walking- Amsterdam is a walkable city. Once you are in the city centre you are able to get to many places by foot. For me walking is always my number one choice, even if it is a 40 minute walk. When walking the streets and alleys of Amsterdam you will always find hidden gems from unique architecture to picturesque canals.
Public Transit (GVB [tram, metro, bus]- Of course there are days where you just want to get to where you want to go or like for us we didn't want to get caught in the rain. In this case public transit, like the bus, is very accessible.
The only negative we found when taking the bus is that you need a credit card to purchase a ticket, this is only if you don't have a pass (which we didn’t). We looked into getting a pass but it wasn’t worth it because we were there for only a few days.
The ticket booths are located just outside almost every stop. If there isn’t a booth then a ticket can be purchased from the driver, although this can be kinda stressful when you have a line up behind you.
TIP: Bring your credit card if you plan on travelling with public transit in Amsterdam
3. What to see/do
This is a cool place to go to get an aesthetic photo-op. The name of this area is called Gingerbread houses and I think the meaning of the name is pretty self-explanatory.
They are located just down from the central station on Damrak. Click HERE for the location of the Gingerbread houses.
Anne Frank House
This is a must if you can! So we thought that when we get to Amsterdam we will book our reservation for the Anne Frank House, little did we know they were fully booked till the following month. So we didn’t get to experience the museum, although I am sure it would not disappoint.
Adults: 12,50 euros
10-17 years: 6,50 euros
0-9: 1,00 euros
TIP: Book in advance if you can. Click HERE to book your reservation
Van Gogh Museum
I am a HUGE Van Gogh fan and this museum was one of my favourite experiences in Amsterdam. If you don’t even know who Vincent Van Gogh is, it is still an overall great experience and is a must see. At this museum you get too ‘Meet Vincent’!
Under 18 FREE admission
I do recommend to book your tickets in advance so you can secure your time slot (you have to book a time slot to enter the museum so make sure you arrive during your time slot).
TIP: Photos are not allowed to be taken except for designated locations in the museum. But of course I had to sneak photos in;)
Click HERE to book your reservation for the Van Gogh Museum
Red Light district
Amsterdam is well known for its laws on prostitution and you know what... everything you've heard about this neighbourhood is probably true. This experience is not for everyone, but to put those skeptic at ease the neighbourhood is very safe and is not only prostitution. In this district you can fine sex shops, sex museums, bars, and coffee shops. This area is located in a neighbourhood called De Wallen and is the medieval city centre. Surrounding the neon red lights you can also find a centuries-old former church.
Click HERE for the Red Light district location
In the Red Light District you can find a lot of 'The Bulldog Bars'. This is where you can smoke and buy weed inside (pictured above). There is also karaoke on selective days for the brave ones:)
TIP: Try to visit the Red Light district with an open mind. I can promise you you would not experience something like that somewhere else.
Walking, biking or running in Vondelpark has to be done when in Amsterdam. This public urban park is where you can find a group of people having a picnic, a bunch of dogs running in open space, people commuting on their bikes to the simple observers sitting on the park bench. Vondelpark is 47 ha (120 acres), so yea it is huge. We were able to walk through Vondelpark almost every day from our Airbnb to get into the city centre and every walk through was a calming experience.
One of the best brewery experiences I have had so far.
The Heineken Experience gives you history with a mix of virtual reality. You not only get the history and production of the Heineken, you also get to experience the production line virtually. They also provide you with two free Heineken pints where you drink in this underground pub style atmosphere with others that took the tour from all over the world.
TIP: At the end of the tour you are able to purchase your personalized Heineken Bottle
18 euros (Online)
21 euros (At Door)
Click HERE to book your Heineken Experience online
Cheese shop hopping
Gouda cheese is a Dutch speciality and shops that sell the cheese are all over Amsterdam. At almost every cheese shop they provide free samples on their different variations of gouda cheese. This is a hack on how to get a free and delicious snack...you are welcome;)
I AM AMSTERDAM SIGN
The ‘I am Amsterdam’ sign no longer resides at Museumplein. It has now been moved to Schiphol Airport.
4. My top three Markets in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is not only known for its bike transportation or whimsical canals, it is also known for its flea markets.
Here are a list of flea markets you must see:
IJ-HALLEN (neighbourhood: Noord)
The best for: clothes, home accessories, art, bikes/bike parts, furniture, collector items, trinkets, food.
IJ-HALLEN is known to be the largest flea market in Europe and it does not only impress you with its size but also with its quality. This market is a mix of indoor and outdoor vendors where you can find anything from carpets, vintage cameras, clothes, home accessories to small trinkets, old school video games and retro figurines. You can also find the classic traditional snacks located within and outside the warehouse. This market is located in a warehouse, which means it is not located directly in the centre core of the city. It is north from the city centre and is about 1 hour to 1.5 hour walk from Vondelpark. We decided to catch an Uber from our airbnb and it costed 22 euros. However, if you catch an Uber closer to the city centre it will approximately cost you 13 euros.
The only catch with this flea market is that there is an entrance fee and is only open one weekend once a month. Click HERE for dates
Adults= 5 euros
Children= 2 euros
Here is a perspective image from Rome2Rio as to where IJ-HALLEN is located from the city centre. Click Image for more transportation options
ALBERT CUYP MARKET (Neighbourhood: De Pijp)
The best for: food, clothes, flowers, souvenirs
This flea market is located in the most adorable neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood you can find a flea market called Albert Cuyp that is open 6 days a week. At this outdoor street market you can find amazing food stalls, souvenirs, vintage finds and flowers. This flea market is known to be very popular with locals. Surrounding this market you can also find cute restaurants with small patios looking towards the market traffic (great for people watching).
TIP: This market is super close to the Heineken Experience (approx 4 minute walk). I suggest going to the Heineken Experience then taking a visit to Albert Cuyp market to enjoy the cultures of the city or vice-versa.
BLOEMENMARKT (Neighbourhood: Central Cana belt)
The best for: flowers and souvenirs
This market is beyond colourful with all the blooming flowers. Bloemenmarkt is known to be the only floating flower market and when you are here you can find flowers in bloom, flower buds, garden accessories and souvenirs.
You can also find cheese shops where you can have a sample taste from its large selection of cheese. At this market you can really immerse yourself in the Dutch culture.
TIP: This market is close to the Anne Frank Museum (approx 15 minutes).
5. What to eat in Amsterdam
Patatje Oorlog (War fries)
This is a very popular Dutch street food. It consists of fries that top with mayonnaise, chopped onion, peanut-based sauce, soy sauce and chilli. What makes this dish fun besides its flavour is the experience, it is served on a paper cone and should traditionally be eaten with your fingers (I guess this is why they are referred to as, ‘War Fries’). This street food and a cold beer… nothing short of a perfect combo.
TIP: When going out at night drinking in the city there are small independent food shops that sell Patatje Oorlog and I have to say it is a perfect drinking meal.
PRICE: approx 3 euros - 10 euros depends on toppings
Poffertjes (mini pancakes)
This is by far my FAVOURITE Dutch food. Poffertjes are mini fluffy pancakes that are the best pancakes I have ever tasted. Poffertjes are served with sprinkled powdered sugar and butter and if you like (depending on the stall or place) you can add nutella or syrup. However, the most traditional way is to just get them with powdered sugar and butter. If you get them at a stall, (like at one of the markets) you will not only get a delicious snack but you will also get a cool experience. The way the Dutch have mastered the way they make Poffertjes is really fun to watch. The fastest Poffertjes maker I saw was at the IJ-Hallen market and I think the best Poffertjes I had were at the Albert Cuyp market, but to be completely honest they were all delicious.
PRICE: approx 3 euros - 6 euros depends on portion size and if you add extra toppings
Hollandse Nieuwe (Raw Herring fish)
This traditional dish is not for everyone. Hollandse Nieuwe is raw herring served with chopped onions and a side of pickles. I personally did not try this dish, but if you are a foodie or feeling adventurous then this could be the dish for you.
PRICE: approx 3.50 euros
Stroopwafel (thin waffle cookie)
Stroopwafel is another very delicious Dutch snack. It is made with two very thin layers of baked dough joined by caramel filling. This is a very popular dish even to the locals. There are many bakeries that sell Stroopwafel and some add extra toppings like nutella, chocolate candy, marshmallows and so much more although traditionally it is served with no toppings.
TIP: One location that is known for its extravagant Stroopwafel is at Van Wonderen
PRICE: approx 1,50 euros to 3,50 euros
Gouda cheese originated in a small town in the Netherlands that is also named Gouda. This is a staple in Dutch cuisine and can be found all over Amsterdam. This cheese is made with cow's milk and can be aged from 4 weeks to over a year. Many shops in amsterdam that sell gouda cheese have a selection of traditional flavours as well as different flavours like pesto or lavender.
PRICE: measured by the pound
6. What to budget for Amsterdam
(Currency in Canadian Dollars and is rounded to the nearest dollar)
Accommodation = Subjective to preference, but for an Airbnb it can range from $90-$200 a night
Tours = Including all the tours mentioned above is around $152
Public transportation GVB (tram, metro, bus) = for one day the ticket costs $12.50/ for one hour the ticket costs $5
Restaurants = $24-$100 (subjective to price at restaurant)
Groceries = approx $75 (a week for 2 people)